September 2020 Team Leaders of the Month: Caitlyn Sweat and Israel Garcia, University of Oregon

Photo of Caitlyn SweatFrom Maria Kalnbach, Nontraditional and Veteran Student Engagement and Success Coordinator at UO: “Caitlyn served as PAVE Co-Team Leader during the 2019-20 school year. Caitlyn brought a dynamic energy to the UO PAVE Team. Caitlyn was helpful in finding out the best form of communication for the PAVE team and then keeping the communication going. Caitlyn was passionate about helping transitioning student veterans and helped to motivate the PAs to continue reaching out to their advisees. When COVID hit, Caitlyn was key in holding weekly team meetings via Zoom to help the team stay strong and supportive of one another. She also assisted the PAs in reaching out to all student veterans on the UO campus to make sure they were ok during a time of isolation with online classes. Caitlyn didn’t shy away from talking about hard stuff, especially when it came to mental health. This normalized it for PAs so that honesty and trust was built with the team.”

From Caitlyn Sweat: “I am so proud of the community my team created for our student veterans. The way my team was able to work together to provide resources to our student veterans as well as opportunities for connection and interaction during the onslaught of COVID-19 and the transition to distance learning was really exceptional. They pulled together and put the hours in to make sure our community was taken care of. It’s a lot of fun seeing the ideas that Israel and I worked so hard on come to fruition and it just feels really positive to help other student veterans succeed. I’m so grateful for Israel’s contributions to the team and for the friendship we’ve created.”

Photo of Israel GarciaFrom Maria Kalnbach: “Israel served as PAVE Co-Team Leader during the 2019-20 school year. Israel gained the trust and respect of the UO PAVE Advisors by checking in with them on a regular basis and being available to talk through any challenge or issue that came up. Israel’s knowledge of local veteran resources and his kind demeanor made him accessible to everyone in the UO Student Veteran Center. Israel was and is passionate about the success of the student veterans. When COVID hit, Israel and his Co-Team Leader Caitlyn worked tirelessly along with the rest of the team to reach out to all student veterans on the UO campus. He never hesitated to go out of his way to help a fellow student veteran while balancing his own school work, being a parent, and a spouse.”

From Israel Garcia: “I believe that I am most proud of how the team can rely on each other when times are not so good. There have been more than a few situations where students in the Vet Center have made comments or showed signs of stress or mental health setbacks. Our Peer Advisors have been able to recognize when someone needed more than just an ear to listen to, and conduct warm handoffs to the university clinic for counseling or to VSOs to get the disability claim started. My favorite part of being a Team Leader is learning new ideas from the younger students. Since we are all students together, there is no rank that gets in the way from learning what is important to the younger generation today. I believe this will help me connect with a younger workforce in my next career.”