On April 10 the Robert and James Wright Center for Non-Traditional and Veteran Students celebrated its 5th year of supporting students in the center’s lounge on the third floor of Royce Hall. The Wright Center focuses on aiding veteran and non-traditional students by helping them with their benefits and giving them a place to relax on campus.
The Wright Center was founded in 2014 as part of a gift on behalf of Robert and James Wright, for whom it is named, according to Wright Center Coordinator Greg Tremelling. Both Robert and James Wright graduated from UW-Platteville and served in the Navy and Marines, respectively. The former passed away shortly before the center opened, just after it had been named, and the latter is President Emeritus at Dartmouth College.
“Our [the Wright Center’s] main goal is to enhance the educational experience of veteran and non-traditional students on campus, and to support degree attainment,” Tremelling said.
One of main ways that the Wright Center supports veteran students is by making sure their veteran benefits are certified and applied. It also puts its students in contact with other campus resources that they may need.
“It [The Wright Center] has been there for veterans and helped when I have questions about benefits: stuff that I need to know that nobody outside this office really knows,” said senior civil engineering major and assistant at the center Justin Hetcher.
The Wright Center has become an important place for veteran and non-traditional students to receive support for their unique academic situations. It also serves as a place for its students to study, relax and talk to each other while on campus and supports student workshops and veteran organizations on campus, with more programs being added. Those who work at the center enjoy the opportunity to help UW-Platteville’s veterans.
“[The work here] is rewarding. I get to help my friends since a lot of them are veterans,” said Hetcher.
In the five years since the Wright Center first opened, it has helped many students. However, things have not always been easy due to trouble interacting with the students that center is there for.
“Our biggest struggle is accessing the students. Our student base is predominantly off-campus, so the only real reach we have with them is when we have events in the student center and through email. We’re slowly increasing the number of students we’re in contact with,” said Tremelling.
As technology and awareness of the center increase with time, the Wright Center can reach out to more veteran and non-traditional students and improve their academic experiences.