By: Kelsey Kennedy, US Veteran-Navy; Vice President, OmegaNU; BS, Public Health (anticipated ’21)
As a military veteran and now, military spouse, just like many areas of the world and careers, nothing is perfect. However, one of the most important factors in our armed forces is camaraderie. Knowing that your fellow service member is by your side, you have a new meaning of family. Most often, you are stationed far from loved ones and build this new circle who justifies that blood does not determine a family.
I was stationed at Camp Pendleton as a gas turbine mechanic, and when I entered this field, it was male dominant. Women in the engineering field, whether in the military or out, must work twice as hard to prove themselves. Often, I felt overworked and underappreciated. At first it really hit my self-esteem and self-worth, as I did not think I was good enough. I felt as though my time was just being thrown aside and that I did not matter. That was until I met a Senior Chief at my command who became my supervisor, and she changed my view. She had shown me that I am who I am and that the right people will appreciate me and to keep doing what I believe in.
I met my husband on active duty, and he is still active. Between our joint experiences, we have experienced being a dual active-duty couple and having children. This usually results in the child/ren being without one or both parents because of mission requirements. There have often been times that our shifts were opposite, and we never got to see each other. Being flexible and knowing how to handle what comes to you is part of what you sign up for.
Being in the military not only helped me mature and become who I am today, but it had allowed me to find my strength. It guided me to the love of my life and provided a network that I could never have imagined. With the constant mission preparation and requirements, and understanding the different areas that my role had to fill, I learned how to manage my time appropriately to make sure these missions were completed.
The military is it’s own culture; there are twists and turns to every story. In the end, I wouldn’t change it for the world as it continually made me stronger and made me appreciate life.
Join us for several events about military experiences:
Celebrating FamiliesStudent Panel Event: Thursday, May 13 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. PDT Register here. Join Mind and Body Wellness, Educators United, Pride@NU as we celebrate families. We will discuss stress management and self care for a diverse array of families, including military families, student-parents, single parents, LGBTQIA parents, and caregivers of children with autism.
Military Appreciation Student Panel Event: Monday, May 17, 2021 5:30-6:30 p.m. PDT. Join Omega NU and the National University Student Veteran Organization for an event focused on military appreciation and remembrance. Panelists will provide their experiences about military lifestyles, navigating education, and how the military has impacted their lives. Register here.
I got a phone call from my children’s school one morning, asking me to pick up my 6-year-old son because he had an anger outburst at school. He was screaming, kicking the desk, and trying to flee the classroom. From the teacher’s perspective, the cause of the outburst seemed to stem from a crayon being broken, and this behavior was highly irregular. Only adding to the confusion was that it was my twin boys’ birthday that day. Once we had signed out and were walking back to the car in silence, I asked him how he was feeling. He immediately broke down in tears and said, “Why did daddy have to go to Japan?” My heart shattered in that moment.
My husband had left for Japan the day before. While this is nothing new for me, having experienced four deployments and countless weeks where my husband has been on travel, this was entirely new for our young children, who had only experienced his absence at an age that they would not remember. Adults are capable of handling their emotions (for the most part.)
As military spouses, we are the ones that pick up the pieces when our spouse deploys, taking full responsibility of both parental roles, the home, work and school commitments, and the needs of our children. The emotional burden is at times overwhelming, especially when you see how it impacts your child, and absolutely nothing you can say or do will give them the comfort that their deployed parent would.
I cannot put into words how difficult it is be a pseudo-single parent, when you normally have the support of your spouse every day. The tears that well up when your child realizes that their parent won’t be there to celebrate a birthday or attend their sporting events, or their inability to sleep at night for fear that something will happen to their parent. This complex life adds tremendous stress to our military children.
There is so much that we can learn as a support role in the field of education and positively impact our students. April was dedicated as the month of the military child, and it deserves to be celebrated. There are so many ways that we can support these resilient children, many ways that we can learn and grow as educators.
We invite all National University students that are entering the field of education to join our student organization.
April 15 -Wear purple on Purple Up Day – Wearing purple is a visible way for everyone to show support and thank military youth for their strength and sacrifices.
USO San Diego has established many programs designed for military children to connect with each other and thrive in their surrounding community. Please check out their website for valuable events and resources. MilKid Club • USO San Diego
Veteran Center @ NU- As a National University student and military spouse, I have found the Veteran’s Center an incredible resource both virtually, and in person. Please check out their webpage here: Veteran Center | National University (nu.edu)
“Women’s History Month is important to me because it is a specified time during the year, in which we take time to acknowledge both contemporary women of our day and others throughout history who are important role models that have exemplified strength, dignity, passion for their ideals and, in many cases, have served as leaders in working for the advancement of others.”—Maria M.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked members of student organizations about the importance of this month, the women who inspire them, and what they want to bring to future generations of women.
Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month!
Wed., March 24–Women’s History Game Night @5:30 p.m., hosted by Pride@NU. Register here.
Thurs., March 25–Women’s History Student/Alumni Experience Panel. Register here.
Educators’ United–Maria M. (M.Ed. with SS Cred-Spanish ’21); Sonya F. (M.Ed., Special Education, Mild/Moderate); Teresa C. (M.Ed., Multiple Subject Teaching Credential).
OMEGA NU–Kelsey Kennedy, US Veteran-Navy (BS, Public Health); Stephanie Beck (MS, School Psychology)
Aliyah:It is a time to remember the women before us who have paved the way for us to have the freedoms we have today.
Natalie:Many strong women have paved the way for the rest of us. It’s important to take time and recognize it. Women’s History Month is a reminder to all of us that when we celebrate the achievements and lives of other women, we make a profound statement of love and unity.
Stephanie: Women’s History Month is important to me because it is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of women. Currently, a few well-known women are occasionally name-dropped in the U.S. History classes. This sends a message that women’s accomplishments are secondary, even though many pivotal roles were just not credited, and many opportunities were also not given to women.
By recognizing the many accomplishments in women’s history month, it not only provides a more well-rounded historical education, but it also paints a picture for the future generation, where women are valued, and girls are encouraged to reach their goals. Women’s History Month is a symbol of change for the future, where women are seen as equally important to everyone, rather than secondary.
Teresa: I’m one of four daughters. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared this fact about my life and received the response “Your poor Dad!” When I was younger, I didn’t really understand the sentiment, but as I got older, I realized it meant they thought it was a bad thing – that my dad was deserving of sympathy because he didn’t have a son. I had three beautiful older sisters to help me navigate life, and I just couldn’t see that as a bad thing. They helped me steer clear of mistakes they once made, supported me when I wanted to try something new, and comforted me in times of trouble. They set a shining example for me of what a sisterhood should look like.
What do you hope to contribute to future generations of women?
Maria: As an aspiring secondary school educator of the Spanish language, I hope to contribute my passion and appreciation for the subject matter to students through a multifaceted lens that acknowledges the importance of the diversity of all of my students, their histories, and that of the world around them. My hope is that I can support and inspire my students to respect and acknowledge the importance of our diverse world through their learning of Spanish language and culture.
Kelsey: I want to be able to guide the younger generation, like my two very own little girls. I want to be able to make sure they understand that their dreams can become goals and those goals can be achieved. I don’t want them to think that society’s label of what a woman should be is something that should define you. No one can define you but yourself. No one can stop you, but yourself. I want to be able to contribute to the growth of our future through guidance and encouragement to those who do not quite know what it really means to be a woman and the struggles you may face.
Kiarra: I hope to influence future generations of women by showing them that anything is possible when you put yourself first.
Sonya: For future generations of women, I hope to guide them through the knowledge of internal strength.Encourage them to voice their opinions and speak up for what they feel is right. Show them the benefit of staying true to oneself and not sacrificing who you are for anyone. For if you feel the need to sacrifice yourself, you are denying the true essence of who you are, and who you are is unique and beautiful in every aspect of the word.
Breanna:My hope for future generations of women is that even in our lack of certain privileges, we remember to be inclusive of all who identify as women. My personal contribution to this hope will be evident in my practice as a future LMFT as well as in my daily life. As a woman who happens to be raising a child, one of my greatest goals in this lifetime is to raise my son to be empathetic, inclusive, and progressive. Although younger generations such as ours have progressed past certain toxic ideologies and are more educated on women’s issues, I do not doubt that the generations to come after us will progress even more. Topics such as gender awareness, correct use of pronouns, and inclusive representation are just a few of the essentials of which our society seems to be growing increasingly aware.
Natalie:I hope to inspire my daughter to work hard and fight for what she believes in.I am pursuing a second career and a college degree while in my 40s. I am juggling motherhood, a household, and a college student simultaneously. My message to my daughter and other young women is to have confidence in yourself and know that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. We are strong and resilient and can persevere even when roadblocks get in our way. All women can inspire others to speak up, dream, and love themselves.
Steph: As a student in the M.S. in School Psychology with PPS Credential program, I aspire to be a school psychologist that helps with the emotional and social issues of girls that are pushed down by sexist societal views. I hope to contribute to future generations of women by encouraging them to reach their goals and inspire them to have a voice, a passion, and a strong-lit fire in their hearts to advocate for their needs and the needs of others.
Which women in your life inspire you?
Breanna:My mother is also the main person who inspires me to chase after my academic goals. She was an adult learner who entered college very late in her life, starting at the age of 40. She had two kids whom she was raising alone and still found the drive within her to go after her academic goals. Seeing her put her education first, despite numerous obstacles, proved to me that anything is possible if you are willing to prioritize it and ask for help.
Natalie: Is it a cliché to say my mom inspires me? Well, it’s true. My mom is a loving, supportive, and determined person. She grew up not having a great relationship with her own mom. That relationship drove her to be better, different. My mom was determined to have a loving, open, supportive relationship with her children. She didn’t always agree with our choices, but she was our biggest encourager. Her love and kindness push me to be a better mom.
Kiarra:My mother influenced me to pursue my education as she did in her Sociology studies. I learned how to remain confident in myself. Success was everything my mother embodied and that is why she inspires me.
Teresa:My mother is also a huge inspiration for us, encouraging us to do things together as sisters and enrolling me in Girl Scouts so I could be around other girls my age as we learned practical life skills. My mother and sisters are my greatest allies. They keep me grounded when I need guidance and lift me up when I need support. As I matured, I surrounded myself with a sisterhood of strong women. Their guidance and kindness shaped me into the person I am today.
Stephanie:My mom, Young, continuously inspires me to achieve my dream of being a school psychologist. When I was a child, she sacrificed her dreams to take care of my brother and I. Thus, my mission to contribute to future generations of women doesn’t just start with me, it started with my mom. Through her selflessness, it is my goal to contribute to future generations of women by encouraging them to reach their goals by being an advocate, a resource, and hopefully an inspiration.
Kelsey: My mother, who has never had anything handed to her, was always told she wasn’t enough, still pushed through and raised me to her best ability as a single mother. She worked two jobs, was barely home because of determination to give me whatever she could. She showed me what true strength is.
Maria: When I think back in history, I think of the first feminist that I know of from the Americas, Sor Juana Inés De la Cruz (1648-1695), a self-taught, writer, composer, poet, playwright, and staunch advocate for a women’s rights for education, who, in a man’s world, became a nun so she could have the time to continue with her intellectual pursuits. Her love for learning and struggle to be able to do so is truly inspiring to me. My paternal Mexican grandmother and namesake is another person that I drew much inspiration from. She was widowed young, survived life’s adversities, and learned to read and write in her mid-sixties. To her memory, I dedicate my academic accomplishments and professional pursuits.
Sonya:The absolute most inspirational woman for me is my mother. She passed away 16 years ago now, but not a day goes by that I do not think about her and how incredibly blessed I am to be raised by such a shining light. She raised six exceptional women. I idolize how she managed all components of the household having only had a second-grade education in Mexico. She was incredibly tenacious, loving, supportive, and always seemed to run everything so seamlessly.
My eldest sister is also another inspirational woman in my life. She epitomizes the modern-day mother with balancing her full-time job, four active children and the day-to-day household responsibilities. Not only is she always there for her own, nuclear family; she is also always there for her five siblings. Her strength, resilience, and unconditional support is exceptionally inspirational.
Aliyah:A woman in my life that inspires me is my grandmother. My grandmother was strong minded and built up those around her, embracing family and her community as one.
Grandmother Henrietta’s Poem
Although gone you are still here
Your presence far but near
Your legacy lives on to this very day
Looking for guidance from you in every way
You are loved, cherished, and always remembered
You are now apart of a timeline, a timeline that many have entered
All of our emotions for you can’t be measured but carried on, passed on, and taught
Not one of our family members will be forgot
We love you and feel your presence everyday
We love you Henrietta Elizabeth Hill from sweet Bessie Mae.