Rhode Island College sophomore April Shaw is doing more with her time than just majoring in medical imaging. Shaw serves as the new RI VetCorps navigator at RIC. RI VetCorps is a program sponsored by the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services in partnership with AmeriCorps.
Shaw is a peer-to-peer mentor for student veterans navigating their way through higher education. Shaw is a retiree from the United States Coast Guard and has retired as of September 2021. Shaw explained in a recent interview she served as a shipboard engineer and firefighter aboard Coast Guard Cutter William Tate and Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. She also served as a small boat engineer, engineer of the watch, maritime law enforcement officer, tactical boat crew member and she played a key role in maritime search and rescue operations in Narragansett Bay while stationed at Coast Guard Station Castle Hill.
“I had been in the service for 11 years,” Shaw says. “It had become a way of life for me. When I became a student and a civilian again after more than a decade, it was very difficult for me to acclimate.” As a person who struggles with PTSD from her experiences, Shaw understands and can relate to her veteran peers. However, every story has differences and each person may not have the same struggle when it comes to adapting back to civilian life. This is something that Shaw explains to those she mentors and she works with each student veteran at their own pace.
Shaw asserts, “Nine times out of 10, a veteran won’t walk into that office on their own because they don’t want to take services away from someone else. I let them know that these services are for all of us.”
Shaw is a mentor that goes out of her way to connect all student veterans to other disability services within the state. She shows how to apply for VA health care and sign up for VA benefits, as well as explaining the uses and resources of the college Military Resource Center, otherwise known as the MRC. Most of all, Shaw encourages student veterans to become a regular at the MRC. Everyone has questions and everyone needs help. Veterans helped all those within the country from behind the scenes and the MRC is on the scene for all student veterans. The MRC and April Shaw can be found in the Student Union next to the Student ID office and across from the Bookstore.