Lake Superior State University has a diverse alumni population, with each individual having their own story on how their education has shaped who they are as an individual. This is certainly the case with alum, Bill Mourufas, and his unique experiences being a Marine Corps veteran and a non-traditional college graduate.
Immediately after graduating high school in 2009, Bill had enrolled in classes at the start of the Fall Semester. He attended one semester before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps and serving our country for five years. While he was in the Marines, Bill was stationed all over the United States including California, Pensacola, and even Hawaii for three years. After his time in the military, he returned back to the Upper Peninsula and re-enrolled at LSSU to finish his degree. In 2020, Bill graduated with his Bachelors in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law. Soon after graduation, he accepted a position with the State of Michigan’s Department of Veteran Employment Services where he currently works as a veteran career advisor, and plans to remain with the organization until retirement.
While he was a student at LSSU Bill was heavily involved in his school work and enjoyed attending his pre-law and political science classes. These courses were centered on challenging viewpoints, especially ones that you were unsure why you had that point of view in the first place. The classes would explore these ideas, allowing Bill and fellow classmates to further evolve their opinions, or in some instances, change their mind entirely. According to him, this was his favorite part about attending Lake State. The education he received at LSSU allowed him to build upon his military background and better his level of communication, critical thinking, and teamwork. Bill states, “Furthering my education has allowed me to become a well-rounded individual and exposed me to differing opinions and ideas to help shape my views of the world.”
As a non-traditional student, Bill had faced some challenges while completing his degree. Being in school full-time, maintaining a career full-time, and providing for his family meant he was constantly faced with a balancing game. However, in a sense, being a non-traditional student was also easier. As a traditional student during his first semester, Bill mentions that his approach was much different than it was when he returned a few years later. “I was still in ‘this is school’ mode, right after high school. Coming out of the military, my approach to schoolwork was ‘this is my job’ mindset.”
The education and experience in the military has proven to be a valuable asset for Bill in his career. As a veteran career advisor, Bill works with fellow veterans to overcome employment barriers and work with them to achieve their employment goals. He recommends that any veteran who is interested in pursuing a higher education contact either their local veteran service officer or veteran career advisor, such as himself. By working with a professional who is knowledgeable with all the benefits available, together they are able to explore and utilize programs that veterans may not be aware of. Communicating with these advisors is the first step and it is never too early to reach out, whether you are a veteran graduating soon or in your first semester of college.
Besides the GI Bill, there are many additional resources available to veterans. One program that is out there is the Support of Services for Veteran Families. This program works with veterans who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless and help with getting them into more permanent housing and assist with funding. Michigan Veteran Trust Fund is another program that can be utilized through a local veteran service officer which provides financial assistance, such as car and home repairs or almost any sort of expense. Veterans also have access to disability benefits that will pay them monthly for any damages that they might have incurred while being in the military.
For more information on services provided by Veteran Employment Services, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/leo/bureaus-agencies/wd/panel-veterans or access through Michigan Works