As we mentioned in our last blog post, JIU has started a Student Veterans of America Chapter. The Student Veterans of America (SVA) is a coalition of student veterans groups from college campuses across the United States. SVA provides military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation.
We are very excited to announce that JIU’s SVA chapter will be led by Chris Pashane. Chris Paschane is a USAF Gulf War Veteran with 80% service-connected disability. Paschane comes from a long family line of military veterans in all branches of service dating back to the Civil War. In the late 80’s, Paschane joined the United States Air Force and served in support of the Panama invasion referred to as "Operation Just Cause" in 1989; the Persian Gulf War from 1990 - 1991 including "Operation Desert Storm" followed by "Operation Desert Shield"; and Somalia from 1992 - 1993. During his first four years, Paschane served as a Cryogenics and Jet Fuel Specialist where he developed multiple debilitating back and joint problems, as well as other health problems leading to complications with the health of his liver and spleen due to excessive exposure to toxic chemicals. Regardless of these health setbacks, rating him with an 80% service-connected disability, Paschane remained focused on acquiring the knowledge and doing the work to get and stay healthy and fit.
Upon his honorable discharge from the USAF in 1994, Paschane joined the USAF Reserves to pursue a new career as a Diet Therapist / Morale, Welfare, Recreation Specialist with a secondary duty as a Combat Medic in the United States Air Force Active Reserves while also going to school full-time and starting a full-time "civilian" career as a Fitness Trainer at LA Workout where he was quickly recognized as the "Top Trainer". Today Mr. Paschane serves as the Founder and CEO of Veterans Fitness Career College and works full-time as the North America Brand Manager for Adidas Training.
Paschane earned his MBA and BABC both from Jones International University with a specialization in Entrepreneurship with Summa Cum Laude honors. In addition, he earned an AA from Santa Monica College with an Associates of Arts with an emphasis in Physical Education with Honors and graduated with Honors from the USAF 396th Medical Training Group as a Diet Therapist and from the USAF 400th Technical Group as a Combat Medic and as a Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Specialist. In addition, Paschane earned an “Advanced Level: Personal Trainer Certification” in the early 90's and eventually earned eight (8) other well-known and respected certifications in areas such as fitness, nutrition, advanced biomechanics, sports training and conditioning, and corrective rehabilitation. He is also a student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing.
We had the opportunity to interview Chris about his time at JIU and also his new role as JIU’s SVA Chapter President. Read on to learn more!
1. Why/how did you choose JIU to continue your educational studies? Where there any specific courses or parts of the general curriculum that have helped you get where you are today? Or inspired your work?
Chris: After two decades of modest entrepreneurial success in the fitness industry (e.g. owning gyms and nutrition centers, being the top distributor for Bowflex, and much more), I finally came to realize that there was some fundamental entrepreneurial knowledge I was missing. I had been searching schools researching their flexibility and specific course work for years. As an entrepreneur, I knew exactly what I wanted to learn, but most the programs I found just didn’t appeal to me. However, when I reviewed the Accelerated BABC to MBA program in Entrepreneurship program at JIU, I was very excited about the entire program. The part that excited me the most was that most courses allowed me to focus the work on a project I was working on. Almost every course in the program made a significant contribution towards the social-venture (i.e. the Veterans Fitness Career College – www.vfccollege.org) I launched just as I was graduating at the end of 2012.
2. You mentioned that you felt JIU was "military friendly" while you were attending the school. What about your experience at JIU felt military friendly?
Chris: I graduated Summa Cum Laude in both the BABC and MBA programs, but I may not have pulled this off if it weren’t for some of the flexibility of a couple Professors who provided me some time to make up course work when my service-connected disabilities flared up and caused me to fall behind on a couple of occasions. Also, I did notice that there were a good handful of veterans going through the program with me and for some reason that felt comforting.
3. Did you have a favorite class or professor while you attended JIU? Why?
Chris: Honestly, there were so many. Being more of a strategist myself, I loved that I was able to get an MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship. Doing this allowed me to learn much more about strategies with a bit less focus on so all the mathematical courses. I had some great Professors in all my courses. I am very grateful for their support and guidance through my program.
4. Do you have any advice for other members of the military who are considering going back to school?
Chris: Believe in yourself. Your past does not need to determine your future. Cultivate optimism. Be persistent (there is no substitute for it). We all start somewhere, so be patient and at peace with where you are (mentally, physically, financially). Find the courage to take action. Work smart. Remember: When the why becomes strong, the how becomes easy. Find your purpose; create a burning desire towards a goal. Be decisive and finish what you start.
As a veteran, you learned, among other things, to be:
· Solution-oriented: You’vespent four or more years in the military focused on completing a mission, sometimes in spite of difficult personnel, faulty equipment or serious time constraints.
· Courageously Decisive: You often were involved with major decision making that involves reasonable risk. These experiences have helped you learn to trust our instincts, as well as their training, when big decisions must be made.
· Accountable: Regardless of task importance, accountability was forged into your mind as a veteran. In fact, you may have been accountable for projects involving tens of millions of dollars in value. You’ve been conditioned to consider all aspects of project goals – direct and indirect.
· Flexible and Adaptable. Military work experience is the most challenging of jobs. Quick and frequent relocations are standard, and you’ve learned the importance of flexibility – accepting changes necessary to fulfill your assigned mission.
Thank you Chris, we appreciate you sharing your thoughts with the JIU family. We are very excited to have you as JIU’s SVA Chapter President!
To join JIU’s SVA chapter, click here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=5100973&trk=groups%2Fmost_recent-r-subgr-subgrpname&goback=%2Egmr_123403