Student Story

From Soldier to Student: Rebecca Mitchell ’22 on the Empowering Environment of Simmons

After ten years in the military, Rebecca Mitchell ’22 is embracing civilian life. In fall 2020, she enrolled at Simmons as an undergraduate for a second bachelor’s degree, via the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“Simmons has such a good reputation as a great place for women,” says Mitchell, who is considering a major in business management and a minor in leadership for social impact. She is interested in working in the non-profit sector. “I care about so many issues, human rights, sustainability, animal rights. I want to direct a nonprofit or work in senior management. That’s been the goal.”

After her military career, which included five years on active duty, Mitchell is happy to enter an academic environment geared toward women.

“The military teaches a team-centered mindset,” she says. “They train you to focus on the person next to you, not on yourself. It’s about taking responsibility for your team and taking care of each other. The team mentality makes you a good soldier and a great project manager.”

To support the overall wellness of soldiers, Mitchell started a yoga program for soldiers in her unit and worked to incorporate this into their lives. “Wellness is everything,” she says. “In the military, they talk about readiness, but if you aren’t feeling good — physically, emotionally — you aren’t going to be ready no matter what mission is thrown at you.”

Take in all of that positive energy from professors who are encouraging and supportive. It can really help to maintain motivation.

Mitchell has advice for veterans returning to school. “Take in all of that positive energy from professors who are encouraging and supportive. It can really help to maintain motivation. Some professors really understand the challenge of being an older adult in the classroom. Any kind word or gesture really goes a long way.”

She mentions Professor Charlene Spiceland and Professor Mary Shapiro, both of whom have offered encouragement. In addition, students should take advantage of the financial and professional resources Simmons offers, specifically, Stephen Pusateri, Assistant Director of Military & Veteran Services, and the Career Center.

“Stephen answered all of my financial aid questions and spent time to ensure I received the care I needed. I greatly appreciated that,” she says. “Also I didn’t have a resume when I came here since I had worked within the military system for so long. At Simmons, I worked with Lindsay Laguna at the Career Center. I met with her every week to build a resume based on my experience and she was phenomenal. She was very patient and really helped me transition back into a civilian employment mindset. ”

The transition from soldier to student required sacrificing a lucrative job in order to change paths. In spite of the challenges, Mitchell enjoys the atmosphere at Simmons. “This is a place that really cares about you as a woman. I wish every female soldier could experience Simmons! There are so many excellent, smart, and driven female soldiers who would enjoy this environment. I feel really lucky and grateful to be here.”

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