Scholarship Profile: Ian Lisman


Ian Lisman’s personal mission was already clear when he enrolled at George Mason University in 2013.

He had spent the previous decade working to address challenges facing his fellow veterans, including homelessness, poverty, and successfully reintegrating into civilian society.

A combat veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, Lisman acknowledges that he struggled for some time to find his path after his honorable discharge in 1991. Helping other veterans overcome their own challenges became a rewarding career.

Beginning in 2003, Lisman worked on veterans programs for the Denver Department of Human Services while earning his undergraduate degree. In 2011 he moved to Washington D.C., where he gave congressional briefings and lobbied Congress for the National Alliance to End Homelessness. With that background, Lisman knew a master’s degree would be a great next step.

Affording that next step would be difficult, though. Lisman had been covered under the old GI bill, and he was no longer eligible for educational benefits. A scholarship opportunity at Mason, the ERPi Service-Disabled Veterans Scholarship, provided just the help that Lisman needed. The assistance enabled him to complete his program at the Schar School of Policy and Government in three years, taking courses mostly at night while continuing to work full time. He graduated in December 2015 with a Master of Public Policy degree, with an emphasis on social policy. Now Lisman has moved back to his home state of Colorado for a position with Advocates for Human Potential, a well-known social services organization.

Lisman regards the quality of the students and instructors he met at Mason as the highlight of his studies: “It’s a great opportunity to make friendships as well as professional contacts,” he says, citing a three-week summer course held in South Africa as his most memorable single experience. “The degree from Mason was definitely important preparation for the next phase of my career.”

July 25, 2016 / RR