An Interview with Carl Comasco, Smith’s Director of Military & Veterans Affairs

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Carl Comasco, Smith’s Director of Military and Veteran Affairs.

Carl, tell us a bit about yourself…

I grew up in Harrisburg, PA and earned my undergraduate degree in American Studies at Fordham University.  After graduation I studied in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and was certified as a Nuclear Engineering Officer by the Department of the Navy.  While on active duty in the US Navy, I served in a variety of assignments including Nuclear Reactor Officer and Admiral’s Aide.  I transitioned from Active Duty to the Navy Reserve after seven and a half years and entered the private sector, gaining valuable corporate experience as a Regional Sales Manager for a global market leader in construction industry products and services. I continue to serve in the Navy as a drilling reservist.  In addition to being on the staff at University of Maryland, I am pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration at Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Bringing a combination of private sector and military experience to my role, I am focused on working with students as they manage their business school experiences and military-to-civilian transitions.  Outside of work, I am passionate about my family and I enjoy traveling.  I am an avid follower of Division I FCS football.

What does the Director of Military and Veteran Affairs do for Smith PT MBA students?

In my role, I focus on three primary lines of effort: 1) supporting our current Mil/Vet student population; 2) engaging prospective Mil/Vet talent in our recruiting pipeline; 3) developing a network between our Smith Vet alumni and those who are currently pursuing a degree.

How does the Office interact with the rest of UMD?

Our partners in the TerpVets office (located in Stamp Student Union) are a fantastic support network for our UMD Military and Veteran community.  They regularly distribute information about employer engagement opportunities, scholarships, team building activities, veterans events, and more.  Furthermore, a dedicated “Veteran Only” study lounge is available in the Cole Field House, overlooking the new, multi-million dollar athletic superplex.

If I’m an active duty military member or vet when should I reach out to you?

I encourage students to reach out to me as early as possible in their MBA journey.  Navigating education benefits offered by our military services, as well as those extended through the Department of Veterans Affairs can be a somewhat confusing process.  I have experience dealing with the process from a variety of angles and am committed to helping students succeed.

How can active duty military members or vets positively contribute to the Smith community?

Active duty military and veteran students impact our classrooms everyday.  The diversity of perspective that students bring, coupled with the real-world management and leadership experiences that they can draw on help create a vibrant academic environment.  SmithVets can also engage their fellow TerpVets as mentors or advisors through our work with Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE).  

How will I (as a vet or active duty) fit into the Smith/UMD culture?

Out of the gate, you will be a welcomed contributing member.  My experience in the MBA program as a student highlighted for me that collaboration and teamwork are living attitudes here, just as they were on the Navy ships I served in.  

What is the Smith differentiator compared to other programs in the area?

We are unique in a few ways.  Firstly, our faculty are some of the highest ranked in the country and most well regarded in their fields of study.  Secondly, our alumni base – inclusive of UMD at large – extends into the hundreds of thousands.  This provides our Smith Terps with a vast network to engage with. Lastly, it’s not simply lip-service to say that the culture here embraces and values military veterans.  I’ve experienced it firsthand since I began my studies here in 2015 and I’m proud of it.

If you are an active duty military member or vet looking to apply to Smith’s Part Time MBA program, you can contact Carl at (301) 405-9506 or email him at ccomasco@rhsmith.umd.edu.

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