Being a busy mom, a full-time student and a part-time NASA intern, has not stopped Navy veteran, Stephanie Primeaux from pursuing her dream to work on a Mars project. The recent recipient of a SoldierStrong Scholarship valued at $2,500 per semester, awarded to a female veteran at Old Dominion University, with the highest GPA in a STEM discipline, the mechanical engineering student may be well on her way.
Mitch Forbes was born in McAllen, TX and raised in Arlington, TX. He joined the Army in 2012 and was assigned to 10th Mtn Div (3BCT 2-87IN) as an 11B Infantryman. Mitch deployed to Logar Province, Afghanistan in 2013. In April 2014, his platoon was ambushed and Mitch was wounded by enemy small arms fire. Mitch underwent dozens of surgical procedures while recovering at Walter Reed Military Medical Center at Bethesda. After being medically retired, Mitch earned a BA in Policy Studies from Syracuse University. He returned to Syracuse’s Maxwell School where he is currently an EMPA candidate.
Chris Tonsmeire began his military career after his freshman year of college, enlisting in the US Army Reserves as a Combat Engineer assigned to the 841st Combat Engineer Battalion (Wheeled). Shortly after his enlistment the events of September 11th, 2001 changed his education plans. Chris received a conditional release from the US Army Reserves to enter active duty as a Special Forces Recruit. After re-classing Infantry he attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection and completed the “Q” Course at Fort Bragg. He was assigned to ODA 785 of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) with whom he served two combat tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his second tour he was wounded in action and was unable to remain an active member of Special Forces. In 2009 he separated from the military to continue his education. Awards from his time in the military include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
The Master of Science in Foreign Service Program is delighted to announce the 2017 SoldierStrong Scholarship Recipient, Navy Lieutenant Mikel Rodriguez. Mikel, a Naval Academy graduate, has a warfare designation of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Officer, and has over 3 years of international experience including deployments to Afghanistan.
Mikel is the third recipient of this endowed, partial-tuition scholarship designated for a U.S. veteran enrolled in the MSFS program. The scholarship was established in 2015 under the leadership of SoldierStrong cofounder and Chairman of the Board Chris Meek. We had the opportunity to speak with Mikel, and for him to share his journey that brought him to MSFS.
Jordan Kooiman was a Gunners Mate and Coxswain in the Navy Riverine Squadrons where he did two tours to Iraq in ’08-’09 and ’10. He is a native of Wisconsin and after honorably discharging from the Navy, he attended Bethel University in St. Paul, MN for undergraduate studies and the University of Florida where he received a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. After completing his clinical rotations at the James Haley VA in Tampa and Walter Reed Military Medical Center, he realized helping veteran and active duty military with physical rehabilitation was the path for him. Jordan currently works as a Physical Therapist in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area working with a variety of patients, including a large population of veterans.
Michael White was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Michael began attending the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2007 after graduating from high school. At West Point Michael was a member of the Parachute Team, and commissioned as an Infantry Officer in 2011. After completing Ranger School Michael was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. Shortly after arriving to Fort Campbell in 2012, Michael deployed to Afghanistan where he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader. Michael was selected to serve as the Mortar Platoon Leader after returning to Fort Campbell. In 2014 Michael deployed to Kuwait as his Battalion’s Logistics Officer.
Michael was selected to represent the 101st Airborne Division in the 2016 Best Ranger Competition, prior to separating from service. Of 50 two-man teams to begin the competition Michael is proud to be one of only 23 to finish the competition.
Michael is now pursuing a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Michael plans to use his degree to begin a career in international development so he can bring sustainable economic development to post-conflict states.