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LaFargeville native made Albany campus a more welcoming place for veterans

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ALBANY — A LaFargeville native has spent his four years at the University at Albany making the campus a more welcoming place for veterans like himself.

As president of UAlbany Veterans, Chad L. Simpson, a 2007 graduate of LaFargeville Central School, understands the transition from military service to university life.

“The military is a very different world compared to a university,” Mr. Simpson said in a news release. “I was in active duty in the Army between the ages of 17 and 21, so I came into my own as a soldier. I left to get an education but did not realize the unique struggles I would face.”

Starting college at age 21, Mr. Simpson didn’t feel he fit in with traditional students. He had served in active duty beginning in 2006 when he joined the reserves while still in high school. He was in the service through 2010, stationed mainly out of Fort Richardson, near Anchorage, Alaska.

At college, he felt different, more mature than the average 18-year-old freshman. Then for two years he served in the Army reserves in an Albany-area unit.

He considered dropping out of college on several occasions. One day he spotted a poster for a meeting of the campus veterans’ organization and he decided to check it out.

“I was able to connect with like-minded individuals and they provided the support I needed,” he said.

When UAlbany Veterans first opened its lounge, Mr. Simpson had a place to go in between classes. As part of this group, Mr. Simpson discovered his passion for helping people. Today, there are 90 registered members.

“Here at the university I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of veterans. I like to think that in some way I have made their transition smoother and easier than mine,” he said.

The history and political science major also processes benefits for veterans as a work-study student in the university’s financial aid office.

Mr. Simpson has received the President’s Award for Leadership, the Veteran/Military Leadership Award and the Purple and Gold Award for emerging student leaders. He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, political science honor society, and Phi Alpha Theta, history honor society.

An avid hiker, Mr. Simpson has spent other summers hiking several hundred mile stretches of the Appalachian Trail. One day he plans to hike it end to end.

He is looking for immediate employment as he considers whether to go to graduate school or pursue finding a job in which he can combine a passion for helping others with his love of adventure and travel.

The university’s graduation ceremony for undergraduates is Sunday.

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