Wednesday, January 10, 2018


On Monday, January 8, the Veteran Support Center kicked off a semester long effort aimed at encouraging financial literacy among veteran students. The inaugural event was the Financial Success Summit, which covered scholarships, loans, and entrepreneurship. Subsequent events throughout the semester will have narrower focuses. Connor Harbison, the MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA serving at the MSU Blackstone LaunchPad, supported the staff at the Veteran Support Center, in order to put all of MSU’s resources to work for veteran students.

“Working with veteran and non-traditional aged students, finances can be a big source of stress,” said Joe Schumacher, Director of Veteran Services. “Any resources we can give them to remove that stress means they can focus on other things, like academics.”

The Financial Success Summit gathered veteran students, financial advisers, university administrators, and student loan experts together to share knowledge and empower the veteran student population. MSU has an unusually high concentration of veteran students, and veterans are a core constituency of Connor’s VISTA Assignment Description, or VAD. This makes for an ideal common cause between the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Veteran Support Center.

About three dozen students gathered for the pre-orientation event, which was held in the MSU Strand Union Building. Connor Harbison, one of the MTCC AmeriCorps VISTAs serving on campus, attended and gave a few brief remarks on the resources available at his service site, the Blackstone LaunchPad. Judging by the question and answer session, as well as walk-in visitors at the LaunchPad after the event, this outreach was a success.

“As a veteran student and entrepreneur, the resources at Montana State University, especially in the Veteran Support Center and the Blackstone LaunchPad, have been crucial, both now and in the past,” said James Rolin, founder of Cowboy Cricket Farms, a venture that works with the Blackstone LaunchPad.

The Financial Success Summit is just one of many collaborative events between the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Veteran Support Center. Connor has worked closely with Joe and the rest of the staff during the first six months of service. In the spring semester, this partnership will continue, with weekly outreach hours and a monthly sack lunch, focusing on a specific aspect of entrepreneurship. The goal of this effort is to retain more veteran students and ultimately prevent veterans from falling into poverty.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad: The Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University, housed under the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, is an entrepreneur resource for students, alumni, and faculty across the university and community that offers coaching, ideation, and venture creation support.

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