HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Kim White is a military veteran who has experience in higher education and mental health. She also is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction at Marshall University, which she believes makes her “a great fit” for her new position at MU — director of military and veterans affairs.
“I can empathize with the students and the stressors involved in pursuing school, work and family goals, and how experience as a veteran — the military training one receives — factors into success in higher education. The veterans see me studying, bemoaning a huge assignment, prioritizing my time and resources, and working hard to the end of the semester.
“Veterans and active-duty students alike know I have walked and continue to walk along a path similar to their own and that shared experience is priceless when establishing rapport and building relationships, which are the keys to our collective success as students and as a university.”
White, a native of Athens, Ohio, has traveled the world in the military. Suffering from “burnout” when she was just 22, White dropped out of Ohio University her senior year (1994).
“Í was ready for an adventure out in the world with new scenery and new people,” she said.
White joined the Navy and found what she was seeking. Her first duty station was Diego Garcia, which is considered isolated duty because the base is positioned on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean 3,000 miles away from land.
There, she met her husband, Dr. Chris White, who is associate professor of history at Marshall. At the time, he was stationed on Diego Garcia with a U.S. Marine Corps Security Force unit. After leaving Diego Garcia, they were married, and then went on separate deployments — Chris to Japan, Kim to Rota, Spain.
In 1998, when their enlistments were up, both enrolled at Humboldt State University in northern California, and both were employed as work-study students in the Veterans Upward Bound program.
Kim graduated from HSU with a teaching credential in secondary education, and Chris was accepted by the University of Kansas in its Latin American Studies program.
They moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where Kim taught English for two years before returning to the university to earn a master’s degree in social work — a decision she says was one of the best in her life. In May 2006, Chris graduated with his Ph.D. in Latin American History. He accepted a position in the history department at Marshall.
“We arrived in Huntington in August 2006, with our newborn sons Vincent and Mason, and we were embraced as family by faculty and staff in the history department,” she said.
In October 2009, Kim accepted a position in the counseling center at Marshall, where she says she again was embraced as family by her colleagues whom she respects tremendously.
“My practice as a mental health specialist in the counseling center gave me a peek into the individual lives of students, to better understand the challenges they face and the strength they have to overcome those challenges,” Kim said. “I am so grateful for my time at the counseling center because my experiences there grew me both personally and professionally and prepared me for my new role on campus.”
In July 2015, she was asked to step into the position she currently holds on an interim basis, and then in October, she was chosen by the search committee to hold the position permanently.
“My goal is to use evidence-based approaches to promote veterans’ interests on campus while building meaningful relationships with faculty, staff and administration on behalf of veterans, active military and their families so students feel supported in the classroom and on campus,” Kim said.