How I Am Living My American Dream as the Child of Veterans

I am a military dependent. Those two words hold deep meaning for me. They mean growing up with a sense of duty to serve others. Growing up in a household with two veterans was an invaluable experience that has prepared me well for the next stage of my life. This is my American dream–being the proud son of military veterans and honoring what they have taught me. The experience of being a “military kid” has shaped who I am. Both of my parents had long military careers, including multiple deployments. Oftentimes, one parent would be gone for weeks or months at a time.

At the peak of their careers, my younger sister was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, and it was vital that I learned to be constantly mindful of her needs so others could understand how to help if my parents were gone. My identity as a child of military parents meant additional responsibilities at home in this and other ways, and it also fostered a strong sense of responsibility to my community. I was taught to seek ways to be useful to both individuals and the larger community whenever there is a need, and this did not change during the pandemic and associated lockdown when I sought opportunities for community service. I am thankful for these military values; they are instrumental to the man I hope to be, and the world I hope to influence, long into the future.

My mom served 13 years in the Navy…

including deployments to the Middle East before transitioning to civilian life. The value I learned from her is a dedication to servant leadership. She taught me that as leaders we must serve others and not ourselves. I began my servant leader journey as a volunteer for the past 5 years providing over 500 hours of service with a local non-profit youth theater company where I have been a stage crew manager not only leading but recruiting other volunteers to help children from diverse backgrounds. This was particularly important during the pandemic when I helped reopen the theater program safely by supporting outdoor activities to relieve the year-long isolation of the young actors. Recruiting others and exemplifying a spirit of never giving up was especially important after our quarantine ended as the theater almost closed due to lack of funding, so I worked full-time as a volunteer to help rebuild the program in the summer of 2021. I believe that recognizing the needs of one’s community and, in turn, giving back to achieve a positive impact is something we do not do enough of together.

My dad retired honorably after 25 years in the Navy with a medical disability.

From my father, I learned and modeled resiliency. He exemplified this during his multiple deployments to the Middle East. This trait was particularly important during the pandemic when every day presented new public health guidelines and ever-changing community plans. During our quarantine, I was constantly worried, but I knew I had to persevere. I also wanted to do more. Since the fall of 2020, I have been a volunteer study participant for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial. This was an invaluable opportunity. I learned about the complexity of the clinical trial process, and I learned firsthand the importance of ensuring a racially and socioeconomically diverse subject population (something historically ignored in other large studies) as I watched the impact of COVID-19 on under-resourced populations already experiencing health inequities. Even though I played a small part in the study, I believe my efforts were important to the health and safety of our community and the world at large. This opportunity led to an invitation in June 2022 to volunteer for another Pfizer trial evaluating the link to temporary myocarditis in teenagers after COVID-19 vaccines. As community members and leaders we must stay connected to and serve our communities at every opportunity.

Through Dedication to my Education…

I will honor my parents and the many other military veterans who have influenced my life. I hope to give back to them through a successful college experience by bringing these three leadership characteristics and my other unique qualities to my college campus. I am attending Tulane University where the educational offerings are tremendously aligned with my educational goals in a city that looks very different from the one I grew up in on military bases in Southern California. I have a strong desire to continue volunteer work during college which is why I chose a university that not only prioritizes but requires community service as a part of every undergraduate’s experience.

I was selected as one of twenty scholars in the Altman Program in International Studies and Business. This selective four-year undergraduate program integrates liberal arts and business curriculums with extensive language instruction and a full year of study abroad experiences. I will earn two degrees while also earning professional proficiency in Spanish. This integrated and reflective approach will provide a fuller exploration of the world and how I can best contribute to it while also gaining further awareness and understanding of other cultures. I am dedicated to my education and service both in the US and when immersed in international experiences. I will graduate not only with a valuable education but also emerge from college as an engaged member of society who knows the importance of being a responsible global citizen through cultural awareness, respect, and social responsibility.

I am grateful for the values of servant leadership, resilience, and integrity I have learned from my veteran parents. They have lived an amazing American dream and I am honored to follow in their footsteps as I live mine. The American Dream is alive in all of us. I am ready to use the skills my parents taught me to lead and excel as my journey continues and would be honored to receive the Scott Cooper Miam Scholarship and, if chosen, would be an exceptional steward of the generous funds provided.