Military

For this veteran, a degree in perseverance

November 13, 2015 by Cindy O'Dell

Veterans Day events held Wednesday across Brandman’s multiple campuses paid tribute to the men and women who served and continue to serve while fulfilling education goals at Brandman University. In Irvine, Chancellor Gary Brahm talked about Brandman’s long history serving veterans and introduced Bryan Fazio, saying his perseverance is an inspiration to the entire Brandman community.

Brandman awards Bryan A. Fazio scholarships each year to veterans who have been wounded or medically disabled. Neither of this fall’s recipients were able to attend the Irvine ceremony, but Fazio and Brahm unveiled a new plaque with their names and the names of previous scholarship winners.

In his remarks, Fazio reminded the crowd in the campus lobby that the sacrifices of veterans have made it possible for others to get educations. He also highlighted the sacrifices and dedication of those who care for veterans, including that made by his mother.

The lobby of the Irvine campus prior to the Veterans Day ceremony.

Faculty, students and staff gathering at the Irvine campus prior to the Veterans Day ceremony.

His own struggles with getting benefits and healthcare appointments have inspired him to use his education (and MBA and M.A.O.L. from Brandman, followed by law school) to work as an advocate for veterans.

“This scholarship lets veterans know help is available,” said Fazio.

Nirmala Sharma, vice chancellor for military services at Brandman, noted that Veterans Day is a special day at the university.

Chancellor Brahm announced that, for the first time, the Military Times’ Best for Vets:2016 list ranked Brandman among the top 25 universities in the nation for serving nontraditional, online students.

That honor was one of two received this week. The University was also named a Military Friendly school by Victory Media for the sixth consecutive years.

A reporter and photographer from the Orange County register attended the event as well for this story in the newspaper.

Bryan A. Fazio Scholarship recipients

Chandrika Walker

Chandrika Walker is a 2015 recipient of the Bryan A. Fazio scholarship. She’s an Air Force veteran.

Chandrika Walker was just 20-years-old when the unexpected diagnosis came: multiple sclerosis (MS). The high school ROTC participant had been a medical technician in the Air Force for two years at the time, and she put her medical training to work in her own life. She was able to keep her symptoms under control and remained serving active duty for nearly 13 years, but in 2012 her stepmother passed away from complications of MS.

“That was the wake-up call I needed to educate myself about the disease progression,” she said. “While I managed MS symptoms for several years, new and more severe symptoms were developing after the birth of my second child in 2013 and the neurologist suggested it was time to medically retire from the Air Force.”

The wife and mother of two had a new mission in life: controlling MS, devotion to her family and pursuing higher education for her future goals. For that, she chose Brandman University in Walnut Creek. Chandrika had earned a B.A. in human resources and was a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) but wanted to pursue a master’s in organizational leadership (M.A.O.L.) in order to realize her career dream of leading for an organization assisting low-income families and people with disabilities.

“I was raised by a single mother so I know about the struggles that families can go through,” she said. “I credit my mother’s example of a strong work ethic for inspiring me to serve my country in the Air Force – it seemed like the best path to a brighter future for me. Now I want to be that same kind of role model for my own children.”

Chandrika was selected as one of the 2015 recipients of the Bryan A. Fazio scholarship, and she says that she is grateful.

“Bryan Fazio is truly an inspiration. His story sparked a lot of self-reflection for me, and even though I am still dealing with more symptoms, I realize that while I have MS, it does not have me.”

The second recipient, a Marine Corps veteran working on a degree at the Roseville campus, requested anonymity.

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