Military Service Organization designated Student Veterans of America chapter

The Penn State World Campus Military Service Organization (MSO) is now recognized as a Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter, which is a designation that can create new opportunities for online learners.

The MSO aims to connect military-affiliated learners with opportunities for social and intellectual growth during their online academic journeys. The group is open to any Penn State World Campus student who is a veteran, active-duty service member, military spouse, or ally of the Armed Forces.

Student Veterans of America is a nonprofit organization focused on addressing the needs of American military veterans in higher education. The MSO student leadership and advisers submitted official governing documents and proof of institutional recognition to be considered for chapter recognition.

Penn State World Campus MSO student president Paul Rodriguez said the new chapter designation will benefit military-connected online learners. Rodriguez served in the Air Force and is pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security – Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention Option.

“SVA opens a world of connection to other students, professionals, and professional development that would otherwise remain dormant in a curriculum-based environment,” he said.

Graduate human resources and employment relations student Nicole Childs is a military spouse and serves as the organization’s treasurer. She said the MSO hosts events where students can build their résumés, talk to professionals from government organizations, and receive career counseling.

“Apart from MSO’s commitment to cultivating a resilient community and professional network for military-affiliated members, we also actively seek to provide skill-building events and explore diverse opportunities to support and enhance the capabilities of our community,” Childs said.

The World Campus chapter joins many other Penn State chapters among the nearly 1,600 chapters across all 50 states and three countries. There are more than 750,000 student veterans represented, according to the Student Veterans of America website.

Penn State World Campus staff members serve as the organization’s advisers. Mandy Biddle, who is an academic adviser for military students, said she took on the role to help students get more engaged.

“MSO provides students with an opportunity to network and make connections with other military-affiliated students,” Biddle said.

Fellow adviser Rosemary Petrunyak is a military enrollment specialist and guides the group because of her own experience.

“I was a military-connected learner myself at one point and know first-hand how important it is to feel connected to the University and to your peers,” Petrunyak said. “This organization is a way to allow military students to develop a small bit of the camaraderie they find within military communities.”

Penn State World Campus offers academic advising and support services tailored for military-connected learners. It also offers a grant-in-aid program that lowers the cost of tuition for undergraduate students who are active military service members and their spouses.

Students interested in learning more about the MSO can contact the group by email at

Learn more about the resources and support services available online to military-connected learners through Penn State World Campus.