Jan Dils Attorneys at Law is partnering with West Virginia University Parkersburg to provide support for local student veterans.

Held on June 29, the law firm’s Freedom Fun Run 5K raised $12,500 in funds for WVU Parkersburg’s student veterans and the VeteransResource Center.

This annual event brings in proceeds each year to support student scholarships through the WVU at Parkersburg Foundation. Established in 2015 by the WVU Parkersburg Student Veteran Corps, the fund has provided several scholarships to student veterans at the college. With the funds raised from this year’s event, 12 more student veterans will each receive $1,000 to pay help pay for tuition and fees.

According to Darren Shearlock, the university’s veterans advocate, the resource center, “creates a space where we can help student veterans achieve their professional and educational goals. We provide work stations to give them a quiet place to study, as well as a space to socialize, and a place where veterans can discuss veteran-specific issues on campus.”

Other services provided by the center include helping students to manage college credit transfers and to secure financing through the GI Bill.

According to Shearlock, the opportunities available to student veterans at WVU Parkersburg are invaluable in helping them move forward professionally.

“Right now, across America, we’re in a changing economy. Jobs that your parents used to have won’t be able to provide a lot of young people the careers that they’re looking for to reach that middle-class lifestyle. In order to change with the economy, they need new skills. And at WVU Parkersburg, we’re able to help them achieve those skills, get degrees and certificates that will make them competitive in a 21stCentury environment, at one of the lowest rates in the state,” Shearlock said.

In addition, for many students, pursuing higher education can provide benefits that go beyond the academic and the professional. Shearlock gave the example of a student whose husband passed away, leaving her without a source of income or social support.

“When she came in, there were two things we could do for her. One was to help her re-tool and get back into the workforce. But just as importantly, we could give her a sense of purpose with what she was doing with her life…We provided that social support structure,” Shearlock said.

Shearlock’s personal and professional background gives him relevant insight. He served over 20 years in the U.S. Army and was deployed numerous times. He took advantage of the GI Bill to earn his master’s degree and went on to pursue a doctorate with the goal of teaching at the collegiate level.

“When an opportunity came to both educate people and help veterans at the same time, I couldn’t pass it up,” he said.

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