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April Montoya, a nursing student and Air Force veteran, is one of the first recipients of the RAYVETS Degree Completion Current Use Scholarship at New Mexico State University. (NMSU Photo by Amanda Bradford)

New NMSU Scholarship helps Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

A basic military tenet is to leave no one behind. Now, a group of Raytheon employees has come together and established a new scholarship at New Mexico State University to make sure that the final educational mission for student veterans comes to fruition.

The RAYVETS Degree Completion Current Use Scholarship at NMSU helps student veterans who have exhausted their GI Bill benefits if their bachelor’s or graduate degree is at risk due to their inability to fund their remaining classes.

“What the RAYVETS scholarship means to our student veterans is the ability to complete their educational dreams,” said Hector Sanchez, director of Military and Veterans Programs at NMSU. “It bridges the financial gap to allow veterans that have no means to pay for their remaining education a way to complete their academic degrees and transition to civilian life.”

Leading the charge is Colby Richardson, a facilities manager who founded and organizes the RAYVETS group at the White Sands Raytheon Company location.

Richardson has spent 12 years in the Army, and during seven years of active duty, he deployed three times to Iraq. Currently an officer in the Army Reserve, Richardson founded RAYVETS/White Sands in 2015. His goal for the group was to support an initiative for local veterans that has an immediate and direct impact. He reached out to NMSU and found that there were student veterans transitioning into civilian life who were at risk of not achieving their degrees because their educational benefits were depleted.

“If we don’t help these student veterans in their final year or final semester, they may have to take out student loans, and many are already maxed out on those,” Richardson said. “Many of them are already working full-time and have families.

“This is a dire need for these veterans, and by donating to RAYVETS, you’re directly impacting someone you might see at the supermarket tomorrow,” he continued.

This new scholarship has already made a significant difference in the lives of recipients. April Montoya, an Air Force veteran and Air Force wife, explained that her RAYVETS scholarship will help ease her stress in her final year of nursing school.

“It brought tears to my eyes, because help with tuition means I have money to buy gas to get to clinicals, or to buy uniforms or medical scissors,” Montoya said. “It has a domino effect, so that I don’t have to take money from my family – and with two teens and an 8-year-old, life is already pricey.”

Montoya, a full-time student, had debated stepping out of school and working to raise the tuition for her last year. Thanks to the RAYVETS scholarship, she can push straight through to completion.

“Not one penny will go to waste and not one penny is unappreciated,” Montoya said.

Montoya aims to be a certified diabetes educator, working here in Las Cruces to prevent and combat the disease.

“This scholarship will let me focus on studying for all my tests, which will get me where I want to be to help the community,” Montoya said.

What makes the RAYVETS scholarship even more special to Montoya is knowing that veterans just like her are contributing to her success.

“It’s like someone is still looking over my shoulder and watching out for me,” she said.

Our nation’s military members risk their lives, sometimes paying the ultimate price. For many, a gift toward their education is a way to repay them for their service – and even help their families. For more information on how you can help NMSU student veterans who are close to finishing their degrees but have run out of educational benefits, please contact the NMSU Foundation and search search “RAYVETS” or call 575-646-1613.

To apply for the scholarship – and all NMSU scholarships – through the Scholar Dollar$ program, For more information about NMSU Military and Veterans Programs, click HERE.

Author: Cassie McClure – NMSU

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