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TU student honored with national award

Jun. 4—THOMASVILLE- Thomas University's Matthew Bowman won the 2024 Student Veteran Athlete of the Year Award, presented by Viqtory Media.

Bowman was honored with the award for demonstrating exceptional prowess not only as a student veteran athlete but also as a dedicated student and valuable contributor to his academic institution and community, according to a press release from TU.

Bowman is a United States Marine Corps veteran whose dream was to play college football. Bowman joined TU's Military Transition Football team, the nation's first military football transition team.

"After a visit to campus and meeting the staff, I knew this was the place for me," he said. "I enrolled that next spring and that was a super easy transition into the school, and I was able to roll over a lot of credits from my Joint Service Transcript."

Bowman quickly acclimated to all aspects of TU's military football program. During the early phases of the Military Transition Football Program, he was instrumental in helping the institution revise policies and ensure the program had the necessary support services in place for transitioning service members.

Bowman served as the captain of the football team during its 2023 inaugural season. He played various offensive, special team, and punting team positions. As he played in those positions, Bowman was able to personally connect with the coaches.

"The coaching staff has multiple prior service members like myself," he said. "They understand that part of life that myself and the other veterans on the team have gone through and know how to challenge us to not only make ourselves better but the players around us better too. I feel like one of the biggest benefits to the team is having the experience of older veterans in a locker room with younger guys coming out of high school."

Bowman was also supportive of his teammates off the field. Bowman, whose GPA is higher than 3.5, tutors his freshman teammates, counsels younger players, and gives them first-hand advice on how to negotiate their upcoming military careers.

"Matt's been a remarkable example for others to emulate in every facet of a student-athlete's life," Andy Wolfrum, assistant football coach at Thomas University, said. "As an older, more experienced member of the squad, younger players look to him for guidance not only in how to act as a college football player, but how to act off the field as well."

Bowman is a member of the Thomas University Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter. The organization works to elevate the academic, professional, and personal development of veterans in higher education. Bowman can connect with other veterans on campus and share his experiences.

"A lot of times veterans have a tough time adjusting from military life to college life," he said. "SVA bringing veterans together to kind of ease the struggle of adjusting has been a big help to my academic career here."

Bowman not only helps his teammates and fellow veterans across campus, but he is also active in helping TU host different military-related events and programs.

According to Stephen Ferguson, vice president of military and corporate relations for Thomas University, "Bowman is one of the most respectful, hardworking and considerate students he has met. Any time our institution hosts military-affiliated events and programs, Matt is the first to offer assistance with planning, preparation, and execution of the event."