CSU Voices and Views

Posts tagged with Veteran

My CSU Path from Military to Success

By Mark Scott
CSU Channel Islands Alumnus

When I graduated with an associate’s degree at Ventura Community College in 2008, I had no idea where to go next. Furthering my education at a four-year university crossed my mind, but affording it made obtaining a bachelor’s degree a far-fetched goal. In search of direction, I decided to join the Marine Corps the following year, which led to my discovery of funding options – such as the GI Bill – that made attending a CSU a reality. Through resourceful faculty and campus services available for veterans and active duty students alike, CSU Channel Islands provided a quality educational bridge that connected the military to my career success.
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Serving Student Veterans

(Left to right) Director of Veterans Services Marshall Thomas, Student Veteran Mike Wang, President Jane Close Conoley, and Student Veterans Wendy Lewis and Andrew Meats at Cal State Long Beach’s Veterans Day Ceremony on November 7, 2014. {photo credit: David Nelson}

By Marshall Thomas
Director of Veterans Services
Cal State Long Beach

I’m often asked how many veterans we have on campus. An accurate number is hard to come up with because some veterans prefer to “fly under the radar” and not disclose their veteran status. With just over 500 self-identified student veterans, we have a community of students small enough to be overlooked. One of my missions is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

These days we hear a lot about veterans. News stories and academic articles focus so much on the mental health and overall wellness of veterans, it’s easy to get the impression that most are struggling with PTSD and traumatic injuries of the brain, body or spirit. Most of the research suggests that between 20 and 30 percent of veterans who deployed to a combat area experience one or more of these, and the results can have profound impacts on academic performance and social integration. Having services in place to provide support for affected student veterans should be a central part of every campus’s mission.
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Called to Serve

Rear Admiral Thomas A. Cropper
President, California State University Maritime Academy

President Cropper and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood during LaHood's recent visit to The California Maritime Academy

President Cropper and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood during LaHood’s recent visit to The California Maritime Academy

Great organizations lead with best-in-the-world attributes.  The California State University Maritime Academy is a world leader in “pracademics” — the practical reinforcement of academics by real world application.  Cadets seamlessly go from learning metallurgical concepts in the classroom to creating functioning parts on the Training Ship Golden Bear.  Intellectual learning is tested throughout summer training cruises under the guidance of strong faculty and proven maritime professionals.  Cal Maritime is exemplary of a devotion to hands-on learning that one encounters on all Cal State campuses.  I know the power of this type of education — I have personally witnessed the tremendous benefits of the CSU approach as the proud father of a son who completed his Cal Maritime degree and a daughter who is finishing at San Diego State. More …

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Training for Life

By Travis Fugate
CSU Monterey Bay student
Army Veteran of the Iraq War

Travis Fugate sits on a bench accompanied by his black Labrador service dog, Mr. Fess.

Travis Fugate sits on a bench accompanied by his black Labrador service dog, Mr. Fess.

I was able to see the world around me for most of my life.

At the age of most students at CSU Monterey Bay, I was driving cars and playing video games.  I had an experience of life that was similar to the one they know.  Then I made the fateful decision to serve in the Kentucky National Guard.  I expected that decision to change my life, but I had no idea how different things would become.

An ethos that defines the military experience is success through training.  A person is almost infinitely capable if they commit to train.  I believe this and face every day with the determination to learn.

This determination served me well as a soldier stateside and in Iraq.  Something often forgotten in discussions about the military is the level of responsibility entrusted to young people.  Soldiers who are still teenagers are making critical decisions in the field.  Training is key to making the right choice in the heat of the moment. More …

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Educating Those Who Serve

By Peter J. Gravett
Secretary
California Department of Veterans Affairs
Alumnus of CSU Long Beach

Peter J. Gravett

Peter J. Gravett

For many the military has been an avenue of opportunity. There is no better way to take advantage of those opportunities that through the benefit of a college education. 

Shortly after I joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1962, when I was still in the Army National Guard, I decided to continue my education and chose to attend Long Beach State University, as it was known then, and I have been grateful for that opportunity ever since. The education I received at Long Beach State, prepared me for a career both in law enforcement and military service to this state and nation. More …

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A Thriving Mission

By Alejandro Holguin
Social Science Major, History Minor
Sacramento State

Alejandro Holguin at Sacramento State

Alejandro Holguin at Sacramento State

When people talk about the difference between military and civilian life, the conversation is usually along the lines of discipline, training and culture.  That is probably true, but the biggest difference to me after my deployment in Iraq was the intensity.  Military service, especially when you are in a warzone, is profound.  It’s not just the life and death situations, it’s everything that goes into and supports the people in the field.  Every action is critical, every task is important and the people that surround you are all working to achieve the same mission.

Upon my return from Iraq I came home to a blessed and loving family of my wife and two (as of eight weeks ago) daughters.  Yet, even in the best of home environments, there is a need to reconnect family relationships, which can be difficult. More …

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The Value of Service

Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC
Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West
San José State Alumnus

CSU Chancellor Reed and USMC Major General Jackson meet to discuss Troops to College and several other issues that effect both the university and current or former service members.

CSU Chancellor Reed and USMC Major General Jackson meet to discuss Troops to College and several other issues that effect both the university and current or former service members.

Although I’ve been in the Marine Corps for over 35 years, I didn’t attend college with the intent of serving in the military.  However, I did grow up in a military family.  My father was a career enlisted man in the Army and a veteran of World War II and Korea, and my older brother is a Vietnam veteran. A key lesson I absorbed as I grew up was about the value of service. 

It’s important to remember that we can all serve something more than ourselves, and in doing so make our communities stronger.  I serve our nation as a Marine, but I also serve our Marines by ensuring they can train for their assigned mission, and that their families are cared for before, during, and after deployments.
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Food for the Holidays

By Mark Boehland
Marine Transportation Major
California Maritime Academy

Note:  The Vallejo Times-Herald reported on this food drive on November 24, 2010.  Below is the story of one of the students who helped lead the effort.

From top left to bottom right is Jakob Baken, John Santibanes, Chaz West, Joe Harper, Nick Salazar, Trevor Mankini, and Mark Boehland of the Veteran Student Association.

From top left to bottom right is Jakob Baken, John Santibanes, Chaz West, Joe Harper, Nick Salazar, Trevor Mankini, and Mark Boehland of the Veteran Student Association.

When gathering with my family for a holiday dinner, someone almost always looks at a full table and says “that’s a ton of food.” That expression took on new meaning this year for me and my fellow students at the California Maritime Academy. Our campus of just over 800 students literally gathered a ton of food to donate to a local food bank last month, more than a pound of food per person.

Motivated by a public radio report about food banks running short on supplies during the holiday season, the members of the Veteran Student Association decided to make this food drive our annual community service event. Our group had all served the nation in various military branches, and that call to serve still resonated with us.

When we expanded the effort campus-wide, the student support was greater than anything planned.
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Willing to Choose Success

By Heather Rains
Student at Cal Poly Pomona

Note: Rains transferred from Mt. San Antonio College with
an associate’s in Language Arts and Communications

Heather Rains addresses an audience during the grand opening of Mt. SAC's Veteran Resource Center.

Heather Rains addresses an audience during the grand opening of Mt. SAC's Veterans Resource Center.

The World Trade Center attacks were a pivotal moment in so many lives, including mine.  I remember being in an early morning class and learning about the events unfolding in New York.  I left that class with a sense of duty and willingness to serve.  Two months later, I joined the Navy serving five and a half years in active duty and two and a half years in the reserves. 

I was a Master at Arms (full-time military police) and I took my responsibility to protect my fellow sailors so that they could defend our nation very seriously.  That protector role might be part of the reason I still feel a deep call to serve student veterans. 

Over the past several years, the word “willing” has taken on increasing significance for me.  I served in the Navy with those who were willing to put their lives on the line for the defense of a nation.  At Mt. San Antonio College, I worked with a group that was willing to be the voice for fellow student veterans.  Now as a veteran and student at Cal Poly Pomona, I have again witnessed a great willingness from the campus community to embrace, advise and support. More …

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Adding to the Mathematics Toolbox

By Vicente Washington
Educator, Inglewood Unified School District
Master’s Program Student, CSU Dominguez Hills

Vicente Washington stands in front of the math projects completed by students of the CSU Summer Algebra Institute at Glory Christian Fellowship International

Vicente Washington stands in front of the math projects completed by students of the CSU Summer Algebra Institute at Glory Christian Fellowship International

With the right tools, anyone can succeed at math. 

Unfortunately, it took me decades to learn this lesson.  I was educated in an urban Philadelphia school district in the old model of “drill, drill, drill.”  My teachers wanted me to get the right answer.  Understanding why was secondary.

Even though I enjoyed math, I often hit a wall in applying math as a student at the United States Naval Academy and later in my career as a naval officer.  Sometimes I would get discouraged and think, “Am I thick-headed?  Why is this so difficult?”

I knew how to drill and memorize but was not taught to work a problem by applying concepts.  I did not have a robust mathematics toolbox.  Finally, as I prepared to start my career as a math teacher, it became apparent that the lack of those tools was the reason why I kept hitting that wall.
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