This blog was written by Jeffrey Phaneuf, MPA ’21 and current President of the Princeton Student Veterans Organization, graduate chapter.
Princeton has a long and storied history of military service, and the graduate programs at SPIA continue to represent that legacy of Princeton “in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” The Battle of Princeton was fought just down the road and ended on campus during the American Revolution, and Princeton’s graduates continue to serve today. Princeton’s military community includes notable leaders like Gen Mark Milley (undergrad) and Gen David Petraeus (PhD). Currently, Princeton’s grad student community includes veterans of every branch of the military.
Grad student veterans arrive at Princeton at various points in their career. Some are mid-career officers, spending a year at Princeton before returning to their active duty posts. Others come to Princeton after leaving active duty, looking to pivot into another form of public service after taking off the uniform. Some, too, continue to serve in the Reserves or the National Guard.
Some grad student veterans choose defense-related programs, like the MPA international relations field or the Security Studies PhD program. Others, however, focus their academic work on domestic policy or international development. Princeton SPIA provides the opportunity for grad students to study a wide range of topics and choose coursework that matches your post-grad school career plans.
Graduate student veterans at Princeton have the opportunity to take advantage of a diverse array of extracurriculars at Princeton. The Student Veterans Organization hosts regular events - everything from beer calls to trips to the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pentagon. The Center for International Security Studies appoints graduate student fellows from the veteran community every year and runs lunchtime conversations on defense issues and the civilian-military divide. Other grad student vets have acted as player-coaches on the Princeton rugby team, or launched startups with the Keller Center’s eLab Accelerator.
The military community at Princeton serves an important role in connecting the students, faculty, and staff at the university with the experience of those who have served in uniform. Many fellow students have never interacted directly with the military, but will go on to roles on Capitol Hill, in the Department of State, or with international development organizations where an understanding of how to work alongside the military will prove invaluable. The relationships you build here will help you no matter where you go after Princeton.
Picture courtesy of Jeffrey Phaneuf, pictured with John Vrolyk MPA ’20 at Reserves training last summer.