No one knows what it’s like being a nontraditional student more than 42-year-old Student Government Association Senator and Gulf War veteran Sandy Lane.
“You’re expected to be a certain way when you’re here. When you’re not, you become a pariah,” Lane said.
Lane has been a student at CMU, studying sociology with a political science minor, since 2011 while helping to establish and later represent the Student Veteran Association on campus.
“There is a lack of understanding for vets,” Lane said. “Veterans are in a unique position where it’s like you’re starting your life over again. My goal is to help returning veterans transition after I earn my degree here.”
Before coming to CMU, Lane attended Delta College where he studied criminal justice. He was unable to finish physically due to a bad back from his years served in the Army.
Lane served as an airborne infantryman in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg North Carolina, parachuting out of airplanes from 1989-93, and deploying to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm in late 1990.
Flint senior and Veteran Service Specialist in the Veteran Resource Center Marq Hicks said Lane is passionate about his work and setting a good example to others.
“I’ve known Sandy since the SVA was just getting started, and he is one of the most passionate people I have ever met,” Hicks said. “He doesn’t get discouraged easily. We’re (veterans) – people who are not afraid to say when something is wrong. Sandy is a big example of that.”
When the SVA became a recognized registered student organization, Lane was its first representative, looking out for its interests in the SGA. He was later elected to be a full-fledged senator last spring and has continued fighting for veterans in his new position.
“We love Sandy and are glad he got involved with SGA. He’s a great guy and has a lot of initiative,” said SGA Student Body President Marie Reimers. “He was the lead of all the veteran resolutions we’ve passed so far this year. Whenever we need someone to take on an assignment, he eagerly jumps on it. His experience being a non-traditional student and veteran adds insight into issues we might not fully understand.”
Lane wrote and helped pass two resolutions through the SVA this semester: One allowing veterans to wear veteran cords during graduation commencement and a resolution to set aside special housing on campus for veterans.
Looking out for the welfare of veterans on campus has been a driving force in Lane’s life at CMU, demonstrated by his commitment to dealing with veteran issues and working with the Veteran Resource Center.
“Veterans have a lot to offer,” Lane said. “We’re real people with real insight. We already know who we are so we can move on to helping others.”