Madison College named a top Military Friendly® school

Military-connected student AJ Brown on the Truax campus

For the 2023-24 cycle, Madison College has been ranked first nationally in the Military FriendlyⓇ ratings of large community colleges. Awards are given based on an organization’s commitment, effort, and success in creating sustainable and meaningful opportunity for the military community.

From navigating classes to understanding military benefits to finding a sense of community, the path military students take here at Madison College looks different than other students. It’s one thing to offer the tools and resources, but it’s going that step further – creating a sense of belonging for our military-connected students – where Madison College out-cares and over-delivers. 

We asked two military-connected students how Madison College has supported them in everything from academic success to navigating and understanding military benefits to helping them create a sense of community and belonging. Here’s what they had to say.

AJ Brown, US Navy, EOD technician
Current military status: Inactive ready reserve (IRR)
Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin

How did you feel when you first arrived here at Madison College?
Honestly, the moment I walked the halls of Truax, I felt at home here. It was a cool and somewhat unexpected feeling of ‘this is where I belong.’

Was it always your plan to attend college after your military career?
My motivation to attend college came from being out in the field and learning about our State Department’s foreign service officers. I saw them in action, and it looked interesting and like something I’d enjoy doing. I’m currently an LAT-Social Sciences (Liberal Arts Transfer) student, and after graduation, I’ll transfer to a 4-year school and get my bachelor’s degree in International Relations, and possibly more beyond that.

Why did you choose to start here at Madison College?
I looked at starting with a 4-year school, but having a community feeling and more connected experience was a priority for me. I grew up in Madison, and as I was looking at schools, I was drawn towards the overall atmosphere here - smaller classrooms, approachable faculty, and the loads of resources the college offers its students.

What are the military supports Madison College offers you that have been most useful and helpful?
The Veteran Resource Services (VRS) Center has been helping me from even before I started class. My advisors are able to connect our military experience and benefits to the Madison College system in a way no one else can. They helped me plan out my first semester courseload to make sure I was on the right track, and overall, they go out of their way to make sure incoming vets are prepared for this new journey.

In what ways do you find community and connection here at Madison College?
This is my first semester, so I'm just starting to get involved in the Madison College community, but I already feel the VRS is a safe haven where I know I can go if I'm looking for a tight-knit community on campus. I also find it equally rewarding to meet other students through classes.

How might your experience differ from a student who is not part of the military community? 
My military experience gave me both a break from traditional education and enough perspective to excited me about going back. I'm hoping to help increase the presence of the military community on campus, both for veterans and those who are less familiar with the military. I think bridging that gap is important. 

In thinking about your military experience and being here at Madison College, what are you most proud of?
It can be daunting to leave the structure and familiarity of the military for the unknown. I'm proud of my service, but I'm also proud that I took the leap to follow my dreams towards higher education. Madison College was a huge part of that equation, and I am grateful to be a part of this community.

Caleb Fliearman, Madison College student


Caleb Fliearman, US Marine Corps, Infantry Rifleman
Current military status: Reserve
Hometown: Waunakee, Wisconsin

Was it always your plan to join the military?
This path was always in the back of my mind, and during my junior and senior year of high school, it really solidified. 

And did you always know you wanted to attend college?
Yes, this was part of my plan. After high school graduation, I did my boot camp for three months, then spent time in Camp Pendleton for infantry training. From there, I planned to continue my obligated training, check in with my unit and go to college. I signed a Reserve contract, so the path to getting here (college) has been intentional.

Why did you choose Madison College?
It made a lot of sense for me. It’s convenient and close to my unit, which is great for training purposes. It’s also the perfect steppingstone to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m a LAT student focusing on business and economics, and after graduation, I’ll transfer to UW-Madison to complete my bachelor’s degree. From there, I’ll become active duty and serve as a Marine Core Infantry Officer.

How has the college’s VRS Center supported you as a military-connected student?
They help with everything – early advising, class scheduling, how to balance school with my current orders, knowing how many credits I need to fulfill my GI Bill. Then there’s utilizing all your benefits and knowing who to call when you have questions. Having to figure all this stuff out on my own would be really challenging and overwhelming.

What are the advantages of the VRS staff having prior military experience?
They get me, and everyone in the office understands each other. We can communicate with each other in a certain way that only comes from serving in the military. I recently attended a squad competition for infantry skills and tactics at Camp Lejeune, and it coincided with the start of the semester; the VRS staff accommodated my schedule and helped make it happen, because they knew it was important to me.

What does community look like here as a military-connected student?
The VRS is very accessible, and the staff is here for you. The VRS hosts events to create community and outlets for military students who might feel like they’re on an island.

What would you say to a potential student (with a military background) who’s considering attending Madison College?
Find something that interests you and start with that. You might be hesitant to jump in, but you can always start part-time and see how it feels. You won’t know until try, so just give it a shot, and go for it.

About Madison College's Veteran Resource (VRS) Services Center:
The VRS team connects vets to campus resources and community partnerships that promote academic, career, employment and personal success. They offer advising, coaching, benefits assistance and peer support. Learn more about the Veteran Resource Services (VRS) Center and the support available to our military-connected students.

About Military Friendly® Schools:
The Military Friendly® Schools list is created each year based on extensive research using public data sources from more than 8,800 schools nationwide, input from student veterans, and responses to the proprietary, data-driven Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions. The survey questions, methodology, criteria and weighting were developed with the assistance of an independent research firm and an advisory council of educators and employers. The survey is administered for free and is open to all postsecondary schools that wish to participate.