Life as a Student Veteran: Meet Victoria Mariani

For veterans seeking a flexible, affordable education – as well as assistance during the transition process – Trocaire College offers a full-time military veteran’s office to service members and their families.

In fact, Trocaire was named to the top 16 percent of military friendly schools in the U.S. and ranked 6th overall in New York State for 2015.

To gain a better understanding of Trocaire’s veteran program and its benefits, we spoke with a nursing student and current Army National Guard member:  Victoria Mariani.

Victoria Mariani

A passion for helping others

Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Victoria always knew she wanted to serve others.

“When I was 17, college really scared me,” says Victoria, second-semester nursing student. “I wasn’t sure what direction my future was headed, but I knew I wanted to help people in any way that I could. Joining the military seemed like a great transition for me.”

Right out of high school, Victoria joined the Army National Guard where she has dedicated eight years of service. Her home base has been in Buffalo, which has allowed her to remain close to home.

“Right now, the majority of my duties have been disaster relief – especially with the winter we have been having in Western New York,” she says. “It’s a great feeling being able to help within my own community.”

Victoria hasn’t always remained in the Western New York area, however. She has been on several trips overseas – to Germany in 2009, Afghanistan in 2010 and Honduras in 2012 – where she discovered her passion for nursing.

“In Afghanistan, a surgical team allowed me to aid in helping wounded American soldiers and local Afghan people,” she notes. “At that moment, I realized how much I loved health sciences and assisting in medical care.”

Victoria’s role in the military has mainly been in human resources and helping fellow soldiers, but her eagerness to learn has given her on-the-job training opportunities.

“I’ve learned how to operate heavy equipment with engineers, coordinate movements of soldiers and logistic supplies, and assist in emergency trauma and medical aid for surgical teams,” Victoria says. “I loved being able to help and serve where I could.”

Transitioning to Trocaire

As Victoria settled back in Buffalo in 2013, she knew that it was time to buckle down and finish her education.

“I was a little hesitant at first,” she says. “In the National Guard, I always knew exactly what I had to do. I was used to order and command. In school, it takes time to get there. It’s putting in weeks and years to get to your end goal. It can be discouraging, realizing that it will take time – but I knew I would be extremely gratified in the end, and that’s what I wanted.”

As Victoria adapted to Trocaire, she found the transition process to be helpful, and more importantly, personal.

“I can’t thank Brad Baumgardner and Trocaire enough for the amount of veteran support and hands-on assistance I received,” says Victoria. “When I first showed interest in the school, I didn’t just receive a letter – I received personal attention and assistance from the veteran’s office. I was viewed as an individual, not as a number.” Victoria Mariani

After spending several years in the National Guard, Victoria quickly found parallels between military service and life as a student.

“I’m not saying it was easy, it definitely took some time,” she notes. “But it actually helped me tremendously to go back to school. I was able to take the discipline and responsibility that I learned in the military and bring it with me into Trocaire. That’s what has helped me stay on task and balance what’s important.”

Student veterans: Reflecting the Trocaire mission

Victoria plans to graduate in Spring of 2016 with her nursing degree – as well as continue her education for two more years in Trocaire’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program.

“I want to continue to serve in the military until I’ve reached 20 years,” Victoria says. “The work that I’ve done, the trips that I’ve been on and the people I work with in the veteran’s office all continue to remind me how important the bigger picture really is. It’s making a difference.”

Victoria believes that the lessons she has learned at Trocaire will stay with her as she embarks on her next journey – becoming an officer in the Army Nurse Corps.

“Applying what I’ve learned to clinical and hospital settings is the real world experience that I’ve always wanted,” notes Victoria. “I can go out into the world, both as a nurse and as a military member, and feel good about what I’m doing. Trocaire has helped me see how I can affect somebody else, and that really goes a long way.”

Are you interested in learning more about Trocaire’s veteran programs? Contact Brad Baumgardner at our Office of Veteran Services.