Jon Segars describes his work with the Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC) as a “dream come true.”
Since July 2021, Segars has acted as the director of the SVRC. He works with student veterans, providing students with resources for success.
Segars found his way to UGA after 22 years of active duty in the United States Army and 11 years working in K-12 education. During his 22 years in the Army, he did four combat tours in the Middle East along with operational deployments in Panama, Japan and South Korea. After retiring from the Army, Segars worked as a teacher, administrator and superintendent of the Sylacauga City School District in Alabama.
Segars said that these steps in his career led him to UGA.
Upon retiring from the Alabama State Department of Education, he returned to Northeast Georgia after 33 years. A friend from another university told him that UGA was on the search for a director of the SVRC and Segars applied on a whim.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “While in the military, I never thought that I would get back to where I grew up.”
Growing up about an hour away from Athens in Lawrenceville, Segars spent a lot of time in the Classic City going to football games with his father and hunting in the surrounding area.
Segars’ career in education comes as no surprise. He obtained a master’s degree in adult and continuing education and teaching from Kansas State University in 2001 and a doctorate in adult education in 2014. His dedication to education is a product of the people in his life.
“My mom was a teacher. My heroes in this world have been teachers and warfighters,” he said. “You don’t think about it as you’re growing up—teachers being your heroes—but they really are, and I’m still in touch with a lot of them.”
As the director of the SVRC, Segars feels like he’s been given the opportunity to give back. Just as he had various mentors to help him along his way, he now provides mentorship to current student veterans.
“I’m paying back. Somebody did it for me. I didn’t always realize it, so maybe it’s my turn to give back and help somebody else along the way,” Segars said.
Segars carves his schedule in a way that leaves him available for students. He starts the day at 6:30 a.m. or earlier, dedicating those first few hours of the day to the tasks that tie him to the computer. The rest of his day is spent in places like the Fiserv Student Veterans Lounge, talking through students’ problems. Whether the solution is to make a few phone calls, or provide a listening ear, Segars is always determined to help student veterans.
Students may have difficulties with their finances, schedules or other issues. No matter the problem, Segars works with them to come up with a solution so that they can go to class with less stress. Segars has personal insight on some of the issues that may arise in a student veteran’s daily life.
“I’ve been the student veteran. I’ve been the one that’s had all the questions and now I can be the one that says ‘OK, I know where to get the answer,’” he said.
With student veterans in Buckhead, Griffin, Lawrenceville and other locations, Segars’ reach with the SVRC extends beyond Athens.
“It’s a much bigger world than just this office, and you have to meet with so many different people and get to know so many people that can help your students,” Segars said. “Because, really, I’m a resource provider. Most answers come from other departments across UGA.”
Along with a commitment to building up the SVRC and making it better every day, Segars has family-oriented goals. Outside of work, Segars spends time with his family, watching his daughter cheer and play tennis. His daughter will go off to college soon, and he looks forward to following her academic and athletic career.
“The bottom line is there’s such great support here at this university forum. [It’s a] great place to be for me and certainly a great place to be if you’re a veteran,” Segars said.