Servant-leadership is at the core of Fresno Pacific University. Part of the reason veterans belong here is that they understand this concept.
One of my favorite quotes, from President Kennedy, defines one form of servant-leadership: “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
In my Navy days I would paraphrase this quote to the sailors I was training by stating, “Stop asking what the Navy can do for you and ask yourself what you can do for the Navy.” At first this form of quick-wit leadership brought forth a look of a deer in the highlights. However, through mentoring and developing, each sailor transitioned toward servant-leadership. This was apparent as they began putting others before themselves, making sure their shipmates were taken care of. Over the years, I concluded that getting my team to understand this basic approach of selfless sacrifice would cause everything else to fall into place and assist in fostering “esprit de corps.”
As a fellow veteran who has sailed the same lanes and pounded the same sand in foreign lands, it is my job and my honor to offer an instant connection between FPU’s more than 100 veteran students and the educational opportunities we provide. I walk with members of the veteran community—students and their dependents—helping them navigate the various GI Bill programs and ensure they understand their benefits, both with the Veterans Administration and the university.
Why is this connection important? I cannot tell you how many times I have heard from veteran students how poorly they were treated at other schools. They have shared how they wanted to attend but did not feel welcomed, or no one understood them. This hurts my heart.
A little about myself and my family will help you understand my passion for our veteran community. I joined the U.S. Navy in 1987 and retired in 2010. While I saw the world and served in combat, most of my career was an opportunity to lead and develop others to understand their mission and the importance of serving others.
I come from a Navy family. I like to share our Navy service through the eyes of my mother, our family anchor and lighthouse. Between my father, who died in 1984, and their three sons, she has supported a combined 80 years of service. In addition, my two sisters served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one retiring after 38 years and the other still helping our veterans more than 30 years on. With this tradition, there was no way I could have joined a different branch or not served our country in some capacity. Many of our veteran students can tell similar stories about their choice to serve.
Today, I am blessed to remain a servant to our veteran community at FPU. Among my duties are building bridges at community colleges from Porterville to Merced and with public and private veterans service organizations. I sit on the VA’s Executive Board in Fresno and am second vice commander of Team AMVETS Department California.
My dream for FPU is to be the leading veteran-centric school in the Valley and online. I truly believe we are in an excellent position to be exactly what our veterans need, not only through education but through the Christian ideal of servant-leadership: brothers and sisters in Christ looking out for each other as they help others.
More on services to veterans at FPU at fresno.edu/students/registrars-office/veterans-services