Meet Ben Brickman: Student-Athlete, Student Veteran, and Role Model
As your college or university welcomes you to an eventful Fall 2018 semester, you might be feeling an emotional cocktail of nerves, excitement, and trepidation; it can be helpful to know others have been there before and have thrived regardless! Enter Ben Brickman, a wide receiver for the Syracuse University Orange Football team and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who dreamed of getting into a good school and playing football – Ben is learning how to help his fellow athletes both now and in the future by studying Exercise Science on the pre-physical therapy track at Syracuse University.
Despite knowing these things and following his passions, Ben didn’t quite know how he was going to pay for school. He was waiting for his GI Bill funding to come through but was unsure where the rest of the money would come from. Then he found Student Veterans of America (SVA). Syracuse’s SVA Chapter helped him find the rest of the funding he needed to stay in school, made sure he made it to classes in the meantime, and provided Brickman with the peer-to-peer network he needed then and now thrives in.
Brickman is set to graduate in Spring 2019. Some of his favorite experiences at Syracuse have involved his SVA Chapter: informal hiring fairs hosted at local establishments, interacting with fellow SVA members at meetings and events, and being exposed to diversity both in SVA’s membership base and career/industry opportunities.
While SVA has given him many of those tools, resources, and connections he needs to be a successful student veteran and student-athlete, his success also stems from his ability to hold himself accountable and be his own champion. According to Brickman, “You have to be that person who yells at yourself and get yourself going.” He is actively playing to his strengths while staying humble.
Though he recognizes his strengths, Brickman knows there’s one nearly universal truth when it comes to enrolling as a student veteran: “You’re different than everyone else, and everyone else is going to notice it. Know who you are and your past, but don’t forget it or be ashamed of it.”
Self-motivation and academic drive aside, it would be very difficult for any veteran to forget his or her experiences – Brickman has a daily reminder in the form of his loving dog, Riley. Riley is many things: an adorable black lab, Brickman’s best friend, and his former bomb-sniffing dog in Afghanistan. According to Brickman, his first deployment in 2010 was grueling, but he made it through that tour and a second one in 2012 as well – we have no doubt that his four-legged friend paired with his determination were a major source of support!
With graduation in sight, Brickman reflected on what it took to get where he is now. He fought his way through Afghanistan, fought his way onto the football team, fought to pay for a quality education, and is close to victory thanks to strong communities supporting his journey through higher education. He wants to be a physical therapist for athletes – training them and helping them achieve their dreams by making them harder, better, faster, and stronger.
Brickman recognized that while he will always be proud to be a veteran - prioritizing his studies and commitment to his fellow teammates, but always utilizing skills learned and experiences earned in service – it’s being a student at Syracuse University that set him up for success.
Join us in recognizing Ben Brickman for his service. We’re honored to have him as a member of SVA. Semper Fi!