By Elianna Novitch
Elias Varon, a student veteran in the College of Education, was the 2019 recipient of the Paul Larson Military/Veteran Scholarship.
After serving in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman for four years, Elias Varon turned his passions towards pursuing a career in education.
Originally from Aurora, Illinois, Varon is one of 18 veterans in the University of Iowa College of Education. He is majoring in Elementary Education and hopes to pursue a master’s in education administration.
Varon was the 2019 recipient of the Paul Larson Military/Veteran Student Scholarship, which provides funds to assist veterans and military students in achieving success in their studies at the College of Education.
The award amounts vary between $500 to $2,000 and can be used for educational-related expenses outside of tuition, such as books, childcare, enrollment fees, transportation, and moving expenses.
“Upon hearing I was granted the scholarship I was ecstatic,” Varon says. “It has given me the opportunity to save for post-graduate plans, and begin to develop a small classroom library for my future students.”
Varon had the opportunity to meet and learn more about Paul Larson’s military experience.
“He was one of the sincerest people I've had the opportunity to sit down and talk with and it's something I will never forget,” Varon says. “I hope one day I can be in a position to support a student veteran the way Mr. Larson supports us.”
Varon said his fourth-grade teacher helped influence him in deciding to become a teacher and his passion for education.
“My hope is to be a positive factor in students’ lives in some of the same ways as they were in mine,” Varon says.
Varon says that being in the military provided him with the tools to be successful at college.
“It's an extremely structured place to be and much of the discipline and organizational skills I have are due to the time I spent in the service and mentors I've had,” Varon says.
Along with being a student, Varon also looks for ways to support fellow veterans in any way he can. One way he does this is by helping raise funds for Mission 22, an organization that looks to address the issue of veteran suicide by providing treatment and resources to veterans.
The College of Education has a range of resources to help support its military and veteran students like Varon including the Iowa Supports Education and Resources for Veterans and Enlisted Center (I-SERVE) which helps veterans and enlisted individuals transition into higher education at the University of Iowa.
“It is my first stop whenever I have a question about the program or available resources for veterans,” Varon says.
For more information on I-SERVE and the Paul Larson Military/Veteran Student Scholarship, visit the I-SERVE web page.