Hometown Hero: U.S. Navy Veteran Derek Brainard

Syracuse University employee and U.S. Navy  Veteran, Derek Brainard, was honored as “Hometown Hero” during Friday’s SU Women’s Volleyball vs. Virginia Tech.

U.S. Navy Veteran, Petty Officer Second Class Derek Brainard hails from Kirkville, New York. He served as a United States Navy Musician from July 2007 to December 2013. Upon completion of Recruit Training Command Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois and Musician “A” School in Little Creek, Virgina, Petty Officer Brainard completed his full tour of duty attached to Naval Base Kitsap, in Bremerton, Washington.

As a member of Navy Band Northwest, Petty Officer Brainard served as a Trumpet Instrumentalist, Unit Leader, Operations Coordinator, Command Fitness Leader, and Public Affairs Officer. Petty Officer Brainard’s musicianship and leadership directly contributed to over 640 performances for audiences exceeding 30 million people. He is the recipient of two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

The proudest moments of Petty Officer Brainard’s career as a military bugler came in the solemn service of rendering “Taps” to those that gave the greatest sacrifice for our country and our enduring freedom.

Today, Derek Brainard is Syracuse University’s Financial Literacy Coordinator.

Hometown Hero- Army ROTC Cadet Colin Santacroce

Syracuse University Army ROTC Cadet and U.S. Army Veteran, Colin Santacroce, was honored as “Hometown Hero” during Friday’s SU Football game vs. Clemson.

Cadet Colin Santacroce enlisted in the United States Army in 2010 as an 11 Bravo, Infantryman, and he attended One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.


After completing Infantry training, Cadet Santacroce served in 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, in the 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, New York.  He deployed as a Squad Assault Weapons gunner to the Zhari District of Kandahar, Afghanistan for one year in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.

In 2012, Cadet Santacroce completed the Warrior Leader Course at Fort Drum and was the recipient of the Jared C. Monti award for outstanding leadership.  After his promotion to Sergeant, Cadet Santacroce deployed again to Afghanistan in support of OPERATON ENDURING FREEDOM for one year. He was later promoted to Staff Sergeant.


Cadet Santacroce’s proudest military moment was winning the 10th Mountain Division’s best Non-Commissioned Officer competition in February 2015.  Today, he attends Syracuse University on a Green-to-Gold Scholarship.  In December 2018, Cadet Santacroce will enter the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Celebrating Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month: Maria Delgado, Public Health G’19, Student Veteran

As Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month continues through October 15th, 2017 Maria Delgado G’19 took some time to reflect on how her heritage and family influenced her to join the U.S. Army. Delgado, a Syracuse University graduate student from Buenos Aires Argentina, Army medic and LPN, credits her family’s hardworking lifestyle for her success in the Army and now is focused on Public Health in Falk College with a goal of ultimately working to improve preventative patient care – and becoming a commissioned officer. She is a prime example of the value student veterans bring to the campus and what Syracuse University offers to our nation’s heroes.

Hometown Hero: Student Veteran Katherine Quartaro

Syracuse University Student and Marine Corps Veteran, Katherine Quartaro, was honored as “Hometown Hero” during today’s SU Football game vs. Pittsburgh.

Katherine was born in Rochester, New York, and graduated from Churchville-Chili Senior High School in 2008. She attended Basic Training at Parris Island, South Carolina.  Following combat and Military Police training, she reported to III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, Military Police Support Company in Okinawa, Japan and was briefly assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Provost Marshal’s Office.


In June 2010, Katherine was attached to the 12th Marine Artillery Regiment to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom- Philippines and she deployed to the southern island of Mindanao, Philippines, as part of the Marine Security Element for the Joint Special Operations Task Force- Philippines (JSOTF-P).  She served as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of ammunition. Katherine acted as Quick Response Force and security on various humanitarian missions, and escorted VIPs and sensitive mission critical materials through areas dense with Al-Qaeda backed rebels. For this deployment, she was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal.  Following her return to Japan, Katherine attended Military Working Dog Handler’s Course at Lackland Air Force Base where she graduated at the top of her class with distinguished honors. She also served as a Combat Marksmanship Coach after receiving high rifle and pistol qualifications throughout her career.


In 2012, Katherine was assigned to the Provost Marshal’s Office, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where she and her explosive detector dog conducted patrols, antiterrorism operations, and assisted the U.S. Secret Service on multiple missions.  In 2013 Katherine transferred to the Criminal Investigation Division, where she conducted investigations of military, State, and Federal law alongside NCIS. For her service with the Criminal Investigation Division, she was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal prior to separating honorably in October 2016 after eight years of active duty service.  Katherine is a Junior studying Forensic Science and Psychology and she serves as the Secretary of the Student Veterans Organization and the Team Leader for the PAVE program. Katherine’s proudest moment of her service was becoming a Marine and receiving her Eagle, Globe, and Anchor from her Senior Drill Instructor, SSgt Davis, following the Crucible at MCRD Parris Island.

Hometown Hero: Airman 1st Class Preston Blake

United States Air Force Airman First Class Preston Blake is the Hometown Hero for the September 16, 2017 SU Football Game V. Central Michigan.

United States Air Force Airman First Class Preston Blake hails from Weedsport, New York, and on August 6, 2014, he enlisted in the New York Air National Guard. Airman Blake graduated from both the Air Force Basic Military Training and Air Force Security Forces Academy as a Distinguished Graduate.

In August of this year, Airman Blake returned home following a six-month deployment to the Middle East supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. For his overseas performance, Airman Blake was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Medal and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

Airman Blake’s proudest military moment took place when he was hand-selected to participate in a military exchange program, where he was embedded with the Qatar police force and was responsible for advising and directing Qatari police officers in western military tactics, training, and procedures.

Today, Airman Blake serves with the 174th Security Forces Squadron, Hancock Field in Syracuse, New York, as an Internal and External Security Response Team Member.

Hometown Hero: United States Marine Corps Sergeant Katelyn Hunter

United States Marine Corps Sergeant Katelyn Hunter is the Hometown Hero for the September 9, 2017 SU Football Game V. Middle Tennessee.

Sergeant Hunter’s first assignment was with the Marine Corps Installations Pacific in Okinawa, Japan. She deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting multiple small-scale exercises in various countries in the Pacific.

In 2015, Sergeant Hunter graduated the Machine Gunner’s course at the School of Infantry in Camp Geiger, North Carolina. She became part of the first group of females to earn this skill in the Marine Corps.Sergeant Hunter’s proudest military moment was in 2014 when she received the Corporal William T. Perkins Award as the Marine Corps’ Combat Cameraman of the Year.

Sergeant Hunter’s proudest military moment was in 2014 when she received the Corporal William T. Perkins Award as the Marine Corps’ Combat Cameraman of the Year.

Today, she is a student at the Military Photojournalism program at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Syracuse University, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families Discuss Veterans Issues at Stand-To Event


Syracuse University and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) were among the participants at the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To summit. The summit, which focused on veteran transition, convened key leaders from government, higher education and the private and philanthropic sectors to outline key priorities and a cohesive action plan to help more veterans and their families thrive.

Chancellor Kent Syverud and J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and IVMF executive director, participated in the event, which included the nation’s foremost experts participating in the summit.

Chancellor Syverud appeared on a panel consisting of high-profile leaders in higher education, including Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of Education and president of the University of North Carolina system; and Admiral (ret.) William McRaven, Chancellor of the University of Texas System. The panelists discussed some of the most pressing issues facing veterans and their families as identified by a working group led by Vice Chancellor Haynie. Health and well-being; education; and employment were just a handful of the topics discussed.

Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush delivered remarks, and U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin participated in a conversation moderated by POLITICO. The event will also feature a congressional panel on issues faced by transitioning veterans.

Syracuse University’s Ryan Gross Named 2017 Tillman Scholar

Ryan Gross grew up hearing stories about his grandfathers’ military experiences during World War II, leading tank units through the Battle of the Bulge and serving on a Navy destroyer in the Pacific. Inspired by their service, he accepted a commission in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer. After his deployment with an infantry battalion in Baghdad, Gross transitioned from the Army to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), where he leads intelligence analysis.

Gross, a graduate student in Syracuse University’s master of public administration program (M.P.A.) in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, has been named a 2017 Tillman Scholar in a cohort representing 61 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses across the nation. The newly named class, funded by the Pat Tillman Foundation, will receive more than $1.1 million in scholarships to pursue higher education degrees.

“These scholars are tackling challenges across national security, healthcare, technology, civil rights and education. They believe their best years of service to our country are still ahead of them, and they are working together to strengthen communities at home and around the world,” Marie Tillman, co-founder and president of the Pat Tillman Foundation said in a statement released on June 8. “In Pat’s spirit of service, we are proud to unite and empower them as our country’s next leaders.”

Gross says he is honored to be selected as a Tillman Scholar and is eager to begin his studies in Syracuse University’s renowned M.P.A. program.

Through his experiences in Baghdad, Washington, D.C., U.S. Central Command, and three civilian deployments to Afghanistan, Gross witnessed how “one size fits all” policies developed at the national level do not always translate effectively to the tactical environment, requiring commanders on the ground to determine how to tailor policies to fit their battlespace. He plans to use his M.P.A. degree to build upon the leadership and decision-making skills he gained through his career and to hone his policy development expertise. His goal is to create flexible, effective policy that will meet military commanders’ and soldiers’ operational needs on the ground.

In 2014, Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud identified four pillars to guide the future growth of the University, one of which was ensuring the University once again became the best institution for veterans and their families. J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and the executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, works closely with Chancellor Syverud on that important effort. He says he is proud of the University’s partnership with the Tillman Foundation and is pleased Gross selected Syracuse University for his academic pursuits.

“Syracuse University is honored to have Ryan as part of our academic community and to celebrate him as our first Tillman Scholar recipient,” says Haynie. “The purpose and mission of the Tillman Foundation aligns well with Syracuse University’s commitment to be the best place for veterans. The education Ryan will receive and the skills he will develop during his time at the Maxwell School will well equip him to inspire positive and impactful changes in military operations.”

The scholarship honors Pat Tillman. In 2002, Tillman, a starting safety for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, put his football career on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Pat’s death in April 2004 while serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. The foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through scholarship and programmatic support, and is dedicated to building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.

Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports our nation’s active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in their higher education. The scholarship program covers direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books and living expenses, for scholars who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution. The selection process for the Tillman Scholars program is highly competitive.

Each year, the foundation collaborates with 15 University Partners to identify and select qualified applicants on their campuses for the Tillman Scholar screening process. Syracuse University was named a University Partner in 2016, selected for its innovative veteran services, strong culture of support for military veterans and spouses and its rigorous academic programs.

About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university of extraordinary academics, distinctive offerings and an undeniable spirit. With a gorgeous campus in the heart of New York State, a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, our University is made for those who want a quintessential college experience. Proudly selective, we take a chance on people who dream big. This is where you come to cheer, to grow and to become the person you want to be. The scope of our University is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries. Syracuse University’s proud commitment to veterans and their families is unrivaled in higher education. From the leading role it played in the original G.I. Bill, to launching the nationally recognized Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the University continues to honor and expand upon this legacy.

About the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University
The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is Syracuse University’s home for innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research in the social sciences, public policy, public administration, and international relations. It is the # 1 ranked school in the nation for graduate education in public affairs, offering highly regarded professional degrees alongside advanced scholarly degrees in the social sciences; and it is home also to undergraduate programs across the full spectrum of social sciences.

Maxwell scholars conduct wide-ranging research through nine interdisciplinary centers, each focused on a topical area within public affairs, such as social and economic policy, conflict and collaboration, public wellness, aging, energy and environment, national security, regional studies, and more. For more information, please visit: maxwell.syr.edu.

Military Veterans to Attend Academic Boot Camp at Syracuse University

Intensive program helps prepare enlisted veterans for transition from military to four-year college.

Syracuse, New York – For some military veterans, the first day of school at a new college or university is as challenging as a deployment to a foreign country. Immersion in a new culture and reintroduction to a demanding academic environment can make the transition from military to higher education difficult. To ease the transition, the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is hosting an intensive one week academic boot camp at Syracuse University beginning Sunday, June 18.

The Warrior-Scholar Project coordinates immersive academic preparation courses for enlisted military veterans of any skill level at America’s top universities. The program is designed to help military veterans develop and rediscover the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete four-year undergraduate degrees. Because veterans are non-traditional students with unique experiences distinguishing them from their college peers, WSP also uses the boot camps to help prepare participants for the emotional and cultural adaptations required to succeed in a higher education setting.

“We are proud to host a Warrior-Scholar Project Academic boot camp at Syracuse University for the 2017 year,” said Dr. Sidney Ellington, Executive Director of WSP. “The program at Syracuse will tap into the immense potential of Post-9/11 veterans and reduce obstacles to success, addressing veterans’ misperceptions about college and building their confidence through an intense academic reorientation.”

WSP launched its first program at Yale University in 2012 with nine participants. Since then, WSP has expanded to encompass 12 top schools, including Syracuse University, and is on track to host more than 200 veterans at boot camps across the country in 2017. In addition to Syracuse University, WSP graduates have gone on to enroll at top schools including Yale University, Harvard University and Georgetown University.

“Stepping onto a college campus is intimidating for anyone, and can be even more so for active or veteran service members,” said Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families – Syracuse University. “The important role the Warrior-Scholar Project plays in engaging these military members with universities around the U.S. is vital to their future career success. We are proud to be a part of that work, and we look forward to hosting this year’s participants this summer to share our educational experience with them.”

Each WSP boot camp is run by a team of student veterans, and taught by university professors and graduate students. An intensive syllabus composed of both classic and modern scholarly works guides participants as they learn how to frame their ideas in an academic context, think critically, and formulate scholarly arguments. Participants not only learn the subject-matter material; they learn how to learn.

“Because of their technical training and diverse, cross-cultural experiences, military veterans have much to contribute to higher education, beyond their strengths in discipline, teamwork, and resilience,” said Corri Zoli, Chair, Board of Academic Advisors – WSP and Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism – Syracuse University. “Yet too often veterans are an uncommon sight at four-year colleges. The presence on Syracuse University’s campus of venerable veterans’ programs such as the Defense Comptrollership Program and the Military Visual Journalism Program, means our partnership with WSP is a natural fit, and it works exceptionally well. As an instructor, I can attest to how this college-readiness program strives to make veterans part of a wider academic conversation and to become campus leaders.”

“This course was a rigorous challenge which prepared myself to succeed in my studies at Syracuse University,” said Adam LeGrand, WSP program alumni. “The focused reading and writing skills have enabled me to anticipate earning honors this past semester; I highly recommend this course to any veteran considering returning to higher education. The contacts and support I have received in my goals of attending law school from WSP staff and alumni have by far been the most important outcome for myself.”

WSP funders and private donors cover the entire cost of the program for participants, excluding travel. Student veterans attending Syracuse University boot camp will reside in campus housing and attend lectures in various classrooms.

To learn more about the program, visit www.warrior-scholar.org.

About the Warrior-Scholar Project
The Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) runs immersive academic boot camps hosted at America’s top universities for enlisted military veterans, and is funded by the prestigious Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The majority of enlisted personnel exiting the military have not been in a classroom setting for several years, and find it hard to transition, being unprepared for the fundamentally different social and cultural environment. WSP helps veterans rediscover and develop the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete 4-year undergraduate programs in higher education. WSP unlocks their educational potential and transforms the way veterans view themselves as students. For more information, visit http://www.warrior-scholar.org, email info@warrior-scholar.org or call 202-796-8777.

About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university of extraordinary academics, distinctive offerings, and an undeniable spirit. With a gorgeous campus in the heart of New York State, a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, our university is made for those who want a quintessential college experience. Proudly selective, we take a chance on people who dream big. This is where you come to cheer, to grow, to become the person you want to be. The scope of our university is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries.

Syracuse University: Gateway for America’s Veterans (Video)

Syracuse University: Gateway for America’s Veterans highlights Syracuse University‘s commitment to the military and our nations veterans– both past and present. Today, student veterans and military-connected students, receive support from dedicated staff from the moment they consider applying to long after they have left the University. Watch the following video to learn more about our story of supporting those who have served our nation!