Camden Resident Honored as Outstanding Student Veteran

By Ed Moorhouse

Daphne Hilton was awarded the award for Outstanding Female Student Veteran for 2015.

Daphne Hilton was awarded the award for Outstanding Female Student Veteran for 2015.

Daphne Hilton, a Camden resident and tech sergeant in the United States Air Force Reserves with more than 29 years of military service, has been recognized by her student veteran peers as Rutgers University–Camden’s Outstanding Female Student Veteran for 2015.

The honor is bestowed annually on a male and female veteran during Rutgers–Camden’s annual Veterans Day observance, sponsored by its Office of Veterans Affairs. Shawn Rykaczewski, of Stratford, was named Outstanding Male Student Veteran.

“This award took me by surprise,” says Hilton, who spent nine years on active duty with the Air Force and has been in the reserves for 19 years, specializing in aeromedical evacuation. “For the veterans here to nominate me and award this honor to me is very humbling.”

The Outstanding Student Veteran awards recognize Rutgers–Camden student veterans each year for their exceptional efforts to help other student veterans on the Rutgers–Camden campus. In 2015, Rutgers University–Camden was, for the fifth consecutive year, named a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs magazine. The honor recognizes the university as one of the elite post-secondary schools for student veterans in the nation.

“I had been undecided on going back to school, but (Rutgers–Camden Director of Veterans Affairs) Fred Davis spoke to me about all of the men and women who are veterans who come to Rutgers–Camden to further their education. I made up my mind to come back,” says Hilton, a 1980 graduate of Camden High School who is now pursuing a business degree at Rutgers–Camden.

“I enjoy taking the time to work with other veterans,” she says. “The veterans aren’t teenagers who just came out of high school and are going to college. We have our jobs and our families and it’s a stressful transition. Rutgers–Camden makes it so easy to find balance in your life and your education.”

Hilton was presented with her award during Rutgers–Camden’s annual Veterans Day observance following remarks by the keynote speaker, Brigadier General Wilbur E. Wolf II, who is responsible for managing programs and operations for the Pennsylvania Joint Staff and overseeing issues that impact the 19,000 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The Rutgers–Camden student veteran says she comes from a military family — her father, brothers, and husband are veterans — but joining the military wasn’t always her first choice.

“I wasn’t in a rush to get in,” she says. “But I’ve enjoyed it. I find that it’s gratifying and I’m even happier with my decision to go back to school. Everyone who has an opportunity to continue their education should do it.”

Rutgers–Camden’s Office of Veterans Affairs assists student veterans with making a smooth transition from military life to student and civilian life. It also offers advice, counseling, preparation for graduate school, help in choosing careers and majors, and preparation for jobs and internships.

Posted in: Student Achievement

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