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.


    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.


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