Mantella announces GVSU Veteran Promise: Guaranteed admission for enlisted 2021 Michigan high school graduates

Grand Valley State University President Philomena V. Mantella announced a major initiative to support Michigan veterans, the first of its kind in the nation.

The GVSU Veteran Promise guarantees admission to Grand Valley for enlisted 2021 Michigan high school graduates.

2021 Michigan high school graduates who have signed enlistment papers to serve in the U.S. military for at least two years are reserved a spot at Grand Valley upon exit of their service or to begin online in their active duty years.

Mantella unveiled the initiative during the GVSU President’s Annual Veterans Day Breakfast held virtually November 11. She said the GVSU Veteran Promise is another way to build on Grand Valley’s historical commitment to veterans.

Person with American flag
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

“We are blessed that our veterans, who put service to country above all else, bring that commitment home as service to their communities,” said Mantella. “Some veterans face unique challenges transitioning to civilian life. Offering guaranteed admission to 2021 Michigan high school graduates to attend GVSU eliminates the worry about being accepted to college.”

Mantella said the military training, character and dedication student veterans bring to campus provides new opportunities for enriched classroom discussions, enhanced campus diversity and access to an unrivaled pool of talent.

“As a university, we are committed to removing barriers to enrollment for a wide variety of populations and our veterans are no different,” she said. “I’m proud that Grand Valley will support this generation of veterans.”

The keynote speaker at the breakfast was Jared Lyon, national president & CEO of Student Veterans of America and veteran of the U.S. Navy. Lyon said nearly 200,000 service members become veterans each year, and about 115,000 of those veterans are in a college classroom within seven months of separation from the military. Most return to their home state for college.

“With this first-of-its-kind Veteran Promise, Grand Valley will ensure student veterans are valued, welcomed and supported from the moment they step on campus,” said Lyon. “We congratulate GVSU on this unique commitment to veteran inclusivity that begins for future service members as soon as they graduate from high school.”

Cameron Zbikowski
Cameron Zbikowski, president of Laker Vets
Image credit - Valerie Hendrickson

GVSU student veteran Cameron Zbikowski, president of Laker Vets, said Mantella’s Veteran Promise is another prime example of the investment the president and her administration have made in supporting military and veteran-affiliated students.

“Laker veterans are leaders and innovators in spreading the Laker Effect through study abroad, national conferences, entrepreneurship labs and fellowship programs,” said Zbikowski. “I am exceptionally proud to be a Laker vet and I look forward to continuing a robust partnership with Jared Lyon and our national headquarters in Washington, D.C."  

Zaneta Adams, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), which coordinates services and benefits for Michigan’s 552,000 veterans and their families, said the GVSU Veteran Promise supports Gov. Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 Goal. The initiative aims to increase the number of working-age adults in Michigan with a college degree or professional skills certificate from 45 percent today to 60 percent by 2030.

“We applaud Grand Valley State University – one of the MVAA’s Gold-level Veteran-Friendly Schools – on this truly innovative initiative to support our full-time active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and veterans,” Adams said. “The GVSU Veteran Promise should have a significant impact in helping veterans further their educational and professional goals.”

For more information about the GVSU Veteran Promise, visit

Hat on books
Image credit - Sarah Anderson


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