Student veterans prepare to continue lifetime of service

May 1, 2024 WCC Public Relations


Washtenaw Community College is proud to be named a gold-level veteran-friendly school by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

The Wadhams Veterans Center on the second floor of the college’s Student Center is a place where military veterans attending WCC can meet fellow veterans, receive academic advising or just hang out.

It’s a great place to meet students with interesting stories, including Melanie Chen and Nathniel Jaskierny.

Chen: Preparing for a Medical Career

Photo of student Melanie Chen.One of the best aspects of Melanie Chen’s time at Washtenaw Community College has been the lineup of instructors who teach in-depth and make time for students outside of class. 

 “All of them are engaging, willing to sit down with you and have an eagerness to teach others what they know,” says Chen, a 27-year-old student from New Jersey.  

Chen worked in intelligence while serving in the U.S. Army from 2015 to 2019 and already has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Michigan. At WCC, she’s been taking needed general and pre-requisite courses to build up her educational resume as she prepares to apply to competitive Physician Assistant schools.  

“I would love to practice medicine and help others and will likely end up in endocrinology, emergency medicine or surgery,” she says. “WCC hits all the marks of what I need.” 

Chen appreciates how well-connected she feels to the college community, crediting the Wadhams Veterans Center staff and her fellow vets. The college is especially equipped to prepare students like her for their next chapter.

“While big schools focus on a research background, the classes at WCC are in-depth and I find them more relevant to the healthcare profession,” she says. “The education itself can lead people to success wherever they choose to go.” 

She is also getting plenty of experience in healthcare settings as a medical assistant at a Novi urgent care facility and as a concierge volunteer at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield.


Jaskierny: Influencing the Next Generation

Photo of student Nathaniel Jaskierny.Adjusting to civilian life after the military came with challenges, but Nathaniel Jaskierny has navigated the transition smoothly from the campus of Washtenaw Community College. 

Jaskierny, a six-year U.S. Air Force veteran whose military work included nuclear security and presidential security, moved from Maryland a year and a half ago to attend WCC. 

“It was a lot of big life things all at once,” says Jaskierny, now 27. “We bought a house. We were planning a wedding. I was separating from the military.” Jaskierny’s wife, whose family is from the area, is a nurse. He initially planned to follow the same path. 

Connecting with the Wadhams Veterans Center on campus was vital to his transition and realizing what he wanted to do — help influence today’s children and teens as a teacher. Jaskierny decided to study chemistry at WCC and this fall will transfer to Eastern Michigan University to earn a secondary teaching degree in chemistry.

Between his family responsibilities — he just became a first-time father — his classes and work as a patient care assistant at Trinity Health Hospital in Chelsea, Jaskierny is busy but excited about the future.

“When I was in the military, I did a lot of training and I’ve always enjoyed teaching. My classes at WCC made it easy to learn. Chemistry always felt like an interest instead of schoolwork, and I want to elicit that same feeling in my own students someday,” he says.

“They’re the next generation and I don’t want them to fall through the cracks.”


This story appears in the  Summer 2024 edition of Launch magazine. See complete issue.

Tags: 2024, Launch, Launch Summer 2024, Student Success, Wadhams Veterans Center

Take the
Next Step