Celebrating Our Veteran Scholars
Abigail Whalen, Class of 2025
Abigail was born and raised in Massillon, Ohio. She enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 2014 where she served in Air Support Operations. Abigail spent most of her enlistment in Cherry Point, North Carolina, at Marine Air Support Squadron 1. Outside of the regular duties of her MOS, she led and organized multiple squadron and base-wide events for hundreds of Marines and their families. She also oversaw the training section of her squadron to ensure that every Marine was effective in their occupation skills. Her drive and determination allowed her to rise above her peers earning a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for her work.
Abigail is excited for the opportunity to join such a freethinking and progressive University. She intends to study Psychology and use what she learns in the College to continue into graduate school. She is looking forward to the upcoming challenges that UChicago will bring and is confident that she will meet each one head on!
Benjamin Wu, Class of 2025
Benjamin was born in Shanghai, China and spent most of his adolescence in Japan, Germany, and the United States before joining the U.S. Marine Corps as a MV-22 Tiltroter Crew Chief in 2016. During his five years of military service, he witnessed the capabilities of modern emergency medicine while performing a number of aerial emergency medical evacuations and humanitarian relief missions around the world. Benjamin’s passion for health care and assisting those in their time of need is reflected in his devotion to selfless service and desire to pursue a career in medicine.
Benjamin is excited to be part of the UChicago family and hopes to share his unique experiences with the student community-at-large.
Brett Lynch, Class of 2025
Brett was raised in Sarasota, Florida and enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps as a Ground Electronics Radio Technician. While stationed at Camp Lejune Brett served as a Onslow Beach lifeguard where saved four people from drowning. This experience inspired him to become a Marine Corps water survival instructor and earn the distinction of honor graduate at the challenging school. Brett conducted complex training for hundreds of Marines in various water survival courses.
Brett is excited to study economics at UChicago where he looks forward to an intellectual atmosphere that embraces challenges.
Cayden Bruce, Class of 2025
Cayde grew up in Sparta, Wisconsin, where he joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school. He served two years at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall in England as a Cyber Security Technician where he took lead in modernizing the United Kingdom’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile systems. He was then stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida, where he secured and managed the Air Force Special Operations Command’s network.
Cayde is excited to blend his real world cyber security experience with his education at the University of Chicago.
Charlie Pivar, Class of 2025
Charlie grew up in Highland Park, Illinois before moving to Florida where he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as an Infantry Assault Marine in 2017. He was stationed with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Charlie served as the assault section leader and was responsible for the employment of rockets and demolitions throughout his unit. Charlie also served as an instructor of water survival and was a fast-rope master.
CCharlie hopes to study Law, Letters, and Society at UChicago and is thrilled with the opportunity to continue his commitment to excellence in an academically challenging environment.
Christopher Boren, Class of 2025
Originally from Hawaii, Chris enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2016 and served aboard the flagship of the Virginia-class nuclear submarine fleet – the USS Virginia. While there, he developed his underwater navigation skills as a Quartermaster along with his inertial navigation systems knowledge needed to maintain the Virginia’s war fighting capabilities at sea. Chris spent his last year aboard the Virginia mentoring and developing new sailors as one of the leading petty officers on the warship.
Chris looks forward to challenging himself every day at the University as he pursues a degree in molecular engineering with interests in nanotech design. A first-generation student, Chris hopes to create solutions for the most pressing issues facing the world today and knows that UChicago will be the catalyst to achieving his goals.
Dallas Wolf, Class of 2025
Dallas was born and raised in Kansas City and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Munitions Systems Specialist after graduating high school. During his eight years in the military, Dallas completed overseas tours in Korea, Guam, and Italy as a radio dispatcher, honor guard, and security manager. Dallas was awarded the John Levitow Award for being the top graduate from Airman Leadership School.
Dallas is a first-generation college student and is looking forward to the rigorous curriculum at UChicago while pursuing a degree in economics.
Jahquan Registe, Class of 2025
Jahquan was born and raised in Portland, Maine. He enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 2014 to work in Ground Electronics Transmission Systems. Jahquan was assigned to the 1st Maintenance Battalion which is responsible for repairing all equipment ranging from vehicles to satellites west of the Mississippi River. During his active duty service, Jahquan fixed radios and other electronic equipment valued in excess of $25M.
Jahquan is excited to be continually challenged during his time in the College – by not only the academics, but also the opportunities for personal and professional growth offered by UChicago.
Luke Yelenick, Class of 2025
Luke was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where after high school he joined the U.S. Army. Luke served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, deploying four times to Afghanistan and working within inter-agency teams. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served as a team leader in a communications company. Luke’s leadership in operations directly led to the success of multiple missions.
Luke is excited about the new and unexpected challenges UChicago will bring. He is most interested in exploring his fellow students’ points of view and engaging in the intellectual diversity that the University has to offer.
Mike Nichols, Class of 2025
Originally from Virginia, Mike spent half his childhood in Italy and Germany before returning to his home state. In 2013 he enlisted in the Navy as a Nuclear Electronics Technician and volunteered for submarine duty. After completing two years of initial training he served as an instructor at the Nuclear Power Training Unit in South Carolina. He has been a member of four different submarine crews and most recently served aboard the PCU Massachusetts.
Mike is excited to study at UChicago where he is looking forward to broadening his academic base through the Core curriculum and immersing himself in an intellectually enriching environment on campus.
Natnael Getahun, Class of 2025
Natnael was born in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, but spent most of his life in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Pennsylvania. After a year of studying computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Natnael decided to take a break from college and joined the U.S. Army as an Infantryman. During his three years of service, Natnael went on two rotations to Poland and deployed to Kuwait.
While there are many aspects of the military that he will miss, the camaraderie is without a doubt the most notable. Natnael is eager to experience this same sense of camaraderie as a Veteran Scholar at UChicago, where he plans to study philosophy and statistics.
Nicolas Rinn, Class of 2025
Nicolas grew up in Verona, Italy, where he first read about the University of Chicago. In 2017, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to work as a Telecommunications Technician. During his three and a half years of active duty, Nicolas repaired first responder radios and later joined the aeromedical evacuation teams. This afforded him the opportunity to serve in a variety of ground support roles at Scott Air Force Base along with deployments to Qatar.
Nicolas is eager to experience UChicago’s signature academic intensity along with its vibrant and diverse community. He looks forward to exploring his coursework and being surrounded by inspired thinkers.
Nikko Wheeler, Class of 2025
Raised in Iowa, Nikko spent a year on the Iowa State University football team before enlisting in the Navy in 2015. After completing Naval Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician School, he served as an EOD Technician in both an operational and intelligence capacity. During his time in the Navy, Nikko worked with several partner forces including NATO, the USSS, and AMISOM across a broad range of locations that included Iceland, Lithuania, Romania, Egypt, Uganda, and Croatia. He plans on continuing his services as an EOD Technician in the Navy Reserves.
Nikko looks forward to challenging himself in the rigorous environment that UChicago offers. He plans to use his education and experience in technology development work to support national security. His commitment to UChicago derives from the University’s reputation built on work ethic and he is excited to contribute to this legacy.
Quinn Dziwura, Class of 2025
Quinn grew up outside Atlanta where he enlisted in the U.S. Army out of high school. He completed Basic Training, Airborne School, and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program before being assigned to the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. While assigned to his unit, Quinn deployed to Afghanistan twice in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel and graduated the military’s premier leadership course – the U.S. Army Ranger School in 2018.
Quinn is excited for the academic rigor of UChicago and looks forward to being surrounded by his peers. He is thrilled to study Public Policy and experience what the University has to offer!
Samuel Salazar, Class of 2025
Samuel grew up in South Florida and enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating high school in 2015. Samuel completed training at the Navy Dive School and served with the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team in Little Creek, Virginia where he deployed four times conducting clandestine diving operations onboard U.S. Navy submarines. Samuel went on to serve at the Navy’s South-West Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, California as an Underwater Ship’s Husbandry Specialist. There he conducted underwater maintenance on Pacific Fleet ships and served as coxswain of his team’s dive boat, overseeing the safety of his crew and the extensive diving systems aboard the vessel.
Samuel is looking forward to his time at UChicago – surrounding himself with scholars who are eager to learn and being a part of the University’s community.
Shane James, Class of 2025
Originally from Louisiana, Shane moved to Panama with his family as a child before returning to live in North Carolina. Shane enlisted in the U.S. Army out of high school where he served for eleven years as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant, ultimately earning the rank of Sergeant First Class. Shane deployed to Afghanistan, Columbia, and Honduras while stationed at 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He spent his last three years at the Special Warfare Medical Group contributing to the development and implementation of the curriculum for the Special Operations Combat Medic Course as a senior instructor and writer. During his time in service, Shane was awarded the Bronze Star Medal along with multiple commendation and achievement medals for his leadership and contribution to mission success.
Shane is excited to embrace the Core curriculum and feels blessed for the opportunity to be purposefully challenged in such an elite and supportive academic arena!
Ryan Baumgart, Class of 2025
Ryan is originally from Phenix City, Alabama where he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Public Affairs Specialist. He was stationed with the 1st Combat Camera Squadron in Charleston, South Carolina. While with the unit, Ryan documented many military exercises and humanitarian efforts along with an overseas deployment.
Ryan is excited to continue his study of film and media at UChicago. He looks forward to connecting with fellow students and artists with the dream of becoming an award-winning movie director.
William Cato, Class of 2025
Originally from Indiana, Will joined the U.S. Army in 2005 and was selected for assignment to the Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment as one of two counterintelligence personnel. His assignment was marked by extensive overseas travel and operations in support of the Joint Special Operations community (Special Forces, Rangers, SEALs, and Pararescue). Throughout his career, Will earned top honors in multiple schools that included the Army’s CI Agent, SOAR(A)’s Green Platoon, and Senior Leader Courses. These schools along with advanced combat and survival training for high-risk missions contributed to his success on intelligence operations. Will earned the rank of Sergeant First Class during his time in service and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal along with multiple commendation and achievement medals for his leadership.
The desire to engage with world-class scholars and colleagues at one of the nation’s premier universities led Will to UChicago where he will study psychology.
Zane Ashby, Class of 2025
Originally from south central Pennsylvania, Zane served eight years as an Infantry Rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC where he was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. Earning the rank of Sergeant, he served as an Infantry Squad Leader, Scout Sniper Team Navigation, and a Current Operations NCO for Marine Special Operations Command-East. Zane deployed overseas three times where his unit was tasked with contingency operations in regions of Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indo-Pacific region.
Zane plans to study Biology or Molecular Engineering and he looks forward to exploring new perspectives at UChicago. He aspires to further develop the skills he has learned in the Marines to pursue a career in clinical research. The University of Chicago is where Zane believes he can expose himself to unique challenges, diversify himself in a community of talented thinkers, and learn how to answer the difficult questions.
Simon Joseph, Class of 2025
Growing up in Tomah, Wisconsin, Simon enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Radio Operator. During his four years of service, Simon was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA and deployed with a special purpose group. The group was tasked with securing the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq and responding to missile strikes. While deployed, Simon facilitated a bilateral exercise with Saudi Arabian Marines that strengthened diplomatic relations.
Simon’s grandfather was a 20-year Army Veteran who died from Parkinson’s and dementia shortly after Simon enlisted. Simon wants to contribute to new therapies and a cure for these diseases while studying at UChicago.
Colin Augustson, Class of 2024
Born and raised in rural Illinois, Colin enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as an Anti-Tank Missile Gunner in 2016. Colin was assigned to First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii where he completed three deployments to the Indo-Pacific area of operations that included Okinawa, mainland Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines as a corporal. During these deployments he trained, supervised, and assisted joint service components and partner nation forces. Colin is a graduate of the Advanced Infantry Marine Course – a combat leadership school designed to train infantry squad leaders.
Colin’s greatest ambition in attending UChicago is in surrounding himself with leaders and thinkers…he believes that the students and faculty members at the University embody the spirit of human achievement and innovation!
Ian Tierney, Class of 2024
Growing up outside Buffalo, New York, Ian enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school where he served as a hydraulic/pneumatic mechanic. His service has had him stationed in Hawaii and California in a number of supervisory roles before being selected to attend the Non-Destructive Inspection School and serving as a technician in that role. Ian’s work with the MALS-11 resulted in his being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and a transfer to serve as the Airframes Division Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Ian’s commitment to service has seen him start a philanthropic group for service members, develop a program to eliminate drunk driving on base, and train as an aerial observer on the CH-53E. He is excited to take this same commitment to service with him to UChicago – impacting the community while pursuing academic success!
Aaron Warner, Class of 2024
Born and raised in Arizona, Aaron enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman (medic) where he served on active duty for two years on Fort Belvoir, Virginia earning certifications, maintaining medical equipment, and helping patients. Aaron’s reason for joining the military was grounded in his deeply held belief in service. This is a belief he would like to keep with him moving forward.
Aaron is most excited to study History at UChicago. He is looking forward to engaging with faculty in research!
Arturo Gutierrez de Velasco, Class of 2024
Immigrating from Mexico at a young age, Arturo enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve his country one year after being naturalized as a U.S. citizen. During his service as an intelligence analyst, Arturo participated in security operations in Korea – training foreign soldiers and monitoring the activity of the North Korean missile program.p>
Arturo is excited to study biology with a pre-med track in the College, hoping to continue his service to others as a medical doctor. He is looking forward to diving into research life at UChicago and is eager to engage with public health policy discussions.
Breanna Maestas, Class of 2024
Breanna was raised in Denver, Colorado and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after graduating in 2011 where she served as an operations intelligence apprentice and mission intelligence coordinator. Breanna’s service saw her assigned to A.F. Special Operations Command with two deployments to Afghanistan in support of special operations intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance collection. After completing active duty service, Breanna supported U.S. Army operations as a contractor along with her current role in the A.F. Reserves supporting U.S. Space Command.
Breanna is excited to bring her experiences to UChicago as she pursues a career that blends the leadership skills the military cultivated with the intellectual rigor and diverse perspectives the University embodies.
Daniel Lopez, Class of 2024
Daniel enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school, serving as an aircrew freight and maintenance supervisor that coordinated the logistics behind loading the KC-130 aircraft, ensuring safe and expeditious transport operations. Daniel’s service took him to Okinawa, Japan along with humanitarian missions in multiple countries in the Pacific. During these missions, Daniel discovered a passion for providing relief for countries devastated by natural disasters.
Daniel is excited to further explore these passions at UChicago! He looks forward to building networks along with gaining academic and industry experience. Daniel sees the College as a place where he and his peers can continually improve themselves, and by extension improve our nation.
Robert Zamora, Class of 2024
Robert enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2014 to serve as an intelligence analyst. Originally from Plainfield, Illinois, Robert was working full- time and attending community college when he realized he was not making the impact he desired and sought the opportunity to serve his country. Robert trained in Georgia to jump out of planes, becoming an airborne paratrooper. This led to his being stationed in North Carolina with the 3rd Special Forces Group where he deployed twice to Chad and once to Nigeria. While on deployment Robert trained and worked with local military forces, host government officials, and allied governments. During his time at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria he worked with agencies including the CIA, FBI, NGA, and NSA that ultimately led to his being chosen to brief the Deputy Director of National Intelligence.
Robert continues to crave opportunities for growth (mentally, emotionally, and professionally). He is looking forward to using his experiences at UChicago to continue his service and support the greater Chicago community.
Truman Custer, Class of 2024
Truman enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 2015. Beginning his service on the patrol boat Sailfish in the New York Harbor, he was tasked with search and rescue operations, port and waterway coastal security, and maritime law enforcement. Truman continued his service with the Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit in San Antonio, Texas followed by missions in five countries and accumulating over 70,000 miles at sea. While in the western Pacific he assisted the United Nations in sanctions enforcement against North Korea along with conducting joint exercises with foreign coast guards.
Truman is excited to join the community that values critical thinking and lifelong learning at UChicago. His is inspired to test himself and quotes Franklin D. Roosevelt – “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”!
Seth Cohen, Class of 2024
Seth enlisted as a U.S. Marine in 2016 where he served in the 2nd Tank Battalion as a communications specialist and radio operator achieving the rank of sergeant. During his time on active duty, Seth oversaw the accountability of valuable communications equipment, developed training exercises throughout his unit, and oversaw the care of Marines under his leadership.
Seth is excited to study mathematics and immerse himself in the academic rigor that UChicago is known for!
Jason Marshall, Class of 2024
Jason served in the U.S. Army for six years as an unmanned aerial vehicle operator flying an aircraft called the Gray Eagle on over two- hundred missions that provided air-support for reconnaissance, combat, and rescue operations. Jason earned the position of aircraft mission coordinator with the responsibility of managing up to four simultaneous flight missions within combat and training environments.
Jason is most excited about engaging in scholarship at UChicago – delving into physics research while challenging himself and his peers to be both better students and better people!
Ivy Yahner, Class of 2024
Originally from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania Ivy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2013 to serve as a cryptologic linguist. She attended the Defense Language Institute where she studied Chinese Mandarin and studied abroad in Taiwan. She was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina as part of the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade and deployed to Kandahar Afghanistan where she was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Ivy’s love for language and an academic challenge has her excited to begin course work at UChicago studying Russian and East European Studies.
Tyler Jackson, Class of 2024
Born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia, Tyler enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a jet engine mechanic in 2011. Tyler later transitioned to work as a Marine Security Guard with Security Augmentation Units at various diplomatic missions abroad to include Sudan, Kenya, Pakistan, Germany, and Norway. It was during these diplomatic assignments where he developed an interest in global studies.
Tyler credits UChicago’s welcoming and engaging community as part of its appeal to veterans like himself. He is excited to begin challenging coursework and immerse himself in research and professional opportunities!
Kevin Schmid, Class of 2024
Kevin grew up in Cary, North Carolina and comes from a family that has generationally been dedicated to service – great uncles in WWII, both grandfathers service in the Korean War, brothers currently in service, and a father who dedicates his life to service as a NYC Fireman. Kevin himself enlisted at 17 and spent 5 years serving with the U.S. Special Operations Command deploying to Central Asia and East Africa. During his service Kevin worked with multiple U.S. Special Forces detachments and SEAL teams crediting their leadership in influencing him to set his sights on a UChicago education.
Kevin is excited to experience all that UChicago has to offer, fully immersing himself in professional development opportunities and academics.
Nicholas Golin, Class of 2024
Nicholas is a native of the Chicago area, where after graduating from Stevenson H.S. and attending the University of Missouri for a year, he decided that he needed to fulfill his life-long goal of serving as a Marine. Nicholas enlisted as a Marine infantryman and spent his career in 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines stationed in North Carolina. During his service, Nicholas embarked on two separate Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments, spending a total of 13 months at sea and completing training exercises with foreign militaries.
Nicholas was known in his platoon as the “unofficial financial advisor,” always offering help to his fellow Marines with everything from balancing their budget, setting up their retirement plans, or helping them engage with additional resources and finance professionals. His passion for helping others with their finances further catalyzes his interests at UChicago where he will study economics!
Eric Snyder, Class of 2024
Eric grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago before joining the U.S. Army as a medic. During his seven years of service, Eric was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the Special Operations Medical Detachment where he trained with the Office of Strategic Warfare in their Regional Support Medic Course. Eric deployed to Syria and Iraq in addition to two diplomatic missions in Honduras where he helped with their medical infrastructure.
Eric travelled to Rishikesh, India to earn Yoga certification as well as further obtaining his Warriors-at-ease certification in order to support his non-profit work for veterans, first responders, and trauma survivors. Eric is excited to bring his passions to UChicago and study with some of the greatest minds in academics!
Conrad Farinola, Class of 2024
Growing up in Los Angeles and Seattle, Conrad enlisted in the U.S. Army just shy of his 19th birthday to serve as an intelligence analyst and infantryman. It was after enlisting that he began to realize what he was truly capable of, seeking out highly stressful situations and standing out amongst his peers. Conrad quickly earned the opportunity to showcase his leadership potential and was billeted as a team manager, unit armorer, and Company Intelligence Support Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. His service included briefing his division commander on intelligence reports along with assessment of regional enemy threats and positions.
Conrad is excited to begin his studies at UChicago – a place he says is beyond “pre-Army Conrad’s” wildest dreams. He looks forward to the intellectually enriching environment, being constantly challenged, and building relationships with his peers and faculty.