GREAT FALLS — In celebrating the men and women who have served our country over the course of U.S. History, the University of Providence is honoring their own military students through the refurbishment of their Veterans Student Center.
In August of 2023, the University received a $7,000 grant from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation to fund the refurbishment of the Veterans’ Student Center inside Sullivan Hall. Through this grant, Dr. Deanna Koepke, Coordinator of University-Military Relations and Associate Professor of Sociology was able to refurbish the space to create a more welcoming environment for active and retired military to gather and study.
"We've had the Veterans Center on campus for about 10 years. I was really looking for an opportunity to do a refresh where we can make it a more welcoming space for our veterans, students, and military family members."
Located minutes away from Malmstrom Air Force Base, the University said they find value in supporting active military and veterans. From offering educational and financial aid opportunities, to accepting military benefits and establishing a renewed space to gather.
Dace Steinke is a former student at the University of Providence and is now part of the Montana Air National Guard. He explained his previous experience using the Veterans Center.
"I've only had limited interaction with the Veterans Center here on Campus," he said. "I came here a couple times and every time I came in, there was only a couple people, so I didn't get the chance to talk or communicate as well with my fellow veterans or students as I would've liked."
Steinke said the Veterans Center is one that all students should take advantage of, especially now that upgrades have been in place.
"I would definitely encourage all veterans, whether they're students or professors, just to come in here and get that sense of comraderie back again. I know that being in the military, we really value having those relationships with our fellow soldiers, airmen, Marines, and I think it's just a good idea to know that you're not the only veteran on campus and have a place to meet and just hang out."
Now complete, Koepke said there are some possibilities of partnerships to help veterans utilize various resources.
"Just this summer, we were able to offer two lunchtime classes up on the hill with the Guard. We offer them public speaking and a math class. We were so excited to spend that time with them. It was a really fantastic experience."