Alexander Bilochenko – From Fire Controlman to UChicago

Tell us about yourself, Alexander!

Hometown: Kherson, Ukraine / Tucson, ArizonaAlexander Bilochenko

What is your anticipated school and intended major? University of Chicago 2026 studying Economics and Psychology

Fun Fact About Yourself: I started meditating nearly a decade ago and it profoundly changed my life for the better.

What did you do in the military: Fire Controlman First Class. I shoot big guns and missiles.

What was your proudest accomplishment in the military? Mentoring junior Sailors through five grueling deployments to the South China Sea. Seeing them get through their growing pains and turn into leaders was extremely fulfilling.

Why did you decide to pursue this education path? One of my military schools was in Chicago and I really fell in love with the city. While on deployment, I constantly consumed books and podcasts about behavioral economics. When it came time to transition out of the military, I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to combine a world-class education with life in my favorite city.

UChicago offers a unique rolling admissions option for veterans, which made planning my separation much easier than it would’ve been otherwise. I seized the opportunity and couldn’t be happier with my decision.

What was the biggest benefit to using Service to School throughout the application process? Constantly seeing other veterans accomplish what they had previously thought was out of reach. It really motivated me to see people not unlike myself get into their dream schools.

How has the transition been from the military to civilian life? I have another year before I separate, but it feels more like a victory lap than anything. All aspects of my transition have been figured out. I’m proud of my service and will continue to give it my all until the last moment, but my primary purpose now is to share my knowledge with the next generation of Sailors… as well as travel Japan while I have the chance!

What are you most excited about in regards to starting school? What’s your favorite part about the school you chose to matriculate at? It’s hard to choose just one favorite part about UChicago. I love the campus architecture, the commitment to academic rigor, and the overwhelming support they offer student veterans.

I’m most excited about being a full-time student again! I love to learn and expect to thrive in the classroom.

What are your goals post-graduation? My primary goal post-graduation is to translate my leadership experience as a non-commissioned officer into business leadership that highlights environmental sustainability, employee well-being, & social impact. Landing a spot in Audible’s Strategy & Insights Rotational Program would be a dream come true… audiobooks kept me sane when I was underway!

Alexander’s advice for veterans who are applying to college

First, I would like to echo everyone else in saying DON’T SELF-SELECT OUT OF YOUR DREAM SCHOOL. You ARE good enough, don’t let yourself think otherwise.

Second, you need to be ready for past trauma and/or feelings of inadequacy to surface during the application process. Writing a personal narrative will make you feel vulnerable. You’re literally distilling your whole lived experience into a handful of essays for anonymous admissions officers to review. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable. Lean into that feeling and use it as fuel.

Third, start early! If you’re anything like me, choosing the right school will take careful consideration. There’s no harm in starting the conversation early.

Congrats again Alexander on your acceptance to the University of Chicago!

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