UMass Boston Honors Veteran Students with Annual Celebration of Service Dinner
November 12, 2012
On Nov. 8 the university honored veteran students, faculty and staff in its Celebration of Service, with a reception followed by a dinner and awards program lasting until 9 p.m. Emceed by Paul Atwood, director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, the annual event is also co-sponsored by the Office of Veterans’ Affairs and Enrollment Management, the Student Veterans’ Center, Veterans’ Upward Bound and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration.
After Jeremiah E Burke High School’s junior ROTC presented colors and speakers were introduced, Chancellor Motley gave the opening remarks. He thanked veterans for their service to the community, and confirmed the university’s solidarity with them.
Motley then introduced Carol DeSouza as this year’s winner of the Theodore Parker award for outstanding service to the veteran community, calling her a “giant.” The award is named for a veteran who attended the Veterans’ Upward Bound Program at UMass Boston in the 80s. Parker was never able to matriculate at UMass Boston; he died tragically near his home in Field’s Corner as the result of a random assault. Former recipients of the award include Senator John Kerry and MaryBeth O'Sullivan, the Outreach Coordinator for Veterans’ Upward Bound at UMass Boston and a former navy commander.
DeSouza, the university’s ADA Compliancy Officer, has worked for UMass Boston since it merged with Boston State College in 1982. At Boston State, Desouza ran informal veterans’ aid programs while serving on the administration, and started and personally bankrolled a Veterans’ Emergency Assistance fund. Since joining UMass Boston, she has used her position as an assistant to disabled students to help returning soldiers suffering from physical and emotional war wounds pursue their educations.
The keynote speech was delivered by Marguerite Bouvard, a Harvard-educated poet, and professor of political science currently working as a Research Center Scholar with Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. Dr. Bouvard recently published The Invisible Wounds of War, a book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among veterans in the United States.
Finally, Gus St. Silva, the director of Veterans’ Affairs at UMass Boston, presented the William Joiner Award for Excellence to UMass Boston student Deanna Cummings who currently serves in the armed forces. Normally, the award goes to a senior at graduation, but was presented early because Cummings will be posted to Afghanistan in June.
Gildardo Alzate, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and coordinator of Casa Latina at UMass Boston, said he felt grateful to the university for acknowledging veterans. “Sometimes you feel like they don’t appreciate you,” he said. “It’s really exciting to see how many people actually appreciate you, and try to give back to you.”