California State University, Fullerton

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Student Veterans Honored During Sixth Annual Appreciation Night

May 8, 2013

Tall man in uniform shakes hands with older gentleman in suit.

Robert Banuelos, representing U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, left, congratulates scholarship recipient Robert Catanatch during the May 4 Veteran Appreciation Dinner.

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Family, friends and campus members gathered Saturday, May 4, to salute the accomplishments of student veterans at Cal State Fullerton's sixth annual Veterans Appreciation Night.

Twenty-one students, candidates for graduation this month, received medals of distinction, while deploying veterans were honored, including Yu-Ting Chu of Baldwin Park, who will graduate in May with a master's degree in psychology, then deploy to Afghanistan; Thanh Bui of El Monte, an English major who is deploying to the Republic of Georgia; and Marco Salazar of Lake Forest, a criminal justice major deploying to Afghanistan. Also honored was Megan Griffin, a Gold Star widow whose husband died while serving in Iraq. Griffin has since become actively involved in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, providing support and counsel for other military families.

Two $1,000 scholarships were awarded that evening to Robert Catanach, a public administration major from Aliso Viejo, and Rachel Moreno, a human services major from Fullerton. Scholarships are not only based on need but also demonstrations of character, educational and career goals, community service and grade point average. Both students are active members of Student Veterans of America (SVA).

"We are so proud of the accomplishments of our student veterans," said Kandy Mink Salas, associate vice president for student affairs. "Our students have helped make CSUF a campus that is welcoming and supportive to veterans. We recently had a visit by members of CSU Chancellor's Office who reviewed our programs for student veterans. They were astounded by the support, assistance, counsel and financial aid services we provide to our returning veterans."

Mink Salas also noted that the campus is a national leader in working with women veterans who often have different concerns than their male counterparts.

Retired Marine Corp. Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnart, who sits on the SVA Board of Supervisors, encouraged the veterans in attendance to "pay it forward" by getting involved in SVA, as well as  other campus organizations and in the classroom. "We are looking for role models and you are our last best chance for the future," he told the crowd.

Additional images of the event can be viewed on the university's Flickr page.

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