Personal meaning

UGA Veteran Students Share Their Experiences and Personal Meaning Behind Veterans Day | Campus news

It’s easy to forget that when we celebrate Veterans Day, we are celebrating real people, some of whom live and work right next to us.

While veterans make up less than one percent of the student body, many University of Georgia students have likely shared a class with someone who has served or is still serving.

In honor of Veterans Day, The Red & Black interviewed some veteran students about their UGA experience.

Kyle McReynolds, 23, USAF reservist

McReynolds never thought he would go to college. After high school, he just didn’t have the confidence to continue his education. McReynolds said it was his grandfather, who spent more than 30 years in the Air Force, who suggested the service as a way to “do something with his life.”

McReynolds said the Air Force gave him the confidence he needed and helped him show him what he could accomplish when he applied himself. He also offered the chance to make a lifelong dream come true.

“I always wanted to come [UGA], “he said.” It was a dream that seemed impossible, and I remember the day I received the letter of acceptance. “

McReynolds firmly believes that he owes the opportunities he now has, and the chance to make that dream come true, to his service.

For him, Veterans Day is not only about connecting with the veterans around him, but also with all those who have served and remembering their struggles.

At the same time, it is not dark.

“I like it because it’s more of a celebration,” he said. “It’s not the typical ‘Veterans face PTSD’ or ‘Veterans face financial challenges.’ It’s more of a positive light.

McReynolds is now a junior business management student and president of the Student Veteran’s Association.

Stephanie Lawsure, 25, USMC retiree

Growing up in Maine, Lawsure attended high school where almost everyone went to college. When the time came, she chose a different path, one that she thought would present her more challenge.

She spent her time in the Marine Corps as a Korean cryptological linguist, a position whose duties include “monitoring, transcribing and translating intercepted target communications, and performing analysis and exploitation of designated foreign communications.” .

What this meant for Lawsure was that she also received an associate’s degree during her time in the Marine Corps, which, along with a few evening classes, enabled her to enroll in UGA. as a transfer student.

But she didn’t go straight to college. When she got her discharge she was pregnant and moved to Boston to be closer to her family when she had her daughter.

Balancing the transition and raising her daughter as a single mom presented many challenges, but she said the SVA and her veteran student mates have supported her and helped her stay on track.

On Veterans Day, she said she tried to encourage people to remember the sacrifice of those who never had the chance to return home and to offer help to those who do. need.

“Don’t just say thank you to a veteran on Veterans Day,” she said. “Contact them and ask them how they are doing. Ask them if they are okay, as it can save someone’s life. This is the most important thing for me.

Stéphanie is now a second year student in finance and international business.

Maria Munoz, 33, retired from the USAF

Unlike McReynolds and Lawsure, Munoz didn’t decide to join the military right after high school. After graduation, she went to community college on her way to four-year school.

But when her family moved to the West Coast, she followed. She ended up working for a few years at a job she was not really happy with.

“I realized my life wasn’t really going the way I wanted her to go, and I always wanted to go back to school,” Munoz said. “This has always been my ambition, so I started to think about options. I wanted to do something more meaningful in my life, so I decided one day to go to the recruiter’s office – and I joined.

Munoz spent his time in the Air Force working as an analyst, but left after four years to continue his education.

She spent some time working from home to get back into civilian life, but soon after to make sure she didn’t fall back into another miserable, dead-end job.

For her, going to UGA was not an easy transition, and like many older students, she struggled to connect with the younger ones.

This struggle is common to many veteran students, with an average age of around 30. For Munoz and many of his veteran colleagues, organizations like the SVA and the Student Veterans Resource Center are essential in facilitating this transition.

“The hardest part of coming to UGA was the age difference,” she said. “SVRC and SVA are the people I really talk to because I feel more comfortable. They are in the same age group, and they have the same experiences.

Veterans Day, said Munoz, is a time to remember that service is a choice and everyone should thank those who make that choice to serve.

One thing she wants her classmates to remember is that at the end of the day, they are students too.

“We are first and foremost students,” she said. “We came here for education, and I would never expect to be treated any differently, and I don’t want to be treated any differently as a veteran. I just want to be a student.

Maria is now majoring in Anthropology.


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