SOURCE: College of DuPage

College of DuPage

February 24, 2016 17:00 ET

COD Student Receives Full Scholarship Through Posse Foundation Veterans Program

GLEN ELLYN, IL--(Marketwired - February 24, 2016) -  College of DuPage student Lance Williams has been accepted into the Posse Foundation's Veterans Program and will receive a full-ride scholarship to Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Founded in 1989, the nonprofit Posse Foundation Inc. provides full-tuition scholarships to public high school students with academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. The Posse Foundation also created three additional initiatives, including the Posse Veterans Program, which identifies veterans interested in pursuing bachelor's degrees at top colleges and universities.

"I'm still at a loss for words," the Warrenville resident said. "I never thought I would end up at a school like Wesleyan." 

Williams will transfer in the fall as part of a cohort consisting of nine other veterans receiving ongoing support, including weekly meetings with a faculty advisor through graduation. Jose Alferez, Manager of Veterans Services at College of DuPage, encouraged Williams to apply for the scholarship based upon his performance at COD.

"It's an incredibly competitive program, so we are all very proud of what Lance has accomplished," Alferez said. "He is a shining example for other veterans, and I hope they are inspired to find and pursue opportunities in order to achieve and surpass their goals."

Williams was always interested in the military. In fact, as a kid, he watched videos of Army Rangers and Navy Seals on the Internet.

"My father was in the first infantry division (aka The Big Red One) during the Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm," he said. "I remember growing up with a sense of pride that my father served in the military, and I knew at a very young age that serving in the military was something I was going to do."

Williams said he was near the bottom of his high school class academically. So it was no surprise when he enlisted upon turning 17.

"I knew that I wanted to be in special operations and become the best of the best. I wanted to do the things that everybody talks about but nobody knows about," he said. "I joined the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the selection process was extremely difficult. By the end of the course, I had a severe hairline fracture in the neck of my femur from the stress of the course."

Only 40 percent of the original 175 men completed the course, and Williams was one of them. He served in the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment for four years with multiple deployments to Afghanistan.

"The 75th is not for the faint of heart. It was full of the highest of highs and some lows, but overall my experiences have made me stronger than I ever could have imagined and wiser well beyond my years."

After completing his military service, Williams began thinking about the next phase of his life and turned to College of DuPage. His initial goal was eventually to earn a bachelor's degree in economics and entrepreneurship, inspired by two brothers who graduated from the University of Chicago -- one in economics and the other in political science. But having received the Posse Foundation scholarship, Williams feels pulled toward a greater purpose, such as working for the government, perhaps in the FBI, CIA or politics.

While he considers which career path to pursue, Williams said the possibilities for his future have expanded since starting at College of DuPage. 

"At COD, I have really tested myself," he said. "I'm good at managing expectations, but I never could have imagined myself performing as well as I have. I owe much of my success to the great faculty members on campus who got me to put forth the best work I've ever done. I've learned how to think critically and I've really improved all of my skills, especially in writing and speaking. 

"I just want to thank College of DuPage and all of the great support systems, especially the Veterans Services office. All students need to seek out help and opportunities, because they can be under your nose without your knowing about it but they can change your life." 

For more information about the Veterans Services program at College of DuPage, visit www.cod.edu/admission/veterans.

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