Welcoming those who have served
In 14 years with the U.S. Marine Corps, Angela Austin's most physically challenging, rewarding, and enjoyable duty was as a Marine Corps martial arts instructor.
Married to another Marine still on active duty for two more years, she took a hiatus from her studies this past year for the birth of her son—she is set to graduate this June. Her ultimate goal is to work at a national or state park or federal reserve: "Helping in conservation efforts is the difference I want to make in this world, in order to preserve the things in nature I have appreciated and loved my entire life."
After leaving the service, Austin, 34 (Merrill, '14, environmental studies and biology), found a welcoming place at UC Santa Cruz.
UCSC's famously eclectic student population includes a contingent of proud student veterans who have faced challenges transitioning out of military life.
The Retirees Association Board, a group of retired UCSC staff members, has found a way to reach out to this group while also paying tribute to the memory loved ones, with named scholarships for veteran military students. Austin received one of two United States Navy Chaplain Ben F. Janes Scholarships.
"I think it is wonderful to have a fundraiser that shows veterans how welcome they are at UCSC," said Mary Wells, the board's fundraising chair, and a retired information systems manager at UCSC's University Relations office.
The board, with just over 200 members, is now close to raising an endowment that will guarantee that this group of retirees can help out veterans far into the future.
This focus on veterans also honors the memory of Bruce Lane, who was active in the association; Lane was a recipient of the WWII GI Bill and officer in the Army Reserves for 35 years, and strongly endorsed supporting current UCSC student veterans.
Such support makes a difference to vets like Austin, who is now pregnant with her second child and living in Santa Cruz while her husband is stationed in Twentynine Palms. The financial and moral support have been "extremely helpful while we're maintaining two different households," she said. "I am so fortunate to have this kind of support."
More information about the scholarship and a donation form can be accessed from the UCSC Retirees Association web site.