Shane Roper currently works in the new veterans lounge, located on the lower level of Brown Library. The lounge is a place for student veterans to connect, study, and relax, and includes computers donated by the VFW.
Not all military personnel recently discharged from service transition easily from military life to college life, and Shane Roper recognized himself in other veterans he saw. "A lot of people like me who'd just gotten out were very reclusive and secluded themselves away from people," he said.
Shane is working with WVC Veteran Coordinator Laura Murphy and biology faculty member Dr. Dan Stephens to create a new veterans club on the Wenatchee campus that will draw student veterans together, especially those who are new to college, to tutor and mentor one another as they transition from military to school.
Shane's navy career began after high school and included three deployments to the Persian Gulf for six months at a time. His job included assisting in the launch of aircraft off the flight deck, troubleshooting engine and fuel system problems, overseeing the jet mechanic shop and the line and troubleshooter shacks, and performing quality assurance inspections. At the end of his service, he'd made rank as an E5 Second Class Petty Officer and earned one Navy Good Conduct medal, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, two National Defense medals and one Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
After the navy, he floated between states and jobs, uncertain exactly where he belonged. For a time he lived at home in Dryden, Michigan, then in New York and Cle Elum, Washington, before finally settling in Wenatchee, where he worked on automated machines at Pacific Aerospace and other local machine shops. His layoff in 2011 was one of discouragement and hope.
"I wanted a 180-degree change," Shane said. He wasn't certain about his ability to go back to school, but found encouragement from his military experience. "If I could work on a flight deck, I could do this," he said.
Shane enrolled at Wenatchee Valley College, where he immediately sought out Laura Murphy, who helped him with class scheduling and paperwork.
He plans to complete his transfer degree and work his way toward a doctorate in either psychology or microbiology. If he chooses psychology, he wants to open his own practice and work with clients who have suffered from highly stressful situations, such as those from the military who suffer from Acute Stress Disorder or divorce, and young adults leaving a household where they were abused as children.
"It's time for me to stop moving around and stick to something long term," he said. He encourages other veterans to do the same. "Don't do like I did, moving around job to job, town to town. If you decide to go to school, stick with it so that you don't have to worry whether or not you'll be able to take care of yourself or your kids."
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