<p> Brian Dougherty <p> </p>
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Student and Alumni Stories

Brian Dougherty

Retired Crew Chief, United States Air Force


Bachelor of Arts, Political Science ’17

“One of the most important things for veterans transitioning into school is to realize that they can do well,” shares Brian Dougherty, a retired C-17 Crew Chief for the United States Air Force and graduating senior in Penn’s Bachelor of Arts program. “The military gave me structure, maturity and drive. I didn’t do well in high school, and I used to base my abilities on that. But now I’m at an Ivy League university, and I’m doing really well. It’s a unique story for civilians, but a common story for veterans.”

Before joining Penn, Brian completed two years of undergraduate study through Penn State Online—all while shipping medical supplies and doctors overseas to aid the Ebola epidemic and supporting flight missions with the Secret Service. “In the Air Force, I saw that the people who were taking advantage of education were getting the best opportunities. Some nights were very long and some mornings I woke up at 4:15 to study, but I’m glad I did it because I’m about to graduate.”

While completing his duty, Brian became involved with an academic training program for veterans and active military, the Warrior-Scholar Project. “In one of my classes at Penn, I read 200-400 pages in a week. If I hadn’t gone through the program, I wouldn’t have been able to do that and get the grades that I wanted.”

Brian’s experiences in the Air Force and success in his academic pursuits have encouraged him to give back to another organization that did a lot for his growth, Four Block. This professional development organization helps veterans find internships, refine their workplace skills and become the best job candidates they can be. Through Four Block, Brian was able to secure his first internship with UBS Financial Services and learn how to make the most of his military networks.

Now expanding their services and training to Philadelphia, Brian meets with fellow veterans to help get them involved with Four Block and all of its resources. “It’s a stepping stone for vets coming out. You have to get those skills to be competitive as a job seeker.”

Warrior-Scholar and Four Block offered Brian insight into education and industry, but one of the most valuable lessons he learned through them was knowing when and how to ask for help. “I’m doing well at Penn because I use the resources. I think the culture here for the military is great; there’s a lot of support. I feel like I integrated very well,” he shares. “I go to the writing center and see tutors. I talk to my professors during their office hours, and I find that people at Penn really want to help,” he continues, “When I’m in a position in the future to help someone out, I would never hesitate.”

With graduation on the horizon, Brian is excited for what comes next. He hopes to work in international business consulting and eventually join an MBA program. But for now, this die-hard Eagles fan and motorcycle enthusiast is enjoying his life as a college student. “I’m going to be the first in my family to graduate from college,” he smiles, “When I found out that I was going to Penn, my parents were so happy. They are very proud of me.”

Penn LPS

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