(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
Surrounded by camouflage-clad grads, the University of Massachusetts Boston unveiled its newest promotional billboard Wednesday, which aims to highlight the school’s dedication to educating returning veterans.
“In consideration of some of the bravest yet most vulnerable members of our community, we are using these billboards to honor those of our student body who have served our country,” Chancellor J. Keith Motley, remarked at the unveiling in Dorchester Wednesday. “Today, we are proud and honored to show you the faces of our student veterans, so that you may know their stories and triumphs.”
The new billboard, located at the corner of Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue, is one of 12 that will be put up throughout the city. The space was donated by the Boston division of Clear Channel.
Featuring a number of young veterans and active military personnel, the billboards extol the virtues of the national Combat 2 Campus program and UMass Boston’s efforts to integrate and educate the estimated 650 veterans and active military personnel that currently attend the university.
“It’s a little weird to see myself on a billboard, but it feels good,” said Deonilde Cardoso, a 23-year-old specialist with the United States Army, Dorchester resident, and UMass Boston student.
Currently studying criminal justice, Cardoso said she is excited to act as an example for others in the military, especially the young women that fill its ranks.
“Being a women I want other female soldiers to know there are options out there,” she said.
Pierre Salomon, a 23-year-old sergeant in the United States Army studying criminal justice and sociology was also featured on the billboard. He said he often tells the young men and women serving under him about the importance of education and the programs that are available to them.
“I think it’s good to know there are programs and schools that support veterans,” said Salomon, a Roslindale resident. “I try to tell the young privates coming in about what’s out there for them.”
The billboard in Bowdoin-Geneva is not the first time the university has used the medium to promote initiatives close to its mission. In 2012 it partnered with the Bridge to Excellence to design a billboard to promote mentoring and in 2011 the university partnered with the Louis D. Browne Institute to design a billboard to promote peace.
“I am only one of the growing number of students veterans that educational institutions such as UMass Boston are addressing,” said Francisco Urena, commissioner of veterans services for the city of Boston and UMass Boston graduate.
“Let’s think about how to assist these men and women transition when they come back home to civilian life and continue their education, let’s follow the UMass Boston lead in spreading this important message and acknowledging how thankful we are to those who strive to make peace right here at home and abroad,” he said.