Serving and Persevering: Veterans Describe Their Journey from Servicemember to OU Graduate
Having served in the U.S. Armed Forces, recent OU graduates Amanda Segura and John Brown are no strangers to hard work and sacrifice. Both had to overcome many obstacles, but because of their perseverance and dedication, they have paved a path to a better future for themselves and their families.
Segura graduated in May from the College of Allied Health with a degree in nutrition and dietetics. She is currently completing her dietetic internship rotations at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where she spends her time treating veterans while expanding her knowledge in nutrition and deepening her passion for caring for others.
“I took a nutrition class years ago, and I just fell in love with how knowledgeable my professor was on the subject,” Segura said. “I grew up a massive OU fan, and this internship is extremely competitive, so it was like I had won the lottery when I was accepted into OU.”
Segura’s desire to serve others and aid veterans in need comes from the 19 years she served her country as a member of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Navy Reserve. She volunteered for two overseas deployments – Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2010 – and remains an active reservist as a parachute rigger. In this role, she maintains and inspects gear for pilots and air crewman, working primarily with helicopters to ensure the safety of their equipment.
Now that she is an OU alumna, Segura’s goal is to work full time at the VA Medical Center as a registered dietitian and nutritionist, helping care for fellow veterans and helping ensure they enjoy a long and healthy life after the days of serving their country end.
“I feel like what you eat has a lot to do with your mood and how you feel,” Segura said. “We have a lot of veterans with PTSD, so I feel they can be helped through nutrition to modify those feelings.
"Being a veteran myself, I want to give back. I’ve always had a passion for finding the healthiest options for food, and it was really hard to do that in the middle of the desert. I want to help give back nutritionally, and I really saw a need for it through my experiences.”
On top of her 40-hour weeks working at her internship, plus her responsibilities at her job and at home, Segura is a single parent to her 7-year-old son.
John Brown and his family celebrate his graduation from OU last month.
Brown is also no stranger to sacrifice, having entered the U.S. Army at the age of 17. Serving on active duty from 2001-2004, he was stationed in Korea when 9/11 transpired. He then served with the National Guard from 2004-2008.
During the early part of his military career, Brown experimented in different fields of work while also taking classes, including some of the prerequisites for pharmacy that piqued his interest. In 2006, while serving in the National Guard, he landed an opportunity to work as a pharmacy technician and knew immediately that this was the career path he wanted to pursue.
Just as life can bring the most joyful of times, it can also bring the darkest in just an instant. Such was the case for Brown and his wife. In 2007, the couple lost their first son in a car accident.
“I was just finishing my prerequisites when we lost our first son,” Brown said. “I gave it up and sat around for two years not wanting to do anything after that. I felt lost.”
Brown began teaching middle school and high school science in 2009 after he and his wife welcomed their second son. After five years in the classroom, he took a leap of faith and registered for the Pharmacy College Admissions Test and was accepted into the OU College of Pharmacy.
After years of perseverance, Brown graduated this past May with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
Brown’s ultimate goal is to provide pharmaceutical needs to veterans. He aspires to work at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center.
“My kids are my inspiration,” Brown said. “I couldn’t wait for them to see their dad walk across that stage and know that they can be in the medical field someday too, because their dad is.”
By Madysson Morris
Article Published: Wednesday, June 2, 2021