By Laurel O’Keefe
On Nov. 11, a Veteran’s Day Memorial Service was held by the Hofstra Panhellenic Council in the Monroe Lecture Hall where keynote speaker Graciela Tiscareño-Sato spoke of her experience as a highly decorated military veteran and gave students advice for leadership and success.
As a Latina veteran, Tiscareño-Sato called special attention to honoring Latinas in uniform during her speech.
“I really am but one of many Latinas who don the uniform but you rarely hear about us in conversation about veterans,” Tiscareño-Sato said.
The service began with a presentation of the Color Guard by ROTC students, a singing of the national anthem by student Claudia Rashtain and an opening prayer led by Julia Gelbart of the Panhellenic Council. Later in the service, students Jeanna Lewis and Amanda Price sung renditions of “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
Captain Jerry Blackwell, assistant professor of military science in the ROTC department at Hofstra, commenced the service with opening remarks explaining the significance of Veteran’s Day.
“On this day we set aside our routine activities and pause to appreciate those who have served this nation in uniform,” Blackwell said.
Tiscareño-Sato, a veteran who served in active duty for over nine years in the United States Air Force, an award winning author, a bilingual STEM consultant and a speaker on environmental entrepreneurship and innovation, chose to give the service a personal touch.
Using some of her own military experiences as examples, Tiscareño-Sato spoke highly of the professional and personal benefits of learning multiple languages.
Tiscareño-Sato referenced her time on a special Air Force assignment in Italy where she was needed for both her Spanish and Italian language skills. She contributed her ability to fully immerse herself in the cultures of other countries to her multilingual skillset and encouraged students to take on a new language.
Tiscareño-Sato also commemorated other veterans by highlighting a memorable story of her friend Lieutenant Colonel Olson who Tiscareño-Sato acted under in her last two years of service.
“I was a young, married, intentionally no-children-yet captain and instruction navigator in Colonel Olson’s squadrant. I would look at her in awe,” said Tiscareño-Sato. “I knew she and her airline pilot husband had two school-age children and they knew that we would soon deploy in Saudi Arabia.”
Tiscareño-Sato went on to tell the story of how Olson dealt with criticism of simultaneously being a mother and colonel by accepting and managing her roles as both on her own accord. For each story Tiscareño-Sato told, she emphasized the life lesson for students to learn.
“The wisdom I give to you is this, it comes right from [Olson]: Live life on your terms,” Tiscareño-Sato said. “Spend your precious time doing the activities that you must do to live the life that you want. Accept that there will be people who do not share the picture of your life who feel the need to judge and gossip.”
The service was concluded with taps and closing remarks from Monique Zabihzadeh of the Panhellenic Council.
Sophomore marketing major Andrew Weisenberger said, “They absolutely did a good job. It was inspirational.”
By Laurel O’Keefe