As a United States Marine Corps veteran, Justin Franklin said his greatest accomplishment was becoming a section chief.

“I was responsible for the safe and accurate operation of an M777 Howitzer and the safety of the 11 marines that made the operation of the Howitzer possible,” he said.

Now, as a Biology/Pre-Med major at ECSU, he endeavors to bring safety to a new demographic, his prospective patients. He started attending ECSU this year.

“There are always new things to learn which will only increase your opportunities in life,” Franklin said. “I believe that you should never stop pursuing education.”

Franklin is one of several Vikings to be acknowledged and celebrated at an ECSU Veterans Luncheon Nov. 9, sponsored by several university departments, including the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, Student Counseling Services, and the Department of Military Science. It is an opportunity to build camaraderie and good fellowship among a growing population in Viking Land – veteran students who largely consist of adult and continuing learners. Among the fall 2023 incoming class, the university experienced a 4.3% increase in the adult learner population. Demographic specific events, like the luncheon, are an avenue to extend gratitude to veterans and similar sectors within the campus community, event organizers said.

“ECSU values the military and veteran community and dedicates resources to support this population from application to graduation. Elizabeth City State University’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs is committed to providing veterans, active-duty military personnel, National Guard members, reservists, dependents, spouses, and ROTC cadets with excellence in service through quality customer service, timely and accurate benefit processing, and supportive community-building activities,” said ECSU Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer, Tiffany Hinton, Ed.D.

In addition to the luncheon, which is in partnership with the city of Elizabeth City, Mid-Atlantic Christian University (MACU) and College of the Albemarle (COA), there are other community-building activities planned for this week in honor of the veteran population:

  • A Green Zone training on Nov. 8 for ECSU faculty and staff. Facilitated by Bradley Wrenn, a program manager for Military and Veterans Education with the University of North Carolina System, the teaching covers the issues and concerns that military connected students and dependents face and the resources available.
  • A U.S. Navy Band performance on Nov. 9 at the campus’ Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center. The event is free, but registration is required and tickets must be presented at the door. This event is open to the entire Elizabeth City community. 

Marvetta Price, lecturer and director of Field Education for the ECSU Bachelor of Social Work program, is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. Before coming to ECSU she provided psychotherapy, case management and clinical supervision to active-duty military members, veterans, and their families.

“I bring the personal experience of military life, as well as continued education and training in providing clinical services,” Price said of her work with veterans at ECSU.

Franklin said ECSU, and connections like Price, offer support that enables him as a student, and a veteran, to create a healthy work-life balance. He currently works as a civilian nuclear engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

“The professors have been very supportive of the fact that I do have a full-time career that I must maintain as well as my academics,” he said. “As a veteran, the school has been very helpful with working with (Veterans Affairs) to get my G.I. bill benefits in order. My greatest accomplishment from earning this degree will be proving to myself and kids that it’s never too late to go back to school and that education is so valuable.”