‘A day for us’: Reflections from Yale’s military community

In a series of videos, members of Yale’s military community describe their service experience, what inspired them to serve, and what led them to Yale.
Mikaela Carillo, Michael Dominique, Nita Qiu, Brandon Colas, Marnie Robbins-Hoffman, Violeta Ware, and Devon Riley.

Top row, left to right, Mikaela Cardillo, Michael Dominique, and Nita Qiu. Second row, left to right, Brandon Colas, Marnie Robbins-Hoffman, Violeta Ware, and Devon Riley. (Photos and video by Allie Barton, Dan Corcoran, and Dan Renzetti)

As Yale’s liaison to veterans and others affiliated with the military working in the university community, Holly Hermes is often surprised to discover just how many people across campus have served in uniform or are currently serving.

While it is difficult to pinpoint exact numbers, it is estimated that there are several hundred military veterans, active duty members, and reservists on Yale’s faculty and staff, as well as more than 200 student veterans (including several Yale College undergraduates from the Eli Whitney Students Program) and more than 80 Air Force cadets and Naval midshipmen in the university’s ROTC program.

And while each individual has their own unique story and military background, there are some common values they all share, said Hermes, the first full-time liaison in Yale’s newly created Office of Veteran and Military Affairs.

They come from different services, served in different places, and have had different missions, but throughout the community there is a common thread,” said Hermes, herself an Air Force colonel and active reservist who has served various roles in the Yale Air Force ROTC program. “There are core values that they embody, including integrity, service, and courage.

Veterans bring a lived experience and a commitment to excellence and leadership that strengthens this campus and community.”

This week, in honor of Veterans Day, Yale News sat down with several members of Yale’s military community, including an Army lieutenant colonel who recently started a Ph.D. program in the Department of Political Science, an Air Force veteran now working in Yale’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a former Naval officer in her third year at Yale Law School, and a Marine and Army veteran who now is a project manager in the Office of Facilities.

In a series of videos, they describe their own military experiences, what inspired them to serve, how these experiences have shaped their lives and their work, and what led them to Yale.

Mikaela Cardillo

Carmel, Indiana
Yale Law School, Class of 2024
U.S. Navy, Surface Warfare Officer, 2016–2021

Michael Dominique

Stamford, Connecticut
Yale University Police Sergeant
U.S. Marine Corps, Sergeant, 2001–2009

Nita Qiu

Woodbury, Minnesota
Yale College (Computer Science and Psychology), Class of 2024
Air Force ROTC cadet

Brandon Colas

Vestal, New York
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Political Science, Ph.D.), Class of 2027 (expected)
U.S. Army, Lieutenant Colonel, 2006–present 

Marnie Robbins-Hoffman

Yale University Police Sergeant
Connecticut Army National Guard and Army Reserve, Sergeant First Class, 1995–2017

Violeta Ware

Lithonia, Georgia
Utilities Project Manager, Office of Facilities
U. S. Army, Private First Class, 2013 | U.S. Marine Corps, Officer Candidate, 2011

Devon Riley

New Haven, Connecticut
Diversity Support Specialist, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
U.S Air Force, Staff Sergeant, 2011–2018


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