Marine, seaman discuss adjustment to campus life
May 24, 2013
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In honor of Memorial Day, La Voz Weekly spoke with two student veterans at De Anza College.
“I lived on three continents. I’m older than most of my peers,” said Bejahn Malekzadeh, 25, a De Anza student and veteran.
Thomas Boulay, 27, also a De Anza student and veteran said, “There’s a massive different frame of reference for the student veteran, especially for Iraq and Afghanistan vets.”
Boulay echoed Malekzadeh’s sentiments that vets are usually a little older than most of their classmates and for the most part, have been away from formal education for several years.
“There’s some re-learning that has to take place to make the transition from military service to school success,” Boulay said.
Student veterans face difficulties as well as one consideration Malekzadeh says is very important: “The number one thing I would like to press to students is please try to use tact when asking questions about our military service.”
Malekzadeh served as a surgical technologist on active duty at Naval Hospital Guam for 19 months. “Guam is a beautiful, tiny place,” he said.
As a hospitalman E-3, Malekzadeh assisted in surgeries, worked with nurses in the post anaesthesia care unit and sometimes worked the night shift in the intensive care unit.
Today he’s studying marketing at De Anza. Malekzadeh likes being outdoors, camping for a weekend, fishing, relaxing and a campfire at the end of the day.
“I’m a bit of a space nerd and like to see the stars at night away from the city,” he said.
Boulay served for four years as a Corporal E-4 with the United States Marine Corps and is now in his third year of Individual Ready Reserve.
“I’m very proud of my service – especially graduating from USMC Boot Camp in 2006.” Boulay said. He plans to continue his studies in economics and transfer to San Jose State.
Deployed to a combat zone in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Boulay also traveled to Croatia for a support mission in 2007.
Both Malekzadeh and Boulay assist De Anza Student Veterans Association, a club on campus that helps student veterans in achieving their academic goals by providing a network of available programs, services and benefits to student-veterans.
Malekzadeh serves as president of the association and Boulay serves as vice president.
“I keep in contact with vets, show them where things are and coordinate with employers to find internships for veterans too,” Malekzadeh said.
“Bejahn really helped me get involved with the student vets and was always someone who seemed to know what was going on,” said Boulay.
Boulay helps De Anza vets with the transition from military to civilian life. Malekzadeh said he wishes people would recognize that veterans have different experiences in the military and people shouldn’t have preconceived notions.
“Memorial Day is a time to be more thankful for those who have volunteered their part in defense of our country,” said Boulay.
On Memorial Day, Boulay takes time for reflective meditation to remember those who didn’t come home.
To Malekzadeh, Memorial Day is a day to keep family close and be grateful. Malekzadeh said, “I think of those who have gone before me and are still out there every day. Remember the fallen and honor their memories.”
Navy DaysBehan Malekzadeh’s Navy Picture.