As a former explosive technician with the U.S. Air Force, Justin Pascual ’20, G’22 knows what it takes to stay focused in the field of duty and intentional in his actions. That’s why the nutrition science graduate student in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics wants to next support the military by becoming a naval aerospace and operational physiologist in the United States Navy. He plans to use his knowledge of nutrition and human physiology to prepare military members for the physiological stressors of a combat-based career.

Pascual earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science from Falk College. While stationed outside Cambridge, England, at the Royal Air Force Mildenhall, he met a group of civilians, including a nutritionist, working with members of the Special Forces team. Through this interaction, he saw firsthand the power proper nutrition could have on military members. He always had a passion for health and wellness and thought he could merge that interest with his military career by becoming a military dietician. He left his active-duty post to seek his degree at Syracuse University, which is highly ranked among veterans. Eventually, he shifted his focus toward using nutrition and exercise science to improve cardiovascular health in the military population.

In his second year of his master’s program, Pascual is studying how nutrition alters human physiology and how this synergistic relationship can better prepare people for the stresses of military life. Through research, he found that orthostatic intolerance, a term used to classify specific ailments such as orthostatic hypotension, can significantly hinder the health of military members and civilians alike. He also learned that vitamin D might play a role in the onset of orthostatic intolerance.

Transitioning From Military Life

One of the things Pascual values most about his time at Syracuse University is the support he’s offered as a student veteran. The Arizona native served in the Air Force for eight and a half years and now serves with the New York Air National Guard. He says bonding with fellow student veterans at the National Veterans Resource Center at the Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello Building (NVRC) and in the Students Veterans Organization (SVO) makes him feel more at home. “The support of the SVO and the NVRC is phenomenal.” He also recently joined SALUTE, the veterans national honor society, where he’s looking forward to becoming an active member and participating in networking events and seminars.