Dustin Highnote builds community to help military and veteran students adapt to college life
Although Dustin Highnote expects to build homes after earning his degree in Construction Systems Management at the The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), he has already started building one of the most important projects of his lifetime—a community of military and veteran students who can support each other as they shift from a strict military regimen to a less structured college environment.
After coming to Ohio State after a 13-year Navy career, including four years serving two deployments aboard a submarine, Highnote longed for a new way to serve. He also longed for a sense of belonging. He purposefully sought out programs to help him feel connected while giving back to the community. One of those was the Major Lawrence Miller Military Community Advocate Program, which offers scholarships to military and veteran students in exchange for helping fellow students face the challenges of transitioning from life in the military to life as a student. Highnote was one of two CFAES students selected to serve as a military community advocate.
Highnote knew what challenges military and veteran students faced because he faced them as well. As a veteran and an older student from a small town in Georgia, he didn’t feel connected to Ohio State. He also knew he wasn’t alone.
“I felt out of place when I first started at Ohio State,” Highnote said. “A lot of veterans feel out of place at times.”
““I can definitely say I feel the pride of being a Buckeye,” he said. “CFAES is the cornerstone of this prestigious university. I am excited to be an alumnus.””Dustin Highnote
Cathann A. Kress, Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, said that kind of help could very well save lives.
“Dustin is a first-generation college graduate whose dedication and compassion for serving others embodies the purpose of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences—we sustain life,” Kress said.
Highnote spent 10 months working with military advisers Chris Tkach and Benjamin Carignan to build the program.
“Dustin is one of the sharpest students I’ve ever worked with in my 25 years,” said Carignan, college academic counselor for CFAES. “He has great ideas. I’m super proud of him for pulling it together. He’s a great example of how an invested, dedicated student can make change happen.”
How does Highnote feel about Ohio State now?
“I can definitely say I feel the pride of being a Buckeye,” he said. “CFAES is the cornerstone of this prestigious university. I am excited to be an alumnus.”