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  • Deena Cummings, Class of 2013

Deena Cummings '13

Major:  B.S. in Management
Hometown: Foxboro, MA
Service: Army National Guard, Staff Sergeant, has served for 13 years

What was it like being a veteran and a student?

“Being a veteran and a student can be a little challenging.  Life experiences from military service can set a person apart from one's peers.  I tend to look at world issues differently than people who have never served, not that there is anything wrong with that.  I think the challenge is even harder for veterans who are still serving.  Sometimes training gets in the way of school, and not all professors are understanding about students missing classes regardless of the reason.”

What do you like best about UMass Boston?

“The Campus Center is my favorite place at UMass Boston.  I like that I can usually find somewhere to work on classwork or get something to eat.  I don't usually make use of many of the facilities on UMass Boston because my schedule is so hectic and I tend to only be there for a short time prior to my six p.m. night classes.”

Any favorite teachers or experiences here?

“Pratima Prasad has been one of my favorite professors at UMass Boston….She was my French professor for a number of semesters when I first started attending.  When French was my major she definitely pushed me to work a lot harder.”

Why did you volunteer?

“The fact that the Army said they would pay for college also had nothing to do with why I did it.  I think I was bored enough as a teenager that it seemed like a good idea.  I have yet to be sad about my choice.  I have re-enlisted three times over the last almost 13 years.  I have every intention of retiring from service well after 20 years.”

What influence has the military had on your studies?

“I have gone through three majors.  French and Finance were the other two, before I settled on Management.  My work schedule had a lot to do with my decisions.  French classes needed for a major are only offered during the day so I had to stop taking those when I started working full-time for the MA National Guard.”
What do you do in your job?

“I am a Water Purification Non Commissioned Officer and have been since I completed my job training.  I am currently at a re-classification school to become a Finance Specialist for my upcoming deployment.”

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Danny Hernandez

Major:  B.S. in management; second major in economics
Service:  U.S. Army, Sergeant, served for 8 years

Where were you deployed?

Served in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom

What brought you to UMass Boston?

(From) local VFW …I came across Veterans Upward Bound (VUB).  Since I joined the service at the age of 17, I have to admit that obtaining a college degree was not a priority nor did I understand its value at that age….by my mid-twenties, after serving in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) I came back with a new focus but still lacked the confidence to apply to a college despite attending two different universities while on active duty.  The two universities that I attended were the University of Alaska in Alaska and Cameron University in Oklahoma.”

What was it like being a veteran and a student at UMass Boston?

“With this boost of confidence (from VUB)…, I applied to UMass.  I started in January 2006 as a freshman and took my last class during the summer of 2010 which allowed me to graduate with my degree (in management). 

How did you land your job?

“Prior to graduating I landed a job with the Department of Revenue as a seasonal Tax Examiner.  After two years, once the tax season came to an end and I was unemployed I applied to the Mass Bay Commuter Rail as an assistant conductor based on a conversation I had during a BBQ.  I went to its website and submitted my resume and within a couple of months I was hired as an assistant conductor.  After one year of service as an assistant conductor, I was promoted to the position of Trainmaster.  One of the deciding factors for my big promotion is my military service.  One thing that the U.S. Army instilled in me was to be in the right place, at the right time and in the right uniform…”

What else would you like the world to know about you?

“My family is my number one focus …I married a fellow soldier that I got to know pretty well during our tour of service in Iraq….” Danny and his wife have three young daughters. 


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