The UCSB Student Veterans Organization received the 2011 UC President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership this week for helping student veterans acclimate to campus life.
Meant to recognize individual students and groups that provide solutions to system-wide issues, the president’s award was given to the organization in part due to its efforts hosting the Central California Student Veterans of America Conference in Corwin Pavilion last month. UCSB SVO President Raymond Morua, former SVO president Boris Palencia and Chancellor Henry T. Yang accepted the plaque and $2,500 prize at the UC Regents’ Tuesday meeting.
According to Morua, a third-year political science major, the honor reflects the association’s work promoting veterans’ benefits and their dedication to community service.“This is amazing for our organization,” Morua said in an e-mail. “We never expected this. Our morale is higher than ever and we are just that much more motivated to get out there and make a difference.”
Morua said the award is an achievement for the university’s reputation as an environment conducive to students of all background.
“[M]ost importantly, it shows what student veterans are made of, and we do not want anybody to forget that we have immense Gaucho pride and that we want our fellow Gauchos to take pride in this with us,” Morua said. “We are proud to win this for our school.”
The association will invest the cash prize toward expanding community service efforts and holding more socials to network with other student organizations, Morua said.
Additionally, SVO Treasurer Tim Webster, a fourth-year psychology major, said the recognition will promote other universities to create similar groups.
“Our hope would be that the award will advertise the group to other student veterans — not only at UCSB, but also on other UC campuses, particularly those who do not have a student veteran organization yet,” Webster said. “It would inspire other student veterans to start their own organization if they have not already.”
Veteran Resource Team Co-Chair Lupe Garcia said UCSB SVO provides encouraging mentorship and contributes toward student veteran leadership at other universities by lobbying for veterans’ educational benefits while working to counter media stereotypes of veterans.
The organization will host its first annual 5K fundraiser running event on Saturday at 8 a.m. at the UCSB Lagoon. Anyone who wants to participate can register on Friday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. near the Arbor.
Fourth-year sociology major Albert Carrasco said UCSB SVO will donate the proceeds to the nonprofit organization Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services to severely injured veterans.