CSUB veterans travel the states


Ivette Nolasco

CSUB student veterans (from left to right) Ulyses Rodriguez, Juan P. De La Torre, Yessenia Mendoza, and Raymundo Perez Arellano attend the Student Veterans of America Conference in Orlando, Florida from Jan. 3 to 5. Photo courtesy of Ulyses Rodriguez

Ivette Nolasco

 CSU Bakersfield veteran students Ulyses Rodriguez, Raymundo Perez Arellano, Yessenia Mendoza and Juan P. De La Torre decided to turn an opportunity of attending the Student Veterans of America Conference in Orlando, Florida into a memorable lifetime experience. Earlier this year, the group drove on a journey that took them through 26 states and kept them on the road for an unforgettable 10 day adventure.
 “We wanted to have as many of our student veterans attend the conference, so we started looking into prices of plane tickets and hotels but noticed that it was kind of costly,” Perez Arellano said. The idea to drive directly to the conference and share driving responsibilities enabled all four veterans to attend the conference.
 Although the students were concerned about driving such a long distance in potentially bad weather for multiple days, they were motivated and determined. Representing CSUB for the first time at this important event was their primary goal.
“The SVA conference is about taking student veterans and inspiring them, teaching them and showing them that they can also be leaders in their schools and their communities,” said De La Torre. “It’s a process that really shows you the importance of lifelong learning.”
 The student veterans felt the SVA Conference was very informational, relevant and inspiring. “The conference was really good in the sense that it motivated us to come back with what we learned and gave us ideas on how to improve the Veterans Center, the Veterans Department and the Veterans Club,” Rodriguez said. “We already have a great veterans program here at CSUB, but we realized that there is so much more we can do and that is what we are most excited about. We learned a lot and got a lot of good ideas. Now it’s just time to make it happen.”
 At the conference in Orlando, the student veterans met national leaders and shared their experiences with other student veterans. After the SVA Conference the students decided to take “the long way home” through numerous states before returning to Bakersfield.  
 During their 8,000 mile drive they saw many destinations they liked, including spending one night in New York City. When asked what part of the journey they enjoyed the most, they agreed Washington D.C. was one the most remarkable places of all the 26 states they visited. The group agreed it was interesting to think that many important decisions that affect our country are made there.
 When the team was asked if they shared driving responsibilities they said yes. Mendoza even added that her nickname was “Speedy Gonzalez.”
 “I [always liked] the good shifts where there were straight aways where I would go like 85 when the speed limit was 80,” said Mendoza.
 The team concluded that their trip was enjoyable, cost effective and an adventure of a lifetime. They said that the long drive and experience in Orlando created a very special bond for all. The team effort the group experienced was so great they said that they are already planning other road trips together.