Gaby Porras (Student)

By University Communications

Friday, 11 10 2017

pictureGaby Porras, is a student veteran and interdisciplinary studies major. As a kid, Porras never really knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. She got involved in the ROTC programs in high school and decided to join the U.S. Army two months after her high school graduation.

Porras proudly served in four different units, deployed twice while in service, led and mentored many troops and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG), before medically retiring in February 2016. Her new mission, being a mother, is an amazing one, and she decided that earning a college degree would create the best path to success for her and her son.

Just like any experience, going to college brings with it challenges and opportunities. Porras says she was fortunate to enroll at a university like A&M-SA that is among those that are “Military Embracing" and looks closely at their relationships with student veterans and develop programs accordingly.

Porras started her educational journey at A&M-SA in the fall of 2016. She decided after serving as an instructor in the Army, that teaching was her passion. She chose to pursue a degree in interdisciplinary studies with the hope of becoming a language teacher.

Starting college at the age of 34, Porras wondered if she could really retain anything or actually do it all. The secret, she says, is having a plan. This ability and the discipline of military life are among the many advantages that veterans bring to the higher education table.

"Don’t hesitate to tap into and use these abilities to succeed in your college education," she said. "If you have a good Veterans Affairs office on campus, don’t think twice about asking them to help you develop a plan."

Porras explained that it is still a struggle sometimes to balance mom life and student life, but she knows she is not alone. Having met other amazing single-parent veterans at school and leaning on them for guidance has been huge for her.

"Stick together," Porras explains. "Be strong for each other—just like you were for the men and women in your squad or platoon or flight or team in the military. Be there when you are needed most and don’t be afraid to ask for help in those times when you really require it."

Seeing others succeed makes Porras hopeful she will do the same. Being a part of a strong campus community that supports student veterans gives her the confidence to keep going as she works toward earning her degree.