Nassau prides itself on its students’ leadership and sense of responsibility to help uplift others, reflecting the abiding spirit of a community college. As a freshman, Angelo Mendez already demonstrates an impressive generosity of spirit and an inspiring readiness to translate his ideals into action. Having served in the U.S. military for four years, and now a member of the Navy Reserve, Angelo has joined the NCC chapter of Student Veterans of America to mentor and facilitate student veterans in preparing their long-term learning objectives in the transition from military to civilian life. Accustomed to the sacrifice of service to others, he takes care in making others aware of their opportunities and in aiding them to achieve personal goals. Civic-minded, collaborative, and compassionate, he evinces personal and work ethics commensurate with the mission of both his College and a Fellows’ recipient. His contributions reflect a deep conviction in caring service of others and are invaluable to fellow veteran students and the wider community. Encouraging the targeted focus of student veterans who may be uncertain about or struggling with how best to achieve their educational and individual aspirations, he inspires others by the example of the ongoing success of his journey.
My parents came to this country with the dream of creating a better future life for their children. I will always be grateful for their sacrifice, as I am for the opportunities this country has given to my family. As a high school senior, I joined the military to make my parents proud and to give back to the country that welcomed us. I had such a great experience that it was difficult to leave, even though my family relationships are also essential to me. I missed my job and colleagues. Aware that some individuals become depressed when they leave active duty, I had figured that my happy, outgoing personality would insulate me. I was wrong, and some days would question my decision, feeling as if I had not done enough. My ego was wounded when I returned home and went from being a well-respected junior leader in the Navy to a 23-year-old college freshman. Appreciative of how the transition to civilian life can be difficult, I have chosen to become more involved to help other veterans explore new opportunities and to raise awareness of our experiences. Truly, a simple “Thank you for your service” can make a veteran’s day.