Alberto Vasquez Varela found a sense of belonging as a member of the United States Marine Corps. For five years, he said he grew and learned, becoming the mature person he is today.

But after transitioning out of the marines about two years ago, coming back to the classroom was difficult.

“It’s like nobody knows what I’ve done and it really hit me,” he said. “So I had a really tough time.”

He said it’s a big change of environment and even his military leaders warned them of the challenges that come with acclimating to civilian life.

“But I want to learn more about the academic world from people who have served,” he said.

The Warrior Scholar Project bootcamp is a program that helps veterans learn from other veterans, getting them ready for classroom life. It lasts for two weeks, with different lectures all day. This bootcamp is held at the University of Arizona.

“You’re up until 11p.m. doing homework,” he said.

WSP gives the veterans the tools and confidences to move forward academically.

“The challenge of you were a soldier but now you’re going to be an academic solider,” Breuna Bolton, one of the WSP fellows, said. “But in this environment, we are cultivating this environment of ‘hey let’s pause does anyone have any questions?’.”

Over 2,000 veterans have finished this program across the country.

“We are trying to bridge that gap of connection,” Bolton said. “We create a little family and at the end of the course, they graduate.”