CGS Salutes America's Veterans

    We at CGS want to thank and honor the men and women who have served in the American armed forces. As part of our tribute, we will be posting a series of GradImpact stories featuring graduate student veterans in celebration of Veterans Day. Thank you for sharing your stories with us and thank you for your service.


    For Country and Family: Tyler Mobra (University of Oklahoma - Tulsa)

    For many, graduate study holds the promise of a better life and more secure financial future for the student and their family. Veterans share this interest in financial security when charting a career path after their military service ends. Tyler Mobra, a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma - Tulsa, is one such student veteran. After serving as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, Mobra was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroic or meritorious service.


    Radical Experimentation and Emotional Leadership: Wayne Johnson (Cornell University)

    Many graduate students learn the importance of experimentation to good research through coursework, mentorship, and controlled lab environments. Wayne Johnson, a doctoral student in management at Cornell University, took a completely different path. As the leader of an Army counter-bomb unit in Eastern Afghanistan, Johnson had seen how bomb defusal and removal strategies designed for troops serving in Iraq were failing in Afghanistan. “After a month of heavy losses, I realized radical experimentation was needed,” he said. Johnson found that the new methods worked well and he was reassigned to the Army Research lab to teach what he had learned to others.


    Living Her Life for Others: Meghan Lowry (University of Oklahoma - Tulsa)

    “As veterans, we’re trained to fight, but we’re not really trained to come home,” said Megan Lowry, a master’s student in social work at The University of Oklahoma—Tulsa. Lowry knows this first-hand and is determined to make a difference


    Mission Driven: William LaRose (Cornell University)

    A commitment to public service is a value shared by almost all veterans and active duty servicemembers. This commitment is also shared by many graduate students who hope to use their education for the betterment of their communities. It was the commitment to public service that spurred William LaRose, a master’s candidate in public administration at Cornell University, to pursue a graduate degree after serving four years in the US Army. “I knew I wanted to continue to service after the Army,” LaRose said, “and that I wanted to do so at a premier university and program.”


    Turning Trauma into Purpose: James Hentig (University of Notre Dame)

    As a doctoral candidate in biology at the University of Notre Dame, James “Jayme” Hentig researches Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and regenerative therapies. In 2017, he received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation to develop and implement an innovative TBI model design for pre-clinical trials. His project requires managing budgets, collaborating with interdisciplinary teams at other universities, and overseeing junior scientists, all skills he honed while in the U.S. military.


    Providing a Beacon of Hope for Veterans and First Responders: Nick Harnish (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

    Nick Harnish is an applied master’s student in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison with an emphasis in community organizing, human development, nonprofit management, and public humanities. He’s also a veteran of the U.S. Army, a former first responder, a volunteer with Wisconsin Hero Outdoors, and a Public Humanities Scholar with the UW—Madison Center for Humanities.


    Environmental Science and Public Service: Philip Steenstra (Washington State University)

    While some graduate students who are active duty military want to build skills for future civilian careers, others, like Philip Steenstra, are getting graduate degrees to become more skilled military personnel. Steenstra, an Army Captain and a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science at Washington State University, hopes to use his degree to secure a position in the US Corps of Engineers after graduation.


    Veteran Continues Service by Studying Human Genetics: Raul Torres (University of California - San Francisco)

    UC San Francisco graduate student and military veteran Raul Torres says he enlisted in the Army National Guard when he turned 18, primarily because he saw it as a way to be financially independent during college and graduate debt-free. It was 2003, the beginning of the Iraq War, but, he notes with a half-laugh, that was only supposed to last a couple of years.


    Finding Community and Helping Society: LaVoya Woods-Dionne (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

    LaVoya Woods-Dionne first learned about doctoral degrees when she was 6 years old. Since that time, pursuing her own post-secondary education has been a major goal. Her prior career as a Data Analyst for the U.S. Air Force prepared her for success. “Military life relies on a robust system of accountability both professionally and personally,” she says. The cardinal value of accountability – buttressed by the Air Force’s commitment to integrity – meant that Woods-Dionne knew and trusted her support system. “When I was serving, it was comforting knowing that there was always an airman or community member close by should I need support.”


    Mission First, People Always: Allene Osborn (Eastern Washington University)

    Allene Osborn has been struck by the continuity between her military service and her master’s program. She describes graduate school as feeling “like a natural extension of my military service.” As in the military, her program stresses the relationship between accomplishing tasks and taking care of the whole person. This continuity has helped her to see her own life holistically, stitching together her military and civilian lives into a single set of values. 


    Leader of the Pack: Lawrence Minnis (George Mason University)

    "Leadership is the byproduct of our interaction during operations," Lawrence Minnis boldly declares at the top of his LinkedIn profile. For Minnis, a second year PhD student in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience at George Mason University, leadership is primal, a fundamental part of human social interaction. 


    Managing the Competing Demands of Military Duty and Research in Pusuit of a PhD: Joshua Pearlman (University of Maryland)

    Graduate students often find time management, self-discipline, and managing stress challenging while pursuing their degrees. Joshua Pearlman, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, is well acquainted with these challenges. After 26 years of Navy service and having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he’s now a doctoral candidate working on his dissertation and serving in the Navy Reserve.



    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.