School closure sinks sailor’s dream
Tatyana Peeples.

School closure sinks sailor’s dream

Navy corpsman Tatyana Peeples is pursuing her dreams to help people.

A 3rd class petty officer, Peeples was attending Stratford University when the for-profit school abruptly closed last October. She was only four classes from earning her bachelor’s of nursing degree.

“I was basically almost finished when the school closed down,” she said, noting she was expecting to graduate in March. “They told us at the last minute.”

The shutdown was far more than an inconvenience for Peeples, who joined the Navy in 2019. Once the school closed, it prevented her from accessing her official transcripts, which has compromised her ability to transfer her credits to a new college so she can pursue her degree. Without that degree, Peeples is not able to obtain the commission she desires.

In her accelerated program, Peeples would have finished her final classes within a few months.

“I was very sad. I invested a lot of time, effort and money with student loans, to not receive a degree,” she said. “I was disappointed that I was unable to achieve my goal on the timeline I set through no fault of my own. It put me in a hardship since I was trying to put together a commission.”

The American Legion is advocating to correct this wrong that affects thousands of servicemembers and veterans like Peeples.

In June, the Legion submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ (HVAC) Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity in support of stronger measures to protect military-affiliated students from school closures.

Rep. Elijah Crane, R-Ariz., introduced H.R. 3898, the Transcript Assurance for Our Heroes Act, which would amend title 38, United States Code, to allow veterans and other students access to their official digital transcripts when schools close.

“I’m proud to introduce this bill that tackles the obstruction our heroes often face when they return and pursue further education,” Crane said. “Men and women who selflessly gave of themselves to serve this country shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to appease a broken system covered in red tape. I’m grateful for The American Legion’s support as we work to eradicate arbitrary bureaucratic hurdles to make our heroes’ lives and academic pursuits as uncomplicated as possible.”

Through Resolution No. 327, passed by the National Executive Committee in 2016, The American Legion supports legislation that would mandate educational institutions provide veterans with official digital transcripts that would still be able to be accessed if a school abruptly closes.

“I don’t wish that on anybody — getting so close to a degree and maybe having to start over,” she said. “A lot of families were affected by the school closing. I am really happy that The American Legion is being our voice. It means a lot.”

Now, nine months later, Peeples is still trying to get back into school and working on commission applications. Right after the school closed, she was involved for months of training with the Navy.

“The delay affects a number of things,” she explained. “It was a very rough process. It has always been a dream of mine to become a nurse. I’ve always been happy to learn new things in the medical field because medicine always changes. That’s why I really like this field.”