Students Who Served Share Perspective Ahead of Today’s Veterans Day Memorial Chapel Service
Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle
As the U.S. recognizes the service and sacrifice of its veteran community today, the University of Maryland is saluting its own.
At noon, Memorial Chapel will host its annual Honor & Remember Veterans Day Service & Lunch. The program will include music, a buffet in the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance, and remarks from Col. Jack Baker, director of facilities operations and maintenance who served in the Air Force for over 20 years, and Cmdr. Sara Olsen M.P.H. ’17, Ph.D. ’21, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health who completed nine years of active duty and serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Today’s event is part of UMD’s Veterans Weeks, a series of activities running through Nov. 23 celebrating the past and present service of student-veterans, now numbering around 800. Highlights include a screening of “The Weight of Honor” documentary, a group trip to a Washington Capitals hockey game, a female veterans luncheon and a visit from service puppies in training.
Meet four student-veterans as they share how they observe the holiday and what they’d like the campus to know about those who have served:
Spc. Francis Borrasso ’20 | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Army
“We’re not really that scary. We all have different backgrounds, different walks of life, and not all of us are necessarily defined by our service. We have single parents, we have ethnic and sexual-identity minorities. We’re not just the average, typical cussing sailor, or however you want to look at it.”
Sgt. Luis Perezdeleon ’22 | Civil Engineering | Marine Corps
“It’s been a really tough transition, especially utilizing my brain differently. It’s a shock. But I’m slowly getting into the routine of studying. (Veteran Student Life) has been helpful, especially having a center where I can study, and they also have food and other great resources for us. It’s been beneficial for myself, connecting me with all the services around the campus.”
Staff Sgt. Brandon Pennington ’21 | Information Science/Geographic Information Science | Air Force
“Don’t be shy to ask us about our service; interface with us. The thing about veterans and people who have been in the military, there’s a wide variety of skill sets that you’re only going to get in that environment. We’re almost all really happy to talk to people, especially young people who might even be thinking about a career in the military.”
Cmdr. Sara Olsen M.P.H. ’17, Ph.D. ’21 | Kinesiology/Behavioral and Community Health | Navy
“(Veterans Day) is almost more of an opportunity to connect or educate or create some sort of reality for people who aren’t otherwise connected. I don’t do anything other than make myself available for those who really are thinking about it potentially for the first time and want more than just the stars-and-stripes banner and Veterans Day sales.”
Angel Lopez ’20, a geographical information science major who served five years in the U.S. Navy, is one of several UMD students featured in the new video series “Honoring Terp Vets.”
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