Newest Grant Recipient at Lewis University

The newest school to receive  a grant application is Lewis University, a liberal arts school located 30 minutes Southwest of Chicago in Romeoville, IL.  The school applied to Aurora in hopes of creating a Veterans' Ally Program, in which faculty and staff would learn about the different issues veterans face as they return to school.  As educators, they would learn how to best help their student veterans acclimate to the classroom, and know how to give them any special assistance they might need. 

The Office of Military and Veteran Affairs is lead by Roman Ortega, Jr., who served in the US Army for 15 years and achieved the rank of Major.  He earned his MBA, and serves as the first Director for Veterans Affairs and Recruitment at Lewis University.  With nearly 8% of the school's population active duty military or veteran, the school identified the need for this program to help their student veterans smoothly transition to the classroom. 

As word continues to spread about the Aurora Foundation, we are receiving an increased number of applications from schools all across the country.  A couple different factors which distinguished Lewis University from the rest of the schools were that over 5% of their population identified as veteran or active duty.  They also clearly laid out a system to not only identify their student veterans, but track them from the moment they came on campus to the day they left the school - either through attrition or graduation.  As Aurora continues to give grants to schools, we want to ensure we can learn about the retention and graduation rates of student veterans, to know whether or not the funds are helping the students stay in school and successfully graduate. 

Please click here to read more about Lewis University's Department of Veterans Affairs and Recruitment.  Congratulations to LU, and the beginnings of their Veterans Ally Program!

Challenges Faced by Student Veterans - Part Four

As we continue through her article, "Ten Things You Should Know About Today's Student Veteran," Alison Lighthall discusses many different challenges students veterans might face in today's classroom, and offers some perspective, not only from her point of view as a nurse and medical behavioral health consultant, but also as a female veteran. 

Fifteen percent of America's current military is made up of females, and according to the Veterans Administration, 22% of females have experienced a sexual assault during their time in service.  Ms. Lighthall notes that when assault happens to a female serving in the military, she "experiences it as incest, as this is coming from her military family," and is often hesitant to report it for fear it could damage the "family" unity. 

Sometimes, when she returns home and begins a new chapter as a student, she begins to process and unravel the event, and needs to talk to professional counselors who will be able to help her.  The school can follow specific guidelines for referring female student vets, and help her gain access to the basic resources on campus, as well as offerings from the VA. 

According to the VA, female veterans are four times more likely than their male counterparts to experience homelessness.  The harassment, assaults, or other harmful incidents they may encounter while serving are far too often kept quiet.  Women are warriors, and they see themselves as tough, often having to prove themselves to their fellow male soldiers, sailors, or airmen.  The damage for female veterans is long-lasting, as shown by the statistic above.  The impact of any assault that does not get treatment has life-long affects, and when female veterans are unable to stay in school because they have not received the help they need, we see the ramifications can last a lifetime.

There are organizations who are doing a large amount of good for female veterans, asking them to not only share their stories or heroism, but take a stand to reverse female homelessness and raise awareness of workplace violence in the military.  In particular, Aurora has been proud to watch one of our own internship partners, Denyse Gordon of CACI, become the first Ms. Veteran America in 2012 through an organization called Final Salute.  Denyse used her crown to not only increase awareness of the problems facing female veterans, but also to share her story and inspire women to continue with their education after the military.  Denyse is now the Senior Manager of Veteran Support & Inclusion at CACI, and she is an inspiration to many female veterans who experienced trauma in the military and was able to overcome.


Challenges Faced by Student Veterans - Part Three

In her article "Ten Things You Should Know About Today's Student Veteran," Alison Lighthall references that, "getting through the dizzying, sometimes maddening maze of Veterans Affairs paperwork may be the biggest obstacle that student veterans face in getting a higher education."

As veterans make plans to return to school, the first part of planning involves access to their GI Bill benefits.  Many veterans have access to different versions of the bill; the most recent GI Bill, the Post 9/11 GI Bill, gives veterans returning to school the most coverage, as well as stipends to live while they are in classes.  However, navigating through which bills they have access to, as well as understanding their full benefits is not always easy.

Recognizing the challenge of navigating through the GI Bill System, the University of North Carolina created a proposal for the Aurora Foundation to consider in 2012.  They proposed a website called the Educational Positioning System (or EPS), which allowed veterans who were even remotely interested in returning to school to create a free profile, answer questions about their service, and discover not only the version of the GI Bill for which they qualified, but the benefits associated with each version.  The website not only serves to help veterans, but also allows schools to sign up and create a profile of their course offerings and degrees for veterans to peruse.

After hearing about the assistance this site had the potential to provide for veterans, Aurora funded it's creation and is pleased to offer it as a tool for veterans to use to help best understand their benefits.  For more information on the EPS site, please click here.

Challenges Faced By Student Veterans - Part Two

While discussing the challenges faced by veterans as they transition from the battlefield to the classroom, we see a lot of differences between traditional college students and veterans returning to school.  One of the main differences is that student veterans are not always solely responsible for just themselves.  They have families - spouses and children - they need to care for while not only making ends meet, but re-inventing their careers through higher education.

Aurora has seen this first-hand.  Almost all the student veterans in 2013 were married, and several had children.  Their school consisted of night classes in order for them to work during the day and be a part of their kids' lives.  Oftentimes, the job they worked during the day was not a job in their future career field, but something that would simply help pay the bills until they could find a more substantial career. 

These added responsibilities outside of school can come together and cause stress that a traditional college student would not be able to understand.  Student veterans drop out of school for many reasons, but one such reason is the added pressure - sometimes there's less time to study, make ends meet, and plan for the future.

What has your experience been when going back to school?  If you have a family, how did you make everything balance? 

Thanks so all for their input, and have a wonderful Veterans Weekend!

Challenges Faced by Student Veterans - Part One

Student veterans are a unique group on the campus of any college or university.  They add a perspective that few can understand, and they bring a maturity to the classroom that their fellow 18-22 year old peers may not have.  They are a valuable asset to any school, but may have different challenges they face which no one may ever know about. 

Throughout the month of November, it is our goal at Aurora to highlight some of the things that student veterans would probably tell their peers and professors.  We welcome any dialogue, especially from student veterans who want to voice their thoughts. We'll use a fascinating article by Alison Lighthall called "Ten Things You Should Know About Today's Student Veteran" to help us highlight these challenges, and discuss how Aurora's grants have funded programs on campuses to help overcome them.

The first thing Ms. Lighthall discusses is the move from military to civilian, and how it can feel like a loss of identity for the student veteran.  We have heard this echoed from our student veteran interns here at Aurora, noting that when they left the military, they were part of a group that was mission-focused, and the drive in college is often geared towards the individual's success.  There's a loss of working together as a team, and there's a feeling of entering uncharted waters.    

Lighthall discusses how important it is to connect student veterans to each other on campus.  This can be done through veterans groups on campus; many schools have formed veteran centers where the student vets have a lounge in which they can study, meet with a Veteran Coordinator to help them navigate the school, and create events for vets to meet up outside of campus.  This is an important way to help them maintain their sense of camaraderie while on campus. 

What do you think?  What is your experience in collaborating with other student veterans on campus?  Feel free to let us know and share how camaraderie has made a difference in your campus experience! 

Gratitude in November for our Student Veterans

Throughout the month of November, Aurora will honor the student veterans who have interned with our corporate and community sponsors.  We'll be talking about how they overcame challenges as they transitioned from military to civilian life and recognizing their families, community networks, and corporate sponsors who have all joined together to help them succeed!   

Please join us by following Aurora on Facebook and Twitter as we extend our gratitude to our student veterans for their service to our Nation.  You are welcome to share your stories, too, of other student veterans who are transitioning "from boots to books to business."

See you online! 

Josh Tredinnick Completes Internship with Aurora

On  September 23rd, Aurora had the privilege of hosting a reception for its 26th student veteran intern.  Joshua Tredinnick, a veteran of the United States Army and wounded warrior, completed an internship with CACI's Arlington campus, working with their department of Veteran Support & Inclusion.  After his internship was complete, he was offered a part-time job with CACI, and continues to work alongside Ms. Denyse Gordon supporting veterans entering the company.

Josh is a full-time student at George Mason University, working on his degree in Criminal Justice.  He is scheduled to complete his degree in December of 2013, and plans to continue looking for full-time work once he graduates.

While discussing his internship, Josh noted the difference it makes for veterans coming into CACI to have a veteran there helping them through the process.  "It helps to know you're working with someone who understands where you've been, and has the work ethic you do, because you both understand what it means to serve."  Denyse Gordon, the Senior Manager for Veteran Support & Inclusion, is also a veteran of the Air Force, and noted the extra mile Josh goes to help the veterans acclimate to their new jobs once they arrive at CACI.  "To know that someone in the company has walked in your shoes and can relate to you without you having to explain yourself is invaluable, especially to these new employees who are entering the civilian workforce for the first time out of the military." 

 from Left: CACI Representative Denyse Gordon congratulates Josh Tredinnick, along with his wife Erica, on his accomplishments as a CACI intern.

from Left: CACI Representative Denyse Gordon congratulates Josh Tredinnick, along with his wife Erica, on his accomplishments as a CACI intern.

Alongside Aurora staff members Tom DeWitt, Beth Miller-Herholtz, and Ellen Hembree, Denyse Gordon from CACI came to thank Josh for his hard work.  His biggest fans were there as well: Josh's wife, Erica, and their three sons - Mason, Micah, and Miles.  Congratulations to Josh on all his hard work!

Aurora Helps Fund Educational Positioning System

October 8, 2013.  Aurora Board Member Col. Tom Leavitt (Ret.) traveled to the University of North Carolina's Board of Governor's Meeting, held on the Pembroke Campus in Pembroke, NC.  Col. Leavitt has taken trips in the past in order to update the Board on the progress of Aurora's grants to various schools.  In the summer of 2012, Aurora gave UNC a $35,000 grant to create a website called the Educational Positioning System, aimed at helping members of the Armed Service navigate through higher education to find their best fit upon returning to school.

The site, made up of different interactive modules to help participants, would achieve the following:
·         choose the most appropriate higher education opportunity
·         navigate the admissions, enrollment, financial aid, and credit transfer process
·         understand the available military educational benefit options
·         transition successfully from military culture to campus life
·         access on-campus as well as community support services and resources
·         achieve success in school and beyond
·         locate and utilize internship and job placement resources

There are three modules, which, upon completion, will help students better navigate the UNC system.  The first module, completed in mid-May 2013, is called "Paying for your Education: The GI Bill and More."  This will help them go through the GI Bill and determine which benefits best suit their needs.  The second module, completed in mid-June, is called "Residency for Tuition Purposes."  They will be able to understand legal requirements and the process for resident classification for tuition purposes at North Carolina's public campuses.  The third and final module is called "Selecting and Applying for College," and was completed at the end of July.  This final module will help students determine the right school for them, how to apply, and initial steps to enrollment. 

Currently, the University of North Carolina owns the rights to this site, and will sell licenses to other schools seeking to put their information on the EPS site for veterans to navigate.  Aurora saw the value in this site for veterans because there are currently no specific sites which clearly articulate the GI Bill and help military find a place in the higher education system.  This site is free to use for military and their families, and allows each person who logs on to use it to create a profile in which they can track their progress from what GI Bill they used to where they decided to enroll.  There will be no advertisements on the site, nor will there be any slant to enroll in a certain type of school, such as an online or for-profit institution.  This site aligns with Aurora's goal to help veterans successfully graduate from school; in order to graduate, one must enter the right school for them, offering the programs and services which best suit their needs.

 From Left: Board Members Ron Griffith, Tom Leavitt, UNC Representative 
Ann Marie Beall, Board Members Mike Johnson, Lisa Spoden, and Tom DeWitt

From Left: Board Members Ron Griffith, Tom Leavitt, UNC Representative Ann Marie Beall, Board Members Mike Johnson, Lisa Spoden, and Tom DeWitt

Lead by Ann Marie Beall, Director of Military Education, and Kimrey Rhinehardt, Vice President of Federal Relations at the University of North Carolina, the EPS site is well underway.  Aurora is extremely grateful for the services of Col. Leavitt, as well as the UNC team dedicated to serving student veterans in North Carolina's schools.

Aurora Inaugural Golf Tournament Postponed to April 14, 2014

October 6, 2013.  Our sincere thanks to everyone who has been involved in helping us plan our first Golf Fundraiser.  We have made the decision to postpone our event in light of the inclement weather forecast for Monday, October 7th.  The professional staff at the Army Navy Country Club - We have established a new date of Monday, April 14th, 2014, and will continue to advertise for the tournament throughout the coming months.

We extend our thanks to all of our sponsors, too.  Your sponsorship will be applied to the new date. 

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.  Lisa Spoden is our Event Coordinator (as well as one of Aurora's Board Members); email her at Or, contact us at The Aurora Foundation at


Aurora Announces Completion of its 25th Internship

August 30, 2013.  The Aurora Foundation is pleased to congratulate Mike Hendricks, who completed his internship with the law firm of Reed Smith.  Mike is the 25th student veteran to intern through Aurora's  Boots to Books to Business Program.  He is an Army veteran currently enrolled in William & Mary's Law School, where he will return to continue his second year.

The reception was attended by two partners in the firm: Mr. Matt Sheldon and Mr. Andy Hurst.  Both gentlemen have served as mentors to both student veterans, Hendricks and Scott Phillips, who have interned through Aurora.  "Mike was a tremendous benefit to Reed Smith," noted Mr. Sheldon, Mike's immediate supervisor at the firm.  "He just got involved and went on 'cruise control' the rest of the way.  Everyone enjoyed working with him."   

During the reception, Mike presented some of the lessons he learned while interning, especially noting the skills to transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce.  "It's really not hard to align myself with the environment of a business like Reed Smith.  The values and ethics learned in the military are sought after and appreciated in the civilian world.  It's a matter of accurately translating the military language and job skills to the civilian side so business can understand the relevance that military veterans bring to the workforce."

He also noted how helpful the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" aspect was to his internship.  He focused on the Habit of "Synergize" and how he was able to apply it as an intern at Reed Smith.  He remarked, "both military and civilian forces come together, where the end result is greater than the sum of the parts."  Reggie Williams, a retired Army Command  Sergeant Major, leads Aurora's 7 Habits mentor program.  Hendricks commented that he was able to not only map out a professional path, but also a personal path, each with milestones and checkpoints toward success.  "Reggie's experience and advice is invaluable, especially as someone who's already been down a lot of these roads," said Mike.

 From left - Matt Sheldon (Reed Smith), Tom DeWitt (Aurora), and Mike Hendricks

From left - Matt Sheldon (Reed Smith), Tom DeWitt (Aurora), and Mike Hendricks

So what's next for this talented young veteran?  He plans on completing law school, as well as an upcoming externship with the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of Norfolk, Va. 

The Aurora Foundation is proud to continue its partnership with both Reed Smith and the William & Mary Law School.  Each internship is funded by corporate and private donations.  To learn how you may contribute, or how you may apply for an internship or become a sponsor,  please click here.


Aurora Interns Graduate from Washington Scholars Fellowship Program

Since 2010, the Aurora Foundation has proudly partnered with The Washington Scholars to sponsor internships of student veterans through the Washington Scholars Fellowship Program.  Hundreds of students across the country apply for one of these prestigious opportunities, which results in joining a growing network of professionals who are all focused on service to our Nation.   Internships vary from law firms, to government offices, to NGOs, to other think tanks and non-profits that might fit the students' interests and future plans. Three years ago, Aurora sponsored the first student veteran to go through this program, and now, there are 13 student veterans who have interned under the "Aurora Chair" grant. 

Ben Lee, an Army veteran who spent a deployment in Kandahar City from 2010-2011, came back to school after his time of service to pursue a career in law.  He was accepted into Georgetown School of Law, and took an internship through the Washington Scholars this summer to work with OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Group), where he learned the necessary procedures behind closing the deals and dispersing the loans.  He is expected to graduate with his law degree in May 2014.

Jaimie Clark is an Air Force veteran, who deployed to Afghanistan from 2010-2011 to lead an Intelligence Team.  He returned from service and enrolled at the University of Illinois College of Law.  Jaimie's internship was here in DC and he and his wife (also a veteran) hope to eventually relocate to the DC area to work in the law field.  He is expected to graduate in May 2015.

 (from left) Tom DeWitt, President of Aurora, congratulates Jaimie Clark on his graduation from the Washington Scholars, alongside Fernando Cortes, former Director of the Washington Scholars.

(from left) Tom DeWitt, President of Aurora, congratulates Jaimie Clark on his graduation from the Washington Scholars, alongside Fernando Cortes, former Director of the Washington Scholars.

A huge congratulations go out to both these young men.  We are thankful for their military service, as well as the hard work they put into making their second careers as civilians a success.  We are also grateful to partner with Washington Scholars, who help ensure the internships are of such high caliber and the opportunities allotted to all students will help them grow as professionals.  



Troutman Sanders and Aurora Establish Internship for Student Veterans

July 10, 2013.  The Aurora Foundation is pleased to announce its partnership with Troutman Sanders in Norfolk, Virginia.  Bill Burke, who is a second year law student at the College of William and Mary and a US Naval Academy Graduate, interned at under the firm's Partner, Mike Gardner.

As part of Aurora's intern program, students provide a summary of the their experience, to include how the internship has impacted their transition to civilian life, key take-aways, and leadership lessons.  Bill remarked that he had learned several things that were important to not only his personal development, but also his professional advancement.  He re-confirmed that law is the right career path for him, and that government contracts and admiralty law were his calling. There were several lessons from military training that transferred to the civilian workplace, such as initiative, constant communication, and flexibility when priorities shift and deadlines change.  He also noted the parallels from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training, which are part of Aurora's program and are taught by former Command Sergeant Major, Reggie Williams.  Specifically, Bill focused on the consistent drive to be pro-active and strategically thinking of "win-win" that are  equally prevalent in the workplace as they are in the military.

Bill's 11-year naval career included a tour in Iraq and several assignments in Norfolk, Virginia.  After returning to civilian life, Bill decided to return to school and earned his Masters in International Studies in 2010.  His next steps include further preparations towards next summer's position and pursuit of his J.D.

His mentor at Troutman Sanders, Mike Gardner, spoke highly of Bill's work for the firm.   In fact, he shared feedback that he received from other attorneys.  Each time, the comments were simply, but emphatically, stated:  "Bill's good!"  Thanks to this experience, plans are in place at Aurora to continue partnering with Troutman Sanders on veteran internships.

The entire team at the Aurora Foundation is proud to include Bill Burke in our esteemed group of "Aurora interns" as well as Troutman Sanders as one of our newest industry partners.  To learn more about Aurora's internship program, please visit our visit our website,, or contact us at Together, we are making a difference in the lives of our service men and women.


 From left: Mike Gardner, Bill Burke, wife Jen Burke, and Tom DeWitt

From left: Mike Gardner, Bill Burke, wife Jen Burke, and Tom DeWitt

Aurora Video Unveiled!

The Aurora Foundation is pleased to release a short video that summarizes the work Aurora has done with our schools, industry partners, and interns.  We are grateful for the opportunity to share with you impact we are having on campus as well as in the workforce.  But, we are especially grateful for the chance to share the stories of student veterans and their families who have successfully made the transition from “boots to books to business.”

Since 2008, Aurora has been making a difference in the lives of student veterans.  After capturing some of these numbers and stories, please take a minute to watch the 6 minute video, found on our home page.

Aurora’s mission, as you know, is to enable student veterans to successfully graduate from college and enter the workforce.  Support from community partners, donors, and our all-volunteer staff helped us serve more than 15 colleges and universities, reaching more than 18,000 student veterans and providing over two dozen paid internships.  With 73 cents of every dollar going to our programs and internships, we are proud of the positive results we have achieved since Aurora was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2008. 

A special thanks goes out to the team at West Cary Group for creating it, and special thanks to Ed Jesson (President of OBXTek) for funding it.

Highlight Our Heroes - Success

June 13, 2013, is a night to remember for the Aurora Foundation. It was the inaugural event designed as a tribute to our Nation’s veterans on campus and those who have come together to support them in a journey that we call, "From boots to books to business.” Held at the Waterford at Fair Oaks, nearly 100 guests gathered to hear from four guest speakers.

Ms. Margarita Devlin provided her insights from her twenty – plus years with the Department of Veteran Affairs, most recently as the Acting Director of Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment.

COL Ken McCrae, who leads the Sonny Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, shared his experiences at Mississippi State University. With the funding provided by Aurora, they have trained more than 50 faculty members and raised the awareness of veterans' needs overall. MSU's student veteran population is 2000 students, and their retention rate is reported to be an outstanding 67 per cent.

Two young veterans, both with distinguished service careers with the US Marine Corps, openly shared their stories of "boots to books to business." Kevin Powell, served three tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps, two with a regular infantry unit, and one with a special operations riverine unit. He fought in Operation Phantom Fury, the Battle for Fallujah in 2004. Using the GI Bill, Kevin graduated from UNC Wilmington with a degree in business and minor in Middle East/Islamic studies and Arabic. He served another year in Iraq working with the State Department, and is now an analyst with Perfecta Aviation.

Powell's remarks were both entertaining and poignant. He described the camaraderie between a father who served in the US Air Force, and his son, who chose the Marines; and he shared stories about the bonds of brotherhood that can only be formed during the most difficult of circumstances, called combat. They, along with his wife and young son, seemed to be the driving inspiration for him as he completed his degree. But it was his experience with the Washington Scholars Program, where he was sponsored by the Aurora Chair, that opened the doors he needed to pursue a career in the civilian workforce. During his internship, Kevin learned how to work with very senior leaders at The Pentagon, providing such outstanding support that he was recognized by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Materiel and Facilities. Kevin stated that it was through this experience that he was able to stand before an audience and deliver a speech like tonight's with confidence. "We are presented with amazing opportunities to meet and network with senior-level people here in D.C. I would like to believe that my story is solid proof that the Aurora internship program changes lives.”

David Campbell enlisted in the US Marine Corps at the age of 17 as a LAV Crewman and Rifleman. He deployed in 2008 during Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Additional deployments took him to Morocco and South Africa. He completed his BA in Global Affairs at George Mason University (GMU), where he is also pursuing his Masters in Biodefense. He and his wife are the proud parents of two young girls.

Campbell began his remarks by noting that he had been touched by the support from the Aurora Foundation while at GMU. He signed up for the UNIV300 course, which was funded by an Aurora grant and designed specifically for student veterans only. It is a 1 credit class focused on veteran transition. In it, he developed skills in Resume writing, Interviewing, Job search, and Networking. This training was instrumental in his Aurora internship with CACI because he was placed in the position of Recruiter's Assistant. He quickly became an integral part of the CACI Recruiting team as he supported hiring managers, developing job descriptions and pre-screening candidates. The training that he received from both the UNIV300 course and his internship led him to a fulltime position as Analyst for Sotera Defense Solutions.

David continues to be involved with giving back to veterans. He worked for the GMU Office of Military Services, staying engaged with other veterans on campus. He's been back to the UNIV300 course, this time as an alumni who can offer others the benefit of his experiences. He extended his thanks and gratitude to all who helped open the doors he needed to secure a promising future, not only for him but for his young family, too.

When the evening concluded, emotion filled the room. Aurora's Chairman and President, Tom DeWitt, closed the program with these words, "We are all here tonight because we are committed to preserving America's future. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of our Nation's veterans, helping them believe in the promise of a new
day that holds a degree, a job, and bright future."

Aurora Student Veteran Completes Internship at The Harbor Institute

June 13, 2013.  Aurora is pleased to congratulate its third female student veteran, Lynn Trice,  who completed an internship with The Harbor Institute.  After serving in the U.S. Navy, getting her degree in Political Science, and establishing an organization for young women in Savannah, GA, Trice came to DC looking for something more.  She enrolled at Howard University and sought various opportunities to expand her leadership / entrepreneurial skill-set.  She discovered The Harbor Institute, a company in DC which services over 100 institutions of higher education.  Based out of DC and Los Angeles, CA, they are the "premier education consulting  firm to develop, market, and implement  innovative, engaging and relevant educational products and services for  schools, companies and government agencies." 

2013-08 Lynn Trice pic.jpg

Lynn found this internship at the Harbor Institute under the direction of Syreeta Greene, a Consultant at HI.  Her experience at HI spanned from learning entrepreneurial concepts to gain clientele, engaging with potential customers, and editing leadership material and products offered to help advance students enrolled in higher education. 

Lynn's goal is to eventually open her own consulting business in which she is able to empower students to achieve their dreams.  Her work at the Harbor Institute helped her gain hands-on knowledge of how to practically gain momentum as a business-owner.

Each internship provided by the Aurora Foundation Each internship is funded by corporate and private donations.  To learn how you may contribute, or how you may apply for an internship or become a sponsor,  please click here.



Aurora to host "Highlight Our Heroes" Dinner

On June 13, 2013, The Aurora Foundation will host a dinner to "Highlight Our Heroes"  and celebrate our student veterans.  Over the past four years, Aurora is proud of its accomplishments, including the creation of programs and services to help over 18,000 veterans at 15 different schools across the country, and funding over two dozen internships for student veterans.  We are proud to celebrate these successes  and invite you and others who would like to join us in our efforts to help our veterans succeed on campus and in the workforce.

We expect a star-studded evening!  Throughout our program, we will hear from our student veterans as they talk about how they've embarked on a new career path.  We'll hear from various corporate sponsors and our partner schools, as well, about the programs they have developed to support veterans on campus and in the workforce. This will be the first time representatives from all three communities -- veterans, higher education, and industry -- will be together to share our stories of celebration.

Won't you please join us?  Or, if you can't attend "Highlight out Heroes," won't you please consider donating?  The details are:

When: June 13th, 2013 | 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Where: The Waterford at Fair Oaks, 12025 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Fairfax, Va Cost: Individual tickets: $125 | corporate tables $1,000 (8 tickets)

To purchase tickets or corporate tables, or to make a donation, please click the following link:

New Aurora Website Launched!

May 8, 2013. The Aurora Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of its new website.  While the URL is the same,, the site is much different.  It has received a face-lift to emphasize the results that we've achieved with each grant we make and each intern we sponsor.   You'll find improved navigation, a more engaging focus on the schools and veterans who have received support from Aurora (Where our Money Goes), and a more integrated social media approach. (Please follow us on Twitter @VetNetUSA, like us on Facebook, and enjoy our photos on Flickr!)

We believe the new site better conveys our mission and how our grants to colleges and universities, as well as our student veteran interns, help us support American's veterans as they return to school.  To date, fourteen schools have received one of our grants. Consequently, over 18,000 student veterans have been touched by our programs, each of which is designed to help veterans make a smooth transition from "boots to books to business." We have also sponsored internships for 24  student veterans in multiple industries. As a result of these programs and internships, Aurora is proud to report that we are seeing the positive impact in retention and graduation numbers.  We're adding to these numbers every day as we hear about the growing needs of American's heroes who strive toward a degree.

We remain committed to supporting America's veterans and their return home, joining them in the journey toward a "New Day," where they have a college degree, a new job, and a bright future.  Please visit us at to learn more about how you can help.

Aurora Continues Partnership with Mississippi State

April 24, 2013.  The Aurora Foundation announced today that it has provided a second grant to the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans at Mississippi State University (MSU).  The Center, directed by Col. Ken McRae, Ret., created a program to reach the veteran population at MSU with trained faculty and staff members who could be identified as "Mentors." The Program, called Green Zone, is designed to help student veterans identify key resources who can assist with a variety of issues, from benefits to financial aid to informal counseling.  Since implementation, 15 Green Zone Mentors have been trained across campus and identify themselves to student veterans by placing a Green Zone emblem on their office doors.   

The hard work that continues at MSU is exemplary of a successful Green Zone Program, which is modeled after a similar program under the same name at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Col. McRae reported measurable results back that indicated a positive trend for student veteran retention and graduation. 

MSU has over 2,000 student veterans currently enrolled and taking classes.  After the implementation of the Green Zone in 2012, over 30% of student veterans on campus went to a mentor to talk about various issues they might have been facing while making the transition to college life. On a 1-5 scale of how impactful their experience with the mentor was (1: not at all; 5: very good), the student veterans rated their experience as 4.6.  The school is also seeing a positive impact on the number of student veterans completing college and graduating.  The graduation rate of veterans who first enrolled in 2006 (completing school within an average of 6 years) was 72.6%, and the retention rate for all veterans at the school is 61.5%.

Aurora is proud to help sponsor programs like the Green Zone and schools like MSU where veterans have a high priority on campus as well as an increasing chance of succeeding there.  We are  looking for similar trends in higher ed where faculty and staff are trained and dedicated to helping student veterans make a smooth transition.  As data continues to be collected and shared, we look to identify further trends, such as the type of issues veterans bring to their mentors.  This way, we can identify common challenges facing veterans on campus and begin to consider future grants that will meet those specific needs.

Sincere thanks to the leadership at Mississippi State and the Center for America's Veterans for the dedication to veterans making the journey "from boots to books to business."

Aurora Presents Grant to Georgetown University

 (L-R) David Shearman, Veterans Office Coordinator at Georgetown, is presented an Aurora certificate by Aurora President Tom DeWitt.

(L-R) David Shearman, Veterans Office Coordinator at Georgetown, is presented an Aurora certificate by Aurora President Tom DeWitt.

Georgetown University began its “VET Ally” Program with the help of Aurora’s $5,000 grant.  Working with Mr. Paul DeLeon since October, Aurora was pleased to award the grant that will help train faculty and staff on student veteran issues.  This grant, a part of the “Green Zone” family, trained 69 people at its initial kick-off.  David Shearman, the Veterans’ Office Coordinator at Georgetown University, hopes to train many more.  “We’re excited for the turn-out we had, and we’re hoping this program will only gain momentum throughout the year.”  Noting the proximity to the Pentagon and several other military station points, Shearman explained that Georgetown has many student veterans on its campus, especially those coming back to receive a graduate degree.

Paul DeLeon is one such individual.  He is currently completing an assignment with the Army in which he’ll receive his Masters from Georgetown and return to West Point to teach for another few years.  Paul has been an instrumental help in Georgetown receiving this grant, and has been able to volunteer his time with David in the campus’ veteran office.

At the end of the training session, Tom DeWitt, Aurora’s President and Founder, presented Mr. Shearman with a certificate honoring Georgetown and their efforts to reach student veterans.  Aurora is proud to support the VET Ally Program and looks forward to continually supporting efforts at Georgetown University to help student veterans successfully graduate and enter the workforce.


About Aurora

In support of Aurora’s mission to enable student veterans to successfully graduate from college and enter the workforce, Aurora offers grants to higher education institutions to support the student veteran population. Aurora has given grants for faculty training and awareness of veterans issues, one-stop shop resources for veterans on campus, veteran-only curriculum, peer-to-peer mentorship, and other needs identified by schools. The Foundation also assists student veterans with the identification of full-time, paid internship opportunities in various fields and industries. Student veterans have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in their areas of interest and gain insight into the civilian workforce. To date, the Aurora Foundation has graduated interns in a variety of industries including National Security, Finance/Banking, Law, IT, and Marketing.  To learn how you can apply for a grant, an internship or to sponsor one of our student veterans, please contact Ellen Hembree, at