When Liz Green began her career in higher education, she didn’t expect joining the military to be a part of her journey.
In February 2022, Green found herself spending a significant amount of time at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base advising members of the 174th Attack Wing. Nearly weekly, the executive director of Online Student Success could be found speaking with prospective military students interested in online programs at Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies. The more that Green connected with students of various backgrounds and career fields, the more she found herself drawn to the mission and community that surrounded the Air National Guard.
“Can a civilian just join the military?” Green asked herself.
Although it was a simple question, it felt loaded with opportunity. Just like higher education, a career in the military was all about service. Both required commitment, leadership, and a passion to transform lives. While joining the military was an extension of an existing career built on service, this new career path would cultivate a deeper understanding of what it means to be military-connected in higher education.
But Green didn’t just join on a whim.
“When I had the thought, I laughed it off in my head,” Green said. “But it’s like what we tell our [College of Professional Studies] applicants: don’t self-select out. At least ask the question because you never know what you might learn in the process.”
As a full-time employee, PhD student, and a mom, could Green squeeze in another commitment? A two-hour conversation with a recruiter answered her question, which made her realize it was an oddly perfect fit. Green imagined a Venn diagram of her life and how this opportunity would blend into her other roles.
“It dawned on me that our presence on base was having an impact,” Green said. “I was an accessible person to talk to about degrees and there was a lot of enthusiasm. I want to keep doing what I can for this group of people and also serve the mission that they serve.”
Green began the five-month preparation of paperwork, exams, and medical clearances it would take to officially commission. On Nov. 4, Green was sworn into the New York Air National Guard, three weeks shy of her 40th birthday. Upon completion of officer training school, Green will be a second lieutenant and will be formally assigned to the public affairs career field.
“I didn’t even know this opportunity existed,” Green said. “But I’m so glad it evolved the way it did.”
About the College of Professional Studies
The College of Professional Studies is a global, inclusive and future-facing college, providing access to diverse students and learners seeking a Syracuse University degree, credential, certificate, or education experience.