The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) celebrated its annual Veterans Day Observance and Awards Ceremony on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The event, which honored the generous service of all veterans, included an awards ceremony that recognized this year’s recipients of the Colonel B. Catherine Noble and Rear Admiral Frances T. Shea Buckley Awards.
Before the presentation of awards, President Rhona Free welcomed attendees, saying, “At the University of Saint Joseph, we honor and value the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends who are veterans, and are forever grateful to them for the sacrifices they have made.”
Following this welcome, Yvonne Joy, DNP, APRN, director of the DNP program and assistant professor of Nursing, presented the keynote address. Dr. Joy, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, offered the crowd her insights into veterans’ mindsets about being thanked for their service, referencing research that explains many don’t wish to be thanked because they feel they just did their jobs. In honor of the date – 11/11 – she also offered 11 ways to serve those who serve, including training a service dog, sponsoring an honor flight, and volunteering at a VA hospital.
Joshua Hager, a student in USJ’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, was the first veteran to be recognized, receiving the Frances Shea Buckley Award. Hager served in the U.S. Army for 10 years – five years as an infantry mortarman, over three years as a team leader, and a year-and-a-half as a leader in building and running training sites. He retired in 2018 at the rank of Sargent E-5, after serving two combat tours in Afghanistan. Hager’s time in the service inspired him to become a social worker; after losing multiple brothers in arms to suicide, he plans to advocate and fight on the frontlines of the mental health war through his work.
Next, the Colonel B. Catherine Noble Award was presented to Laurel Kendzior, a speech language pathologist at the Gengras Center. Serving from 1980-2003, Kendzior reached the rank of Staff Sargent and was a member of the United States 76thDivision Army Reserve Band. A devoted member of the Gengras Center community, Kendzior is repeatedly recognized as a promoter of lifelong learning for herself and others, and is always willing to share her knowledge and expertise with staff and the parents of Gengras students.
USJ thanks these brave individuals – and all veterans across the nation – for their service and dedication!