By Jamie Sapp | Editor-in-Chief
The first day of fall was Sept. 22 and what better way to celebrate it by honoring student service members.
Augusta University and the City of Augusta joined in a ceremony to honor students and veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life. The ceremony took place at 11 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Washington Hall Towers at the Summerville campus.
Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis proclaimed Sept. 22, 2016 as Student Service Members Day in Augusta, Ga. With the proclamation, it honors both student service members and veterans on the first day of fall.
Meredith Rausch, professor in the department of counselor education, leadership and research, welcomed the audience at the ceremony.
“What better way to recognize the transitions that you all made and to choose this day as your day for the rest of our lives,” she said. “Mayor Hardie Davis was asked to proclaim today Student Service Members Day, and he willing did so and quite quickly, I might add. I was so pleased that he (Davis) too recognized the amazing work that you all do and was ready to honor you for that work.”
After the welcoming remarks, Rausch asked those in the military branch to stand up in honor for their military service before students and guests stand up for the national anthem.
After reading the Student Service Members Day Proclamation, Rausch gave the proclamation to Russell Keen, executive vice president for external relations and chief of staff to the president.
Lt. Col. Jessica Williss, department chair of military science, introduced herself before introducing her cadets Jessica Wolf and Devaughn Moore to the audience in the ceremony. The cadets shared their experiences and goals on being involved in military service.
Jessica Wolf, cadet and active duty green to gold student, said she settled on being in the military because she wanted to do a job that mattered, after taking on different career routes.
“I settled on the military because as the open enlistment states ‘the purpose of the military is to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’,” Wolf said. “The rights and the freedoms we have here are something that many of our citizens take for granted. It was certainly something that I took for granted before I joined the military.”
When given the opportunity to prepare for the ceremony, Cadet Devaughn Moore said he did not fully consider what it meant to be a student service member.
“A student service member is any and all individuals who volunteer to defend this country, and also realize the value of (pursing) a higher education,” he said. “A student service member is one who puts the well-being of others above their own and is committed to continual dual-development not only for themselves, but for those they come in contact with.”
Other speakers include Carol Giardina, director of military and veterans services; Cody Ward, physician assistant student and 2016 Pat Tillman Scholar; and Stephanie Merrill, chief strategist of public or private partnerships at National Security Agency (NSA).
After being part of the ceremony, junior R.O.T.C. student Chadelle Sappa said she loved the ceremony and that the city of Augusta recognized students and veterans on the first day of fall.
“I really liked that the city has recognized us as an official day to commemorate service men and women because transitioning is a tough thing to do,” she said. “So the more support that we have from our school and our peers, it makes the transition a lot easier.”
Sappa said the ceremony helped her to know that the city of Augusta is behind them in their transition.
“Education is why we are here, but it helps us to become better leaders in higher level of education,” she said. “To see that we have this support from our city, especially our professors, it seems like it’s more encouraging.”
Contact Jamie Sapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on October 5, 2016 in Vol. 59, Issue 1 of The Bell Ringer newspaper.