Student Veterans' Journeys from Military to College

Here are first-person accounts from some of more than 100 veteran scholars who attend Ohlone College each year. They have chosen to share their journeys – from serving in the military to pursuing a college education and future goals. Click here to view our students' stories

And here are videos of interviews with two of our veteran scholars, Jessica Chang and Ivan Sirio.

For more information about Veteran's resources available to you at Ohlone College. Please visit Ohlone's veterans resources page.

A Message from Ohlone College President

Ohlone President - Dr. Eric Bishop
Dr. Eric Bishop

It is with great honor that on behalf of Ohlone College we recognize, honor and celebrate our students who represent the veterans of our armed forces. As we approach Veteran’s Day, we all should pause and give thanks for the work and sacrifices, large and small, that have been made on our society’s behalf.

Ohlone College also recognizes the significant value that student veterans bring to our college and believe that it is important that we ensure that veterans receive the best possible educational experience.  The experience and maturity adds to the fabric of diversity in our community which we so deeply value.  As a college, I hope our student veterans, as with all students, know that we are committed to implementing, and sharing student oriented practices such as:



Student Veterans' Journeys

Aristides Alvarez II

A Chapter in a Sailor's Journey

Aristides' headshot in US Navy uniformAristides' headshot

  • U.S. Navy, 5 years
  • Majoring in Commercial Music
  • Goal: Transfer to a 4-year university
  • Recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Student in Counseling Award

Dino Granzella

Newfound Work Ethic!

Dino's headshot in US Army uniformDino with a backpack on a hiking trail

  • U.S. Army, 4 years
  • Majoring in Administration of Justice
  • Goal: Transfer to San Jose State University
  • Recipient of the 2020 Ohlone’s Administration of Justice Student of the Year Award

Ivan Sirio

Looking Back on My Life!

Sirio's headshot in US NavySirio's headshot with city skyline in the background

  • U.S. Navy, 5 years
  • Majoring in Mechanical Engineering
  • Goal: Transfer to UC Berkeley
  • Member of OMG (Ohlone Math Gateway) Program


Matthew Sauer

It wasn’t all Sunshine and Roses!

Matthew Sauer's headshot in US Navy uniformSauer's headshot

  • U.S. Army, 4 years
  • Majoring in Computer Science
  • Goal: Transfer to UC Berkeley

Jessica Chang

Strive to be the Best

Jessica's headshot in US Army uniformJessica smiling, in uniform, US flag seen in the background

  • U.S. Army, 1 year 3 months
  • Majoring in Nursing
  • Goal: Transfer to a 4-year University

Willie L. McKissick

It is Never Too Late

Willie's headshot in US Army uniformWillie's headshot in black jacket

  • U.S. Army, 11 years
  • Majoring in Business Supervision/Management
  • Goal: Transfer to a 4-year University

About This Project

Manija's headshotMy name is Manija Ansari. I’m the Veteran Resource Counselor at Ohlone College. It is both an honor and a privilege to lead this project, “Student Veterans’ Journeys from Military to College!

This project grew from my personal research, professional experiences, and direct interaction with Veteran students. While there are many aspects of these heroes’ lives that should be honored, I wanted to highlight one area in particular – their challenges and successes in pursuing higher education.

The purpose of this project is to acknowledge our Veterans’ experiences and celebrate their resiliency and success as college students. This includes the hardships faced, the obstacles overcome, and the resources that proved helpful along the way.

Attending college can be exciting and difficult. It requires hard work, determination, and consistent effort. Our veteran students often must learn new ways to navigate the educational system and available resources, while coping with personal challenges and the transition to civilian life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, attending college, added additional barriers and challenges to the existing ones for our Veteran students.

Through this project, our Veteran students share their personal stories of their journeys from military service to college. I am certain these stories will have an impact on those who read them. I hope they will foster appreciation for our Veterans and their service to this country.

I would like to thank a number of people associated with Ohlone College who supported me in proposing and implementing this project. These include Dr. Bishop, President of Ohlone College; Dr. Andree Thomas, Dean of Counseling and Student Success; Ann Burdett, Director of SAS & VRC; Terry Taskey, SAS Counselor; Gosia Asher, Marketing Lead; LeeShin Looa, Web Developer; Jasmin Herrera, Counselor Intern – and most importantly, the Student Veterans who contributed their stories.

Manija Ansari
Veteran Resource Counselor
Ohlone College