Senior Plans to Pursue Career Helping Veterans with Professional Development
A U.S. Army veteran, Erik Clement ’23 has been a source of support for his fellow student-veterans at the University. As he finishes his last semester as a Charger, he continues to help create a sense of belonging and connection on campus.
February 9, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
For Erik Clement ’23, helping to coordinate events that brought together student-veterans and international students are among his favorite memories as a Charger. These initiatives were a way for him to help create a sense of belonging for both groups of students – students that, he realized from his own experience, have more in common than they might think.
As a U.S. Army veteran, Clement has lived abroad, and he understands how challenging that can be. His experience has helped him appreciate the challenges international students face – and it has inspired him to help ensure they feel welcome and included at the University. He has collaborated with Ruth Kameswara Rao ’23 MPH, a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) student ambassador, to host events that brought international and veteran students together.
“Veterans, in particular, can relate to international students because we both understand the loneliness of living in a foreign country while surrounded by other people,” explains Clement, a business management major. “It's easy to form social groups and only interact with people within your own group, which leads one to feel disconnected from the community. That community, for international students, is the University, and for veterans, it was our military units. As a veteran who has gone through that experience, I can identify those behaviors, and I enjoy facilitating events that prevent the disconnect.”
‘Continue helping other veterans’
Clement enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2015 as an 11Bravo-Infantryman. Initially stationed in Fort Drum, New York, he was deployed that same year to Helmand, Afghanistan, for six months. After leaving active duty in 2019, he transferred to the Massachusetts National Guard, where he served as an air traffic controller until early 2022.
Now a member of Military Veterans of the University of New Haven (MVUNH), Clement also has a work-study position with the Military Veterans Service Team. He has worked with both organizations to help his fellow student-veterans transition from military service to higher education, helping to organize events, connect his fellow student-veterans with resources, and develop a professional enrichment program focused on the unique student-veteran experience.
“Professor Al Arkoubi would go out of her way to forward me HR internship opportunities, and those interactions motivated me to continue applying,” he explains. “If it weren't for her, I would have missed the opportunity to work at a summer internship that fit my military background. She has given me valuable advice and guidance on entering and succeeding in the field of human resources.”
Now a global human resources intern for Innovations for Poverty Action, a nonprofit focusing on global research and policy, Clement is enjoying his last semester as a Charger. Now studying for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certificate – something for which he says Professor Al Arkoubi has also offered her support – he is deciding between pursuing a career with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or with a Department of Defense contractor.
“I want to continue helping other veterans with their professional development,” said Clement, who also plans to pursue his master’s degree. “That much is absolute.”