Rutgers–Camden Names Female and Male Student Veterans of the Year

By Tom McLaughlin

Two Rutgers University student veterans have been selected by their peers to receive the top student award from the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at Rutgers University–Camden.

Theresa Trujillo and Fred Davis collect toys for the drive that Trujillo organized with the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden.

Theresa Trujillo of Salt Lake City and Joshua Redlich of Haddonfield have been named Rutgers–Camden’s outstanding female and male student veterans for 2020. The honor is bestowed annually during Rutgers–Camden’s annual Veterans Day observance.

Trujillo, a 2020 graduate of Rutgers–Camden with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, was recognized for her dedicated service to her fellow student veterans in the university’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. She routinely helps them with their government benefits, as well as available resources from area agencies and organizations.

As she sees it, she’s just proud to be a part of the exceptional willingness of director Fred Davis and his office team to assist student veterans in any way possible.

“What he has done for student veterans is simply amazing,” says Trujillo, who is pursuing an Ed.M. in education, learning, cognition, and development at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “It’s awesome to see people who actually care that veterans succeed in their academic pursuits, rather than handing them a piece of paper and saying, ‘Good luck.’”

For Trujillo, this level of dedication to serving others is personally nothing new; after all, she made a career of it. After graduating from Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah, she studied international relations at the University of Utah and joined the U.S. Army Reserve in Salt Lake City. She also worked in finance for a local credit union and earned an associate’s degree at nearby Salt Lake Community College.

Trujillo participates in the U.S. Army’s Warrior Leader Course, a month-long course that trains specialists and corporals in leadership fundamentals, in spring 2016.

In April 2013, Trujillo was deployed as a U.S. Army specialist to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. There, she would serve as a financial management technician, working with local and foreign vendors – such as those providing the goods and services on the base – to ensure that they followed the proper procedures in order to receive payment.

In January 2014, Trujillo returned stateside, where she continued serving as a financial service representative. Although never passionate about finance, she says, she did discover her true career aspiration – and that is to work as a high school history teacher. Upon being honorably discharged in September 2018, Trujillo arrived at Rutgers–Camden shortly thereafter to pursue her degree.

Redlich, a student in the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program at Rutgers–Camden, was recognized for his support of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs and the student veterans organization campus.

“This is incredibly humbling,” he says. “It’s hard to say that I deserve this award more than anyone else, but I appreciate the honor very much.”

Redlich (third from left) poses with members of his platoon during the 75th anniversary of the D-Day, June 6, 1944 invasion in Sainte-Mère-Église, France. The unit got to jump into Normandy for a week-long celebration.

A longtime resident of Stony Lake, Michigan, Redlich served in the U.S. Army from 2013 to 2017, attaining the rank of E-4 specialist. For much of that time, he was the member of an infantry mortar platoon – rising to team leader of his unit – at Grafenwoehr Training Area, a U.S. Army training base located near Grafenwöhr, Germany.

After completing active duty, Redlich moved to Haddonfield, where he soon discovered that he missed the camaraderie of the military and joined the U.S. Army reserves. In addition, he earned an associate’s degree in biology from Rowan College at Burlington County in 2018.

Redlich was then drawn to Rutgers–Camden for its high marks in the veteran community – including distinctions as a Purple Heart University and a Military Friendly School – and pursued a bachelor’s degree in health sciences.

While on campus, Redlich has dedicated himself to helping out the student veteran community in any way possible, including participating in a variety of scholarship fundraising activities. He says he especially appreciates how everyone looks out for one another.

“It really is a tight-knit group,” says Redlich. “If ever anyone needs help with anything, such as studying, everyone always makes it a priority.”

Upon graduating in 2019, Redlich was accepted into Rutgers–Camden’s accelerated nursing program. He notes that it has been especially rewarding serving in the university’s Veterans Serving Veterans Fellowship Program. He plans to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice and continue working in a career serving the veterans population.

 

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