UA Little Rock Veterans Day ceremony highlights unique experiences of military students

Kathy Oliverio right, honors UA Little Rock student veterans, from left, Sean Lewis, Alexis Harris, and Kaycee Greenwood, who participated in a Veterans Day ceremony. Photo by Ben Krain.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale and Director of Military Student Success Kathy Oliverio are serious about their commitment to military student success. This week, UA Little Rock hosted a Veterans Day ceremony featuring first-hand stories of career transition and personal renewal from the university’s military students.

After 10 years of active duty in the Air Force, Staff Sergeant Kaycee Greenwood transitioned into a training manager role for the Air Force Reserve where she works to prepare the next generation of crew chiefs. Now a UA Little Rock doctoral candidate in education, Greenwood plans to continue supporting the training needs of the Air Force.

“My experiences at UA Little Rock have been nothing short of amazing,” said Greenwood. “I love being a lifelong student.”

Biology major Alexis Harris, a native of Sherwood, always looked forward to someday earning a degree at UA Little Rock, her mother’s alma mater. Harris served as a Navy intelligence specialist from 2013 to 2019. Her global experiences ranged from providing humanitarian support to imagery data support. 

“I am grateful for the opportunities provided to me by the Navy,” said Harris. “The Navy has showed me where I am strong and where I can improve. I am thankful for my time in the Navy, no matter how hard the growing process was at the time.”

Marine Corps veteran Sean Lewis served four years with duties ranging from cyber network operator to machine gun operator. His global experiences ranged from duties in Afghanistan to working with children in Japan. 

Lewis admits that he joined the Marine Corps primarily because his mother told him not to join the military and go to college. He graduated high school at 16 and waited for his opportunity to join the military. He spent his 18th birthday on a bus headed to training. Since leaving the Marines, Lewis has served in law enforcement and as a private military contractor. This academic year, though, Lewis is a freshman biology student at UA Little Rock.

UA Little Rock student veterans, Kaycee Greenwood, US Air Force Reserve, center, and Sean Lewis, US Marine Corps., right, participate in a Veterans Day ceremony held in the Stella Boyle Smith Auditorium. Photo by Ben Krain
UA Little Rock student veterans, Kaycee Greenwood, US Air Force Reserve, center, and Sean Lewis, US Marine Corps., right, participate in a Veterans Day ceremony held in the Stella Boyle Smith Auditorium. Photo by Ben Krain

“I may be a little late, Mom, but I’m in college now,” chuckled Lewis.

Army wife Neva Martin shared her story of what it means to support a disabled veteran. After many tours of duty with special forces and plans to retire on the near horizon, Martin’s husband was injured in a tank explosion. 

“I’m so grateful that my wonderful husband is still here,” said Martin. “When he returned home that last time, he was different. He needed physical therapy and mental health therapy to overcome the effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).”

The path of recovery and renewal for Martin and her husband has taken over a decade and in some ways still continues. Martin is dedicated to continuing her role as a steadfast Army wife, seeing her husband through the entirety of their journey together.

“Being an Army wife is a wonderful but stressful job,” Martin said. “My advice to other service member families is to stick together, rely on faith, and seek help for PTSD and physical injuries.”

Oliverio emphasized that military students bring a wealth of knowledge and unique experience to the education environment. They also carry internal battles that result from their commitment to serving our country.

“The UA Little Rock Military Success Center is dedicated to supporting these incredible American citizens who volunteered all of their being to serve on our behalf,” Oliverio said.

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