Clubs & Organizations

New Organization for Nontraditional Students

Many alumni have memories of their first days away from their family homes and adjusting to life straight out of high school as freshmen on the MMA campus. But, for the nontraditional student—one defined as 24 years or older, married or a veteran of military service—the transition can be especially tricky.

“You are surrounded by younger students with less life experience, and it’s hard to connect with others to whom you can relate,” says Rebecca Rankin, a Vessel Operations and Technology major who is secretary of the MMA Nontraditional Student Association. The group was established last spring to address such concerns and more. Rankin is 33 with prior college experience before coming to MMA.

There are nearly 100 nontraditional students at MMA, including many veterans, of which 25-30 have joined the new group now affiliated with the National Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE).

The MMA group has held several meetings and informal gatherings, and “getting together and talking about common concerns has been powerful just in itself,” says Rankin.

But the association is more than a support group and is also involved in helping nontraditional students gain credit and recognition for life and career experience at MMA, says Marine Transportation Operations major Nicholas Lewis, president of the association. “We’re working to help create more concrete and consistent policies for nontraditional students, especially those in the regiment.”

Leaders from the group attended an ANTSHE national conference where there was much discussion about ways to generate scholarship opportunities. “Because of our age, we don’t qualify for many of the MMA scholarships available to other students,” says Rankin, “so one of our key goals is to identify additional sources for financial aid.”

While the group is in its fledgling stages, it has the enthusiastic support of MMA leadership. “We believe they serve a vital role in our community,” notes Janet Acker, one of the group’s faculty advisors and executive assistant to President Bill Brennan.

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