Introducing the ECU Military Alumni Chapter

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Retired Colonel Tom Shubert ’74, center

East Carolina University is known for its support of military students, and now it hopes to become just as well known for its support of military alumni.

The East Carolina Alumni Association is partnering with units across campus to form a chapter for those who have studied at ECU and served or continue to serve in the military. The association is working with both the Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps units and Student Veteran Services.

The chapter will serve a variety of populations, including veterans who came to ECU after serving, and graduates who entered the military after college, either through ROTC or independently.

The first step is to gather data and build a master list of military alumni. While any existing military alumni outreach has been fragmented, this effort would update information across the entire central alumni database.

“We’ve got to figure out a good way to make sure we’re getting to everyone,” said Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of Student Veteran Services. “We’re so close to so many military bases, there’s a big population we can pull from, we just have to find them.”

Accurate numbers for military alumni at ECU are hard to come by. Prospective students applying to ECU have an option to self-identify as military, which doesn’t always happen, and wasn’t always an option in the past. “It’s hard to identify all military students, and alumni numbers are even harder to get,” Jablonski said.

There are roughly 1,500 graduates of the ROTC program at ECU, around 1,200 from the Air Force detachment and more than 300 from the Army detachment.

“There’s a huge untapped potential there,” says Tom Shubert, who graduated from the Air Force ROTC program at ECU in 1974. He retired as a colonel after 30 years of service and now works with the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force. “What are these alumni doing now and what can they do to help current students?”

Shubert helped the Civil Air Patrol organize incentive flights for Air Force cadets at the Pitt-Greenville Airport in November. Many of the pilots were ECU alumni who showed students what it’s like to fly military aircraft. Shubert hopes the group will foster more experiences like this.

“I think military alumni would like to be more involved,” Shubert said. “I think they’d enjoy meeting other alumni, but I think they really want to engage with cadets and help them along their careers.”

Military alumni can provide valuable insight and guidance to students.

“A big thing when you leave the military is that you’ve lost your social network, and going to college and getting a degree can seem like an unattainable goal,” Jablonski said. “It can be helpful and motivating for students to see alumni who were once in their situation who have now gotten jobs or started businesses.”

One of the goals for the chapter is to host a military event as part of homecoming, as well as other events where alumni could mingle with students and network.

“This group could help alumni make connections with potential employers,” Jablonski said. “A lot of companies are interested with working with military alumni. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“We need to put the call out, and when military alumni respond, we need to follow up,” Shubert said.

To find out more or get involved with the military alumni chapter, contact Assistant Director for Alumni Programs Lindsay Raymond-Weston at 252-328-1958 or raymondwestonl15@ecu.edu or visit PirateAlumni.com/MilitaryAlumni.

By Jackie Drake

 

 

Students Take Flight With Alumni

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Cadets in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at East Carolina University recently got a chance to experience the thrill of flight firsthand with some help from alumni.

Pilots in the Civil Air Patrol, some of whom graduated from ECU, let students take the controls on guided flights from Pitt-Greenville Airport one weekend in November.

The Civil Air Patrol is an official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, staffed by civilian volunteers who assist with search and rescue missions, natural disaster relief and damage assessment, and more. The CAP also works to develop youth and educate citizens about air and space power. Because CAP pilots are volunteers, they often host incentive flights for the Air Force to save costs.

Twenty-two cadets from ROTC Detachment 600 at ECU and also Detachment 595 at North Carolina State University flew with three active duty Air Force pilots and two retired Air Force officers who also volunteer as civilian pilots in the CAP.

“They get to feel what it’s like to fly a plane and listen to air traffic control; they get a glimpse into the world of aviation,” said Air Force Col. (Ret.) Thomas Shubert ’74. “The mission objective for the flights was to enhance the Air Force ROTC cadets’ knowledge of aviation, discuss opportunities in the Air Force, and establish mentorship with participating aircrew.”

“This was an amazing experience and made me question why I had not considered a career as a pilot,” said Brittany Talbot, a senior from Garner, NC majoring in public health.

Talbot said she enjoyed getting to talk to other Air Force personnel and ECU alumni.

“It was amazing to be able to ‘pick their brains’ if you will about their experiences in the Air Force. As a prospective officer candidate, it made me even more excited to start my career,” she said. “I learned that just because you are given one job in the Air Force that doesn’t stop the endless possibilities that continue after you get out. One of the officers had just gotten out and is now pursuing a career in the medical field, which is my ultimate goal. From this experience I was about to get his information in hopes that he could give me tips in the future that would help me reach that goal.”

The look on the students’ faces said it all, according to Shubert. “It’s all about lighting a spark and showing them what it means to fly. We were able to expose them to things they normally wouldn’t be. And the alumni got a chance to be involved with students. You can’t put a price tag on this experience.”

Afterward, Shubert hosted a dinner for the cadets at Parker’s Barbecue.

By Jackie Drake

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