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Meet Nicholas Marinelli, a U.S. Army - National Guard Veteran and a student at the University of Massachusetts - Lowell, where he studies Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Nanomaterials. He is also a member of the UML Student Veterans Organization (SVO).
Marinelli says that "for a lot of veterans it's tough going back to school. Non-traditional students can feel out of place and have trouble making friends. The SVO provides a place where we can be ourselves and be around others that share similar experiences."
Marinelli didn't graduate high school, dropping out at 16 to get his GED before joining the Army at age 19. "I didn't even know I had education benefits until halfway through my deployment," he says. "Luckily I had leadership that cared enough to help me build a plan for when I got home. I like to pay it forward, whenever I see a vet who's newly separated; I always make it a point to ask about their plan. I really push education and the GI Bill, otherwise they're wasted benefits that you've earned."
Having attended both a Local Leadership Summit and The 2015 Leadership Institute, Marinelli places great emphasis on professional development.
"We are coveted assets to a lot of companies," Marinelli notes "and we have to continue to support our country by becoming the next great generation of entrepreneurs, scientists, and lawmakers."
Marinelli emphasizes that building a network is crucial for everybody. "A lot of veterans are all about business, but we have to remember that personality is a huge part of landing a job in the field that you want. So being able to socialize with other chapters and veterans from surrounding schools can create connections that can be used down the line." Take part in SVA Voices and tell us your story by clicking here.