Veteran Finds Camaraderie on Campus

Published on November 07, 2015

Nelson County High graduate Christopher “Cris” Burgin, a U.S. Army veteran, knew about EKU’s veteran-friendly reputation before enrolling as a full-time student in the Fall of 2012. But he soon realized that the benefits were more than rankings and national recognition.

“Veterans kind of gravitate to each other at EKU and help each other out,” explained the single father of a middle-school football player. “We tutor each other, study together, go to ball games, babysit other vets’ kids, help with rides to class and other important transportation needs, pick up each other’s kids, help with car repairs, create friendships and hang out. Many veterans have even attended my son’s football games.”

EKU has ranked second or higher nationally among four-year schools in the Military Times “Best for Vets” rankings four of the last five years, and has been recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School each of the past five years. U.S. Veterans magazine ranked EKU among 145 Top Veteran-Friendly Schools for 2014.

Burgin, who served with the U.S. Army, 187th Infantry, Rakkasan Scout, 101st Airborne (Air Assault) and will graduate in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace management, talks about his EKU experience. 

What do you love about EKU?

The veteran and military influence: students, professors and faculty. As well as all the free tutoring labs.

What do you think sets the University apart from other schools?

I believe the overall veteran influence sets EKU apart from the other colleges. Approximately 70 percent of my professors have been veterans. I have had veteran professors in: college orientation, aviation, accounting, biology, technology, economics and military history classes. EKU also has veteran-only classes that really helped my transition into student life. There are also numerous veteran staff members. It seems that everywhere I have turned, there has been a veteran. I have also enjoyed mentoring a few of the ROTC cadets. I’ve made friends with a few and advised them on a couple real-world military situations.

Why did you choose EKU?

I chose to attend EKU because of the veteran and military presence, as well as the EKU top notch and nationally recognized aviation program. I grew up between an airport and a parachute center. I was airborne and air assault in the Army, so aircraft and flying have been a part of my life since I can remember. When it was time to pick a major, I chose aerospace management because I wanted a profession that I could enjoy for a long time. I'm a single father with custody of my son and being close to family members was also very important.

Talk about your favorite Eastern professor.

Anthony (Tony) Adams is by far my favorite professor. He is a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran who is also from the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell. Professor Adams covers the material needed and also adds in a bit of his humor. He refers back to his military and civilian aviation experience to draw in the relevance to aviation topics. Plus, I love hearing his stories from his time in the service. He has had real-world aviation experiences and he likes to share them with his students. Professor Adams’ aviation experience is vast and a priceless learning tool. He's a great overall person.

What has been your favorite class?

My favorite classes have all been in aviation with Professor Adams. I have taken six of his aviation classes. I really enjoy his personality as a professor. He is not easy; however, he is more than fair. His classes aren’t boring or mind-numbing. The knowledge that he shares is invaluable to the aviation profession. I believe he has been a positive influence on my future aviation career. Professor Adams doesn’t sit on a high horse thinking he’s better than anyone. He’s the kind of person that anyone will enjoy talking with.