Hundreds of family members, friends, fellow veterans and Cal State Fullerton faculty and staff members were on hand to honor student veterans Saturday, April 27, at the university’s 12th annual Veterans Appreciation Night.
“Cal State Fullerton has a history of showing our appreciation to our veterans,” said CSUF President Fram Virjee. “Veterans are so important to our campus that I wanted to be here, personally, to show our appreciation for your service to our country, our community and our campus and to celebrate your accomplishments, commitment and hard work.”
He went on praise the work of the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) that provides services to vets and military-connected students to help them achieve personal, academic and professional success. He noted that the VRC “leads the way” with its core values.
“I want to thank the VRC staff who serve, day in and day out, to help our veterans,” he said.
“But tonight is about you — our graduating student veterans,” he continued, addressing the veterans and their families. “You have not only served your country with honor and distinction, you have brought the lessons that you learned to our institution. You inspire us. We can never repay you for your service and sacrifice but we can always honor you.
“Now you have added another great accomplishment in your life — an education. You are now on to the next chapter of your life and we have no doubt you will accomplish your mission successfully … as you’ve always done.”
Cameron Cook, director of the Veteran Resource Center, also addressed the veterans and their families and friends.
“This is a time to acknowledge your service,” he said. “Many have persevered through challenges. We have given our blood, sweat and tears, we understand each other … and we need each other. That’s what the VRC helps provide — a place to get answers and support.”
Cal State Fullerton veterans have an average grade point average of 3.15, a 71 percent rate of graduation, and a retention rate of 86 percent. These figures are higher than the rates found at other colleges. In fact, 134 of the nearly 500 student veterans will walk across the stage in a few weeks to celebrate their graduation.
Dennis Butler, a student graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, described the impact that the group had on him.
“Our experiences led us to where we are today,” he said. “Because of the VRC, I was involved in many activities such as beach clean-up, golf tournaments, family events…. I found support to achieve my educational goals. To my fellow students, always remember to strive for greatness and never settle.”
Veterans in the Class of 2019 include (all are earning bachelor’s degrees unless noted):
- Christina Aleman, psychology
- Danielle Barbaro, business administration-management
- Robert Bohon, human services
- Dennis Butler, electrical engineering
- Alberto Camacho, psychology
- David Carpenter, mechanical engineering
- Dylan Dang, history
- Allen Dehnke, information systems
- Nicholas Deitz, business administration-management
- Alicia Estrada, business administration-human resources management
- Alyssa Gurdon, political science
- Michelle Holloway, human services
- Kelsey Hyde, economics
- Jesse Jeffries, criminal justice
- Seung Kang, business administration-management
- Marshall Kang, criminal justice
- Quang Lam, computer science
- Jason Lamb, human services
- Ariana Magana, biological science
- Sean Moran, psychology
- Tom Nguyen, business administration-business analytics
- Caleb Perez, public administration
- Tatiana Sevilla, sociology
- Jacqueline Smith, kinesiology
- Amy Thronsom, communications-entertainment and tourism
- Christian Velez, kinesiology
In addition to honoring upcoming graduates, scholarships were also presented to those continuing their path to a degree. Recipients of the Veteran Scholarship for Success were Hector Buenrostro and Isaiah Henderson. The recipients of the Orange County Real Estate Veterans Initiative Scholarships were Stephen Davies, Graham Sharp, Charles Wiemers, David Fuhrmann, Nadine Garcia, Garret Gill, Isaiah Henderson, Diamond Byrd, Tony Martin, Christian Velez and Justin Wise.
The MUFG Union Bank Scholarships were awarded to Ben Gibbins, Mashruf Ahmed, Stephen Davies, Diamond Byrd, and Manpreet Luthra.
The VRC also recognized several faculty and staff members for their support of the center and its programs. Recipients were President Fram Virjee; Clint Michael Reneau, associate vice president for student affairs-student retention; and Rochelle Woods, executive director, student affairs-student retention.