PITTSBURG — Of the 139 military veterans and service men and women enrolled at Pittsburg State University this fall, 12 who are graduating this semester were recognized Wednesday in a brief ceremony during which those who were able to attend were given a red, white, and blue cord to wear during Commencement as part of their regalia.
PSU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Howard Smith addressed the graduating students.
“Many of you already accomplished a great deal with your lives. I mean you’ve made commitments outside the university and been successful and achieved many great things, and I want to say thank you for your service, and thank you for your future service for some of you,” Smith said.
“You add a new dimension to the university when you sit in class, when you interact with the staff, when you interact with the students, it’s a huge piece for us. And we appreciate you sharing that at Pitt State, because that helps us broaden our perspective as well,” he said.
“We are honored by your presence on our campus and we thank you for that.”
The veterans recognized Wednesday included Robert Armstrong, BS in social work; Ricco Blevins, BST in automotive technology; Jessika Kell, BS in psychology; John Derfelt, DNP in advanced practice nursing; Daniel Hodges, MA in History; Tanner McNutt, MS in educational leadership; Malachi Melton, BBA in computer information; Pan Phyu, BBA in finance; Jake Ramon, BST in construction management; Travis Redden, BGS in general studies; Joshua Roberts, CER1 in automotive services; and Lisa Sulenes, MS in educational technology.
Tim Senecaut, a retired U.S. Army colonel and staff advisor for PSU’s Student Veterans Organization, said students who have been in the military often have competing priorities, as well as a different attitude and approach to going to school.
“They’re leaders on campus. They come in and they start to have an impact on campus. Sometimes it’s very low-key. Sometimes they don’t, they’re with their families and all. But we have a lot of them that step up, they go into the student government organizations, they do different types of things,” Senecaut said.
“They have their classwork, they have their families more than likely, but also they’re doing things here on campus to try and better us as a community. It’s just that they’re very unique individuals, very special individuals.”