After graduation, Jeremy Sedeño stayed at Texas Tech to assist and encourage veterans and their family members to pursue higher education.
It was a little more than a year ago today when U.S. Army veteran Jeremy Sedeño received his master's degree in a special, impromptu graduation ceremony outside the Texas Tech University President's Office after he was unable to walk across the stage due to an unknown illness.
While the answers to his illness were unclear, he didn't let it stop him from achieving his goals and helping other veterans.
Sedeño, 39, now works in the Military and Veterans Programs (MVP) office at Texas Tech where he recruits and encourages veterans and their family members to seek higher education and attend Texas Tech, the first Purple Heart University in Texas.
“I've always known Texas Tech is where I wanted to be,” Sedeño said. “I spent my undergraduate years here, and it's been a home to me for the last few years. I think it was just by the grace of God I saw the job opening at the MVP office and was able to apply.”
Sedeño, who served as a combat medic in the Army, was deployed in Iraq for a year but was medically discharged for an injury that earned him a Bronze Star. He said because he is a veteran and understands what they go through, he wants to help them achieve their goals just as he has.
“Helping other veterans is where my passion lies,” he said. “Texas Tech has helped me and now it's my turn to give back to veterans and the university itself.”
Working as a unit coordinator and recruiting specialist for MVP, Sedeño said his work consists of a lot of paperwork to help military students access their education benefits and being the middleman between the government and the students. Sedeño also travels throughout the state with the Raider Road Show to inform veterans about Texas Tech and what the university has to offer them.
“We do all the work for them, so they don't have to worry about it,” he said. “We want to make their transition from military life to civilian life as seamless as possible.”
Texas Tech's MVP office serves more than 1,800 military students on campus and provides assistance to them as soon as they walk through the university's door. With more than 350 veteran faculty and staff members in different colleges, departments and offices, Texas Tech's military students have a strong support system encouraging them while earning an education.
Military and Veterans Programs director Ryan Van Dusen said Sedeño is a great asset to the MVP office because of his experience in the military and his experience at Texas Tech.
“Jeremy bravely served his nation as a combat medic,” Van Dusen said. “He has taken what he has learned from the military and become an outstanding professional. The oath he swore to protect his fellow soldier has carried through in his position in the Military and Veterans Programs. Because he was a student veteran just a short time ago, he can describe his experience at Texas Tech. He works diligently to ensure students are successful and their needs are met.
“Texas Tech is very fortunate to have veterans like him working here.”
After undergoing an open lung biopsy just four days before graduation, doctors concluded Sedeño's unknown illness was a form of vasculitis, a rare disease in which blood vessels are inflamed, causing the nodules to form.
Sedeño underwent two rounds of chemotherapy in hopes the nodules would decrease in size. As of today, doctors have seen a small reduction.
“It's an ongoing process,” Sedeño said. “But I've been maintaining and staying in high spirits. My faith is very strong, and that's what keeps me going. I try not to let this illness tackle me. I keep my head up, and it's all by faith.”
Going forward, Sedeño plans to continue his work with veterans at Texas Tech. This fall he will teach his first freshman seminar class for the incoming class of 2019. Sedeño one day plans to begin working on his doctorate and teach Texas or United States history at the collegiate level, hopefully at Texas Tech.
He said Texas Tech is home and plans to stay here as long as he can.
“Texas Tech is a family steeped in tradition,” he said. “It's a wonderful place to be and can make anyone feel at home. Texas Tech is a beautiful campus and is a world inside its own. The people here are here to help and everyone helps everyone. This is such a great community to be a part of.”
Sedeño said if not for Texas Tech and the Military and Veterans Programs, his life wouldn't be where it is today.
“The doors that have opened for me have been incredible,” he said. “I'm just so grateful that I'm a part of Texas Tech now. I hope maybe I can inspire veterans to work as hard and be diligent with it, because I was just like them.
“I suffered from PTSD. I had my issues coming back from Iraq, and even though I deal with those issues on a daily basis, it's my faith and finding the things that take me away from that, whether it be my studies or devoting all my time to work and helping others.
“If I can be an inspiration to any other veteran out there and help them realize it's possible to be something great and help them to feel better about themselves, then that's what I'm here for.”