For a decade, Tim Adams piloted aircraft for the United States Navy. Now, he guides students who have served or are currently enlisted in the military to achieve success in academics.
Adams has spent 25 years as a member of the U.S. military, first serving as a Navy pilot, then as part of the Naval Reserves, and finally as a Space Operations Officer for the Minnesota National Guard.
He began teaching at Minnesota State University, Mankato in the ROTC program. Today, Adams is the Military and Veteran Student Success Coordinator.
“My position is to help students, both military and veteran students, to achieve their academic, personal, and physical fitness goals,” Adams said. “Anything that they set, it’s my job to help them navigate the system at MNSU.”
Veteran students and students currently enlisted in the military face unique challenges. “We are by definition nontraditional,” Adams said. “When we come to school, a lot of people have a spouse, children, two kids, a dog and a mortgage.”
That can lead to difficulties fitting in to the university’s culture and classes. “Part of my job is finding a way for everyone to feel like they belong and learn how to fit in to the system as quickly as possible,” Adams said.
About 600 students work with the Veterans’ Resource Center. Some students have served for 20 years and are looking for job training to help them make the transition to civilian life. Others are younger, having served for four to six years, or are currently serving in the National Guard.
Military and veteran students have a long history at MNSU, going all the way back to the Civil War Era. “There’s been a history of veterans serving in Mankato back to the Civil War, so the very first Class back in 1868 would’ve included Civil War veterans who did their duty and came back home,” said Adams.
Besides the Veterans Resource Center, the university also has a Veterans’ Club, whose history goes back to World War II.
For Adams, camaraderie and engagement with the students is one of the greatest parts of the job. “It is fun to come in and hear what interesting and crazy things go on with the student veterans over the weekend,” he said. “Everybody here has a different background.”
“One of the best things that happens is when you come in and you sit down, you feel like ‘okay, there are people who understand me, who have been in my place and understand the problems that everyone else is having,’” Adams said. “There really is a feeling of family that grows here. If you’re one of us, you belong to us, and we’re going to do our best to make sure you succeed and thrive.”
Header photo courtesy of Tim Adams.