Service, studies come together at Western
When Greg Dash graduated from East Hampton High School in 2009, he knew his college of choice would provide him with two things: the opportunity to play baseball for the Colonials and the ability to pursue a degree in justice and law to prepare him for a desired career in law enforcement. After injuries sidelined his baseball aspirations, Dash had more time to focus on school and think about another goal — one that went way back to his childhood: to serve in the U.S. military.
“I’ve always known I wanted to serve and hopefully be a combat medic,” Dash said. “When I was a sophomore, a recruiter came to campus and I spoke with him about enlisting. I wanted to do it sooner rather than later, while I was still young.”
While some may wonder why, after only a year in college, he might want to switch gears and go from student to soldier, Dash soon found out he could do both simultaneously.
“After talking to the recruiter, I realized I could serve and still be in school at the same time,” he said. “My professors could give me the flexibility I needed to accommodate my training.”
Dash enlisted in the Army National Guard in March 2011, during the spring semester of his sophomore year at Western. By May, he was at basic training in Fort Sill, Okla. From there, he went to combat medic training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, before returning to Connecticut to join his unit: the 1-102nd Infantry Regiment, based out of New Haven.
During the 2012 fall semester, Dash took a rough terrain evacuation course at Camp Jericho, Vt., and later attended airborne school in January 2013 at Fort Benning. Ga. Dash said during his absence from campus, his professors were extremely accommodating and in constant contact to keep him current on his reading assignments and allow him leeway on deadlines for papers. He missed a lot of class time, but in return, he said, “The benefits were huge, thanks to the GI Bill and tuition assistance.”
Dash also found out that instead of struggling to balance school and service, his training “ended up making me a better student — instilling a sense of discipline and an unwillingness to slack off that I didn’t have to that degree before. Meeting deadlines became more important to me, and I learned the value of time management.”
Twice, Dash said, he had training weekends right before finals. “It was difficult, but you plan ahead and you plan around it.”
When he graduates this May with a Bachelor of Science in Justice and Law, Dash hopes to become a state trooper in an urban setting. “I want to go someplace where there is a high crime rate so I can work actively at being a crime fighter,” he said. “I don’t want to be at a desk.” He’ll also remain a member of the guard until 2017, at which point he plans to re-enlist “for a long time.”
Western has a dedicated Veterans Affairs Office. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for information about the services this office can provide. For information about the GI Bill, go to www.wcsu.edu/finaid/veterans.asp. To join the campus community of veterans, visit the WCSU Student Veterans Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/WCSUVeterans.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.