University News

WIU Graduate Student Transitions Coursework into Professional Intervention for his Career

November 18, 2020


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – When Western Illinois University graduate student Tom Reagan began taking classes for his second semester in the University's College Student Personnel (CSP) program, he wanted to develop a program to help student veterans make informed decisions about where to attend college.

Reagan, a retired captain from the East Moline Police Department and a Marine veteran, is now the coordinator of veterans' services at Black Hawk College in East Moline, IL. He began taking classes in WIU's CSP program in Summer 2020.

This semester, as a student in Assistant Professor Laila McCloud's Student Characteristics and College Impact graduate class, Reagan and his classmates were assigned to identify an issue or educational opportunity by reading one of four required books. Students then designed interventions to address the issue or opportunity they chose.

Reagan read "Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy," by Tressie McMillan Cottom, and designed an intervention to provide student veterans with the knowledge they need to choose an institution of higher learning.

"My intervention details why for-profit institutions engage in aggressive, and sometimes misleading marketing toward student veterans," said Reagan.

Reagan belongs to the Eastern Iowa – Western Illinois Student Advocacy Group, made up of representatives from Black Hawk College, WIU's Moline campus, Eastern Iowa Community College, Augustana and St. Ambrose University.

"Before COVID, we would bring our student veterans together for competitions, pizza, trivia, or other activities to help them network with each other," he said. "Since COVID, we have taken it online and started to do monthly workshops."

This week, Reagan presented his "Know Before You Go" intervention to the student advocacy group.

McCloud said she is impressed with Reagan's program because one key aspect of the CSP program is its commitment to providing students the opportunity to draw connections between their personal and professional interests into their academic experience.

"Tom developed an educational intervention aimed at increasing awareness of the differences between non-profit and for-profit educational institutions for military-affiliated students," said McCloud. "Tom learned about how many for-profit institutions engage in predatory practices that target military-affiliated students. He was able to integrate his professional work with veterans at Black Hawk College with his understanding of the course text to create his educational intervention."

For more information on WIU's College Student Personnel graduate program, visit wiu.edu/CSP.

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (JK-Pospeschil@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations