USD Student Veterans Receive Prestigious Award

SAN DIEGO: Seven University of San Diego (USD) student veterans have been awarded scholarships from theSentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation (SOF). SOF works to ease severely wounded and injured post-9/11 veterans’ transition to civilian life by offering support and resources to enable them to become productive and self-sufficient as they pursue higher education.

SOF is a nationwide nonprofit organization founded by the father of three Army Rangers to help severely injured veterans transition back into civilian life through education. SOF's mission focuses on veterans who were seriously wounded while serving after 9/11 and who demonstrate the desire and drive to thrive as returning civilians. In addition to providing veterans with scholarships, SOF has established Student Veteran Resource Centers (SVRC), which provide veterans with on-campus study spaces, supportive communities, and veteran specific resources to help them succeed academically.


Sentinel Scholarships are individualized to meet the needs of each qualifying veteran. They are 1-4 year awards that can be used to attend college or vocational school. Sentinel Scholarships also help these severely wounded veterans subsidize housing costs, financial planning, participation in mentoring programs, networking opportunities, and employment assistance.


Students with a disability rating of 50 percent or higher will receive up to $1,000 per month toward housing for two years that is not prorated in summer or between terms ($24,000 total). This is in addition to the educational benefit (GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation) that the student veteran may be receiving.


USD students who have been awarded the SOF scholarship in 2017 are:


Sandra Ambotaite, Army; Masters of Peace and Justice ‘18

Matt Webster, Marine Corps, Masters in Global Leadership ‘17

Jhonnatan Chinchilla, Marine Corps; Accountancy Major and Supply Chain Management Minor ‘17

Andrew Christensen, Marine Corps; Business Administration in Finance ‘18

Kenneth Helman, Navy; Psychology ‘01. Law Enforcement Leadership ‘18

Paul Krug, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force; Doctor of Nursing Practice ‘18

Ernesto Reyes, Navy; Biology ‘18


“We are excited to welcome seven student veterans from USD into our program,” said Mike Conklin, chairman and CEO, Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation. “Like Sentinels of Freedom, the Veteran Center at USD is an integral part of an injured or wounded Veteran’s success in college. Entering college and finding a career are two difficult tasks on their own, and with the addition of injuries that add physical and mental hurdles, the journey becomes even harder. At SOF, we are here to help and look forward to walking alongside these veterans during their transition to civilian careers/life. We are incredibly grateful for these amazing veterans and our partnership with USD.”


Derek Abbey, Veteran Student Services Coordinator at USD’s Military and Veterans Program, praised SOF and USD student veterans. “We are enormously proud of the continued accomplishments and recognition of our student veterans and military-connected students at USD.  To have Toreros represent more than 20 percent of the fall 2017 national cohort of Sentinel Scholars says a great deal about the caliber of these student veterans and their continued commitment to not only their personal education, but the greater community.  Additionally, we are thankful for the investment that the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation has made in these students.  This contribution will undoubtedly allow for these students to more easily succeed academically and professionally.”  Abbey went on to add, “The recognition and growth of the USD Military and Veterans Program has resulted in more than 21 percent growth in the military-connected population on campus.  More and more, the military population is recognizing USD as an ideal destination to support their higher education and career goals.  The timing of this partnership with SOF is perfect, as our staff seeks out new and more compelling ways of supporting this growing population.”

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.