NEWS: Rice launches Military Scholars Program to assist veterans

When members of the military make the transition to civilian life, many find themselves contemplating their next career move. Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business is going above and beyond in its efforts to attract and prepare military veterans for careers in business.

“We are excited to offer support for military veterans who are making a transition to civilian life after serving our country,” said Bill Glick, dean of the Jones School. “Through the military, they have developed tremendous leadership skills. Through the Rice MBA, we can help them translate these leadership skills to civilian roles. Houston and the Jones School are very pleased to welcome and support our veterans.”

From events featuring high-profile speakers like former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to the recent launch of the Military Scholars Program (MSP), which provides scholarship support to veterans, the school aims to become "the most military-friendly MBA program in the country," said Rice MBA student Jimmy Battista, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.

Ivor Kristiansen, a fellow graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former U.S. Naval officer, will be the first student to benefit from the Jones School's MSP, which covers the cost of tuition, fees and living expenses for one full-time MBA student/veteran each year. Kristiansen has six years of military experience, including a tour inAfghanistan, and works in supply-chain management at Noble Energy. He will begin the full-time program this fall.

“My experience in the Navy allowed me to develop significant competencies in leadership and management, but I knew there would be a competency gap as I entered the corporate community,” Kristiansen said. “I’m looking to the Jones School to bridge that gap and give me more exposure to career opportunities."

Kristiansen said that Rice was the best fit for his career goals and his first choice for pursuing his MBA. "The Jones School’s attentiveness to the needs of veterans was clearly apparent," he said. "I can’t wait to get started.”

Rice's full-time MBA program currently includes 15 veterans; with the overwhelming response from the veteran community, the Jones School has committed to raising more funds for military student support and to attracting a 10 percent veteran population in the full-time class. But the support for veterans doesn't stop there.

The Jones School is also home to organizations like Veterans in Business Association (VIBA), which provides assistance to veterans transitioning from military service to student life at Rice. VIBA also partners with other student organizations, Rice alumni and the Houston business community to participate and sponsor philanthropic events that benefit charitable veteran and military organizations.

"I really enjoyed and miss the sense of camaraderie that the military offered, so with VIBA, we wanted to create the same atmosphere," Battista said. "When veterans come to Rice, we want them to know that not only will they be supported with scholarships, but they will also have access to one of the largest and most active veterans-in-business networks in the country."

Many students at the Jones School are also active in the nonprofit Suits for Soldiers, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans who recently returned from service with finding employment. The group was co-founded by Tyson Voelkel, an active duty major in the United States Army. Voelkel has earned numerous military awards and decorations for service overseas in combat and at home in the U.S. Melissa Blakeslee, the Jones School's executive director of admission, credits veterans for raising the bar when it comes to placing Jones School graduates in business careers.

“The military veterans who come to the Jones School are able to share their unique experience and perspective both in and out of the classroom,” she said. “Their level of involvement in both clubs and classes leads to the recruitment of top candidates.”

Doug Foshee, chairman, president and CEO of Sallyport Investments LLC, former Rice trustee and '92 Rice MBA, said the Jones School's outreach efforts are resulting in the infusion of "unique talent" into the Rice MBA program.

“I believe that this will change everything about the experience for all the students, and in addition, change the lives of the veterans we recruit," he said. "I cannot think of a better way to enrich Rice, the city of Houston and the lives of some of those we owe so much to.”

For more information on veterans outreach at the Jones School, visit

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