My Journey –

From the Military to College and Beyond!

Here are first-person accounts from some of more than 300 veteran scholars who attend De Anza College each year. They have chosen to share their journeys – from serving in the military to pursuing a college education and future goals. 

Drew Moore

Drew Moore

Drew Moore

  • U.S. Navy, six years
  • Business Administration major
  • Transferring to San José State, fall 2020

Amrit Samra

Samra Amrit in fatigues

Samra Amrit in civilian clothes

  • U.S. Marine Corps, four years
  • A.A., Liberal Arts (fall 2019)
  • Transferring to UC, Santa Cruz

Racheal Gauley

Racheal Gauley in uniform

Racheal Gauley in civilian coat

  • U.S. Navy, four years
  • Business Administration major
  • Transferring to San José State, fall 2020

Juan Esteban Jara

Juan Esteban Jara

Juan Esteban Jara

  • U.S. Marine Corps, eight years
  • Communication Studies major
  • Transferring to San José State, fall 2020

Traciemarie Sanjuan

Traciemarie Sanjuan

Traciemarie Sanjuan

  • U.S. Navy, nine years 
    (resumed active duty due to COVID-19) 
  • Nursing major
  • Working toward university transfer

Hassan Al-Awady

Hassan Al-Awady in fatigues

Hassab Al-Awady in front of Mt. Rushmore

  • U.S. Army, three years and six months
  • Computer Science major
  • Working toward university transfer, 2021

Christopher Carter

Christopher Carter in fatigues

Christopher Carter in t-shirt giving peace sign

  • U.S. Marine Corps, five years 
    (plus one year in SMCR reserves)
  • Political Science major
  • Working toward university transfer, 2021 

Keanu Spindola

Keanu Spindola

Keanu Spindola

  • U.S. Marine Corps, four years
  • Business Administration major
  • Working toward university transfer, fall 2021

Lance Carmichael

Lance Carmichael in military clothing

Lance Carmichael on couch

  • U.S. Air Force, eight years
  • General education student
  • Planning to become X-ray technician 

Juan Alas

Juan Alas in uniform

Juan Alas in mountains

  • U.S. Marine Corps, eight years
  • Undecided major


About This Project

Manija AnsariThis project grew from my personal research, professional experiences and direct interaction with my veteran students. While there are many aspects of these heroes’ lives that should be honored, I wanted to highlight one area in particular – their challenges and successes in pursuing higher education.

The purpose of this project is to acknowledge our veterans’ experiences and celebrate their resiliency and success as college students – including the hardships faced, the obstacles overcome, and the resources that proved helpful along the way.

 Attending college can be exciting and difficult. It requires hard work, determination and consistent effort. Our veteran students often must learn new ways to navigate the educational system and available resources, while coping with personal challenges and the transition to civilian life.

Through this project, our veterans have told the stories of their own personal journeys from the military to college. I am certain these stories will have an impact on those who read them, and I hope they will foster appreciation for our veterans and their service to this country.

I would like to thank a number of people associated with De Anza College who trusted me to propose and implement this project. These include Rob Mieso, vice president of Student Services; Nazy Galoyan, dean of Enrollment Services; Roland Amit, senior supervisor in Enrollment Services; Shari Pasquali and Bertha Sanchez, veteran resource specialists in the Veteran Services Office; Brandon Bailey, writer and editor in the Office of Communications; the Foothill-De Anza Foundation – and most importantly, the student veterans who contributed their stories.

Manija Ansari
Veteran Services Counselor
De Anza College

June 22, 2020

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