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SVA Voices • Nadia Zullo Ross:
Student Veterans of America prides itself on celebrating the diversity of the many student veterans that make up our chapters across the country. This May, in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we not only celebrate the culture, traditions, and history of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States, but also recognize their countless contributions as student veterans and highlight their stories of success. Nadia Zullo Ross is an Army and Navy Veteran, and 4th generation military, graduating this month with an MBA at Webster University. She also holds a BBA in Accounting from University of Texas at El Paso.
Nadia's mother is from the Philippines and her parents met and married when her father was in the Navy and stationed there. She lived in the Philippines from age 6-11, when they had to leave because of the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Nadia explained, "We were evacuated by the Navy and I got to ride my first Navy vessel and Navy helicopter. So thus, my fascination with joining the Navy."
Her fascination with the Navy resulted in Nadia joining in 1998. In fact, Nadia is a veteran of both the Navy (1998- 2006) and the Army (2006- 2011). This transition occurred because the Army had a program that was rolled out after 9/11 called "Blue to Green". Through this program, she could hold her rank and years of service. As Nadia put it, "at the end of my term in 2006 I took off my Navy utilities on a Friday, and put on Army ACU's on a Monday. I went from being a Culinary Specialist in the Navy to a Signal Systems Support Specialist in the Army." During this transition, she met her husband who is still currently serving.
Nadia strives to maintain her Filipino roots, and in 2015 she took her 3-year-old daughter on a trip back to the Philippines to introduce her daughter and husband to her family. Nadia wants to ensure that her daughter learns and enjoys the many traditions of the Philippines. Nadia's daughter is learning both English and Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. She likes to think that it's possible that her 3-year-old daughter may also be a future student veteran, since she often sang cadences to her, when putting her to sleep.
Nadia's advice to other student veterans and those preparing to transition into higher education is to, "join the student veteran organization on your campus. I thought I was alone in this venture through higher-ed, until I received an email at the end of my first semester that went to all military funded students and I finally learned about SVA. I've made so many friends and connections through SVA who have helped me through my academic journey." She also strongly encourages all student veterans to go to NatCon. "I attended my first NatCon in Scottsdale in 2014, by myself, with no sponsor, seven months pregnant, working two part-time jobs, and with a husband that was deployed. I found so much information and resources, and finally realized how not alone I was, and finally found a place where I belonged."
Nadia's story demonstrates that student veterans are not only succeeding in higher education, but becoming the leaders of tomorrow. SVA Voices is an ongoing campaign celebrating student veteran success. Become a part of the campaign and share your story today!