(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The women and men who served in the U.S. armed forces are honored each year on Veterans Day, and their transition back to civilian life can be an adjustment — especially when they head for college.
“I ask each veteran, ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’” she said. “That person should have a plan that reflects what they want to achieve before they begin college at TSTC.”
Najera’s desire to help fellow veterans is based on her own college experience.
“I did not have this help when I attended college,” she said. “I don’t want a veteran to have that obstacle I faced. That’s why I focus on their future career.”
The San Benito resident said she began helping veterans after she moved to Florida.
“I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Santa Fe College in Florida in 2012,” she said. “Then I served as a Veteran Services coordinator at Daytona State College, Santa Fe College and the University of Florida.”
“I wanted to continue to help veterans in higher education because that’s where my skills are,” she said.
Her ability to make an impact on veterans is why she loves her job.
“They are appreciative that I’m direct,” she said. “When I learn that a veteran student is eligible for an educational benefit, it’s as if they won the lottery. It’s a great feeling to know they will have some educational assistance. That’s the most rewarding aspect of my job. That, and being able to see them graduate.”
U.S. Army veteran Steve Guevara, TSTC’s director of veteran services, said Najera embodies TSTC’s core values because she guides her actions toward service to the students.
“Damaris understands, by personal experience, the barriers service members and veterans may encounter when transitioning from military service to higher education,” he said. “Her service and commitment to our students is evident. Students can attest that she goes above and beyond to assist them.”
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.