As one of the top 25 Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report, UCI has earned national recognition for its ongoing commitment to serving student veterans.
The university was the first in the nation to enact a student veteran-guaranteed housing policy. UCI also offers priority registration to all its student veterans, and the campus’ Student Veteran’s Services Center provides resources and programs to more than 300 veteran students annually.
On May 25, 2017, UCI showcased its commitment yet again by honoring 25 student veterans with scholarships at the eighth annual veteran appreciation event.
“What better way to acknowledge those who have created a safe environment for opportunity than the members of the uniformed services whom we celebrate at the UCI veterans appreciation event,” says Thomas T. Tierney, a longtime donor and trustee emeritus of the UCI Foundation. “UCI has stepped to the forefront of recognition for those who choose to protect our freedoms.”
Tierney, a veteran of the United States Air Force, and his wife, Elizabeth, have always been passionate about supporting those who have served their country. Years ago, the couple established and funded the Thomas J. Tierney Veteran Scholarship at UCI to help student veterans succeed beyond the limitations of the GI Bill. Many student veterans, like Steven Artea ’18, are forced to take out student loans when the GI Bill falls short of full coverage.
“Despite financial burdens due to limited GI Bill benefits, I have still maintained a 3.72 GPA,” says Artea, a first-generation college student and veteran of the U.S. Navy. “Receiving the Thomas T. Tierney scholarship has been a helping hand that I did not expect, and the scholarship has helped me tremendously.”
Bridging the Gap
In addition to the Thomas T. Tierney Veteran Scholarship, the Bridging the Gap Scholarship also helps offset the limitations of the GI Bill. Funded by the Louise Merage Foundation, Orange County Community Foundation and the Orange County Real Estate Veterans Initiative, the Bridging the Gap Student Scholarship has been awarded to 97 UCI student veterans to date.
One of whom is U.S. Navy veteran Carla Contrarez ’17. A single mother working hard to become an electrical engineer, Contrarez says the funds gave her the much needed boost to finish the final stages of her studies.
A brand new veterans’ scholarship given out at this year’s event was the Elliott Kornhauser Foundation Scholarship, which was awarded to Ricardo Correa ’17.
“This honor just reassures that hard work and determination pays off, and that helping veterans like myself is instrumentally vital,” says Correa. “It’s an honor to be the first at anything let alone the first recipient of the Elliott Kornhauser Scholarship.”
The benefactor of this inaugural scholarship, UCI alumnus and retired clinical professor Dr. Elliott Kornhauser felt moved by the many obstacles student veterans face. Because of their military service, he says, these students will continue to lead very successful lives.
Thriving Beyond the Classroom
Chancellor Howard Gillman echoed this sentiment in his remarks, citing UCI alumnus Ken Marlin ’76 as a prime example. Marlin visited campus last month to promote his new book, The Marine Corps Way to Win On Wall Street: 11 Key Principles From the Battlefield to Boardroom. In his book, Marlin asserts that the qualities and skills he learned in the military and through higher education led to his successful career in the financial sector.
Mark Whalls, head of military and veteran recruiting at Aetna, agrees. Veterans, he says, are uniquely trained to thrive in high-pressure situations. Whalls attended the event on behalf of Aetna, which cosponsored UCI’s Veteran Talent Career Planning Conference/Coaching and Resource Fair to address veteran unemployment in March.
As UCI continues to find new ways to support its student veterans, generous donors and corporate partners are helping ensure they thrive long after graduation.