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The University of Rhode Island’s Center for Military and Veteran Education (MAVE) and the URI Student Veteran Organization honored several members of the community last week at their inaugural Veterans Award Luncheon. The luncheon, held in the Multicultural Student Services Center’s Hardge Forum, was open to all members of the URI community and recognized several community members and organizations for their scholarship, service and commitment to supporting URI’s veterans, current military and military-connected students.
“It is my honor to host our first Veterans Award Luncheon here at the University of Rhode Island,” said Bob Flynn, director of URI’s Center for Military and Veteran Education. “Each of today’s honorees has distinguished themselves as members of the greater URI community – as student veterans working to promote understanding while succeeding academically, or as a faculty or staff member working to help support that success. We owe you a debt of gratitude.”
Among those who received awards from the Student Veteran Organization are:
Sean Edmund Rogers, Veteran Excellence Award
As the outgoing vice president of Community, Equity and Diversity, Rogers oversaw the establishment of the new Center for Military and Veteran Education in the Memorial Union and hired URI’s first director of Military and Veteran Education. Rogers, a U.S. Army veteran and current member of the Air Force Reserves, has shown unwavering support and dedication to student veterans and their families.
URI Foundation and Alumni Engagement, Civilian Impact Award
The URIFAE has been closely engaged with the URI Student Veteran Organization and MAVE Center, directly supporting initiatives to broaden opportunities for student veterans and their families. Thanks to the support of URIFAE, several members of the URI Student Veteran Organization were able to attend the Student Veterans of America National Conference in January. The award was accepted by John Garcia, senior executive director for gift planning and the RhodyNow Fund.
Chantel Rosario De Los Santos, Student Veteran Leadership Award
A member of the Rhode Island National Guard, Rosario De Los Santos was called to active duty during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has managed to remain not only engaged—but to distinguish herself—as a student, soldier and member of the URI community. This month, she will complete her degree as a kinesiology major and move onto graduate school at URI to earn a master’s degree while also being commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves. As secretary of the Student Veteran Organization through her work-study job at the MAVE Center, member of ROTC and resident advisor in Butterfield Hall, she has been a support and mentor to other students.
Among those who were honored by the Center for Military and Veteran Education:
Dave Hill, Captain, USCG, Ret., Veteran Service Award
After 35 years in uniform as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard with multiple commands at sea, and leadership in academia, Hill entered URI’s Master of Marine Affairs program in 2019. Not only did he develop impactful research on U.S. shipyards’ vulnerability to climate change that was published in a top peer-reviewed journal in the field, he has also maintained his connection to the department as an alumnus and, now, as an adjunct faculty member. Through his teaching, serving as a host for visiting students and his efforts to bring people together through barbecues, and even a sea shanty group, Hill has been a true friend to the department and an important member of the URI community.
Nancy Rabidoux, Outstanding Service Award
As the degree completion coordinator, performance-based admission specialist and coordinator for the Finish What You Started Program in the Admissions Department, Rabidoux has a passion for helping students, particularly adult learners and non-traditional students. She has been steadfast and energetic in advising, attracting and mentoring veterans at URI for many years and has been a true friend to the community.
Nancy Pendergast, Outstanding Service Award
As URI’s Veterans Affairs Certifying Official, Pendergast makes it possible for hundreds of student veterans and their families to access educational benefits. Her expertise and ability to navigate the intricacies of two complex institutions—URI and the Veterans Administration—and to do it all with a smile, is making an important difference in students’ lives every day.
Tracy Santos, Student Excellence Award
Former Marine, current Rhode Island National Guard soldier and president of the Student Veteran Organization at URI, Santos is an advocate and community builder for military-connected students and for URI. A tireless leader, advocate and mentor, Santos’ work inside and outside the MAVE Center has made her a respected member of the community and earned her recognition earlier this year when she was selected by Student Veterans of America as one of 10 national finalists for Student Veteran of the Year. Santos is graduating this year with a degree in clinical neuroscience and plans to continue her commitment to the veteran community by focusing her career on veteran’s mental health.
Additionally, the URI Reserve Officers Training Corps honored Cadet Megan Brigham with the Top Notch Soldier award. The award is made to a graduating cadet who has demonstrated a well-rounded commitment to excellence in military knowledge, skill, physical fitness, and leadership. It was presented to Brigham by Lt. Col. Tad Granai, department chair and professor of military science.
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Sean Edmund Rogers, outgoing vice president of Community, Equity and Diversity; John Garcia, URI FAE senior executive director for gift planning and the RhodyNow Fund; and Chantel Rosario De Los Santos are presented awards by SVO President Tracey Santos.
Capt. David Hill, Nancy Rabidoux, Nancy Pendergast and Tracy Santos presented awards by Bob Flynn, director of URI’s Center for Military and Veteran Education.
ROTC Cadet Megan Brigham is presented an award by Lt. Col. Tad Granai, department chair and professor of military science.