Senior Honored With Student Veteran Leadership Award

Jamie King is passionate about helping fellow student veterans

UM senior Jamie King participates in a recent mapping exercise in New Mexico. The geology major and 2021 Student Veteran Leadership Award honoree often compares his time as a paratrooper to fieldwork, saying he simply loves being outdoors and in the woods. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Jamie King wants to do right by students veterans, and his work is getting noticed. The University of Mississippi senior was featured in the August issue of GI Jobs magazine for receiving the 2021 Student Veteran Leadership Award.

King, a geology major originally from the Delta town of Cleveland, joins 24 other student veterans across the country being awarded this year for their ongoing service to other student veterans.

After serving as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, King enrolled at Ole Miss as a nontraditional student. He faced a number of obstacles, most of which he initially internalized instead of reaching out for help.

Now, as president of UM’s Student Veterans Association, King helps other student veterans avoid the very hurdles that tripped him up.

“In the military, you do your job and rely on the person next to you do theirs,” he said. “While that is inherently cooperative, the only part you can control is your role.”

But that mindset quickly put King behind in the classroom.

“My job was to read the text, participate in the exercises and then do well on the examinations,” he said. “I didn’t reach out for help when I was struggling. I didn’t connect with study groups. I was really uncertain on how to interact with other students.

“That’s when veterans shut down, don’t ask questions and fall behind. It’s a combination of ego, pride and social norms, but it was tough to have to ask an 18-year-old student for help – it was a gut check. I still don’t love doing it.”

Remembering his first year as a student veteran is what kept King motivated to continue reaching out to student veterans last year, even though he had to do it virtually. He and his team kept an ever-updating list of active-military students and student veterans with whom they stayed in regular contact.

Andrew Newby (left), UM assistant director for veterans and military services, poses in front of the U.S. Capitol with student veterans Lauren Graham and Jamie King during a visit in March 2020 to lobby for better educational and medical benefits for veterans. Graham was honored with the 2020 Student Veteran Leadership Award, and King is among the 2021 awardees. Submitted photo

Last year, just before the pandemic stopped most interstate travel, King traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for student veterans alongside Andrew Newby, assistant director for veterans and military services, and Lauren Graham, past Student Veterans Association president and 2020 Student Veteran Leadership Award recipient. That trip, he said, opened his eyes to the impact he can have on future generations of student veterans.

“Jamie has unlimited potential to do anything he sets his mind to do,” Newby said. “He is capable of gently leading from the front, and he has a wonderful way of exciting people to partner with his vision. I hope that he continues working with student veterans like himself, because he has such a wonderful way of connecting with students.

“He’s lived it, from trying college and joining the military, coming home from a deployment and getting back to life. He’s been on both sides of the equation, and that’s why he’s so great with other student veterans and senior leaders.”

King is happy to receive the award but didn’t think he was doing anything other than what he is supposed to.

“It is very heartwarming to have someone recognize my efforts, but I was just doing what I thought was right,” King said. “When I know that people need help, I just try to fix it.”

This year’s entire cohort of Student Veteran Leadership Award honorees shared that same drive to help others, said Dan Fazio, managing editor of GI Jobs magazine.

“Jamie King and the other Student Veteran Leadership Award winners were chosen for their passion for paying forward the support they’ve received during their post-military education,” he said. “They volunteer their time to help others despite crazy busy schedules. They mentor and advocate for their fellow student veterans.

“They help improve programs and services for veterans, and their efforts have a lasting impact on their schools and communities. We’re honored to shine a spotlight on these future leaders of America.”

Read the Student Veteran Leadership Award article at