In the fall of 2008, Andrew Olivieri felt like he was staring down four years of uncertainty, dissatisfaction and “wasting my parents’ money.” A senior at the Bronx High School of Science, where most graduates are expected to attend college, Olivieri just didn’t feel ready.
But the Army life had always attracted him, as a path that led to maturity, a work ethic, and an opportunity to be part of something larger than himself.
“I wanted to be a part of history, and contribute to it,” Olivieri said. “I never wanted to be one of those people who just say, ‘Oh, I thought about joining the military.’ I thought I should just do it.”
Soon Olivieri was starting what would be the first of four deployments with the Army Rangers, including many months in Afghanistan and half a year in Farsi language immersion, which “helped me understand a culture that I only knew through war,” he said. His last experiences in the Army, working with Afghan commandos, were deeply enriched by his working knowledge of their language.
In September, Olivieri’s next big adventure begins: as a Wesleyan freshman. He’ll be in Wesleyan’s first group of 10 U.S. military veterans on campus through the Posse Foundation.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “The student community seems very active, and that’s what I’m looking for. I want to share my experience in an environment where people are willing to listen and willing to share their lives with me.”
As he neared the end of his military service, a family friend recommended Olivieri to Posse, and he applied, seeking a school where he could explore what had become a passion for him in the military: international relations. “Wesleyan seemed perfect,” he said.
Now 22, he’ll join nine other military veterans in the Class of 2018. This is the inaugural year for Posse at Wesleyan; the university hopes to add 10 veterans per class for the next three years.
Posse is one of five programs the university is highlighting June 15-21, as Access2Wes week celebrates diversity and inclusion at Wesleyan. During this week, alumni and friends can support these programs, which also include A Better Chance, Prep for Prep, QuestBridge and the Freeman Asian Scholars, with their gift through the Wesleyan Fund.