Mechanical Engineering student Nathan Lambert is one of three military veterans who will begin earning a master’s degree at UNC Charlotte next semester aided by substantial awards provided by the University’s Graduate School. The funding, called an assistantship, will cover tuition and health insurance, plus a $12,000 annual stipend. The total value of the assistantship is roughly $36,000. The award requires students to aid professors in their departments with research and teaching.
Associate Provost and Graduate School Dean Tom Reynolds initiated the program that selects three military veterans each year to receive the two-year awards to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees.
“This is the first year we are providing these awards recognizing the selfless service of our military veterans,” Reynolds explained. “It’s my hope this effort will aid these veterans as they navigate the challenging transition from military service to the private sector.” Reynolds is a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War.
This year’s selected veterans represent the U.S. Army and Air Force.
Nathan Lambert completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in May from UNC Charlotte. He plans to continue his studies in the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science program with a particular interest in robotics, rocketry and space propulsion.
During nearly five years in the U.S. Army, Lambert was an infantryman; he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Originally from Asheboro, N.C., he completed his active duty service in 2008 and then earned an associate’s degree from Central Piedmont Community College.
Lambert credits the military with giving him the confidence to succeed. “My time in the military taught me that people can do amazing things so long as they never stop trying,” Lambert noted. He said in the military there is often no “safety net,” so the key is to “keep moving forward.”
Re-entering the private sector was hard for Lambert following his combat deployments. “I struggled with the effects of PTSD, and like many veterans, I felt I was the only one experiencing these symptoms,” he observed. Additionally, age and background created problems. “I had very different life experiences than many of my classmates, and that made it difficult to find common ground,” he said. “Eventually, I was able to find a group of veterans who helped me through the process.”
Other winners of the veteran graduate assistantships are Charlotte native LaKeysha Sawyer, an eight-year veteran of the Army Reserves who is beginning studies toward a Master of Social Work; and U.S. Air Force veteran Tracy Valero who is working on a Master of Health Administration degree.