The Student News Site of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Sentinel

The Student News Site of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Sentinel

The Student News Site of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Sentinel

John Jay’s Military and Veterans Services: How We Serve Those Who Serve Us

MVS Student Council (left to right) Christine Gancayco, Carla Castillo, Noel Mayorga, Emily Kiy

Military and Veteran Services (MVS) at John Jay supports the over 550 veteran and military students on campus with professional and personal development, which many students believe has created a home for them.

 Some of their services include seminars and the lounge area which often facilitates discussion for students.

MVS students’ struggles come in the form of distance from family, training concurrent with class time, being called away on mission, or feeling lonely or out-of-place. MVS is tasked with lessening the pressure of being military-involved, while also being in college.

Carla Castillo, a veteran and first-generation student, serves as president for MVS’s Student Council. She explained the role of the group.

“We include people, help them out, and advocate for our students,” said Castillo. 

Noel Mayorga, former E-5 Marine Sergeant, is another member of the MVS student council. He explained what inspired him to join the military. 

“I grew up in the city and witnessed 9/11 first-hand,” said Mayorga. “From then on my goal, my dream, was to stop terrorism.”

 MVS students have a team of advisors that help with all their scheduling and advising needs.

 Theodore Ridenour, an ROTC cadet and reservist, spoke highly of the services these advisors provide.

 “The educational resources at John Jay help him succeed,” said Ridenour.

The four main MVS advisors, Richard Pusateri (Program Manager), Claire Steines (Military & Veteran Services Social Worker), Chrissy Pacheco (Veteran Certifying Official and Military Benefits POC), and Alexis Pistone (Senior Academic Advisor, Veterans & International Students), devote hours a day to the guidance of MVS students. 

Ridenour explained how supportive the Program Manager is.

“Richard is very helpful with anything,” said Ridenour. “He will do everything in his power to help with whatever we need.”

Members of the MVS shared that Pusateri is not only a manager, but a friend to everyone that enters.

“He is part of my dream team,” said Castillo.

Specialist Nelson agrees with Catillo’s sentiments on the program director. 

 “MVS is under excellent leadership from Richard,” said Nelson.

Specialist Nelson

Castillo has great remarks for the hosts of MVS’s monthly women’s group. She explained that the host supports them to overcome obstacles.

“She really genuinely cares and will go to bat for us and she always assists us in getting the tools we need to succeed,” said Castillo.  “She has an overall approach that makes sure we are good on the home front so we can excel in our own journeys with school or work or both.”

Two members of the MVS advisement team are Chrissy Pacheco and Alexis Pistone. Pacheco specializes in the financial aspects of MVS students’ education and Pistone helps students solidify their academic plans.

Nelson shared more about what Pacheco and Pistone do. He believes they both play significant roles in the academic lives of the students.

“Pacheco is knowledgeable on the various federal and military tuition assistance programs that most students rely on to offset their college expenses, while Pistone ensures that we are selecting the right classes according to our individual degree plans,” said Nelson. “ Both ladies have altruistic personalities and are always poised to help.”

MVS advisors help students reach their goals and maintain academic success. Nelson believes the help from MVS helped him improve his GPA.

“My term GPA of 3.8 would not be possible without the assistance I receive each semester from the Military and Veterans Services office and people who work closely with military students,” said Nelson.

Haoran He, another MVS student, remarked that there are educational benefits and many resources for students. Haoron explains what he does with his time. 

“I make use of the job networking opportunities and priority scheduling made available by MVS,” said He.

In order to fulfill every personal need that MVS students may have, including mental health, the MVS Lounge was created. They host all sorts of events and seminars in the lounge and a social work team resides there as well.

Nelson shared what the seminars and discussions mean to him.

“It is crucial that students with such a unique background can talk about their experiences without judgment,” said Nelson. “The lounge fulfills that need.

MVS also has created a space in the lounge for some of their students to bring their children in. Castillo feels comfortable bringing her daughter into this space. Her daughter refers to some of her mother’s friends at MVS as aunt and uncle, which signifies the sense of community maintained by MVS.

She and her daughter were surprised with a birthday party. Everyone in MVS brought treats, decorations, and presents for her daughter. 

The surprise birthday party

“It was my most memorable moment at MVS so far,” said Castillo.

There is a dedication present in the members of MVS. Mayora explained how members of MVS treat incoming  students. 

“If you come here, we are gonna motivate you,” said Mayora.

Mayorga, former E-5 Marine Sergeant shared how MVS has made students feel like they are family. 

“You become what you surround yourself with and we are here to pick each other up,” said Mayorga. “We are vets, but we are also students; we are a family.”


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