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Active-Duty Service Members Honored with San Antonio Diploma Delivery

Adrianna Buxrude, Anthony Powell and Juvenal Rivera III with their diplomas

Finishing your college degree is a significant accomplishment, but active-duty military members don't always get the opportunity to celebrate with a proper graduation. That’s why The United Service Organizations (USO) and Southern New Hampshire University are working together to acknowledge and celebrate military service members' successful completion of their degrees.

"Service members are often recognized for their military-related achievements, and they tend to outweigh the celebrations for their off-duty accomplishments," said Victoria White, regional director of Military Alliances at SNHU. "Diploma deliveries allow SNHU and the USO the opportunity to support service members and their families by bringing a commencement to their local area."

On Thursday, Feb 10, the USO and SNHU honored three service members stationed in San Antonio, Texas, with a diploma delivery celebration.

"Over the past two years, we've all gone through a lot, and to come and see the mission in action makes it all worth the time and effort," said Chad Hartman, USO vice president of development and corporate alliances. "Seeing the smiles and celebratory look of friends and family for these three graduates has been just something special."

'This Degree is A Great Stepping Stone'

Adrianna Buxrude has been in the U.S. Air Force for over four years, having been stationed at three different bases during that time. She knew an online program was the best option to work full time and get her degree.

"I found SNHU, and it was very easy for me to take classes. The assignments were easy to follow, and the teachers were great with responding,” Buxrude said. “It was a really good option for me."

Having finished her Bachelor of Science in Geoscience with a concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation, she is on the road to earning her doctoral degree one day. She hopes to work in environmental research and conservation to help with climate change.

Adrianna Buxrude with her diploma

"This degree is a great stepping stone to get into the career field," said Buxrude." I'm hoping that when I transition out of the military, I can potentially get an internship with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) or another organization to get my foot in the door."

Throughout her time at SNHU, Buxrude credits the support of her husband and her advisor, Rose Del Vecchio, as a big help in finishing her degree.

"If I had any questions, she was always there,” Buxrude said. “She was very informative, and she helped me pick the right classes at the right times; she was amazing at the process."

While getting her degree was no easy task, finishing her degree and getting her diploma was something she knew was important to her.

"I don't just see a piece of paper," she said. "I see the hard work and determination throughout the years to get this. So it feels great."

'I Immediately Felt All The Support I Needed'

Juvenal Rivera III always knew he wanted to earn his bachelor's degree. So, when going to school on campus and serving the U.S. Army as a military police officer became too difficult, he searched for a new route to achieve his goals.

Juvenal Rivera III with his diploma

"Being able to do it online was going to be easier, so I did my research and found SNHU. I talked to an advisor and went from there," said Rivera. "Right off the bat, they answered everything I had, so I immediately felt all the support I needed from them."

Rivera earned his Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design with the hopes of one day opening up his own studio.

"Juvenal's story resonates with anyone who is hesitant about following their dreams. He has shown great courage in following the path that ignited his passion," said White.

While he had always wanted his degree, the road was not easy, but he finally finished his degree with hard work and dedication to follow his dreams.

"At first, I thought the day wasn't going to come, but it feels great to finally be able to say I finished," said Rivera

'The Best Part of it is The Journey'

When a friend mentioned SNHU to Anthony Powell, he decided to do some research. He learned the school was what he had been looking for to get his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science.

Having served five-and-a-half years in the U.S. Army, Powell hopes to one day use his degree to start his post-military career in business.

Anthony Powell with his diploma

"I chose to pursue this degree because I felt like it was going to help me and my military career, and I would be able to use it as a stepping stone for my transition outside the military,” said Powell.

While completing his degree, he had the support of his wife the whole way through, who also completed a degree of her own.

"Anthony and his wife earned their degrees together," said White. "It is admirable to witness a couple working towards a common goal, and completing their degree together is an additional bonus." Powell has accomplished a lot during his time at SNHU. From being promoted to staff sergeant, finishing his bachelor's degree and now having a baby on the way.

"It's a very exciting time for me," he said. 'It's a great feeling because it feels like all your hard work that you put in is finally getting achieved. I feel like the best part of it is the journey, and now that it's here it just feels great."

'It Takes A Lot of Commitment'

Adrianna Buxrude, Anthony Powell and Juvenal Rivera III throwing their graduation caps in the airNow, having their diplomas in hand, these three service members are ready to take the next steps in their careers. 

"Being in the military, serving, and doing the job, getting pulled all over the place... it takes a lot of commitment," said John Murphy, retired Army veteran and regional director of military partnerships and insights at SNHU. "So it's just an honor to sit and watch them, and it was a privilege to see them go through what they did to earn their degree."

Being able to honor these service members by bringing the celebration to them is just one ways the USO and SNHU regularly recognize service members.

"It feels really good to come here and be celebrated for your accomplishments," said Powell.

Ready for the support you need to earn your degree? Learn more about SNHU's support of military service members and families.

Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.