John Jay Recognizes Student-Veterans at the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society Induction Ceremony

John Jay Recognizes Student-Veterans at the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society Induction Ceremony

John Jay Recognizes Student-Veterans at the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society Induction Ceremony

“The SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society Induction Ceremony and Celebratory Banquet serves as a great symbol of the outstanding academic performance of our 525 plus veteran and military students here at John Jay.” —Richard Pusateri

At the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society induction ceremony on December 3, John Jay proudly celebrated the hard work, dedication, and service of its student-veterans. In total, 27 John Jay students and one alumnus, all representing the best of what veterans bring to academics, were recognized for their service and academic achievements. SALUTE, an acronym for the honor society’s foundation blocks of Service, Academics, Leadership, Unity, Tribute, and Excellence, was founded in 2009 at Colorado State University. Serving as emcee for the evening, Richard Pusateri, Manager of the Office of Military and Veteran Services, broke down why the event was so special. “The SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society Induction Ceremony and Celebratory Banquet serves as a great symbol of the outstanding academic performance of our 525 plus veteran and military students here at John Jay,” said Pusateri, adding that John Jay’s SALUTE chapter has inducted 155 members in the last four years. “It’s a great time to stop and recognize how well our students are doing, and help them figure out what they want to do next.”

Lt. Gen. Ruark, Pusateri, and O’Brien
(left to right) Lieutenant General Robert Ruark, Richard Pusateri, and Sean O’Brien

Providing welcome remarks, Ellen Hartigan, Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs (EMSA), and the daughter of an Army veteran, spoke of how grateful she was to partake in the celebration. “It is always a delight to be part of an event that celebrates our incredible students and their commitment to education and service,” she said. “I am honored to be here among so many of you, and I thank you for your service.” Hartigan then gave a special thanks to several of John Jay’s friends and partners who are steadfast supporters of our veteran and military students. 

(left to right) Derek  Doan, Regional Director, T-Mobile, Public Sector; Sylvana Bunag-krasner, Senior Manager, NY Public Sector; with T-Mobile Graduation Award recipient Cassandra Rodriguez ’19
(left to right) Derek Doan, Regional Director, T-Mobile, Public Sector; Sylvana Bunag-Krasner, Senior Manager, NY Public Sector; with T-Mobile Graduation Award recipient Cassandra Rodriguez ’19

Acknowledging T-Mobile and its regional director Derek Doan; The New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and its Commissioner James Hendon; Securitas USA; VA New York Harbor Healthcare; Volunteer Lawyers for Veterans; the U.S. Coast Guard; the New York State Veteran Chamber of Commerce; and Gerry Byrne, a member of the John Jay Foundation Board of Trustees, Hartigan highlighted the important role each plays in supporting our veteran and military students and their families.

James Hendon, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services
James Hendon, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services

Before going up to the podium for his keynote address, Lieutenant General Robert Ruark, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), was recognized by Pusateri as a great leader who has lived a life committed to the Marine Corps and its families. “I served with Lieutenant General Ruark in Iraq and he was the perfect marine. He was a legendary leader and legendary logistician, serving the United States Marine Corps for 36 years,” said Pusateri. “But what impressed me most—and this shows the quality of this esteem man—was that upon retiring he dedicated himself to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. This enables him to keep the incredible promise the Marine Corps makes to the thousands of children of Marine and Navy Corpsmen; that we will provide the resources so that the children of those who serve can go to college.”

Lt. Gen. Ruark offering students advice
Ruark offering students advice

“When I hear about what John Jay students do—raising kids, supporting your families, and having jobs while also going to school—I’m inspired by your commitment for excellence.” —Lt. Gen. Robert Ruark

Humbled by the introduction, Ruark thanked Pusateri, and congratulated the students in the room. “When I hear about what John Jay students do—raising kids, supporting your families, and having jobs while also going to school—I’m inspired by your commitment to excellence,” said Ruark, noting that many in the room were first-generation college students. After offering the audience a couple of stories about his time in the Marine Corps, his mentors, and the lessons he’s learned along the way, Ruark supplied some sage advice. “If I could tell you all one thing, it would be to give back to your communities in some way. You all are smart, can handle multiple things at once, and have a great love for this country. Whatever you decide to do with this wonderful education, if there’s something you really feel in your heart, do that, especially if its makes those around you feel good.”

Lt. Gen. Ruark and Pusateri sharing a laugh
Ruark and Pusateri sharing a laugh

Then it was time to shine a light on honorary inductee alumnus Sean O’Brien ’13. Pusateri told the audience of O’Brien’s distinguished military career where he served as a military police officer helping to build police forces from the ground up and how he’s using his current role as Area Vice President of Securitas USA, in New York City to foster a strong relationship between the multinational private security firm and John Jay College. “Sean has spearheaded a powerful relationship between Securitas USA and John Jay, helping to introduce our veteran and military students to career opportunities in the security industry,” said Pusateri, adding that Securitas USA is now a highest-level sponsor for John Jay career support services, working with both the veteran and career services centers. “He and Securitas USA have done a tremendous job of engaging and having conversations with our students, opening up a world of possibilities for them.”

O’Brien talking about the partnership between Securitas USA and John Jay College
O’Brien talking about the partnership between Securitas USA and John Jay College

“When you’re a veteran, you’re part of a supportive family. And when you gain some success, the natural thing to do is go back to the veterans community and help someone out.” —Sean O’Brien

O’Brien sees the partnership with John Jay as a way of giving back to a community that helped him become the man he is today. “I don’t think I would be on this journey if I didn’t have the veteran’s network here at John Jay. They brought me into the family and made me feel comfortable to embark on a graduate school journey. And this absolutely meant the world to me,” said O’Brien, who has invested corporate assets to support his alma mater. “We have a dedicated interview room in the career center where our Securitas USA team goes to conduct interviews with students. We also started an internship program, and one of tonight’s inductees, Estefania Solis, is our first inaugural intern. And, I’m incredibly proud to say that this year alone we’ve hired 25 John Jay students into careers within our company. Including my right-hand man, Charles Bernal ’19 who was the President of the John Jay Veterans Association and is now our Human Resources Manager.” The tremendous support is intrinsic in veteran circles, notes O’Brien. “When you’re a veteran, you’re part of a supportive family. And when you gain some success, the natural thing to do is go back to the veterans community and help someone out.”

(left to right) John Jay Foundation Board Trustee Gerry Byrne with Lt. Gen. Ruark, Pusateri, and O’Brien
(left to right) John Jay Foundation Board Trustee Gerry Byrne with Ruark, Pusateri, and O’Brien

Following a thunderous applause from an appreciative audience, student inductees were called up one by one to receive their pin, shake hands with Pusateri, Lt. Gen. Ruark, and O’Brien, and become the newest members of the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society.

Anthony Sambula ’20 shaking hands with Lt. Gen. Robert Ruark
Anthony Sambula ’20 shaking hands with Ruark

We spoke to attendees and asked: Why was it important for you to attend the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society induction ceremony?”

Chief Petty Officer Joshua DelVecchioChief Petty Officer Joshua DelVecchio
United States Coast Guard, CSPI Recruiter

I’m here to support our veteran and military students and let them know about the CSPI scholarship program that is available to them. As a College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative [CSPI] executive school, John Jay offers great opportunities for veteran and military students to advance their education and careers. Through the CSPI Coast Guard scholarship program, students who qualify and are accepted into the program are enlisted in the Coast Guard as an E-3 officer, and their primary duty is to finish their bachelor’s degree. The scholarship pays for their junior and senior year. They will also be paid full active-duty pay and receive full medical and full dental benefits. Upon completion, they’ll go to Officer Candidate School and finish the remainder of their five-year commitment as an O-1 Ensign in the Coast Guard.

Seannae CampbellSeannae Campbell ’20
United States National Guard

It’s a wonderful experience to be inducted into SALUTE with the John Jay community cheering you on. I’m currently serving in the National Guard and it can be tough to find balance—going to school full time, balancing everyday life, and your commitment to your branch. But with the help of the Office of Military and Veterans Services, I’ve learned I am not alone. I have a great support system that has my back. And, thanks to that support system, I’ve been able to earn a 3.9 GPA and join SALUTE.

 

S. Nicole WestryS. Nicole Westry ’07
U.S. Army, Sergeant

I was inducted last year and wanted to come out to celebrate this year’s inductees. It means to a lot, especially when you’re a student, to know you have support from other veteran and military students. It lets you know there are people who are praising your academic success.

 

 

 

Michael MatosMichael Matos ’21
U.S. Coast Guard, Maritime Enforcement Specialist

It’s inspiring to be here and to see members of this close-knit community being celebrated. I’m hoping to be inducted into SALUTE next year and look forward to being cheered on by my peers. The support I received here at the College while I was transitioning from active duty service to reservist life was so helpful. It really does feel like one big family and we support each other in good and bad.

 

 

Richard FlintRichard Flint ’20
U.S. Army

As one of the new inductees, it feels good to be recognized for the hard work I’ve put in during the last few years. I’ve been in the Army for four years and my goal is to earn my master’s degree here at John Jay and go on to support veterans—whether it’s helping them with legal matters, working with them in veterans’ court, or providing counseling assistance. I want to be able to give back. What Richard Pusateri and John Jay have done for veteran and military students is phenomenal. They’ve put together a stellar program that fully supports veteran and military students.

Hannah CuadradoHannah Cuadrado ’21
Father was in the U.S. Army

One of the amazing aspects of the Office of Veteran and Military Services is its support for the families of those who have served or are serving. My father served in the military for 32 years. I moved a lot as a kid, my dad was deployed a number of times, and while it wasn’t the easiest upbringing, it gave me a deep understanding and appreciation for those who serve our country. Through the veterans program John Jay offered me a work-study experience where I can connect veterans and their families with others and it’s connected me with a great group of people.