Interview with Liam Santry, Navy Veteran, former S2S VetLink Applicant, current S2S Ambassador, and student at Swarthmore Collge.
1.) How did you hear about Service to School?
I came across an article in GI Jobs circa 2015 that profiled an Army veteran who got into Brown. It was an epiphany as I realized how desperately colleges sought applicants with the kind of personality traits traditionally associated with military service like maturity, diligence, and selflessness. I enrolled in college a week later and eventually found Service to School when I needed help building my transfer application.
2.) What made you want to volunteer?
It’s difficult for veteran-applicants to get the attention they need when applying to college without paying a hefty fee to an education consulting agency. Once the pandemic set in, I decided to pay forward the support I received from S2S when I applied to college.
3.) How many applicants have you mentored through Service to School?
I’ve unofficially mentored three, officially mentored two, and gone through an entire application cycle (albeit a very short one) with one applicant.
4.) Share your most recent experience mentoring an S2S Applicant.
He applied as an early decision transfer applicant to UChicago in anticipation of his separation from the Air Force later this year. He and I worked closely over the past few months to help him find his voice and create compelling essays that shed light on the personal qualities and experiences that made him a competitive applicant. Despite a combined total of nearly thirty drafts between multiple prompts, I think he’d agree with me when I say that his efforts were worthwhile. A representative from the admissions committee called him three days after submitting his application to congratulate him on his acceptance to The University of Chicago, where he will be attending this fall.
5.) What has been the most rewarding part about being an S2S Ambassador?
It’s a great feeling when veteran-applicants start to see their uniqueness as an asset. The bulk of my work is erasing the myth that successful applications are facsimiles of previously successful applications. Once they figure out their strengths, they become more effective storytellers and feel better about the application process in general.
6.) What is one piece of advice you want every veteran to be aware of?
You can get into ANY college you want to. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t perform to the best of your ability in your high school or college coursework from ten years ago. Take a few semesters at your local community college to establish a current record of your academic ability and apply. Many colleges already know that former service members make fantastic students — they’re hardworking, compassionate, and approach their schoolwork with the same vigor their previous occupation demanded. Taking advantage of S2S’s mentoring services is a privilege you earned and deserve.