After a 22-year career in military intelligence for the U.S. Marine Corps, Joseph Sinicrope was ready to retire from active duty, but he didn’t want to leave the workforce altogether. That’s when Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Business opened the doors to a new venture.
Getting an MBA, always part of Sinicrope’s career plans, had previously been precluded by deployments to Afghanistan, Japan, Horn of Africa, Korea, Hawaii, and Iraq, where he served three tours of combat. But once he had retired, and aided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, he registered for the COB’s Executive MBA program, which targets experienced professionals.
“My military experience served as a natural transition to the EMBA,” said Sinicrope, who works at FIU’s Applied Research Center, managing the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security portfolios. “Many of us have held leadership positions of tremendous magnitude, and that is probably not very common in the business community, even for business executives.”
Three retired U.S. military officers, all with command experience, are attending the COB’s EMBA program, featuring face-to-face classes at FIU Downtown on Brickell and online coursework.
“In my opinion, we’re doing exceptionally well in the program, and have been able to make some strong contributions in the areas of leadership and organizational development,” Sinicrope said. “It has definitely been a two way street, and each of us has learned a tremendous amount from our fellow students.”
FIU’s outreach to military veterans has been on a steady climb for the last five years. Today, roughly 2,000 military veterans are enrolled at the university. The number of veterans using benefits now stands at 1,477, a figure that has increased 228 percent since 2009, when 450 veterans used military benefits to study at FIU, said Mike Pischner, director of veteran and military affairs.
“At FIU we’ve gone out of the way to make benefits go farther,” said Pischner. “We’re doing things that are more forward-thinking than many other schools in the state.”
University assists veterans’ transition to civilian life.
Sinicrope, who entered the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 right after graduating from the university and served until 2012, describes FIU’s offerings for military veterans as robust and proactive.
“When it comes to serving the veteran community, FIU walks the walk– they don’t just talk it,” said Sinicrope. “There’s evidence that they’re truly looking out for veterans, trying to become a leader in helping veterans transition [from active service] or pursue education.”
Among the government resources available to military personnel is the GI Bill, which provides educational assistance to service members, veterans, and their dependents. Those enrolled at FIU receive tuition benefits as well as a $2,000 per month housing allowance and $1,000 annually for books and supplies.
“FIU limits the impact and costs that the veteran has to pay, even for higher education efforts and masters programs,” said Sinicrope. “Plus, the facilities are tremendous and their efforts in job fairs and, ultimately, job placement have been noteworthy.”
Sinicrope’s final tour of duty before retirement was in Miami at the U.S. Southern Command (USSouthCom), which handles U.S. Department of Defense contingency duties for Central America, South America and the Caribbean.