Eight years in the Marine Corps comes with plenty of certainty: where you’re sleeping, when you’re eating, with whom you’re sharing your living quarters. The progression from Marine to UNLV student comes with it’s own proscriptions: what classes to take, what requirements to satisfy.
So when Bruno Moya, who joined the Marines in 2001 and received his master of sociology degree in May, finally had his paper in hand, it was a bit of a moment.
“The day came when I graduated, and it was, 'Holy crap, I need to get a job,'” Moya said. “My wife was like, ‘Yeah, you do. Can't stay here forever, buddy.'”He may not stay on campus forever, but as the interim president of the newly formed Rebel Veterans Alumni Club, Moya is staying involved with UNLV well after graduation.
Oct. 13 saw the first official Rebel Veteran Engage Breakfast, a once-per-semester networking event for current and former UNLV vets. About 180 student, alumni, and staff dedicated to veterans services came to the Richard Tam Alumni Center to hear about the opportunities available to veterans in Las Vegas. The initiative is part of the UNLV Alumni Association's efforts to diversify its programming for its increasingly diverse base of graduates.
“If you're a young vet going to school, you could be sitting across the table from an older guy who's a veteran and is now the CEO of a large organization,” said Ross Bryant, director of UNLV's Military and Veteran Services Center, said of the new program. “It's that networking piece that is the critical part.”
For the first breakfast, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Doug McCloskey, a U.S. Army veteran and director of IT quality at the resort, offered gathered veterans the chance to connect with parent company Blackstone’s veterans initiative, which aims to hire 100,000 vets by 2022 across all its businesses.
In 2009, UNLV had around 300 veterans on campus. That number has increased sixfold today to 1,800, with 955 vets now working in the community.
For veterans like Moya, that work has turned on continuing the mission he started when he was president of the Rebel Vets Club. He currently is a workforce case manager at U.S. Vets, a transitional housing service for veterans.
“I've been able to pick up on what I'm really good at,” Moya said. “What you're good at, you stick with that. What you're not good at, you develop over time. Being a Rebel Vet, doing everything I've done, going out to U.S. vets, I've been able to capitalize on my experiences.”
On Nov. 8, Rebel Vets and the Veterans & Military Services Center will hold a ceremony at campus’ Veterans Memorial outside Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall to honor Samantha Bivens, a CSUN senator whose husband, Craig, a Marine Corps veteran, died from pancreatic cancer, ruled a result of complications from serving in Desert Storm.