“Juvie has a heart of a servant and is compelled to help her fellow veterans. She is respected by her colleagues and her student veteran classmates as someone reliable, dependable, and trustworthy,” said Matthew Butler, director of military and veterans’ services at Fordham, who joined Segovia at the NatCon student-veteran event in Orlando from Jan. 6 to 8. “Her selection as a finalist speaks to her exceptional leadership and service to the veterans’ community. Although she wasn’t selected as the winner, just being nominated was prestigious and a great platform for her to inspire others to lead.”
Segovia is a U.S. Army veteran and a graduate student at Fordham’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. In the 2019-2020 academic year, she served as the vice president of Student Veterans of America’s chapter at Rose Hill, where she communicated the needs of student veterans with the undergraduate student government.
Sixteen years ago, Segovia immigrated to the U.S. with her family from the Philippines. Two months later, she joined the military.
“A lot of people thought that was crazy, but I thought of it as giving back. I believe that America is the land of opportunity, and I wanted to make sure that I could give back to the country that has given me and my family so much,” said Segovia, who joined the U.S. Army in her early twenties.
She was stationed in South Carolina, where she was responsible for onboarding incoming soldiers. (She also met her future husband, a fellow service member. They now share a 9-year-old daughter.) However, she wasn’t able to complete her three-year contract with the military. After suffering from a stress fracture that never healed, she was medically discharged from the military with less than a year of service.
Yet her passion for the veteran community remained. More than a decade later, her efforts at Fordham and beyond were recognized at the NatCon event—the largest annual gathering of student veterans in the country. She was recognized on stage, where she reflected on what it meant to be a student veteran.
“It was very humbling, being there and seeing my name mentioned among many outstanding veterans. At first, I felt imposter syndrome. It took me a long time to open up about not being able to finish my contract because I was ashamed. But the veterans in my community accepted me and assured me that yes, I am a veteran because of everything I’ve done for our community. I reached a point in my life where I was able to take credit for the things I have done,” Segovia said.
At the conference, Segovia formally introduced herself and spoke at a panel about juggling her responsibilities as a mother, student, volunteer, and former service member.
“Don’t let self-doubt hold you back. Any professional goal, any career choice is ours to make and work towards,” Segovia said at the conference. “If we take away anything from this week, let it be that veterans have skills, and we know how to excel in using them.”
At Fordham, Segovia currently serves as a veterans career liaison for Career Services at Rose Hill, where she has helped student veterans find career opportunities over the past two years. She has educated employers about veteran initiatives, prepared veterans for the civilian workforce, and developed a student veteran career guide that will be launched this spring. Thanks to her efforts, she has increased student veterans’ participation in events, internships, and career services, said her manager.
“Juvie has made a great impact and continues to ensure that the veteran community is able to connect with opportunities,” said Cheretta Robson, senior associate director for Career Services at Rose Hill.
After graduating from Fordham with her degree in organizational leadership this spring, Segovia said she wants to work in a human resource department for a nonprofit. But her ultimate goal is to manage her own nonprofit for fellow veterans.
“I want to ensure that they have career and educational opportunities in the civilian world. There are similar organizations that help veterans, but not many on the East Coast,” Segovia said. “I want to try to make transformational change in people’s lives.”