CSUSM currently has the highest percentage of student veterans per capita of any university in the CSU. Among the student-veterans who call CSUSM home are filmmaker Sebastian Maselli (right) and former U.S. Navy search and rescue swimmer Amber Bouge (left).

A Voice for the Wounded

Veteran and recent mass media graduate, Sebastian Maselli served in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years and was part of the first U.S. Armed Forces push into Iraq. During his last two years of service, he led the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton, a transitional support regiment for injured Marines, many of whom were wounded in combat in Iraq.

Before being honorably discharged in 2009, Maselli began studying mass media at CSUSM while still on active duty. Encouraged by an assignment in his film studies course, Maselli teamed up with classmate Ryan Smith to film and produce a 21-minute documentary titled, “Blood We Shed.” The film, which shares the unimaginable personal stories and struggles of three Marines from the Wounded Warrior Battalion, was screened as an official selection at the national G.I. Film Festival last year in Washington D.C.

“Their stories inspired me,” he said. “They survived some incredibly tough experiences and lived to talk about it. I felt other people needed to know what they went through and the struggles they still face today.”

Having recently earned his degree in mass media with minors in communication, geography and arts and technology, Maselli is pursuing his passion for film production and hopes to share the stories of other veterans in his future projects.

Building Camaraderie

Former hospital corpsman and CSUSM kinesiology major, Amber Bouge joined the U.S. Navy after high school. Leaving her small town in northern Nevada to be stationed at Pearl Harbor, she became a corpsman and one of only a handful of female search and rescue swimmers in the Navy. During eight years on active duty, Bouge served two deployments and later worked at a naval hospital in Europe before being stationed at Camp Pendleton to lead the command’s fitness program.

In 2011, she transferred to CSUSM from MiraCosta College. Today the single mother works at the Veterans Center, helping student-veterans transition into academic life. One of the first to open in the state of California, the Veterans Center at CSUSM offers study space and academic support services for student-veterans, as well as serving as social center.

“It’s hard to describe, but as veterans you belong to a larger family unit where you automatically feel a sense of camaraderie when you’re with former service members,” Bouge explained. “The Veterans Center builds that sense of community for student-veterans, making the transition easier and student experience more rewarding.”

After Bouge graduates next year, she plans to apply for the Master’s program in Health Sciences at CSUSM, which will launch in fall 2013.

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Engaging the Military Community

San Diego County is home to the largest concentration of military in the U.S. It is the homeport to over 60 percent of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and over one-third of the combat power of the Marine Corps. In our region, the Department of Defense directly employs more than 136,000 individuals and indirectly supports 218,000 jobs.

“Collaborating with the military to respond quickly and relevantly to the unique needs of our strong military region is a smart thing to do from a business perspective, and it’s the right thing to from a community perspective,” said Dr. Jan Jackson, vice president for Community Engagement at CSUSM.

Active duty service members, veterans, military personnel and their families are vital to the region CSUSM serves. Through Community Engagement, CSUSM collaborates with regional military installations to analyze and anticipate workforce gaps, identify ways to expand educational programs and together advance and serve the region with purpose.

“Through partnership and intentional collaboration, we can leverage our resources to serve our community in ways that are mutually beneficial and add reciprocal value,” said Jackson.

Learn more on the Community Engagement website...