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Winter 2017

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Melissa Weidner Caption: UCSB student veteran Melissa Weidner served as an aerospace medical technician during her years in military service. (Photo by Benjamin Utley)

Gaucho Conversations – The Future Psychologist:
Melissa Weidner

Third Year Transfer Student, Psychology

By Marge Perko

Where did you study before you transferred to UCSB? And what is your major?

My major at UCSB is psychology with a minor in Applied Psychology. I transferred to UC Santa Barbara from De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California. I am currently a third year student.

What roles did you fulfill while in service?

My last role in the Air Force was as an aerospace medical technician -- a fancy word for flight medic, or EMT.

At home, state side, I worked as a medic in the emergency room. I deployed to Iraq on the frontlines and was utilized as a flight medic. I also worked in the ICU and Emergency Trauma/OR section, back when the hospital was built from tents.

What are some of your challenges as a student parent here at UC Santa Barbara?

Raising a family and going to college are extremely difficult just by themselves.

However, I sustained multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) and deal with cognitive impairments making it extra hard. Even though I am under a lot of stress and pressure going to a UC, I am proud of myself for being a positive role model for my 9-year-old son.

He understands it takes a lot of drive and determination to acquire your dreams.

How has the VRC been able to help you as a student at UCSB?

The VRC has helped tremendously in my transition to UCSB. They were in contact with me months before school even started. They pushed right away for housing and financial aid, virtually taking all worries away in those areas.

The VRC, on a regular basis, gives me a place to go to with others who have had similar life experiences to mine -- therefore making it feel safe and welcoming. We are a small community with each other’s backs. It is more like extended family.

What are your professional ambitions after graduation?

After I graduate from UCSB, I hope to be transferring to Stanford, into their Psy.D. program -- or at least another institution that can offer me that.

I would like to be a clinical psychologist helping other veterans maneuver through life’s adventures.


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From Serving Our Country to Parenting Through College

The Feminist: Cristina Tommeraasen

The Community Liaison: Erik Quiroz

The Scottish Scholar: Chris Turner

The Future Global Gaucho: Landon Guelff