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SVA Voices • Samantha Fergus:
Student Veterans of America prides itself on celebrating the diversity of the many student veterans that make up our chapters across the country. This June, in celebration of LGBT Pride, we not only celebrate the culture and history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, we also recognize their countless contributions as student veterans and highlight their stories of success.
Samantha Fergus is a Navy veteran, currently in the reserves. She works in human resources, while earning a degree in Business Administration and Sociology at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon. At school she is the Vice President of her SVA chapter. In addition to all of this she is developing plans to start her own business.
While looking at colleges after leaving the Navy, Samantha made a point of checking out their veteran support groups on campus, and that's how she first connected with her SVA chapter. Samantha said that "LBCC had the SVA emblem attached to their organization, so I did my research and applied to represent my school at the SVA Leadership Summit (now the Chapter Leadership Academy) in Phoenix, Arizona last year." She says it had a major impact on her, and would recommend it to anyone leading an SVA chapter or looking to develop their leadership skills. She also recommends that transitioning veterans participate in Better Money Habits that SVA has offered in partnership with Bank of America. Better Money Habits is a financial literacy program, which has content customized for the needs of student veterans and is freely available and digitally delivered.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride this June, she states "Being an LGBT student and service member can be very interesting at times. For me I joined the Navy when 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was still in effect, so living in the closet is something that I had to learn to do. Which is not me at all, so it can be hard to persevere through that."
She adds that, "it was incredible to me to see how open and accepting people are of LGBT students on my campus, and even faculty members. They are very open and honest and helpful in trying to understand all the different walks of life of their students. What empowers me the most and makes me happy is that there is no judgment. My other student veteran friends are also super helpful and have made a huge impact on my transition as well."
Samantha's love of the water took her into the Navy where she served from 2008-2015 as a culinary specialist, specifically a baker, although prior to that she had never cooked a day in her life. Her new business will in part utilize the baking skills that she learned in the Navy, as well as the art she works to create. With her art, Samantha works in a variety mediums, several of which are featured below.
Samantha's story demonstrates that student veterans are not only succeeding in higher education, but becoming the leaders of tomorrow. It also demonstrates how the diversity of thought and lived experiences are truly a strength for SVA chapter leaders, and a cornerstone for SVA as a national organization. SVA Voices is an ongoing campaign celebrating student veteran success. Become a part of the campaign and share your story today!