Service is in Daniela des Islets’ blood. Her father was an infantry officer in the Honduran military, and she’s been deployed with the U.S. Air Force twice, once in Afghanistan and once in Qatar. And now she’s studying biology, chemistry, and Spanish at the U, with plans to go on to medical school.
“I wanted to combine my passion for science and for people,” she says. The U’s research environment drew her to Utah. And at the U, the Veterans Support Center (VSC) has been a vital resource for her. The VSC helps veteran students or prospective students find services, support, and, perhaps most importantly, camaraderie.
“Having the opportunity to interact with other students who have had experiences similar to mine has been really reassuring,” says des Islets. “I have somebody to relate to, somebody who knows the experiences we have been through.”
Another U veteran, Craig Bryan, also understands the importance of veterans supporting each other—only his team’s focus is on the research end of that support. Bryan is an associate professor of psychology and executive director of the U’s National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS), which focuses on research, outreach, and advocacy.
He says veterans’ unique life experiences provide irreplaceable insight when creating research to help improve the lives of veterans and active military. Some examples of the research from NCVS include understanding brain injuries, suicide, and novel treatments for PTSD.
“A lot of the research ideas we come up with are informed by our personal experiences,” says Bryan. “We’re reflecting upon the things we saw and experienced as veterans. And we’re now putting that into a scientific format so we can help our brothers and sisters in arms.”
“Sometimes things get stressful and I just want to quit. But then I look back at my deployments and say to myself, ‘You did that, you totally have this.’ ”
—DANIELA DES ISLETS
FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE
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STEWARDS OF OUR NATURAL WORLD
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BRIDGING THE PATH
Sayro Paw was 12 when she arrived in Utah from the Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand. She recalls being totally overwhelmed by the language and cultural differences. “I didn’t know how to communicate with anyone,” she says. “I didn’t know anyone at school, and I couldn’t do homework.” Gradually things improved for Paw, especially […]Learn More
DISCOVERY: A TEAM EFFORT
For most people, a doctorate in human genetics isn’t a fallback career. But when Kristi Russell injured her hip as a tennis player at Weber State University, she says the injury changed the course of her education and profession. She asked her doctor, “Why would this happen to someone so young?” The doctor’s response: sports […]Learn More
MORE THAN A NUMBER
Derek Young BS’18 grew up in a town with just nine stoplights. And when he came to study biology at the U, the number of students was more than three times the population of his hometown, Price, Utah. While he was excited to be around other people who were passionate about learning, and he liked […]Learn More
FROM DIAGNOSIS TO REMISSION
Whitney Bitner BS’18 started chemotherapy just three days before her senior year at the U. The math and statistics major had been diagnosed with nodular sclerosis classical Hodgkin lymphoma after she noticed a lump on her neck while vacationing with her family at Lake Powell. “It was just like, ‘How can this have happened?’ ” […]Learn More