UNCW Has Integral Role in “Hiring Our Heroes” Initiative

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

As part of a national initiative to increase employment opportunities for veterans and military spouses, UNCW is playing a key role in efforts to connect employers with military-affiliated students who will enter the workforce upon graduation.

Several UNCW employees recently attended the summer meeting of Hiring Our Heroes, a program sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. University representatives serve on HOH advisory councils concerned with the employment of veterans and military spouses, respectively, and are sharing best practices for employers interested in hiring students with military ties.

“As a university that was established to serve World War II veterans and which is within 100 miles of several major military bases, UNCW is dedicated to helping military-affiliated students find meaningful employment,” said Siobhan Norris, UNCW military liaison and program manager, a veteran who is married to an active-duty servicemember.

UNCW’s participation in HOH aligns with the Strategic Plan, which emphasizes preparing students for post-graduation success and increasing career placement.

The university’s commitment to veterans, active-duty military and military dependents is reflected in “Military Times’ Best: Colleges 2018,” which ranked UNCW 1st in North Carolina and 40th nationally among top four-year colleges for military-affiliated students. In addition, UNCW was selected by the Council of College and Military Educators to receive the 2018 Institution Award for the university’s “dedication, leadership and numerous accomplishments in providing quality voluntary off-duty education programs.”

The meeting, in the technology hub of northern California, included a recruiting event at LinkedIn and a tour of the Facebook headquarters, where participants met with a number of veterans working for the social media company.

The university’s involvement with HOH and the many national companies that support it also helps advance Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli’s challenge to have at least 100 Fortune 500 businesses visit and recruit from UNCW, said Rebecca Christiansen, Career Center associate director for employer development. The connection also positions faculty to expand applied learning opportunities for UNCW students, she said.

A report prepared for the U.S. Chamber Foundation estimated that the unemployment rate for military spouses, more than 90 percent of whom are women, was 16 percent in 2017, about four times the national average for adult women.

UNCW also has provided research related to military spouse employment that has added to the national dialogue. Adam Jones, regional economist in the Cameron School of Business, examined the economic impact of unemployment among spouses of servicemembers. His updated findings will be reported at the 2018 Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Employment Summit in Washington, D.C., on June 28.

The university is a leading voice in best practices for serving students who are military spouses, who are historically underrepresented in employment discussions, Norris said.

Hiring Our Heroes launched in 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment. Although the effort is national, organizers also want to enlist local businesses to expand the employer network actively seeking to hire military-affiliated workers.


UNCW faculty, administrators and staff show their Seahawk spirit at LinkedIn headquarters. (L-R) Karl Ricanek Jr.,computer science professor and director of I3S; Siobhan Norris, military liaison and program manager; Patricia Leonard, vice chancellor for student affairs; Rebecca Christiansen, Career Center associate director for employer development; Ashley Adamovage, military liaison and program manager; Jess Boersma, associate dean of applied learning in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

-- Tricia Vance