Tony Grant: From Reading Reddit in the Air Force to Reading Huntington in Yale

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

Please state your name, school, and graduation year: Tony Grant Yale University ‘19

Hometown: Hyannis, Massachusetts

Fun Fact About Yourself: While living in Mississippi, I slept through both Hurricane George and Hurricane Katrina.

Intended Major: Political Science

What did you do in the military? I served in the Air Force as an Arabic Cryptologic Linguist.

What was your proudest accomplishment in the Air Force? My proudest military accomplishment was achieving language fluency in Arabic and three other dialects. I’m also very proud of expediting the paperwork for a struggling military married couple to be stationed on the same base for the first time in their career.

How did you hear about Service to School (S2S)? I was browsing the Reddit thread, r/AirForce, and somebody mentioned S2S. I was having a slow night at work, did some research and reached out to S2S hoping that it was real and not a fake organization.

I was browsing the Reddit thread, r/AirForce, and somebody mentioned S2S. I was having a slow night at work, did some research and reached out to S2S hoping that it was real and not a fake organization.

What was the best part of S2S for you? For me, the best part was their network of veterans with diverse skills in different areas. The guidance that my ambassador, Sean O’Grady, gave me while polishing my essays was crucial in helping me translate my military career into terms that schools would relate to.

Tony Grant, Yale 2019

Why did you decide to pursue college? The military was fulfilling up to a point, but there came a stretch of time where I didn’t feel like I was playing to my strengths anymore. I became fascinated with the big “chessboard” of international relations while working in intelligence. I admired the civilians that I worked with for their knowledge of the culture in our Area of Responsibility and their big-picture ideas. The determining factor was that I had a vision of what my best self could be in 5, 10 or 20 years, and college seemed like the most logical path in getting to that point.

How has the transition been from the military to the classroom? It was rocky at first because of the different layers of mindsets that I had to shed and then there were the “school layers” that I had to put on. It’s cringe-inducing to look back on it now, but I really needed somebody to look me in the eye and tell me that nobody wanted to hear my active-duty stories. As far as academics went, it was a splash of cold water to the face to know that the material is taught at this depth at such a fast pace. At the same time, it was refreshing to have expectations to get things done on time without any hand-holding.

What’s your favorite part about Yale? The passionate, high-energy students and being exposed to many different types of people.

What advice would you give to future applicants? Know your story and tell it well! The military gives everybody intangible skills that schools and employers value, and our biggest hindrance is poorly communicating what they are.

What led you to choose Yale? My ambassador brought up the idea after I told him my list of schools. I had already resigned myself to the idea that schools like Yale were looking for people of a much higher caliber, so I didn’t apply to it. After some soul searching, I agreed to fill out the VetLink addendum and see what would happen. I knew it was a great school with a long history of academic success. It felt like a big gamble anyways, so what did I have to lose?

What would you like your peers at Yale to say about you after you graduate? That I sincerely cared about the people at Yale, and that I never stopped loving to learn.

What are you goals post-graduation? Right now, I’ve got my eye on possibly getting into health-care or technology consulting at one of the big-three firms in Boston or D.C.

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.

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