Gateway Hall, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
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Jorge Arredondo (2013), first-generation Mexican-American, grew up in Southern California. An Army veteran, he was deployed with a Special Operations unit several times to Iraq. When a traumatic brain injury eventually required him to be medically retired from the Army in 2009, he sought a new path in life. But as a nontraditional student attending a community college in Santa Barbara, he found few people whom he could relate to and felt isolated. After relocating to Colorado to live with some of his friends, he began his education at PPCC.
“It was a better community and it resonated with me. I found common ground with veterans and that got even better when I transferred to UCCS (in 2011) – they have a lot of programs that support veterans and nontraditional students,” Jorge said.
While attending UCCS, he became president of the Student Veteran Organization (SVO) and formed a team that was instrumental at UCCS for policy changes to encourage reentry for veterans to the civilian world and a successful transition to campus life.
Growing up in disadvantaged areas and with struggles common amongst the immigrant community, Jorge and his family learned the values of empathy and compassion. As chapter president, he employed those same values to help veterans overcome similar challenges that many service members experience as they transition from the military to civilian life.
“It made my own experience even better. Providing guidance for them made me feel reassured. We traveled around the state and the nation to advance campus culture for student veterans and propose policy changes and initiatives,” he said.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, with an emphasis in Homeland Security and minor in Political Science, he became a corrections officer for the State of Colorado for two years.
Currently a legal advocate for veterans, he specializes in veterans’ law and works for the Division of Veteran Affairs in Denver.
In addition, he has returned to UCCS as a full-time graduate student on track to earn a Master’s in Public Administration in 2018.
He advises other veterans to surround themselves with social circles of people who are successful and motivated.
“If you gravitate toward that, then you’re bound to succeed. And networking is a huge thing. Shake hands. First impressions count a lot. You never know whom you’re going to meet, and so you always want to be on top of your game,” Jorge said.