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Veteran finds camaraderie, friendship and good advice

November 03, 2011

Editor's Note: This story is part of a special Veterans Week series that looks at ASU's student veteran population.

For a list of Veterans Week events and seminars that aim to raise awareness about the unique needs of our servicemen and women, visit

Sylvia Dominguez excelled at her job as a Navy nuclear power electrician on an aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan. She helped keep the ship running during deployments outside North Korea and Iraq, maintaining its power generation and lighting systems, interpreting electrical sketches, blueprints and diagrams.

But when she enrolled at Arizona State University in fall 2010, she was shocked at how large the Tempe campus is. She struggled to find the buildings for her classes, and at 27 she found it hard to make friends. She missed the camaraderie of the military.

ASU Veteran Services has given her a way to meet other veterans and a place to network. She says there’s “a natural friendship” between vets, a sense of trust that’s automatic. At the Tillman Veterans Center she can ask questions about classes and get certified with the VA.

“They let the VA know that I am in classes full-time, which in turn gets me a monthly stipend and my tuition paid for. This is huge,” she says. “They make sure I’m on track and taking the right classes for my degree. The people at the Veterans Center are so generous with information and help, if I have any questions about classes or instruction or benefits. They’ve all gone through it. It makes such a difference. They’re very beneficial to me for graduation.”

Dominguez is a senior in supply chain management in the W. P. Carey School of Business and plans to graduate in May. She joined the Navy right after graduation from Avondale’s Westview High School in 2001, against her parents’ wishes.

“I joined the Navy because there was so much more that I wanted to see of the world, and I love the ocean,” says Dominquez, who says her parents’ arguments stood little chance against her determination. “I knew I was smart enough for college, but I also knew I didn’t have the focus to do four more years of school. I pressured my parents hard to sign for me, because I was only 17.”

She says she was proud to serve, helping transport Marines and Navy Seals overseas, supporting flight operations as planes carried out missions from the ship. After getting out of the Navy in 2007, she worked for a year, then attended Estrella Mountain Community College for her A.A. degree before enrolling at ASU.

Last spring Dominguez took an internship at the corporate office of Sprouts Farmers Market, and performed so well that she was hired full-time as the deli buyer’s assistant in July. She works with vendors, purchasing all the deli items for 108 stores across Arizona, California, Texas and Colorado.

“I love my job,” says Dominguez, who also is the mother of a seven-year-old daughter. “It’s exactly what I’m going to school for. I hope to enter the MBA program after graduation.”

She can see herself eventually working with other veterans, perhaps doing logistics for the Army.

Written by Sarah Auffret