Hillary Browning: From AFN in Japan to Aristotle at Yale!

This is the third in a series of veteran profiles spotlighting Service to School (S2S) and our VetLink program, which connects veterans with highly selective colleges and universities.

Hillary Browning, Yale ‘19

Hometown: New Braunfels, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I climbed Mt. Fuji during a typhoon!

Intended Major: Still deciding between political science and sociology

What did you do in the military? I served in the Navy as a Mass Communication Specialist (MC) which is basically a long-winded way of saying journalist. Please don’t email me to tell me how much you hated AFN overseas; I get it!

What was your proudest accomplishment in the Navy? I’ve won awards and gotten pats on the back for various things, but what I am most proud of centers around higher education. I encouraged a few friends to take college classes while still on active duty, and when I got into Yale, many sailors reached out to me and asked how they could get into college. It may sound cheesy, but it really warms my heart to know that I have influenced so many people to pursue their degrees.

How did you hear about S2S? Through lots and lots of Googling variations of “how to apply to college,” “best colleges for veterans,” “applying to college checklist,” and “help!”

What was the best part of S2S for you? My mentor was the person who gave me the confidence to apply to Ivy League schools. If it weren’t for Dylan McCracken, I wouldn’t be at Yale.

Why did you decide to pursue college? I wanted to go to college after high school but my parents couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t especially interested in massive amounts of debt, so I joined the military. It was always meant to be a temporary gig — just a stepping-stone to a college education.

How has the transition been from the military to the classroom? Luckily, I was able to take lots of terminal leave and spend the summer before school catching rays in sunny San Diego, so I was relaxed when the semester began. When I first arrived at Yale and met the other Eli Whitney students, the three other new veteran students and myself made an instant connection. The coursework is manageable, but school would be very lonely if I hadn’t met the other veterans.

What’s your favorite part about Yale? On a shallow level, Yale is gorgeous! I never tire of walking around campus and seeing all of the beautiful, old buildings. On a deeper level, I get to have fascinating conversations with students who may eventually be influential political figures.

What advice would you give to future applicants? Be confident! I never thought I would be eligible for an Ivy League school, but I was so wrong. It doesn’t hurt to try, especially when you have S2S in your corner!

What led you to choose Yale? Full, unedited honesty? I’m a huge Gilmore Girls fan and the youngest Gilmore (Rory) went to Yale. I was asked the “Why Yale?” question during my application interview and I told them the truth. Yale owes my matriculation to Amy Sherman-Palladino.

What would you like your peers at Yale to say about you after you graduate? I am so impressed by my peers’ intelligence, every day. Often we’ll discuss a topic at lunch and I seem to be the only one who is lost. So, I hope, eventually, after taking many classes, my Yale peers describe me as smart!

What are you goals post-graduation? Post-graduation, I am interested in working for the government. I’ll most likely have to obtain a Master’s or PhD in public policy, but I hope to be able to influence laws and policies that guide our military efforts. The military will always be close to my heart and I want to continue to be a part of the organization, just without the boots and quarterdeck watches.

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, CT. It is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the US and consistently ranked one of the best universities in the world. For more information, please visit www.yale.edu.

Service to School is a 501c(3) non-profit committed to helping our nation’s veterans earn admission to colleges and universities. Our mission is to help every transitioning military veteran win admission to the best college or graduate school possible.

In 2015, Service to School launched VetLink, an initiative within our larger mentoring program, which partners our organization with some of the best colleges and universities in the U.S. including Amherst College, Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, Princeton University, Smith College, Williams College, and Yale University.

Are you a transitioning veteran thinking about applying to college to earn your undergraduate or bachelor’s degree? Sign up for help from Service to School.