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President's Blog

Thank You to Our Veterans

Thank You to Our Veterans

As we celebrated Veterans Day this year on campus, I had the great pleasure of hearing one of our graduate students recount his transition from life as a solider to life as a student. Omar Hernandez-Duque served our country overseas in Air Force right after high school. Upon his return, his wife encouraged him to give college a try, which he did, although with some trepidation. However, Omar, like many of his colleagues, found that the skills that made him an excellent soldier would also make him an excellent student.

From my earliest days as a teacher, I have always found this to be so. My first time leading a classroom was during the Vietnam War. Many of my high school classmates had gone to serve in the Vietnam War while I was in college, and then I was teaching when they came back. I remember having veterans in my classroom who were the same age I was, and I remember that they were the best students I had. The reason they were the best students was because they had matured much more than any of us who stayed home. They had seen the horrors of war, and they had survived it. They had seen the death of friends, and they had survived it. Then they returned home with a new mission and a new maturity, and they cobamted college the same way they had serve in the military. They taught me how to be a good teacher, and I am grateful for the many lessons I learned from my military friends, colleagues, and students. Today we hear the same story recounted by our current professors; the best students, often, in our classes are those who have served in the military.

So, for those of you who are reluctant to become our students, or to become recruiters for more students: never be reluctant, because this is a military friendly campus. Each day our Veterans’ Resource Center and Veterans Upward Bound Program help our veterans and their families achieve their dream of earning a college education. We embrace those who have served or who would like to serve, and we would like to do our part in the preservation of our democracy by serving our students.

I wish each member of our military family a Happy Veterans Day, and I offer you my personal gratitude for the many rights we enjoy because of your sacrifices, dedication and commitment.

Submitted Nov. 9, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.

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