As we honor and reflect on Veterans Day this week, Nebraska Today featured Husker student veterans like Kyle Potratz who are making an impact on our campus. As a work study mentor in the Military & Veteran Success Center (MVSC), Potratz helps fellow student veterans get important resources they need to succeed across academics and life as a Husker.
“The transition from service to civilian life is pretty tough in general,” said Potratz, a senior actuarial science student from Spearfish, S.D. “I found the biggest hurdle to be finding a sense of belonging after having so much structure. I always found myself excelling in math courses in high school. As I considered my transition back into the civilian world, I focused on my areas of strength. In the military, I developed my leadership, decision-making, critical thinking and risk management skills. This is where I chose actuarial science.”
From helping to navigate the ins and outs of the GI Bill to needing a quiet place to study, Potratz said the MVSC operates as a catch-all for student veterans’ needs in helping them overcome these same hurdles.
“It’s the ability to be around people who have had similar experiences that’s been really meaningful,” he shared. “Whether it’s me coming to someone with a question or, in my role now, my ability to help someone out and get a question answered is a great feeling.”
Potratz joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school, stationed for a time in Twentynine Palms, California, before serving at U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Kenya and the Netherlands. After completing his service and arriving at the university to study actuarial science, Potratz says the MVSC made a huge impact on his transition.
“The biggest resource that helped me when I came to the university was the broad knowledge that the people in the MVSC have,” he explained. “Obviously there are always going to be a lot of questions when starting school that student veterans might not know the answers to, and the MSVC is a great place to find them.”
Potratz’s role also includes playing a part in honoring Nebraskans who’ve served, helping connect veterans across generations.
“At every home football game, they honor a veteran,” he explained. “One of my responsibilities is to escort them around the stadium. It’s a great chance to talk with them and just learn about their lives. It’s very humbling and another thing I appreciate about the MVSC — they provide a lot of great opportunities.”
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Published: November 8, 2023