Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Not often do we get to pass along something as inspiring as this:

It’s tough to refuse a guy like [John] Schupp, who talks fast, is equal parts deferential and pushy, and doesn’t hesitate to ask deeply personal questions.

What’s your passion in life? What do you want to do with yourself?

A history buff, he pored over books and dissected statistics about veterans, searching for an answer in the numbers. He read about the 7.8 million World War II veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to earn college diplomas. He prodded military officials for facts.

Today, just 8 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are fully using the $36,000 for college guaranteed by the GI Bill, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The military doesn’t track graduation rates.

The veterans of the “greatest generation” had proved it could be done, he thought. What was going wrong?

Slowly, the big idea lit up his brain. The proof was in the past. In 1945, veterans outnumbered everyone else on campus.

“They succeeded as a group, as a unit,” he says excitedly, as if sharing a secret. He leans forward, gripping his coffee mug. “So I’m recreating the same thing that happened then.”

… He campaigned like a politician, donning a suit and tie for visits to the Capitol, asking lawmakers to fork over $100,000 for a program that didn’t exist.

And they did.

So it happened that on a cold December afternoon in 2007, administrators at Cleveland State University found themselves in the curious position of having public funding available for an academic program they hadn’t yet approved. Veterans sat in the lecture hall as Schupp’s numbers flashed slide by slide, making a case for them.

Steve Slane, an associate dean, recalled the reaction of many: “Wait a minute, this is a good idea, maybe we should be doing this.”

The program, christened Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran, or SERV, would consist of four core classes — history, math, biology and chemistry — taught by volunteer teachers. It would have an office squeezed between Women’s Studies and Disability Services.

The program is now a national model. Read the whole story here. — Frank Lewis

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation