Not Your Typical Student Veteran
Nowadays most people I speak with are surprised that I am a graduate student at DePaul University. You see, I am 55 years old and recently retired from the U.S. Army after serving 30 years on active duty.
Last August I received the exciting news that DePaul graduate school admitted me to the Master’s of Science in Management program. I very much enjoy my classes and learning about corporate America. As part of the DePaul community, I feel that I’ve finally made the transition from military to civilian. Still, I’m often thinking about the road ahead.
Only recently did I realize what my true passion is for my second career. My hope is to lead a not-for-profit organization in the greater Chicago area that assists veterans, the homeless, or children. I want my career to be in service of the larger Chicago area. The current violence and homeless crisis in Chicago shocks me and I want to actively be involved in bettering the lives of the less fortunate.
As an initial step towards this dream, and in an effort to get involved with the university community, I joined the DePaul Student Veterans Union where I now serve as the Secretary/Public Relations Officer. The veterans are dear to my heart, and I’m fortunate to have this opportunity to learn from their experiences as well as share mine.
DePaul Student Veterans Union is a great fit for me because of their focus on service. Serving others has always been in my DNA and is still very important to me. In the Army, I served my country to ensure America remains free from tyrants, dictators, or other forms of oppression and protect free speech. As an immigrant, I saw America as a land of opportunity for everyone. Now, as a student veteran and as a future graduate, I hope to provide this opportunity to residents in need by working in the not-for-profit field.
“Although I know I am not the typical student veteran, the truth is that age is just a number and you are never too old to learn.”
Being part of the Student Veterans Union also provides me the chance to get involved, meet new people, and network. Recently, some members volunteered at Deborah’s Place, which is the oldest and largest homeless shelter for women in Chicago. It was truly overwhelming to see the mental issues, drug abuse and other ailments of the residents, but it was so rewarding to be able to work with other student veterans and offer them some help. This experience just reinforced my commitment to seek a second career in not-for-profit organizations, as well as my commitment to SVU.
I’m certain becoming a DePaul graduate student was the right choice for me. I tremendously enjoy being part of the DePaul family and learning with my smart, enthusiastic classmates. Although I know I am not the typical student veteran, the truth is that age is just a number and you are never too old to learn. I am blessed to have the opportunity to attend DePaul University through the Post 9/11 GI Bill and learn valuable business and management skills to eventually lead a not-for-profit organization to help the greater Chicago community.
Written by: Pia Kanoy