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From One Student Veteran Mom to Another
Student Veterans of America |  May 11, 2018

Peer-to-peer mentoring is a critical component to student veteran success - even more so, as we look at the unique identities and intersections of today's student veterans. So, this Mother's Day, we look to past and current student veteran moms for their best piece of advice for their fellow student veteran moms.


Amber Howard:
I am an 8 year Army veteran who just graduated May 4th from Ashland Community and Technical College in Ashland, Kentucky. I was the president of our SVA chapter and helped implement the program in my school along with setting up our own room. My daughter is 17 and in the 11th grade. It was a struggle, but we did it! Where I fell short, she picked up – where she fell short, I picked up. She is my best friend, and without her, I wouldn't have made it!



Casey Patterson:
I am a United States Marine Corps Veteran and single mother to a wonderful, wild 6-year-old boy. I am graduating with my Bachelors in Psychology this Saturday at Oklahoma State University, and I am a former SVA chapter leader at OSU. The best advice I have would be to wake up every morning knowing your priorities that day and save the weekends for a little bit of fun with you and your kiddo – after all he is my biggest supporter, and very patient for his age when it has come to me having a test or a paper due.



Nadia Zullo:

I am an Army and Navy Veteran. I graduated with an MBA from Webster University in addition to my BBA in Accounting from University of Texas at El Paso. My advice to other student veteran moms 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. Also, 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, finally realized how not alone I was and finally found a place where I belonged.


Lisa McGilvra:
I served for 10.5 years and tried to do the stay-at-home mom gig. I needed more of a challenge in my life. I went back to school for 2 years after I separated. In 3.5 years I earned a Liberal Arts AA, then transferred and received a BS in Biology. During my last year, I ended up delivering my 6th baby! Today my kids' ages range from 16 years - 14 months. Biggest piece of advice: become an expert in time management. Text books may not be the bedtime story they wanted, but it worked.



Peshka Calloway:
I am an Army veteran and former SVA Chapter leader at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, where I earned my Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Business Administration. I have raised my son as a single mother my entire academic and now professional career. My advice to student veteran moms would be to connect with fellow veterans with children. My friend Justin is a single father of a daughter and I'm a single mother with a son. We have been each other's biggest cheerleaders. Our children are best friends and we celebrate and overcome challenges together. I was pretty much in a shell my first two years of college. I then got involved with the SVA chapter on my campus and became friends with other veterans with children. It's the best thing a student veteran mother could do: to find a support group of badass veteran parents. I honestly think veteran parents are the coolest parents this country (and other non-veteran parents) will ever get to know!



Tammy M Pack:
I am a mom, a Navy veteran, a 3rd year college student and our campus' VA certifying official. My children are older (youngest is 19), but she is in school with me. The balance is incredibly important. I would love to say that I have it down, but I'm still working at it. One thing is for certain: the support I get from my kids and my family is the ONLY reason I have made it this far! Thank you SVA for the opportunity to become the best possible leader I can be!



Alexandra May Keller:
I am a Navy veteran, recently divorced, single mom of 4 kids, student worker at my campus veteran resource center and Vice President of my SVA chapter for 2 years now! In my 3rd year of school my kiddos are 5, 3 and my twins are almost 2. My best advice for any new moms/students is to constantly look into the eyes of your babies and remember why you made the choice to go back to school in the first place. Do not be afraid to reach out to mental health professionals, because between sick kids, shitty diapers and projects and papers, it's freaking stressful. Find your veteran community on campus and embrace them. It's different than in the fleet, but it is and has been my safety net during all of my schooling! You got this, ladies, and keep up the hard work!


Liz Breuker:
I'm Liz Breuker and the Secretary of Idaho State University's Armed Forces Club/SVA Chapter. I was active duty Army for a little over five years, took ten years off to have a family, and during that time, slowly returned to college. I recently completed my third semester at Idaho State, majoring in Outdoor Education. I've earned various accolades and accomplishments so far in my college career. My advice is quite simple: don't be afraid of success - you already know how to work for it. Let your support system support you; your children are part of your support system, and as much as we want to set the example for them, they, just as much, want us to succeed.



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