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Student veteran at New Kensington campus has a knack for teaching

Student Tutor Jack Ramsey
Jack Ramsey, veteran and adult learner, is a peer tutor. He helps fellow students in writing, math and criminal justice courses.
1/15/2013 —


Administration of Justice Major Served Six Years in the Military

Whether it’s helping fellow soldiers on a base in Iraq or fellow students in the learning center at Penn State New Kensington, Jack Ramsey has a knack for teaching.

Ramsey, a junior in the Administration of Justice program and U.S. Army veteran, is a tutor for the campus’ Academic and Career Success Center. The center serves as an academic support unit for students in a variety of subjects, including writing and math. Each year, nearly 400 students take advantage of the tutorial services.

“For some reason, helping people comes easy to me, as does teaching,” said Ramsey, who served six years in the military.  “I believe my military time helped tremendously.” 

An Army specialist, Ramsey supervised the company’s medics and headed the base’s behavioral health unit. He was responsible for organizing and teaching combat life-saving courses. The 40-hour courses, a blend of classroom work and hands-on experiences, included topics such "Care Under Fire," which involves placing tourniquets and moving wounded soldiers to a safer location, and "Tactical Field Care," which emphasized, among other things, the proper technique for inserting a catheter into the chest cavity. Classes of more than 100 soldiers were not uncommon.

“These courses were typically taught as ongoing classes, so whenever there was down time, we would fill the space with something relevant,” said Ramsey, who deployed twice to Iraq. “I also taught a more involved course, under the direction of the supervising physician's assistant, for Iraqi’s who were ambulance drivers for their local cities.”

After receiving an honorable discharge, Ramsey enrolled at Penn State. The Post 9-11 GI Bill provided the wherewithal for a post-secondary degree, and the New Kensington campus provided the means to that end.

“I initially chose Penn State New Kensington because it was close to home, and my relatives and friends are doing well with their Penn State degrees,” said Ramsey, who expects to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2014. “Once I was here, I’ve found that the professors are excellent, well versed and passionate about their fields. The smaller class sizes lead to a much better teacher-student rapport.”

His initial foray into tutoring came a year ago at the behest of Craig Hammond, assistant professor of history. Hammond, who also serves as the coordinator for Academic Mentoring program for the campus' athletic teams, asked Ramsey to help tutor student-athletes at the campus.

“When Jack enrolled in my history class, I was immediately impressed with his work,” said Hammond, who joined the campus faculty in 2008. “The veterans and adult learners on campus are a very strong group academically. Jack immediately stood out as the best of that group. Over the past two years he has been a tremendous asset to our campus.” 

“I think that Professor Hammond was impressed with my writing ability and wanted me to serve as tutor for the basketball team,” said Ramsey, a graduate of Shaler Area High School.  “This year, it has exploded in scope, from doing three different teams, to adding specific classes to my palette.”

Other professors took note of his pedagogic knack and enlisted his aid. In addition to writing, he tutors students in statistics and criminal justice classes. And it is a reciprocal arrangement. While Ramsey benefits others, he serendipitously benefits himself.

“Tutoring lets me get back into the work from prior courses and allows me to retain much more of the information,” said Ramsey, a resident of Pittsburgh.  “So, while helping others, I am also helping myself.”

"It’s always great to pair up a returning veteran like Jack with traditional students,” said Hammond, who holds a doctorate in history from the University of Kentucky. “Veterans and adult students add something special to classes. Jack goes beyond that with his tutoring. Not only does he help students succeed in the classroom, but he also serves as a great mentor.”

Besides connecting with fellow students, the 29-year-old Ramsey connects with fellow veterans. More than 31 percent of the campus population comprises veterans and adult learners.

“Vets seem to find each other and offer an area of support,” Ramsey said. “No one knows vets better than other vets, and as such, I think it has been invaluable having so many of us here.”

After graduation, Ramsey plans a career with the FBI. If his military and collegiate experiences are any indicator, his aspirations will be realized.

For information on Veterans Services at the campus, contact Diana Hill at 724-334-6047or duh3@psu.edu via email.

For more on admissions, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Admissions/default.htm online.

Jack Ramsey
Jack Ramsey with students in a criminal justice class. The junior Administration of Justice
major will earn a bachelor's degree in 2014.


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