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loomis_headshotGraduate student Brandon Loomis of Elkton, Md., is a husband, father, and Army veteran deployed three times to the Middle East. A Vick Fellowship, made possible through philanthropic support and awarded by the Graduate School, allows him to work with and promote opportunities for veterans. He believes Auburn’s Master of Natural Resources-Professional Forester degree in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will offer the competitive edge he needs in achieving his goal of owning his own forest management business.

Because of his military service, enrolling in Auburn turned into a two-year process, and he credits Auburn for its support during, and after, his enrollment.

“As a veteran coming to Auburn’s campus, I’ve received a lot of support. People at Auburn have been invested in getting me to where I need to be in my career. From the top to bottom, they’ve been there,” he said.

Through his involvement with Auburn’s Veterans Resource Center, Brandon has not only received support transitioning from military to campus life, but he also believes he can demonstrate what he and other veterans can offer as members of the student body.

“In owning my own business, I’m going to have to be a jack-of-all trades. The Forestry program gives me exposure to get a leg up on what I need to know to succeed,” he said. “The faculty immediately wanted to know what I wanted to do professionally and have set me up to attain my future goals and success. That’s something you don’t get just everywhere.”

That “leg up” has included gaining invaluable research experience in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ research labs, interacting with industry professionals at various academic and industry meetings, and applying classroom principles in the field at the school’s Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center.

And, thanks to the support of donors who fund these types of student fellowships, academic and research programs, and facilities, Brandon is benefiting from, as he refers to it, “the wealth of knowledge and resources I wouldn’t experience at other schools.”