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Perseverance of Student Veterans Celebrated at Yellow Ribbon Ceremony


A ceremony on May 17 honored the unique experience of student veterans as well as the character they’ve shown in pursuing their Fordham degrees—which they would earn the following day, at Fordham’s 179th Annual Commencement.

“Think back to when you first made the decision to continue your education. It likely wasn’t an easy choice,” said Robert Molina, PCS ’18, a onetime student veteran and 2023 Harvard Law graduate, at the annual Yellow Ribbon Medallion and Bell Ringing Ceremony.

“Many of you juggled the demands of work, family, and studies while navigating the transition to civilian life,” Molina said, according to prepared remarks. “But you persevered. You showed up, day after day, to achieve this goal.”

“The discipline, leadership, and problem-solving skills you developed in the military have served you well,” he said.

At the ceremony, held every year at the Rose Hill campus, 28 graduating student veterans and military-connected students each received a University medallion and got a chance to ring the nearby Victory Bell in celebration of their achievement. The honorees included 2nd Lt. Miguel-Angel Sandoval, PCS ’24, a former Army enlisted man who had earned his gold bars at Fordham’s ROTC commissioning ceremony that very morning.  

Fordham’s president, Tania Tetlow, and Armando Nuñez, chairman of the University Board of Trustees, also showed up to offer the graduates their congratulations.

‘Something About the Atmosphere Here’

In his remarks, Molina recounted an experience that is common to student vets: serving for years in the military—in his case, for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps—and initially feeling out of place among students in their late teens who had only recently been in high school. “Like St. Thomas Aquinas, we were all adult learners,” he said.

Soon, however, the required philosophy and theology courses piqued his interest in Christianity, and he eventually took advantage of the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults offered by Campus Ministry.

And he absorbed the ethos of Fordham in other ways. “Something about the atmosphere here—the reverence in the campus chapel, the community service rooted in Catholic social teaching—it all spoke to me in a way I couldn’t quite explain,” he said.

He said the student veterans, educated in Fordham’s Jesuit tradition, are prepared to address the current “division, mistrust, and self-interest [that]too often overshadow the common good.”

He remains active with the Student Veterans of America at Fordham and urged the student veterans to help others like themselves.

“Never forget the sacrifices you and your fellow service members have made,” he said. “Use that experience to be a leader in your community, to advocate for causes important to you, and to inspire the next generation of veterans to pursue their education and dreams.”


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