Audra White-Stadnik’s formal education was interrupted by a learning experience that involved courage, endurance and self-reliance.

Culture shock

The Suffolk University junior, who grew up in a military family, enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 2009, in part because she had “faith” in President Barack Obama. Ten months later, she was deployed to Iraq as an ambitious private who eventually was promoted to specialist on a mid-range surveillance detail.

“Going into the military was complete culture shock for me; I never lived outside of the Northeast.” said White-Stadnik, who, having wrapped up her military service in a leadership position at Fort Stewart, Georgia, is attending Suffolk University through the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program.

The Yellow Ribbon program offers veterans enrolling in the University up to $25,000 in grant money annually while they pursue a degree.

Two majors & a minor

White-Stadnik enrolled at the University this past fall as a transfer student and is pursuing a Political Science and Philosophy double major with a minor in Asian Studies.

“The Army teaches you about focus, maturity, and management skills,” she said during a welcome reception hosted by the University for veterans studying here on the GI Bill or through the Yellow Ribbon program. “It also teaches you about being self-reliant.”

“I’m ecstatic about being back in school and being able to complete my bachelor’s degree” said White-Stadnik. “I’m thankful to Suffolk for opening the door and allowing students like myself to excel and progress in our educational and career paths outside of the military.”

White-Stadnik and her husband, whom she met in the service, are in the National Guard, and she plans to attend an intensive eight-week Officer Candidate School next summer.

Meanwhile, White-Stadnik works hard to balance her top priorities. “I love being a soldier,” she said. “And I love being a student.”