When 28-year-old Donald “D.J.” DiVieste transitions from military to academic life later in a couple of months, there will be a support team waiting for him at Heidelberg University. DiVieste says he’s ready for new challenges that will include balancing academics and athletics.
Heidelberg University’s Veteran & Military Support Team was formed to assist and support vets as they shift to civilian and collegiate life. The team includes staff and faculty from various facets of campus, such as Admission, Financial Aid, Registrar, Business Office, Mentoring, Academic and Career Success Center and Health and Counseling Services.
DiVieste, a Warren, Ohio, native who served five years with the U.S. Air Force, will be among the first to benefit from the Veteran & Military Support Team.
“After an extensive college search I narrowed it down to smaller enrollment schools that were a part of the Yellow Ribbon Program,” said DiVieste. “After being out of school for a while I wanted to better my chances of a closer relationship with my professors so that the lines of communications would be better than being at a large school. This was the main reason I chose Heidelberg.”
Heidelberg is consistently listed among the top 15 percent of schools named Military Friendly Schools by the annual survey conducted by G.I. Job magazine. The university also participates in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides tuition assistance to veterans. Additionally, Heidelberg reviews any previous military experience and training for possible college credit, based on the American Council on Education guidelines as published in The Guide to the Evaluation of Military Experiences in the Armed Services.
“The thing I am looking forward to most when it comes to the upcoming year is the challenge. I know it’s going to be challenging getting back into the classroom and participating in athletics. I have set a goal of earning a 3.0 or higher GPA and plan to do whatever it takes to achieve that,” said DiVieste.
“You look at academics much differently when you’re a little bit older. I tried college for a little bit before joining the Air Force and wasn’t mature enough to get good grades. I needed to make a change. So I did and now there’s nothing more I care about that being successful in the classroom.”
Knowing that he would be missing the camaraderie he experienced in the military, DiVieste also saw Heidelberg’s participation in NCAA Division III athletics as an opportunity to fill that void. “After being accepted I spoke to the head coach of the football team, Mike Hallett, about getting involved. He has been excited since the first day he heard from me. He mentioned he is a huge military supporter and would love to have that kind of guy on his team. I hope that with the leadership skills I have learned in the military, I will be able to use that to help lead as a student-athlete at Heidelberg University.”
DiVieste is one of many qualified servicemen and women heading back to campus to continue their education. He credits the military for helping him better prepare for this transition. “I feel that because of my training and always having to be ‘ahead of the game’ the military has prepared me for academic work. I hope to treat prepping for class work in the same way,” Divieste said. “The amount of adversity I have dealt with and overcome has been a confidence builder and helped me grow as a person. I feel that this too will help me in the tougher times of going back to school.”