Shaun Hogeback enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves when he was 17. Escaping a tough domestic situation, he wanted the stability of military life, along with its other benefits, like tuition assistance. Joining the reserves made college affordable for Hogeback, and in 2018 he started school at Miami University.
Through more than a few missed classes and a year-long deployment, Miami supported Hogeback’s career and education. Now, because of its dedication to him and many other students like him, Miami is recognized statewide as a Collegiate Purple Star school.
Miami earned the Collegiate Purple Star Award from the Ohio Department of Higher Education in May. Miami was one of the first universities to receive this award, which recognizes a commitment to veteran and military-affiliated students.
The Collegiate Purple Star Award is given to schools that are considered military-friendly and has many variations across the United States. However, this Ohio-specific designation is different from other programs because it is a free application process. One of the groups who initiated the program was the Ohio Veterans Educational Council, an organization of public and private institutions.
Nathan Hoch, a member of the council and coordinator of Veteran Benefits at Miami, said the council wanted to standardize the process of earning the designation across the state and keep decisions fair.
“We realized that [institutions] were essentially paying to play,” Hoch said. “If you paid your fees, paid your dues, then they would grant you that designation. So, to make it a little more fair for institutions in the state of Ohio, we decided to try to appeal to the Ohio Department of Education to see if there’s a way that we could create a statewide recognition system.”
This system became a reality in 2017.
While the Collegiate Purple Star Award was originally only available to K-12 Ohio schools, it expanded to include higher education institutions this year. Brent Shock, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, said Miami is glad to be recognized, and the award shows the university’s dedication to its military and military-affiliated students.
“We’re excited for the recognition,” Shock said. “We had already been supporting these students, and it was a chance for the university as well as a number of other universities to be recognized.”
Hogeback said Miami has gone above and beyond to accommodate his needs as a military student.
“As a member of the reserves, once a month, you go away for drill, and that’s a weekend,” Hogeback said. “Most of the time, it’s going to take up a Friday and sometimes a Thursday, and I never had a conflict with a professor for anything involving military service.”
Hogeback said before his deployment to the Middle East last year, Hoch helped him set his affairs straight.
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“Miami isn’t obligated to hold your credits,” Hogeback said. “Nathan did everything. He put me on academic leave. He held all my scholarships and all the grants. Then when I came back, he was the first person I talked to, and he got me re-enrolled right away. He did not have to do any of that … Technically I’m supposed to file for all that paperwork, but he did it on his own time.”
Hogeback’s professors also helped him transition into deployment. Prior to his deployment, he had to do a workup, which is several months of extended duty.
“I missed a lot of class time the spring semester, and all the professors were very understanding,” Hogeback said. “They actually let me take my exams early in most of my classes, which allowed me to leave in May for deployment.”
For Hogeback, Miami has earned its Purple Star.
“In terms of how Miami does,” Hogeback said, “I definitely think they deserve the award.”