Saint Martin’s University awarded Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success Grant from the U.S. Department of Education

Photo of Old Main, with the flags in the foreground.

LACEY, Wash. — Saint Martin’s University received a three-year grant, totaling more than $580,000, from the U.S. Department of Education to increase support and programming for veterans. At Saint Martin's, veterans represent 9 percent of the student population. The Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success (CEVSS) Program Grant will help serve veterans through holistic support, intentionally designed programs, and career and professional development resources.

“We are grateful for this grant, which will enable Saint Martin’s to expand our long-standing commitment to serving veterans as they pursue degrees and certificates to advance their careers,” said Saint Martin’s University President Jennifer Bonds-Raacke, Ph.D. “By providing a dedicated staff and establishing new programs for our veterans and their families, we hope to increase veteran enrollment and offer a holistic learning experience that fosters their success – which for many includes successfully transitioning to civilian roles with employers throughout the region.”  

Saint Martin’s University is recognized as one of the nation’s top military-supportive colleges. The University recently ranked No. 14 in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report. In March, Saint Martin’s received gold distinction for the fourth consecutive year as a Military Friendly® school and was designated a Military Spouse Friendly® for 2022-2023 by VIQTORY. The University was also named the first Purple Heart University in the state of Washington by the Order of the Purple Heart.  

The CEVSS program grant will allow Saint Martin’s to expand its existing Veteran Resource Center into a better equipped Veteran Student Support Center. This Center will offer a veteran-centric ecosystem to enable veterans to thrive as students. The grant outlines five high-priority goals including:  

  • Creating a centralized Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success with a coordinated veteran support team, including a full-time staff member 

  • Implementing a veteran outreach and recruitment initiative 

  • Providing a holistic support program that includes veteran-specific orientation programming, a peer mentoring program, proactive advising and coaching, an early alert system, and intentionally designed cocurricular engagement 

  • Establishing a career development program to facilitate veteran students’ workforce readiness that connects them to Saint Martin’s extensive employer and alumni base across the country 

  • Institutionalizing a comprehensive professional development program for faculty and staff 

Director of Campus Life Alexis Nelson will serve as the project director as a result of this grant. “The CEVSS program grant will help the University deepen its longstanding commitment to the education of veterans and active-duty service members,” shared Nelson. “It will assist in building stronger bridges between Saint Martin’s Lacey and Joint Base Lewis-McChord campuses.”  

The CEVSS core team at Saint Martin’s includes Alexis Nelson; Jorge Castillion-Sierra, 2021-2022 vet corps navigator; and Nick Kaipov, 2022-2023 vet corps navigator. “Our team will be available to both military-affiliated students and their families, which is very exciting,” said Castillion-Sierra. “Everyone involved worked very hard to earn this grant and I feel blessed to have an opportunity to continue to work with the Saint Martin’s community in supporting veterans and their families.” 

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 


For additional information:

Office of Campus Life

The Office of Campus Life coordinates a wide range of services and activities to connect you to the Saint Martin's community, whether you are an incoming freshman or an outgoing senior. We are a resource for life outside of the classroom — promoting and encouraging students to engage in a variety of curricular and co-curricular experiences and opportunities.