With a new school and AmeriCorps service year underway, we want to highlight the importance of service and community. Through a series of three stories, we are recognizing College Possible Minnesota student alumni who have dedicated their time to service, through a variety of forms. Having participated in both College Possible high school and college success programming, these former students are now active participants in their communities.
For some students, the path to college is not a straight line. For Sue Sai Her, a College Possible student alumni, his path took him on an adventure around the world with the U.S. Navy, before returning to Minnesota to pursue his degree. Through service to his country, Sue was able to give back to his communities and in the process, solidify his own aspirations.
Serving with the U.S. Navy
It was an unusually warm September morning when I boarded a United Airlines flight from the Minneapolis International Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. From the airport, a group of fifty or so other Navy recruits and I were bused to Navy Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. The next 72 hours were a blur and I can no longer recall all the faces of the other recruits in my division. Over the course of the next four years, I would traverse two oceans and visit four different countries. My experience in the Navy was exhilarating and when my commitment with the Navy came to an end, I took advantage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33).
My transition from the Navy to college had been just as abrupt as my transition from high school to the Navy. I left the Navy on a Friday and attended my orientation the following Monday. Even though I was only four years older than my classmates, I felt worlds apart from them – and everyone else for that matter. My first year out of the Navy was full of anxiety and fear. I had trouble reintegrating back into civilian and student life. The University of Minnesota offered a Veterans Transition Center (VTC) for its student veterans. The center offered free printing and other helpful resources. It was much needed during my first year. In 2012, Four and a half years after starting at the University of Minnesota, I graduated from the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Science with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition.
I was the third oldest in my family. Both of my older siblings also graduated from the University of Minnesota. The thought of attending the University of Minnesota following my Naval service was never a question. Although I don’t work in medicine like I had originally planned, I currently work in bio-tech. Out of high school, I was not ready for college, so I decided on the Navy. However, I certainly couldn’t have pursued the professional career path that I am on right now without first pursuing my degree from the college. Both have helped mold me into the person I am today.
Other stories in the College Possible Alumni Service series: