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Serving Those Who Serve: Honoring Our Heritage

NEC Celebrates 73rd Founders Day; Military Students Find Community.

Brigadier General Donald C. Bolduc, United States Army, Retired


The United States Marine Corps battle cry came from the student section and echoed off the walls of Bridges Gymnasium. The gym—filled with students, regalia-clad faculty, and staff—served as the location for New England College’s annual Founders Day Celebration, held January 15, 2019.

Each year, the NEC community comes together to celebrate the College’s distinctive founding principle: to serve the educational needs of the country’s military men and women returning from service.

Our original World War II veterans returned home armed with expanded worldviews, the desire to learn more through higher education, and the new GI Bill to help finance their education. NEC’s founders recognized both the need and opportunity and had the wisdom, foresight, and dedication to establish New England College. In 1946, one year after the end of the war, NEC welcomed its first class with 68 students, 8 faculty, and 12 courses.

NEC enters its 73rd year in 2019 and now welcomes over 1,000 students on campus and over 1,800 online for more than 75 combined programs at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

Since its founding, New England College’s purpose has branched out to students from all walks of life, but it continues to steadfastly welcome those who serve our country. And today’s digital world allows NEC to extend that same welcome to military students everywhere via our online platform.

Servicemembers face unique challenges and commitments. NEC understands that and offers online programs that help servicemembers complete their degrees as easily and efficiently as possible.

  • Associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree options
  • Academic credit given for military experience and prior coursework
  • Start anytime, anywhere: every seven weeks stateside or on deployment
  • Military partnerships with CDET, MARSOC, JSOU, and CCAF GEM
  • Uniquely affordable with further discounts for active-duty, military spouses and dependents, veterans, reservists, and National Guard

“Oorah!” It came confidently from the student section. Some in the audience looked to see which student called out. Others chuckled. Guest speaker Brigadier General Donald C. Bolduc, United States Army, Retired paused. His response was simple, “That’s right.”

Bolduc began his motivating Founders Day Address by mentioning hooah, the battle cry of the United States Army, and its variations across the different military branches.

“What grabbed me was what Bolduc did during his military service. To think about him leading one of the first groups into Afghanistan on horseback…,” marvels Joshua Owen, a freshman Criminal Justice major at NEC and Marine. “When he started speaking and said, ‘Hooah,’ I felt that spark of motivation like when I first joined the Marine Corps. I just yelled out ‘oorah.’”

Owen enlisted out of high school and intended to serve in the military longer than he did, but he also wanted to attend college, with the hope of playing lacrosse. After two deployments to Iraq, it seemed like the right time and age to pursue his other goals. He reached out to Cameron Cassavaugh (’20, Biology with a Conservation Biology concentration).

Owen and Cassavaugh have quite the connection. They knew each other from attending Concord High School (New Hampshire) together. Cassavaugh also enlisted in the Marines out of high school, two years ahead of Owen. And, in an unlikely turn of events, they ended up in the same unit in Mosul, Iraq for Owen’s first deployment and Cassavaugh’s second.

“I had always wanted to go to college, but about halfway through my senior year of high school, I decided to join the military,” Cassavaugh explains. “Every man in my family, except my father, has served in the military, and I wanted to resume that tradition before going to college.”

After his honorable discharge, Cassavaugh narrowed his college search to two schools. He chose the New England College campus because “it’s local and provides the community I need.” While he believes NEC is accommodating to all students, he likes being on a military-friendly campus.

“I basically recruited Josh to NEC,” Cassavaugh laughs. During Owen’s second deployment, the two started talking about NEC, its benefits, and using the GI Bill to afford college. “At that point, Cam and I were pretty much talking every day,” Owen says.

Their military experience behind them, Owen and Cassavaugh continue to share the strong bond that was forged in high school and fortified during their service. “We definitely have a big brother/mentor relationship,” comments Cassavaugh. “We have a far greater maturity level and amount of life experience than most college students, so it’s nice to have that in common with others at NEC.”

New England College is proud of its commitment to provide higher education opportunities to military students and to be a military-friendly environment where servicemembers can find the community they’re looking for. Learn more at