It is not uncommon to see a student in uniform on the Fort Hays State University campus. There are between 50 and 70 military students on campus during any given semester. They walk among other students, pursuing an education just like their civilian counterparts.
Unlike most students on campus, though, these few amongst the thousands have served or are serving to protect America from all enemies — both foreign and domestic. These 50-plus on-campus students are not alone, though. Through FHSU’s Virtual College, 900 other students are also taking classes while serving in the military.
Through FHSU’s military education program, the men and women who serve to protect America are able to receive an affordable, quality education, no matter where they are in the world.
Serving one’s country is not simple or easy, and it’s not made any easier by simultaneously pursuing an education. Many active duty soldiers do so while being “state side,” or while deployed overseas, through online education programs. FHSU’s Virtual College has established an award-winning program that brings to military students all the benefits civilian students enjoy, along with military-specific programs and benefits.
With a goal to offer a quality education to as many veterans as possible, the Virtual College brought on board a military student success coordinator to specifically work with active duty servicemen and women, as well as veterans. In doing so, FHSU didn’t just hire anyone. Enter Jeremy Carlton, a military veteran himself.
“FHSU was strategic in hiring someone who understands the military and military culture,” Carlton said. “What I do for military students here at FHSU is essentially what I was doing while I was on the military side of things. I did advising and logistical stuff like that.”
Carlton, who served in the Air Force from 2003 to 2011, was hired by FHSU in 2012 to work with prospective students, both active duty and veterans, who are looking to begin or to continue their education through FHSU’s on campus and Virtual classes. Carlton handles everything from recruiting military students to advising them on class selection, a job comprised of many duties he said keep him busy.
“I visit 10 to 20 bases across the country normally in a year,” Carlton said. “I go to career fairs and college fairs, handing out information about Fort Hays and give out shirts, pens and basically all things FHSU.”
Carlton also handles the government side of things.
“When it comes to working with the government at any level, there is, of course, an array of paperwork to file and reporting to be done,” Carlton said. “In addition to the paperwork, I communicate directly with both Topeka and Washington, as well as liaisons who recruit military students on Fort Hays’ behalf.”
On top of that, Carlton is also in charge of FHSU’s military program’s social media presence and is a philosophy instructor for the Virtual College.
“I have an undergraduate degree in theological studies,” Carlton said. “I also earned a master of divinity with an emphasis in historical theology and world religions from Wake Forest. I am currently working on my Ph.D. through the University of Amsterdam.”
Carlton and his wife, Sara, of 16 years have a daughter, Avery.
Editor’s note: This is a two-part series about the services offered to students in the military and to military veterans by Fort Hays State University.