Nikki Woods spent eight years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Afghanistan, so she knows all too well that the transition from life as a soldier to life as a civilian isn’t always easy. When Woods was looking for a school to expand on her interest in the arts, the veteran-friendly SVA caught her eye. Woods is a fourth-year student in the BFA Design program.
“The main thing that really reeled me in was that I found out [SVA co-founder] Silas Rhodes was a veteran, and he did this predominantly for veterans after the war to get started with school. So that was like everything to me,” she said.
When it was established in 1947 as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, three-quarters of student body had just returned from WWII. These veterans were able to take advantage of an arts education thanks to the GI Bill and the school’s efforts to create a welcoming space for them to pursue their true passion after military service.
In many ways, SVA’s mission to get veterans back on the fast track toward a career in the arts hasn’t changed. The College has been officially designated a Military Friendly School and a Yellow Ribbon Program participating school. In 2019, 54 veterans enrolled at SVA, and they have an additional support system in the Veteran Coalition of Arts (VCA)—a campus club organization run by Woods, who serves as its president.
With Veterans Day quickly approaching, we spoke to Woods for our inaugural Life at SVA video series, where she discussed life at the College and her participation in VCA. “Our [Veterans Coalition of Arts] main thing is to make sure that soldiers transition really smoothly from being a soldier over to civilian life, and really help them facilitate campus, facilitate around New York City and providing them with a lot of resources,” she explained.
Woods hopes to get her masters in Art Therapy after graduating from SVA. “I’d love to work in a veteran’s home and help people deal with struggles that I know personally.” VCA is hosting a few Veterans Day events next week, starting Monday and you can find out more details on their Facebook page. Check out the video above and look for more upcoming installments of the Life at SVA series.