|The magazine of University of Houston-Clear Lake
fall 2012 | volume 19 | number 1
Voices for Veterans
Randy Seawright is a force to reckon with. And teamed up with William “Bill” Shock, they are a pair of former U.S. Marine Corps sergeants who are changing the presence of veterans and veteran resources at UHCL.
When Seawright arrived at UHCL in 2011 he saw an opportunity to help support veterans at the university and has made it his mission ever since. Seawright got in touch with Coordinator of Student Life - Student Organizations Patrick Cardenas and began taking the steps toward creating a UHCL chapter of the Student Veterans Association.
With every step Seawright made toward creating a veteran’s presence at the university, it seemed like someone else had the same piece of advice: you have to meet Bill Shock. For weeks Seawright heard about “this Bill Shock guy” and wondered about the man whose reputation seemed to precede him.
When Seawright and Shock finally were introduced weeks later at a university alumni event, neither of them could’ve predicted the friendship that would soon form. Both are former Marines; both their wives Aimone and Camille, respectively, are from South America; they each began their degrees at San Jacinto College; they both love golf — Seawright brags about how awful he is — and they both believe in creating a stronger relationship between UHCL and veterans.
Currently a senior tax agent for Occidental Petroleum Corp., Shock is the outgoing chair for the UHCL Alumni Association Executive Council and has been part of the AAEC since 2009. In 2005, between completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he created the William E. Shock Scholarship for School of Business undergraduate students.
“I hope the scholarship can help someone at UHCL the way the university helped me,” says Shock. After meeting Seawright and hearing about his degree plan, Shock mentioned Seawright to his boss. “My boss volunteered to talk to Randy about what he could do with the career path he’s moving toward.”
While Shock doesn’t consider himself a mentor, Seawright definitely sees him as a mentor and a friend, and hopes to create similar relationships between current students and alumni across the campus.
“Not everybody is going to follow in the footsteps of their veteran mentor,” says Seawright. “But there may be one or two, and Bill has really motivated me to get this veterans office and to stay active and stay in there. He’s there for alumni coffee nights and he wants to be involved. If I can do that, if I can help one or two people that are in my shoes … it has to start somewhere.”
Shock and Seawright are using that mentality to help establish a stronger veteran resource presence at UHCL.
Seawright leaned on his classmates at San Jacinto College that were transferring to UHCL to help develop the SVA. Even if a student could only dedicate a few weeks or months to help collect or distribute information, he was grateful for their help. UHCL students Heather Kulhanek and Nicholas Darling have also been instrumental in establishing the SVA and keeping it running.
“If I saw someone in a camouflaged shirt or shorts, I pulled them out and talked to them,” says Seawright, who admits that he stayed in the Office of Financial Aid more than he should have, pulling students aside and educating them on veteran’s benefits and just making himself available if students or staff had any questions.
The SVA started hosting a weekly fundraiser called Taco Tuesdays, not only to raise funds for the organization but also to get their name out and to increase the number of veterans registering to get involved. During summer break last year they hosted a luncheon for local veteran groups to gain input from them and to tailor the plan for veteran resources on campus.
“Though the students at UHCL have worked hard to help create the Student Veterans Association, I really want an actual salaried individual in charge of veteran information on campus,” says Seawright. “A child, a job, a car wreck — those things could stop a student’s involvement at any time. We need the support of a salaried individual so that we are an actual force on campus.”
This past spring, Seawright helped write the job description for the university’s first veterans office staff member and early in the fall 2012 semester, that position description was approved. A Veterans Service Office, staffed by a full-time staff member, will be established at UHCL during the spring 2013 semester.
Originally proposed as an office that assisted students in resolving issues and connecting them to other offices that would provide the services, the VSO’s responsibilities evolved to make it more of a one-stop shop for veterans on campus. The VSO will offer information on financial aid and military service credit for current military and veterans, and even helping students address university affairs before deploying. It will also serve as a central point for uniting veterans with student and university services to support student success.
Getting Shock involved in his two-year plan was critical, synergizing the relationship for alumni and current students who are veterans or are interested in supporting veteran resources.
“It was a good fit to bring me in because they already have some students and faculty involved, and now they have some alumni involved so we can work on this from three different directions,” says Shock in regard to the creation of the SVA and the planning stages for a full-time staff position geared toward helping veterans at UHCL. But Shock is humble in regard to his part. “Those students are the ones who really got this thing off the ground.”
Seawright gave himself a two-year deadline to change things for veterans at UHCL and as the second year begins, things are moving according to plan.
If you’re interested in becoming involved in the Student Veterans Association or if you’re a veteran with questions about your resources at UHCL, contact email@example.com.
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