Describe the moment when you found out you received the Raytheon Patriot scholarship.
I was ecstatic! Receiving that phone call was completely surreal. I was so proud to be able to represent Air Defense and Patriot Operators, and it was even cooler to be selected by the makers of our beloved weapon. I could not wait to tell my husband and sons. It was so awesome to see their pride and excitement on top of what I was feeling. Recalling that moment is still one of my favorite moments to reflect on.
Why did you apply for the Raytheon Patriot Scholarship?
I applied for the Raytheon Patriot Scholarship because SVA highlighted it, and I felt that I had a strong chance to be selected. I was encouraged to go for it because the scholarship was specific to Army veterans and even more geared towards Patriot Operators. I felt like I would regret passing up the opportunity and that I was just as deserving as any other veteran especially considering how much I had taken on for veterans at my campus.
"Innovate, operate, and integrate." What does the Raytheon mission statement mean to you, and how do you embody these values in your life as a student veteran?
The Raytheon mission statement is relevant to my life as a student veteran and middle school teacher because day in and day out, those verbs are the actions necessary to step towards a successful life. Being innovative leads to a positive, solutions-based attitude which is critical for any ambition. I love that I can continue to create lessons, assessments, manage behavior, and develop strong bonds for and with my students thanks to this newfound confidence I picked up as a student veteran. I like that "operate" is in the middle of the mission statement because it symbolizes the vehicle that carries people from an idea to reality. "Integration" means becoming something, mixing an idea with work and producing something new because of that loyal marriage between dreaming and doing. I think there will always be a little bit of "soldier mentality" in me (I can't say I honestly want to let that go) but I am thankful for the opportunity to innovate, operate, and integrate as this next chapter begins.
Why do you feel veterans should pursue higher education?
This is kind of a two-part answer. First, veterans who have benefits to go to college should use them because they earned it, literally. I've never heard of anyone throwing away their enlistment bonus or healthcare benefits, so I don't understand why anyone would pass up a free college education that can lead to a successful civilian career. Secondly, I suggest higher education because I do feel strongly about veteran input being in different civilian sectors. In my experience, we aren't as thrown off by issues because we have an understanding of how much worse a situation can be. Higher education is going to give veterans the opportunity to feel that military sense of worth and importance in the civilian sector, and veterans owe it to themselves and their communities to employ their unmatched skillsets.
Can you debunk the following myth that prevent veterans from pursuing higher education?
Myth: Nobody on campus understands the veteran experience.
I wouldn't say no one on campus understands the veteran experience, but I would say it can be difficult to become comfortable enough on a college campus to relate based on military connections. I think veterans have an unannounced understanding that says we are not all the same. It's somewhat shallow to say just because we're all veterans, we're all going to connect and relate on that level, however, if and when SVA chapters start to focus on common missions ahead of them rather than the years of service behind them, they will begin to form a bond and understand each other's experiences.
How has SVA (chapter or the organization as a whole), impacted your life?
I became a Sergeant during the last year of my Active Duty service contract. During that time period, I was only assigned to transition soldiers and was always disappointed because I knew I had much more leadership potential than that, but I simply ran out of time. Being involved with the SVA has had the same effect as tipping dominoes. Each shining moment has led to another and another, and the buildup of confidence, as a result, has overflown into my teaching career which positively impacts my students and their lives.
What do you intend on doing with your degree? How has a scholarship like this allowed you to follow your dream?
I used my degree to teach middle-level children Language Arts and Social Studies. I'm currently in a sixth-grade classroom enjoying my first year of teaching and hoping to make education better for Arkansan kids. The scholarship allowed me to follow my dream by providing stability and comfort for my family while I finished my studies. The Raytheon Patriot Scholarship has also allowed us to put back funds to continue pursuing higher education. I'm looking forward to pursuing my master's degree and enriching educational policies in my area.
Interested in the Raytheon Patriot Scholarship? Click here to find out if you're eligible and how to apply!