Meet Lori Weed Skarka, Military and Veteran Services

Posted: July 10, 2017 1:00:00 PM CDT

Lori Weed Skarka portraitFor Lori Weed Skarka, working with military and veteran students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is extremely meaningful, both personally and professionally. With an extensive family history of military service and a deep connection to UNK, she understands the needs and challenges of military students and their families, especially as they study online from anywhere in the world. Filling a new position as Assistant Director of Military and Veteran Services at UNK in 2015, she shares her passion for helping military-connected students reach their educational goals.

Q: What is your role with UNK military and veteran students?

A: I’m the point of contact for our military-connected students and their families and work with student veterans, spouses, and dependents of veterans. I assist them in applying for and understanding their benefits, help them navigate through the process, and support students as they progress through school. I also serve as the School’s Certifying Official where I certify students’ enrollment to the Veterans Administration so they can receive their education benefits. There are several different kinds of military education benefits available to students depending on their eligibility, and I work with all branches of the military, state and federal military-related agencies, and other colleges and universities to ensure our students receive the benefits to which they’re entitled. I also represent UNK at community functions, special events, and military-related activities.

Q: What fuels your passion for working with military and veteran students at UNK?

A: I’m a Kearney native and graduate of UNK with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education, and I have worked for UNK for 15 years. Previously, I worked in Financial Aid, the Master of Business Administration program, and the Nebraska Safety Center. We have a long history of military service in my family. My father, aunts, uncles, and grandfathers served in World Wars I and II in the Army and Navy, and most recently my nephews served in the Air Force and Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn. Closer to home, my son Kellen is currently a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. He’s a UNK graduate and has been deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Kuwait. He’s also participated in two of the South Korean and U.S. troops military exercises and is preparing to return for a third in August. So you might say my interest in working with military and veteran students came naturally. My experience as a Military Mom is really helpful when working with our students. Although I wasn’t able to serve, I do understand the culture of being a military family and some of the issues and challenges faced by the families and students.

Q: What services are available to UNK military and veteran students who study online?

A: Thanks to technology, we can offer the same services to the students at a distance as we do to students attending class on campus. Technology keeps us connected to our online students no matter where they may be, including those who may be deployed, overseas, or even in the middle of the sea. Using multiple resources, we have assisted students with their application for benefits, document exchanges, and questions regarding their benefits. We keep our students up to date on information and issues that may concern them through email blasts. In the fall, we’ll hold an organizational meeting of our recently approved Student Veterans Organization (SVO) and hope to stream it to our students at a distance so they can be included. Now with a full-time person dedicated to working with our veterans and military students, we’re able to respond quickly to their inquiries and provide them with the personal touch UNK is so well known for.

View UNK’s military and veteran services that can help military-connected students and their families get started in an online program.

By: Rosanna Vail

Category: General, eCampus

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