Honorable Transition

veteran photo

Habits developed in the military serve student well in his academic career Ask Kennesaw State…

Georgia (Nov 18, 2014)

Habits developed in the military serve student well in his academic career

Ask Kennesaw State undergraduate student and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ryan Turnage how he approaches life, and he’ll give you a quick answer. “I approach everything I do with 100 percent effort. Everything I am involved with now, be it my marriage, my coursework, or anything else, I give my maximum effort because I don’t like to settle and failure is not an option.”

Turnage, a 26-year-old native of Irmo, S.C., credits his outlook and dedication toward the rigorous lessons he learned during his seven-year career in the Marine Corps. He learned discipline, honor, and making the best of any situation presented to him. His professors are taking note, too, as they’ve watched him develop as a KSU student.

"Ryan was a role model and leader in his first-year learning community,” said Hillary Steiner, a faculty member in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies  in University College who teaches Introductory Psychology in the learning community. “The other students really looked up to him. He took the lead on many class initiatives and his engagement in class was a great example for students to follow."

Turnage’s experience in the military began in September 2006 and included stints at the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and work at a recruiting station in Baton Rouge, La. He also served a nine-month tour in Iraq as a combat correspondent reporting news for the Marine Corps.

During his time overseas, Turnage witnessed and reported on many key events including the day when the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, turned over command of the battalion's final entry control point in Fallujah to Iraq security forces in February 2009. This event meant that Coalition forces were taking another step back from their role securing the Al Anbar province allowing Iraqi police and army units to assume greater responsibility for the safety of their fellow citizens.

“Thankfully, there was not a lot of combat during the time frame I was there,” said Turnage. “Most of my time there was spent helping to support Iraqi forces, build Iraqi schools and supply villages with essential items to cover day to day needs.”

He left the military in September 2013 after fulfilling his duties and immediately started his academic career at Kennesaw State University on a G.I. Bill. The transition from military life to a student has had its ups and downs, but has mostly been positive.

“In the Marine Corps, everything is treated almost like a life or death situation, and it very well could be depending on your situation,” said Turnage. “Now I have to force myself to drop that mentality and not stress out about every little thing, which I’m getting better at doing.”

The staff at the Veterans Resource Center at Kennesaw State has eased Turnage’s transition to a college setting.

“I literally walked into that office one day and showed them my certificate of eligibility for the G.I Bill and told them I wanted to enroll in classes and they took care of everything,” Turnage said. “The overall support I have received from that office has been great.”

It may be no surprise he’s received support from this center that is a “one-stop shop” for veterans who wish to start or continue their college education or receive academic counseling. The center, as part of the Student Success Services division, develops outreach programs focused on the special needs of military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.

“We’re here to serve the more than 1,000 veterans at KSU who have honorably served our country and take pride in the services we can provide them,” said Jerome Ratchford, vice president for Student Success.

Kennesaw State was recognized among the nation's top schools for veterans, according to Military Times magazine in its "Best for Vets: Colleges 2014" rankings. KSU was one of only 120 schools nationwide to be honored by the publication.

In addition to the Military Times' ranking, the University gained designation as a 2014 "Military Friendly School" by G.I. Jobs magazine. The honor recognizes the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to embrace America's military service members and veterans as students. This is the third year in a row KSU has been awarded the honor.

Turnage also appreciates the support he has received from his wife, Kathryn as he has transitioned from the military to college life. She helps create an atmosphere inside their home that is conducive to a productive study environment.

“He is definitely a better student than I was,” she noted. “He’s very diligent about studying and putting the hours in that are required to be a good student. I’m really proud of him and what he has accomplished so far at KSU.”

As for future plans, Turnage wants to obtain a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Coles College of Business. He likes working with numbers and says this type of work comes easy for him. He chose Kennesaw State since his wife attended school here and thought highly of the education she received.

“I like the feel of this university,” he said. “It’s not too large but big enough to offer the types of courses I need to accomplish my goals. I’m proud to be a part of theOwl Nation.”


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu