University Again Recognized as a Top School for Veterans and Military-Affiliated Students
The University recently celebrated the dedication and service of the veterans in its community, as well as its recent inclusion on the Military Times 2023 “Best for Vets: Colleges List.”
December 7, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
A few years after he graduated from high school, Jon Ramirez ’24 enlisted in the U.S. Army. Since then, he has dedicated his career to serving his country, and he has been deployed to places such as Africa and Afghanistan. He is now continuing his service – and his education – in his home state.
A business management major, Ramirez is sergeant first class with the Charlie Company 411 Civil Affairs Battalion out of Danbury, Conn. A decorated member of a military family – his mother is an Iraq combat veteran – Ramirez has received myriad prestigious honors, including the Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.
After leaving active duty, Ramirez returned to Connecticut, where he now lives with his wife and three children. He says he has a renewed sense of purpose. In addition to his work and his family, he’s also finding fulfillment in his education. He shared his story and his passion for service as part of the University’s Veterans Day ceremony.
“I love this place,” he said. “This school has been phenomenal for me. It changed the scope of my path, and I’m so glad the University of New Haven is a part of that.”
‘A whole other level of service’
The annual ceremony – which the University has been organizing for more than two decades – is a celebration of veterans, including the many members of the University community who are part of its veteran community.
Among those taking part was the Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veteran Affairs, Joseph Danao ’04 M.S. A retired lieutenant colonel who served more than three decades in the Connecticut Army National Guard, Danao spoke to his fellow Chargers about his passion for service and for supporting veterans.
“There’s a whole other level of service at the University of New Haven,” said Danao, a former member of the Alumni Board of Directors who also served a term as president. “The events and support available at the University are remarkable. The University is a top military school and a veteran-friendly campus. The program is as strong as its veteran students, its faculty, and its alumni.”
As part of the ceremony, Ryan Noonan '20, '23 M.S., reflected on the significance of Veterans Day, as well as the University’s commitment to student-veterans and military-affiliated students. For Noonan, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, the University’s recognition was deeply meaningful. He finds great gratification in supporting his fellow veterans as the University’s manager of military and veterans affairs.
“I find purpose and value in helping my fellow veterans along in their life’s journey while at the University of New Haven,” he said. “Every year, we graduate a wide and diverse group of veterans and military-affiliated students whose success does not stop in the military, or even in the classroom, but continues into the job force.”
‘A safe space where veterans can be themselves’
For Andrew Ghataora '24, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who spent six years as a tank crewman in Twentynine Palms, CA, and who finished his service as a platoon sergeant, the University has been a great fit. A passionate gamer, he chose to major in esports and gaming, and he has enjoyed being a part of the gaming community at the University. He says that because of his time as a Charger, he plans to work in the collegiate esports scene.
“The greatest thing about the University is its community for veterans,” he said. “It is such a great relief being able to be surrounded by people with similar backgrounds. Everyone is willing to help each other out with academics or personal life.”
Military Times sends a survey to colleges and universities across the country asking about programs for veterans. Survey results are then analyzed, along with public data obtained from the Department of Education and Department of Veterans Affairs. The University was one of 325 schools included on the list, which considered factors such as student success metrics, admissions and registration policies, and military-specific resources.
‘The gift of education’
For Pedro Gonzalez ’25, several of the University’s programs and services for veterans stand out. He says that the Center for Learning Resources and the Center for Student Success have been invaluable, and he’s grateful they are both Green Zone Certified. The Green Zone Training program helps faculty, staff, and students learn how to better understand student-veterans’ perspectives and connect with them. As a VA work-study student, Gonzalez has also played a critical role in offering support to his fellow student-veterans.
“I use my personal experiences and guide other student veterans through the transition from military status to academia,” he said. “Although the transition may look daunting, the University of New Haven’s Veteran Services program provides a safe space where veterans can be themselves with other like-minded student-vets."
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Gonzales served as a tactical switching operator and network administrator. He says many of the skills he developed, such as grit, perseverance, and time management, continue to help him succeed as a cybersecurity and networks major.
“The University has provided me with great technical expertise within the cybersecurity program,” he said. “This is a great program that I thoroughly enjoy, and it will help me transition into a career. Not only do I enjoy the University, but the cybersecurity program also aligns with my mission statement: ‘To protect and defend from a technological standpoint.’”
For Ramirez, the U.S. Army sergeant first class and business management major, he has achieved the goal he set when he enlisted: to be a part of something he could feel proud of. He’s now looking forward to continuing his service – and his education – and he’s proud of the many achievements and contributions that his fellow servicemembers and veterans have made at the University – and beyond. He plans to pursue a master’s degree.
“I have been fortunate to be afforded the gift of education by my time in uniform,” he said. “I have enjoyed my time at this wonderful institution.”