Photo of Tamanika Steward

Serving Student Veterans

Serving Student Veterans

Before coming to Williams a little over a year ago, Assistant Dean of Students Tamanika Steward spent a decade at Henry Ford College, where she taught English courses to a diverse group of students, including veterans. Steward, who also serves as dean of sophomore-year students and director of transfer and non-traditional student services, now helps student veterans thrive both inside and outside the classroom. Here, she talks about her experience at Williams thus far and the mutual benefits of working with student veterans. 

Why should veterans consider Williams? 

Our student veterans are drawn to experiencing the liberal arts education in a small, academic and close-knit community, which encourages cross-collaboration and intellectual exploration. We have great academic, career and scholarly resources at Williams that students can access. We are also very generous with our financial aid support, which allows students to explore the full range of the curriculum and the Williams experience without worrying about financial limitations. In addition, our alumni who have served in the military are very supportive and interested in the continuing development of the college’s student veteran programs, including the Transfer and Veteran Open House, the Williams Travel Grant Program, and a Transfer and Veteran Admission Ambassador program, in which veterans support recruitment efforts by joining community college visits and fairs, talking with prospective students through our Williams College Connect platform and assisting with other programs and events. These programs remain crucial to our efforts to attract talented veterans to Williams. I also believe student veterans appreciate the college’s increased efforts to enhance all aspects of their campus life as well as to provide support for their families and partners.  

How do veterans enrich the Williams community?

Our veterans enrich the campus and classroom as many Williams’ students do—through their vast intellectual gifts and unique backgrounds. But they also bring mature perspectives, practical knowledge and real-life experiences to their many scholarly and social interactions within our campus community. Moreover, they bring diversity to the student population and serve as wonderful ambassadors and leaders for Williams. Our veterans have been really great at working with administrators and campus partners, too, not only to better their own experiences and outcomes but also to help improve the success of all Williams students. 

What do you like best about working with veterans? 

I’ve been working with student veterans for about 10 years in different capacities. At my former institution, I had the opportunity to work with them in the classroom, and they were natural liaisons who helped me to support other students’ needs. For example, student veterans would lead study sessions and have meaningful conversations with classmates, everything from helping them with their coursework to understanding college culture. During the year and four months that I have been at Williams, I’ve appreciated the leadership skills that our student veterans display. Likewise, I have been impressed by the ways they get involved in so many different aspects of college life. For example, in the Dean’s Office we have a veteran student liaison, which is a paid position that helps me plan programming and serves as a resource for other student veterans. They keep me honest and offer me wonderful, and sometimes humbling, feedback. In doing so, they give me a chance to grow in my work and in my capacity to support their needs.