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SVA Voices • Carol "Shorty" Ruiz :
As a part of our mission supporting student veterans in their transition into higher education and civilian life, Student Veterans of America (SVA) shares their success stories through SVA Voices. Through storytelling, we are able to highlight student veteran success, and inspire the next generation of student veterans.
SVA is proud to celebrate the diversity of student veterans who contribute to our chapters across the country. In celebration of Women's History Month, and in recognition of the countless contributions of women student veterans past and present, we celebrate their stories of success.
Carol "Shorty" Ruiz is an Army Veteran attending the University of North Texas at Dallas. A proud #GIBillGrad, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 2016, and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Shorty joined the Army to follow in her dad's footsteps, but also because she knew she was not ready for college. She expected to make a career out of the military, and was not planning on obtaining a college degree. Due to a reduction in forces in 2011, she unexpectedly found herself a civilian once again. Shorty felt that her maturity and motivation had increased, and she was confident that she could now be successful in college.
Shorty began her educational career at Brookhaven College, where she had the opportunity to work part-time in the Veteran Services Office. This led to her introduction to the local SVA chapter, of which she remains an alumni member. She transferred to the University of North Texas at Dallas, where she serves as the SVA Chapter President.
As Shorty's separation from the military had been unanticipated, she initially experienced feelings of anxiety and depression. Attending college allowed her to leave the house a few days a week while providing a means to cover her financial needs. However it quickly turned into more than that, as she explains, "Being involved in SVA and meeting the many people I've met has been the best medicine to bring me back to a good place in life, with a positive outlook. This has been the best treatment and better than any prescription the VA has ever given me."
Shorty commends her SVA Chapter and Veteran Success Coordinator for helping her complete her degree and continue on to a graduate program. She is dedicated to paying it forward and helping other student veterans achieve academic success. She highlights the importance of the camaraderie and opportunities which accompany involvement in an SVA Chapter, stating, "Bettering myself and finding that place where I belong has helped me help fellow veterans who are where I once was." She advises other student veterans, "Don't be afraid to reach out to your fellow veterans. We are all here for each other and are the best network you could possibly think of. Utilize your resources, regardless if you've asked a fellow vet for help. Academic advisors, career counselors, and other school departments are there to help you."
Shorty credits SVA with driving her effort to fulfill a promise to her fellow veterans – "that I have their back and will work for the betterment of our futures." She concludes, "I will use my degree to continue to serve and be the positive difference that I want to see in the world."
When asked what Women's History Month means to her, Shorty replies, "Women's History is significant to me as it is a proven timeline of women persevering and conquering obstacles they face. I can remember back when I was in the Army and being in units where I was the only female soldier. Not only did I have to keep up with the men, but I also had to push myself to outperform them in order to prove myself and gain the respect of the higher ups. Holding true to the saying "Anything you can do, I can do better."
SVA Voices is an ongoing campaign celebrating student veteran success. Become a part of the campaign and share your story today!