Marine Corps veteran finds home in the Bellisario College

Nina Trach
November 06, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Going to college is a transition for everybody, but while most students are simply dealing with the differences between high school and college, others are making the transition from serving in the military to higher education.

Chandler Godinez, a 25-year-old junior, made her way to Penn State after serving five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. She is combining her skills as a former meteorological oceanographic analyst forecaster with a major in broadcast journalism to pursue a passion in weather broadcasting.

Chandler Godinez

Chandler Godinez

IMAGE: Mariesa Beneventano

Godinez made her decision to come to Penn State while serving in Japan, and she originally planned to major in meteorology. She soon realized she was more interested in the briefing side of weather broadcasting than the behind-the-scenes work. So, she transferred into the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications this summer and said she is already more engaged in her coursework.

“Going into the broadcasting major has just really shown me what I’m actually interested in,” Godinez said. “That’s I think the fun part of college, is you can change your mind 100 times until you really find what suits you.”

This flexibility has been a change for Godinez, who was accustomed to the more disciplined and structured environment of the military. A native of Oakland, California, Godinez joined the Marine Corps as an 18-year-old seeking the military branch with the highest standards, after realizing she wasn’t yet ready for college.

“I needed that structure in order to actually fulfill my potential,” Godinez said. “Now that I’m here I take it very seriously because I have more maturity than I did at 18, so it’s benefited me a lot to have gone from the military to school in that order.”

At first, Godinez struggled with the transition from the military to college, finding it difficult to connect with 18- and 19-year-old students as a 24-year-old at the time. That changed once she started working with the Veterans Outreach Office, and the people there helped her connect with other veterans on campus.

She said the adjustment can be particularly difficult for female veterans, as many do not know about the resources available to them. She now spends her time out of the classroom at a work-study position with the Veterans Outreach Office, helping fellow veterans who may not have been able to find the community and support that the office gave to her.

Godinez said the most challenging part of the transition has been learning to relax and focus on personal growth.

“When I got here I was still kind of in that mindset of having to prove myself and I really had to ease up,” Godinez said. “It’s not about that here, people are just trying to do their thing.”

Godinez is a 2018 recipient of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Scholarship and Student Support Endowment. When she is not studying or working at the Veterans Outreach Office, she also works at Orangetheory Fitness and enjoys spending time with her friends from the gym.

Godinez is fully embracing the opportunity to discover herself in the Bellisario College.

“I feel so free in a sense that everything I’m doing right now is for personal growth,” she said. “I’m super pumped about being here because I’m learning so much I didn’t realize I didn’t know.”

Last Updated November 06, 2018