Quinn O’Reilly remembers that when he graduated from high school, “college didn’t feel like me.” Instead, he was inspired to join the U.S. Marine Corps after witnessing his brother’s transformative experience in the military. He joined in 2016, and by the time he left in 2020, he was ready for college. He chose CCV because he wanted something small and close to home. After taking a full course load for two semesters, O’Reilly was accepted into the nursing program at UVM, where he’ll start this fall.

This summer, O’Reilly was joined by five other veterans who were recognized for academic excellence through induction into the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society. “It feels good to be recognized for putting in the effort,” he said.

SALUTE (which stands for Service, Academics, Leadership, Unity, Tribute, and Excellence) was started in 2009 by Colorado State University. Close to 60% of veteran and military-connected students at CCV are eligible to join. “That speaks a lot of the veterans community,” O’Reilly says. “It means a lot that CCV would reach out and take the time to recognize us as one, veterans, and two, scholars…it makes you feel welcome, and it makes you feel appreciated.”

Associate Director of Veterans Services Kyle Aines established CCV’s new chapter of the honor society. He said he’s been asked recently about why he decided to start a SALUTE chapter at CCV. “Really it’s to acknowledge you,” he told honorees. “With everything that you’ve done already in your lives—it’s significant. You have every reason to hold your head up high. Being here, I wanted to be able to put you guys on a platform as well, to say thank you for everything you’ve done and bring to the classroom as well and so that’s really the reason. I wanted you guys to have some time in the spotlight.”

Veteran and military-connected students are recognized for academic excellence through induction into the SALUTE national honor society.
Elizabeth King, CCVVeteran and military-connected students are recognized for academic excellence through induction into the SALUTE national honor society.

CCV President Joyce Judy acknowledged that students are pursuing a wide variety of interests and career paths, from nursing and studio art to criminal justice and sociology. “But you come to CCV because you are interested in investing in yourselves and investing in your learning,” she said. “And for that I hope you take a moment to be proud of yourselves and recognize that achievement, and that accomplishment, and that drive.”

Scott Adams served as a journalist in the Army for close to five years. He holds a degree in history and political science from East Carolina University, but came to CCV last fall to pursue a program in IT. He’s been excelling in his classes ever since, and says being inducted into the honor society is an affirmation. “Everything that I’ve been through in my life, with my really turbulent younger years, my very difficult Army service, the years after that, it says something. It has not been for nothing. So I’m really happy about that.”

During his service in the U.S. Army, Theodore Bland was stationed in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. “Every month we would go out into what we called ‘the box,’ and we would essentially play war games to get units ready to deploy,” he says. He has a lot of pride in his military service, and he brings that same pride to his studies. Bland graduated from CCV this spring with a degree in liberal studies, and he plans to continue on to a bachelor’s degree program. “I think it’s a really great honor,” he says of joining SALUTE.

For Aines, the induction ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate student success. “[It] meant so much to me because of how much I believe in our veteran students,” he said. “Every day I speak to them I am reminded of their incredible journey and sacrifices. I’m reminded of their selflessness, strength, determination, and drive to excellence. Finally being able to shine a light on that so others can see how remarkable they are—nothing feels better than that.”

To learn more about Veteran Services at CCV, visit ccv.edu/veterans.

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