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Honoring the Veterans Among Us

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Across America, Veterans Day is our day to express gratitude to our service members, past and present, who served in both war and peace. Many of us have family members and friends who are part of this great legacy, and, on November 11, we must all take a moment to remember and thank them.

Within our own Bay Path community, we have many students, staff, and faculty who have or who are currently serving in one of our country’s service branches. In honor of Veterans Day, November 11, we reached out to six of our Bay Path University veterans about their service and its impact on their lives. Please read their stories!



Meet Bay Path Veteran Shannon Robertson '26

Shannon is a forensic science major from Taunton, MA. She served in the United States Marine Corps for three years and eight months as a 0511 MAGTF Planning Specialist.

What has serving in the military meant to you?
“Serving in the military was never in my plan growing up, but it saved my life. I was in a dark place before joining, and I proved to myself that I was capable of anything by enlisting. I endured physical and emotional challenges, but I never regret anything. With my service, I fulfilled my goal of honoring the men and women that put their lives on the line for this country.”

In what way did the service change your life or your family's life?
“It gave me everything. I gave birth to two beautiful daughters while on active duty and married my husband. I would never have been able to afford to support them without the military. I was medically retired on June 29th, 2022, after a lengthy medical board. I’m left with lasting physical and emotional disabilities as a 100 percent disabled veteran. It is a struggle every day for me to keep pushing on. My service earned me an extensive amount of financial support, both for my education and caring for my family. Being able to support my family with a home, food, clothing, and other needs is all I’ve ever wanted. I’m grateful for everything the Marine Corps gave me, challenges and all.”

Was there anything that the experience taught you?
“Being a Marine taught me many things. I learned to embody the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. I also learned that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to. One valuable lesson I learned was that nobody cares more about you than you. I learned to advocate for myself and stand up for myself (respectfully) when I was wronged. I learned to cope with and manage my disabilities and was discharged as a better person than I came in. I want to benefit society in any way possible and advocate for veterans’ health and well-being. “

Is there a connection between your military service and being a student at Bay Path?
“My service inspired me to be a better person. I came out as a better leader. I’ve become more willing to work with a team and have been able to step out of my comfort zone. One thing I always struggled with was criticism in all forms because of my perfectionist tendencies, but I’ve since learned to be receptive to criticism for my benefit. I hope to encourage other women by telling my story. Since a lot of what I went through leading up to my retirement are women’s issues, I feel it’s important to talk about my experiences. As mentioned, I feel like I can contribute to society in a more positive way by speaking about gender issues I faced in the Marines. It doesn’t just happen in the military, but in sports, careers, politics, etc. As women, we can come together to make a change. I believe we are better together.”

What do you hope to do with your degree from Bay Path?
My goal is to work in the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory.

Are there any last words (or words of wisdom) you would like to share about your experiences?
“We are better together. We are powerful and capable of amazing things! Please, if you’re struggling, reach out to someone. Go easy on yourself. I am no better than anyone for serving, but I did make changes to gender inequality issues in the Marines and will continue to do the same in the future. I am proud to say that I honorably served this great country.”



Meet Bay Path Veteran Erica Fay Milner '24

Erica, hailing from Cuthbert, GA, is enrolled in the MS in Physician Assistant Studies. She served for five (5) years in the United States Army National Guard as a 2LT Medical Services Officer.

What has serving in the military meant to you?
“Serving in the military has given me the honor and the privilege to provide and extend my services to the people of this country while still pursuing my civilian career dream of becoming a Physician Assistant. I take pride in being able to say that I am a member of the military and have the honor to serve this country during times of need.”

In what way did the service change your life or your family's life?
“My parents were both members of the United States Marine Corps, so a background in the military has been a part of my life since I was born. When I decided to join the Army National Guard, it was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to serve my country while still being able to attend Bay Path University for undergraduate and now graduate school. My parents and family were extremely supportive and are very proud of me and my success.”

Was there anything that the experience taught you?
“My military experience has taught me how to live a disciplined lifestyle, balance my school and personal life, and has given me the opportunity to do what I believe is my responsibility as a capable member of society. Serving in the military has always been something that I have wanted to pursue, and so has a college education, so when I found out that I could do both at the same time, it was the perfect opportunity. This opportunity has taught me that anything is possible with the proper dedication and mindset.”

Is there a connection between your military service and being a student at Bay Path?
“I believe that my military background has developed me into a strong and reliable leader and has helped me become more involved within my community. Attending Bay Path University and serving in the military gives me pride because Bay Path is an all-women's undergraduate University that empowers women. Bay Path sends a message that women are of no lesser value than others and are capable of anything we put our minds and hearts towards. As a woman in the military, it is not the most common thing that you see when looking at the male: female ratios within the branches of service. I am honored to be a woman in the military and take pride in performing the same duties that may be seen as a "male" role. All of my professors and mentors from Bay Path University have been extremely supportive of my military career and have always made me feel appreciated, which is humbling and, again, gives me pride.”

What do you hope to do with your degree from Bay Path?
“I hope to practice as a knowledgeable, supportive, and compassionate Physician Assistant. I am not sure which specialty I would like to practice in as of right now, but I will soon begin my clinical rotations and hope to gain a better understanding of what best fits me!”

Are there any last words (or words of wisdom) you would like to share about your experiences?
“To everyone out there, never give up. If you have your mind set on something, do everything that you can to achieve that goal. My path to where I am today has not been easy, but it has been worth it. There is no better feeling than looking back on an experience and thinking, "Wow, I did that!" I encourage all individuals to look into local ROTC programs (I attended UMass Army ROTC Program) and take advantage of the opportunity to continue to pursue your education while having the opportunity to serve The United States of America.”



Meet Bay Path Veteran Zyiasia Knighton ’23

Zyiasia is a medical science/pre-med major and calls Springfield, MA, her hometown. She served as a jet mechanic in the United States Air Force for 2 ½ years.

What has serving in the military meant to you?
“It’s given me an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, while giving me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and learn new things and meet some amazing people.”

In what way did the service change your life or your family's life?
“Enlisting in the service changed my life. It gave me the financial ability to go to an EMT Academy while providing me a civilian job—together, this helps me work towards my long-term career goal of being a doctor.”

Was there anything that the experience taught you?
“It taught me to control my emotions, even though sometimes, being human, I slip up. It also taught me a different degree of professionalism that I would have never learned by not joining the military.”

What do you hope to do with your degree from Bay Path?
“After receiving my undergraduate degree from Bay Path, I plan on attending medical school to specialize in surgery to become a surgeon.”

Are there any last words (or words of wisdom) you would like to share about your experiences?
“Don’t limit yourself to what you can and can’t do. You can do it all, so do not settle for the minimum in life. With all of my experience, one thing I will always carry with me is go after everything you set your mind to, it’ll be worth it.”



Meet Bay Path Veteran Gregory Gordon ’23

Gregory is enrolled in the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. A resident of Lunenburg, MA, he served in U.S. Navy for four (4) years as a machinist mate / engineering laboratory technician on a MM2 class nuclear submarines (E-5).

What has serving in the military meant to you?
“I served with great joy as I learned many things while serving on my boat. I really had no direction before I enlisted, but being in the service helped me decide my future based on the important pieces of my past life.”

Was there anything that the experience taught you?
“I have always been concerned with helping people achieve their best health. In the service, I learned how to order my priorities to be able to reach goals one step at a time.”

What do you hope to do with your degree from Bay Path?
“I hope to be a LMHC working in the VA system in an effort to reduce suicide, ameliorate the effects of trauma, and help veterans learn how to communicate with their families during and after their term of service.”

Are there any last words (or words of wisdom) you would like to share about your experiences?
“My only words of wisdom are never give up on your dreams because they are achievable with patience.”


Dawn Batchelor

Meet Dawn Batchelor, Senior Assistant Director of Student Financial Services and Veterans Administration Education Benefits Liaison, who served in the U.S. Air Force for six years as administrative personnel working for the aerial port unit. Unsure of her path in life and with a desire to travel, she enlisted with the hope of exploring new opportunities.

Self-discovery was a life-changing outcome of her time in the military. While on duty, she found confidence in herself that she never thought she could have. She was surprised by her strength and ability to accomplish things she never believed she could.

While in the service, Batchelor made lifelong friends who quickly became family to her. She stays in close contact with her fellow service members to this day, even from across the country.

Dawn believes that civilians do not always understand how dedicated Veterans are to their country. The sacrifice to be away from family and friends is enormous, and it is done for the sake of freedom.



Josh Plouffe

Meet Joshua Plouffe, Business Analyst, served in the U.S. Army for eight years following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Plouffe was at a pivotal stage in his life when the attack occurred, and as a strong patriot, he made the decision to enlist when he came of age.

Plouffe served in front-line units in North Carolina, Korea, and Iraq and served as an army medic at West Point. He looks back at his time in Korea the most fondly as he gained the exposure he always craved to meet new people and have new cultural experiences.

Looking back on his time served, his biggest takeaway was the overwhelming sense of comradery felt by his fellow service members from all walks of life. Every person he spoke to had a completely different story and background, yet none mattered as they were all united as one force. This gave Plouffe a newfound sense of awareness as a young man, which he has carried into his adulthood. He learned to focus on what brings people together rather than focus on what divides them.

To this day, Plouffe has remained very close friends with his fellow service members and has built relationships all across the country and around the world. If Plouffe were asked if he would do anything differently with his life, he would reply, “No, I wouldn’t. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I was lucky to come out with ten fingers and ten toes and was grateful for the life experience I had during my time in the military.”

Plouffe uses Veteran’s Day as a chance to reconnect with his friends from the military and reflect on the memories made during that period in his life.



Carpe Diem and thank you for your service!