At University of Maryland University College, teaching our students the skills they need to transition successfully into the civilian workforce is a personal experience. We know that each student faces his or her own unique challenges, and empowering students to overcome those challenges, pursue their education, and develop a successful career is our primary objective. The story of David Galazyn, the subject of this month's student spotlight, is an example.

Galazyn grew up in Orange, California, and is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). After the military, Galazyn worked in Iraq as a protective security detail team member for a U.S. Department of State contract, after which he pursued his Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice. His education began when he took a UMUC course at Sinai South Camp, which inspired his interest in higher education and gave him the confidence to take college courses after he was discharged. Galazyn furthered his education by earning a Master of Social Work from California State University, Long Beach, with the intention to serve veterans. He has worked as a lead case manager helping homeless veterans, and he currently works as an adjunct counselor at Santa Ana College in California with a focus on assisting veterans who are transitioning out of the military.

Movie: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
UMUC Course: Computers and Society
Book: The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973)
Activities: Backyard orchard culture, video gaming, philosophical debate

How was your transition from active duty?
It was not easy. I experienced a real culture shock coming from a combat deployment as an infantryman and stepping into a community college. Then I went to Iraq as a PSD team member on a U.S. Department of State contract. I really wanted to get back to being a student, so I left Iraq and started my undergraduate program in criminal justice, thinking I would enjoy being a police officer. As I started into the field, however, I realized I enjoyed military and veteran concerns more, so I started volunteering at my local VA hospital and learned disability claims. Afterward, I became involved in social work and earned a master's degree in social work from California State University, Long Beach.

How was your college experience?
Strangely, in some ways it was easier than I expected, and in other ways, it was more difficult. I really had to budget my funds to maintain my apartment, which took some getting used to. The courses I found were more difficult during my first and second years, but they got easier (or I got better) by my third and fourth years. By the time I was in my master's program, the courses were easy for me so long as I put in the work.

What were your plans after graduation?
I am now working on becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Also, I am looking into a PhD program, possibly in economics. No matter where I go, I want to remain focused on military and veterans services.

What advice do you have for incoming UMUC students?
Do not sell yourself short, and plan for a graduate degree. A graduate degree is not that hard once you make it through your bachelor's. The most difficult time is during your undergraduate program when you are getting used to your new "job" as a student. After you complete a bachelor's, your view of college work will change, and you should not be intimidated to pursue further education.

What advice do you have for students who are transitioning out of the military?
Just do every assignment. You would be amazed at how many students just do not do the work. The attitude of pushing through to your mission objective gives you a distinct advantage over the younger college students who do not have that mindset. If any professor ever offers extra credit, do it first; this will really help your grades.

What have you learned at UMUC that you'll take with you when you graduate?
College was not as intimidating as I thought it would be, and if you just work toward an education goal—even if you are not sure it is the right degree or field—opportunities will open up that you never would have guessed were going to show up.

Find out how you can take the next step toward achieving your education and career goals.