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IU Southeast admissions counselor helps student veterans with transition into the classroom

Nov. 9, 2016

For students who have served in the armed forces, getting back to civilian life and joining the classroom environment isn’t always easy.                 

That’s where IU Southeast admissions counselor Chris Morris hopes to help.

Chris Morris

Chris Morris, IU Southest | PHOTO BY STEVE KROLAK, IU SOUTHEAST

“My experiences in the Army and having been through the process of earning a degree allows me to help other veterans through the transition,” said Morris, who has served 21 years of active duty in the Army and completed three combat tours overseas.

Morris served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, and his last combat tour was in 2006. He graduated from IU Southeast in 2015 and has been an admissions counselor at his alma mater since August 2015.

He credits mentors at IU Southeast for helping with his difficult transition back to civilian life.

“There were mentors here at IU Southeast like Leigh Ann Meyer, Bernardo Carducci, Lucinda Woodward, Valerie Scott and Diane Willie who recognized my potential and guided me through the system,” he said.

Morris isn’t sure whether his transition to being a civilian will ever be complete, but he said that learning every day at IU Southeast helps.

“The civilian sector operates very differently than the military. It is a constant learning experience, an ongoing transition that I don’t think everybody understands or even wants to understand,” he said.

Morris’ personal experience helps to inform his interactions with student veterans who enroll at IU Southeast.

“There are many obstacles to overcome when moving from a world where protocol is very strict to a system in which the guidelines are not always so clear,” he said. “The transition to the classroom is only a small piece of exiting military service. In most cases, the service member is not the only one transitioning. There are also family members the veteran is supporting through the change.”

Chris Morris, 1998

Chris Morris, admissions counselor at IU Southeast, served 21 years of active duty in the Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd airborne division. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS MORRIS, IU SOUTHEAST

Morris understands that students who are enrolling in classes after serving in the armed forces may have both visible and invisible disabilities. 

“To have a support person here at IU Southeast, someone who has successfully maneuvered the system, is a huge benefit,” he said. “Just having someone to ask for advice has many definite and high-impact advantages." 

While students who have been soldiers can face tough challenges, they also have something to add to the classroom.

“The diversity that student veterans bring to the classroom is appreciated, in my experience, by all faculty and appreciated by the staff,” Morris said. “The faculty and staff at IU Southeast are dedicated professionals who support and assist all students, including veterans.” 

As Veterans Day approaches, it’s a chance to honor all veterans for their service and sacrifice, Morris said. He suggests that simply saying “thanks” is enough to recognize those who have served in the armed forces.

“I personally don’t like a big fuss for doing my duty to this great nation,” he said. “A simple thanks is sufficient. On this Veterans Day, I would also like to give thanks to all here at IU Southeast who helped guide and mentor me toward success.” 

Chris Morris's work with IU Southeast students aligns with priorities outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success.

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