BLOG: Transitioning from Service to the Classroom

Kendra Simpkins, a USFSM student veteran, serves as the Veterans Services Representative helping to create support groups and provide resources to other student veterans. Simpkins shares her experience in transitioning from service to the classroom, and how support from other Veterans is the best way to ease the transition.

Kendra Simpkins

The transition to a civilian can be scary, not to mention the added stress of going to school.  We are lucky to have such great VA education benefits, and as a veteran we already have the tools instilled in us to be successful.  It can be easy to feel lost and get complacent once we don’t have anyone telling us what to do and when to do it.  We are trained to be punctual, disciplined, have attention to detail, be teamwork oriented, work under pressure, and hold leadership qualities that we can tap into to make us successful students.  Just as these are essential for the military mission, we can transfer these skills into our schoolwork and into our future careers.  This is why employers want to hire veterans.

I believe the most important aspect to being a successful student veteran is to build a support groups with other veterans.  There’s a sense of calmness and relief from being around other veterans. They know and understand you, even if it’s the first time that you have met.  They know what you’ve been through and there’s that sense of camaraderie again.

I have found that there are certain things I must personally do to contribute to my success.  It is hard to balance school, work and play, but they are all essential to my well-being.  No matter how much work I think I have to do, I must make time to get outside and go for a run, and spend time with my family and friends.  An important part of my life and that which is most fulfilling is building relationships with veterans.  Through school, my position as USFSM Veterans Service Representative and the Wounded Warrior Project I have added to my support system and friendships that I will continue to have for a lifetime.  

It’s a struggle to transition out of the military, and sometimes that also brings psychological difficulties, but thankfully I had others to show me that this is the way to success.  Now having that personal experience, I hope to support and encourage those going through the same process.  It’s a process, from military to school to the workforce, but it takes one day at a time.  We picked up essential skills during military training and now have what it takes to be successful.  As long as we can be devoted to applying them, ask for help when we need it, and stay close to our great support systems, each day can be guaranteed to be better than yesterday.

A Veteran Affairs Work Study representative at USF Sarasota-Manatee (SMC C107) will assist you with obtaining, completing, and submitting your documentation to the Veterans Services Office on the USF Tampa campus. The USF Tampa staff members provide a point-of-contact for VA students attending all USF System campuses and assists students with using their VA Educational Benefits, and serves as information and referral resources.

USF Sarasota-Manatee VA Work Study contact by phone 941-359-4291 or email

You can also directly contact the USF Tampa Office of Veterans Serviceslocated at SVC 2127,4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620. They are available 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday (except holidays) and can be reached by phone at (813) 974-2291 or through their website