Norwich is heightening efforts to help veterans deal with wide range of issues

Vermont National Guard veteran Chris Pond displays the Norwich banner while serving in Afghanistan. He struggled to get back into Norwich when he returned but is now graduating in the class of 2016. The university is overhauling how it addresses veterans issues to make their re-entry easier.

Vermont National Guard veteran Chris Pond displays the Norwich banner while serving in Afghanistan. He struggled to get back into Norwich when he returned but is now graduating in the class of 2016. The university is overhauling how it addresses veterans issues to make their re-entry easier.

Chris Pond enlisted in the National Guard his junior year of high school. Attending training over the summer months, the Braintree, Mass., resident was a soldier even before he chose to attend Norwich University as a Rook.

During his sophomore year, the Vermont National Guard was deployed to Afghanistan, Pond along with them. For nine months he worked as Blackhawk helicopter crew chief before returning home.

Upon coming back, he found he had been completely dis-enrolled from the university, and struggled to find the motivation to return.

“After I got back, I really had to push myself to return,” said the now-23-year-old criminal justice major and senior. “I didn’t receive any support from the school, and I felt I was going at it alone.”

But Norwich has been overhauling the way it accommodates student veterans over the last two years in order to help them better integrate into the college lifestyle, according to the Assistant Director for Student Success/Veteran Affairs, Steve Looke.

“Before we had a veteran advocate of the staff to handle all veteran issues,” said Looke. “Now we have a veteran’s team, with a representative in the registrar’s office, financial aid, the bursar’s, and me.” [Read more…]

Norwich’s 2016 valedictorian overcame disappointment, stayed focused on his goals

Logan Morrison, the 2016 valedictorian for Norwich University, stayed focused and shifted his goals when he discovered he could not join the military.

Logan Morrison, the 2016 valedictorian for Norwich University, stayed focused and shifted his goals when he discovered he could not join the military.

Every school year, the top senior in the class is given the great honor of being the valedictorian, the person who has achieved the highest GPA grade of the class and met a number of other academic criteria.

This year’s valedictorian is Logan Morrison, whose story is one of overcoming adversity and disappointment in being passed up by both the Marine Corps and U.S. Navy for scholarships. But he never quit, and after experiencing failure he learned from it, putting his head down and taking on the mindset that “it was not over for me,” Morrison said.

“I think one of the biggest things that helped me achieve all that I have is self-discipline.” said Morrison, a 22 year-old senior from Amesbury, Mass, who majored in computer security & information assurance with a concentration in digital forensics.

During his time at high school and at Norwich, he said he developed study habits to help him through academics, and one of the things he did was martial arts training to develop this and as a stress reliever.

But he said he also wanted to be a well-rounded person who got involved in extracurricular work with things that extended past just the academics.

“I failed to do most of these things in high school,” said Morrison. “However, I think the best thing I can say as to how I achieved what I did was finding balance.” [Read more…]

For two Afghan students, Norwich provides opportunity to give students a view of their war-torn country

Muhammad Ali Shahidy and Fareed Ahmadi are the two only international students from Afghanistan who attend Norwich University, and they bring a unique background and perspective to the NU community, which they are eager to share.

Both students will go out of their way to educate Norwich students about their culture and country.

“I want to give them the Afghanistan I know, and take the Afghanistan they know and compare them,” says Ahmadi, a 23-year-old sophomore who is a business management major who hails from the capital city of Kabul.

He aims to talk about his country and culture in order to give students here at NU a better understanding of his native land. He enjoys talking with cadets and students in a casual environment where he can simply converse and tell them about his country.

Norwich University has over just a little over 2,500 undergraduate students, and less than one percent are international students. Seventy percent of the population of students are Caucasian thus leaving the other 30 percent a blend of African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander. (This information can be located at http://www.collegeview.com/schoolfacts/norwich-university/all) [Read more…]

New soccer coach Adam Pfeifer hopes to continue team’s success

Pfeifer_copyAfter 10 years under the same coach, men’s soccer is under new leadership with coach Adam Pfeifer.

The announcement of his hiring by Norwich University Director of Athletics Tony Mariano on March 11 comes several months after coach Kyle Dezotell departed for Manhattanville in January.

Pfeifer will become the 10th head coach in program history, following Dezotell’s 10-year reign. “I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to lead the Norwich men’s soccer program,” said Pfeifer. “Very few coaches have the privilege to take over a program that has such a solid foundation; I am grateful to coach Dezotell and his staff for the work they have done.”

Pfeifer comes to Norwich after serving two years as assistant coach for Middlebury College under legendary head coach David Saward. He also served as the associate head coach at Northeastern University for eight seasons prior to being an assistant with Middlebury College.

“I want to thank Tony Mariano and the entire athletic department staff for believing in me and giving me this great opportunity,” said Pfeifer. “I also want to thank the coaches that have given me opportunities in college soccer, Brian Ainscough, Dave Saward, and my college coach Ed Kelly. They have all played a major role in cultivating my love for the game and helping me develop as a person and a coach.” [Read more…]

Shaw Outdoor Center hopes disc golf course catches on with students

Finding a niche is a tough task for most college students throughout their four years, especially freshman year. Without an activity like a sports team, the first weeks or even months can be a trying time figuring out where they belong.

Staying physically active is no easy task for college students either with all of the responsibilities of class, homework, and other extracurricular activities that take up time. For Colin O’Neil, the manager of Norwich’s Shaw Outdoor Center, fusing those two problems together into one easy solution is an important aspect of the Shaw Center.

The Shaw Center, located at the bottom of Paine Mountain, built a new disc golf course in the fall of 2015 that it is promoting this spring to students, said O’Neil.

“It took a few days of walking, and plotting the general layout and to then create an actionable plan for 18 holes,” O’Neil said. “I designed and managed the creation of a nearby disc golf course. I also have helped with planning, layout, and safety of five other courses in Vermont and New York.”

Disc golf evolved in the early 1960s when participants threw Frisbees at trees as targets. In today’s modern game, players throw the discs into “holes – 18 baskets that have chains connected to them – hence the golf connection.

“Disc golf has been the fastest growing sport in the USA for at least six years, and given that there are around 4,000 public courses in the US, there will be a demand for the sport from future Norwich students,” O’Neil said. “It’s a great lifetime sport that’s fun exercise, which I want to introduce to the Norwich community.” [Read more…]

In the US Army and as a Norwich trustee, retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan excelled

Two generals meet at Norwich: Army Chief of staff Mark Milley, left, chats with retired General and Norwich Board of Trustees Chairman Gordon Sullivan during the ROTC centennial.

Two generals meet at Norwich: Army Chief of staff Mark Milley, left, chats with retired General and Norwich Board of Trustees Chairman Gordon Sullivan during the ROTC centennial.

“I thought they only named museums after dead guys,” quipped Gen. Mark Milley of Gen. Gordon Sullivan, in a Todd lecture Milley gave while visiting Norwich for the centennial celebration of ROTC.

Milley’s crack about the Sullivan Museum and History Center may have been spot on: Gordon Sullivan has long been the exception, not the rule.

Arguably the most important alumnus of Norwich in its almost two centuries of existence, Sullivan served for 36 years in the army, transitioning the force from post-Cold War excess to a much smaller, readier force in his final assignment as chief of staff of the United States Army.

For the last 21 years, Sullivan has served on the Norwich Board of Trustees, and has been its chairman since 2003. However, he will step down after this spring’s board session, where his successor will be chosen.

Whoever that may be, they have some big shoes to fill. “As the chairman of the board, Dr. Schneider and I worked together as a team and put together the 2019 program, actually the strategy to get us to 2019, and we actually made most of the goals early,” Sullivan said in an interview last week. [Read more…]

For injured Navy SEAL Jason Redman, war’s lessons led to important lessons in life

Cadet Mario Caruso (left) and Cadet Sam DeLong (right) stand with former Navy Seal Jason C. Redman after the Colby Military Symposium on April 6-7.

Cadet Mario Caruso (left) and Cadet Sam DeLong (right) stand with former Navy Seal Jason C. Redman after the Colby Military Symposium on April 6-7.

It was one pity-filled visitor too many that caused him to put pen to paper and let the determination flow from his mind while recovering in a hospital bed.

“Attention to all who enter,” he wrote. “If you are coming into this room with sorrow, or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love.”

The sign continued, “I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20 percent further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid growth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.”

That sign now hangs framed on a wall at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. “I might have written it,” said the sign’s author, Lieutenant Jason Redman, a retired US Navy SEAL. “But all I did was capture the spirit of overcoming and the mindset our wounded warriors specifically need.” [Read more…]

An American Journey: General Gordon R. Sullivan, ’59

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “…our responsibility as lucky Americans is to try to give back to this country as much as it has given us, as we continue our American journey together.”

I personally know of few individuals who have lived their lives according to that quote more than 32nd Army Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan, Norwich Class of 1959.

Raised under humble circumstances in Quincy, Mass., Gordon Sullivan enrolled at Norwich in 1955 as a scholarship student, served as a waiter in the mess hall, penned a column for the Guidon, worked construction in the summers, and graduated as a senior buck. He is not ashamed to admit he is the last person his classmates would have predicted would rise to the highest-ranking position in the United States Army. 

But, as General Sullivan has said many times, Norwich allowed him to discover who he really was. He credits his unlikely transformation to what he calls “Norwich’s secret sauce”—a unique combination of tradition, training, and esprit de corps that takes undeveloped adolescents and molds them into leaders of character.

[Read more…]

For architecture students, Berlin offers an eye-opening view of buildings and culture

Left to right, architecture students Shannon Heck, Shaili Patel, Kristen Houghton, Michelle Lee and Katarina Wabrek at Germany’s historic capitol building in Berlin, the Reichstag.

Left to right, architecture students Shannon Heck, Shaili Patel, Kristen Houghton, Michelle Lee and Katarina                Wabrek at Germany’s historic capitol building in Berlin, the Reichstag.

Temporary living in a city that has been developed and reconstructed as it has been battered and divided over time, has proven to be quite an interesting experience.

Having chosen Norwich University based on its School of Architecture + Art, a lack of urban context can be a serious downfall when studying architecture. The department has made up for this by providing juniors and seniors with the opportunity to study abroad at a satellite campus in Berlin, Germany, through CityLAB: Berlin, directed by Architect Christian Dengler. After looking forward to this experience since my freshman year, I have transitioned between various states of being since arriving to Berlin.

Start with culture shock: Berlin is not a “beautiful European city.” After getting over all the graffiti-covered facades, I found a city that has a life like no other, famous for all-weekend-long parties and the fact that beer costs less than water in most establishments, and I grew comfortable in my surroundings. As terror continues to strike in European, I began to analyze the situation I had found myself in the middle of. [Read more…]

After a semester abroad in the Czech Republic, life takes on a different view

Senior Jesse Abruzzi looks out of the landscape of Bohemia in the Czech Republic during one of his excursions while spending a semester abroad.

Senior Jesse Abruzzi looks out of the landscape of Bohemia in the Czech Republic during one of his trips while spending a semester abroad.

Studying abroad is an expansive experience that is talked about in thin and narrow ways. When asked about it in conversation, typically trite and banal phrases are mustered: It was “life-changing” or “mind-broadening” are usual suspects. To be fair, these words are absolutely correct, but so much is packed into each pair of words. It can be difficult to speak about a period in life that can be so sensory overloading. Even for me, it is an experience that I continue to unpack from my mind months later. Still, it’s a disservice to one’s actual experience not to try to provide more substance.

I spent the fall semester in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic — a country self-described as the heart of Europe, situated between Austria, Germany, Slovakia and Poland. The excellent program Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA) was my middleman provider. They settled all document and visa work, lessening all my burdens save the required financial payments. The program was even kind enough to enroll me in Anglo-American University, the school CEA partners with. It was a fascinatingly diverse university, a hodgepodge of Czechs, Germans, Americans, Kazakhs, Palestinians, Syrians, Norwegians, Dutch, Russians, English, Vietnamese, etc, etc. It placed the tired adage of America as a “melting-pot” of cultures to shame. My trip was a veritable trek back to the old world, a reverse Columbus. Unlike Columbus, my interactions with the natives were amicable and ended significantly less bloody. [Read more…]