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Student Veteran of the Year

This award recognizes student veterans who have excelled in their academic and military careers.

The recipient of the General John W. Vessey, Jr. Student Veteran of the Year Award receives a $3,000 refundable scholarship and recognition at the University of Maryland Global Campus Veterans Day ceremony.

This award is available to any full-time UMGC student in good academic standing who is currently serving or has previously served in the U.S. armed forces. Nominations are accepted September 1–October 1 each year.

If you have any questions, please email

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for this award, a student must:

  • Be currently enrolled at UMGC as a full-time student in good standing
  • Be currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. armed forces
  • Have a cumulative minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Have earned 30 credits at the undergraduate level or 12 credits at the graduate level, not including transfer credits
  • Have exceptional moral character and dedication to military service
  • Not be a member of the staff or a student worker of UMGC

How to Apply

  • Students, staff, and faculty who wish to nominate a student veteran should submit a 400–500 word nomination letter to
  • The nomination letter should outline the student's dedication to the military and detail all the ways they have excelled in the classroom.
  • Students are also permitted to nominate themselves for this award, provided they meet all the eligibility criteria.
  • Each application will be reviewed by a committee from UMGC's Veterans Initiatives Office.

Award Information

This award is named for UMGC alumnus General John W. Vessey, Jr., the only chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who began his military career as an enlisted servicemember. A lifelong advocate of education, Vessey said that he tried to pattern his own life after a lecture he first heard in a UMGC classroom ("The Five Evidences of an Education" by the American philosopher, diplomat, and educator Nicholas Murray Butler). UMGC is proud to offer this award in General Vessey's name.

The Student Veteran of the Year award includes a $3,000 refundable scholarship, as well as recognition as the General John W. Vessey, Jr. Student Veteran of the Year during the UMGC Veterans Day event. Attendance at the Veterans Day event is requested; travel arrangements will be made by UMGC.


Recent Recipients

  • 2023: Sergeant Dalton J. Berry (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • 2022: Technical Sergeant Marvin E. Lazo (U.S. Air Force)
  • 2021: Staff Sergeant Devon B. Nieve (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • 2020: Master Sergeant Joseph Cabrera (U.S. Air Force)
  • 2019: Master Sergeant Marie L. Villegas (U.S. Air Force, Ret.)
  • 2018: Gunnery Sergeant Kenny Saavedra (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • 2017: Staff Sergeant Alicia Hunt (U.S. Air Force)

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