By Claire Salinas
Adam Herpin was steadily running out of oxygen as he worked furiously to put out a fire melting one of the decks on the Coast Guard Cutter ship full of civilians and crew members. After successfully putting out the fire with his fellow soldiers, Herpin said he was shaking due to the adrenaline.
After coming out on top in an incident like that, it would seem that navigating college life would be a breeze. But as a student veteran at LSU Herpin has worked through many challenges.
After sustaining an injury that led to his discharge from the military, Herpin waited eight months to be admitted into LSU, only to be rerouted to a community college, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“They told me no and said, ‘We suggest you go to a community college,’” Herpin said. “I [didn’t] want to screw around, so I flew to Baton Rouge from San Diego, and I walked into the Bursar’s office and we figured something out.”
Herpin’s determination paid off — because he’s now a senior in economics, and will be graduating in December.
Assimilating into college life wasn’t simple for Herpin. Although he tried to get up to speed on the way things worked, most of the resources available to freshmen and other students were not readily accessible to him.
“I tried to ask about orientation, but they said, ‘Well, no, we don’t have any transfer orientations right now,’” he said. “I had to do academic bankruptcy and be visiting student for a year just to get my GPA up.”
Herpin said he feels that student veterans often have a harder time adjusting to college life.
“There’s all kinds of things that veterans don’t necessarily see when they first come to school,” he said. “At first I didn’t even know about the tracking system until I was put on academic hold for something I didn’t even know about.”
Thankfully Herpin found out about the Student Veteran Club on campus and gained access to some much needed resources.
“I had heard about the veteran group and thought, ‘Hey this is something they can maybe help me with,’” Herpin said.
Although the members of the club are not from the same units or even the same branches of the military, they all share the commonality of having been in the service and working through the issues college life brings.
“We come from radically different military backgrounds, but we still speak in military terms,” Herpin said. “We don’t feel the slightest bit awkward about asking each other something. When you’re sitting with the members you can say almost anything you want to say.”
The club has recently become more established on campus and Herpin is eager to see it grow.
“Technically the club started in 2010,” he said. “We just got an office last semester. Now that we have an office we’ve been talking to LSU President Alexander and Dr. Kurt Keppelr. Keppler has been immensely helpful to student veterans – it’s kind of one of his pet projects.”
Herpin is happy the veterans have the support they need, but he is more interested in what the club can give back to the LSU community.
“I want to get out in the community and start helping schools and building playgrounds,” he said. “We’re trying to get awareness out to say we have able bodied people and we can do all kinds of good things.”