Inspiring a Nation… and a Campus
November 10, 2011
By Stephanie Thara
Whether it is a former soldier from the Army, airman from the air force, marine from the Marine Corps, service member from the Coast Guard, guardsman from the National Guard or a sailor from the Navy, these veterans inspire our nation as a whole… and CSU faculty, staff and students on an individual level.
The CSU is proud to be filled with faculty, staff and students who support our courageous troops. Among the many activities held on campus that reach out to current and former service members, individual outreach is what makes the CSU population stand out.
Cal State L.A.’s new Veterans Affairs Coordinator Laura Shigemitsu has found a way to serve her country by helping student veterans navigate the ever-changing GI Bill and assisting in their assimilation to college life so they may succeed and graduate. Shigemitsu always had dreams of enlisting in the military, but at the age of 17 she suffered a traumatic brain injury that derailed her dreams of service. Long since recovered from the brain injury, Shigemitsu believes her experience may provide unique insights when working with veterans attending Cal State L.A. who have suffered similar injuries. “This is how I’m serving. I wasn’t able to put on the uniform, but I now can do my best to help those who did,” said Shigemitsu.
Steve Estes, an associate professor in the history department at Sonoma State University, published “Ask & Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out” in 2007, which draws on more than 50 interviews with gay and lesbian veterans. Estes charts the evolution of the former “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward homosexuals in the military over the past 65 years, uncovering the ways that silence about sexuality and military service affected the identities of gay veterans. "Enforced silence has led to collective amnesia about the patriotic service and courageous sacrifices of gay and lesbian troops," said Estes.
After serving as a Naval Reserve officer for the U.S. Special Forces in Iraq, Daniel Bernardi is now San Francisco State’s new chair of the cinema department and spearheading a project for the U.S. Department of the Navy on the impact of rumor on counterinsurgency operations. Disarming “narrative IEDs” is vital in the warzone and he is integrating his study into the multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research pursued by SF State's diverse collection of scholars.
In addition to CSU faculty and staff inspiring others by lending a helping hand, the stories of CSU student veterans overcoming obstacles instill triumphant spirits among the campuses.
A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Clayton Treska’s motivation and willpower to complete Ironman competitions while battling stage 4 cancer is motivating fellow students on the San Diego State campus to achieve the impossible. While going through chemotherapy treatments in the hospital, Treska would train for Ironman competitions. He is now adding earning a degree in exercise and nutritional science into the mix in hopes of developing physical therapy and nutrition programs for post-cancer patients. “I want to take what I’ve learned and what I’ve been able to do during my treatments and show others that they can do it, too,” said Treska.
When 4-year U.S. Army veteran Ronnie Andrawis completed his military duty, he enrolled at CSU San Bernardino and tapped his skills acquired from the military and as an electrician to assist with the automation of a 17-inch telescope in the CSUSB Murillo Family Observatory. “I’ve always asked myself, ‘What’s the hardest thing I could take on to learn?’” said Andrawis about conquering new challenges.