A Brotherhood & Sisterhood for Student Veterans
Though they are no longer required to salute, both Dora Jean “DJ” Jomadiao, former military police officer for the US Army, and Jose Olvera, former US Marine, feel a lifelong sense of duty to their fellow student veterans at UST. As a result, they’re doing everything in their power to support the academic, personal, and professional success of their comrades. That means that as each prepares to complete B.A. degrees in the fall of 2020 — Jomadiao in Criminology, Law & Society, and Olvera in Accounting & Finance — they also serve as the inaugural President and Vice President of UST’s chapter of Student Veterans of America.
A Place to Belong
Jomadiao said, “After the military, veterans can feel like fish out of water in the civilian world. It can be difficult for us to relate to regular students on campus. Our club is an important, safe place for us to go and socialize, and it’s a chance for traditional students and faculty to come and interact with us.”
Sharing Lessons on All Aspects of Re-entry
The two recently returned from a national conference in Los Angeles, where they took classes and uncovered opportunities for their members.
“It was eye-opening,” Jomadiao said. “One of the classes was on how to engage student veterans by creating activities that reflect the demographics of our group.”
Since some chapter members are single and some are parents, the club organized an off-campus get-together at a venue that offered toys and fun for kids as well as relaxing, grownup activities. The group also holds a popular, monthly barbeque and social at UST’s Veteran Success Center.
Other takeaways from the conference were step-by-step instructions on how to succeed at raising funds for the club.
Olvera said, “Now I know how to create a funding proposal and how to ask for sponsorships and who to ask.”
They networked with more than 100 attending companies, including Prudential, Chase, Google, and Raytheon. Jomadiao and Olvera brought back information on internships, scholarships, and job opportunities.
Another valuable lesson was that the club needs to be planning for its long-term sustainability.
“We realize that new leadership needs to pick up after we graduate, and we’re identifying those individuals now,” Jomadiao said.
Including spouses and children of veterans, UST has 137 enrolled, military-connected students.
A Shared Sense of Duty to One Another
Olvera said, “The club brings us together with our different backgrounds but similar stories. We’re surrounded by brothers and sisters who have something great in common — a shared sense of duty to one another. We’re all pulling for each other academically, personally, and professionally. It’s a great feeling.”