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A Salute to the University’s Veterans

by Sofia Tokar
Portraits by Adam Fenster
Historic photos courtesy of Rare Books and Special Collections

On Veterans Day, we honor the service of University of Rochester students—past and present—in our nation's armed services.

Here are a few of their stories.

Dean Graunke ’15

Dean Graunke

Dean Graunke finished a year of college when he realized that he’d been floating through the experience. To get his bearings, he joined the U.S. Navy—and quickly learned he couldn’t simply float through it.

For nine years, Graunke served our country at home and abroad in various roles, from operations specialist to recruiter. “I grew as a person,” he says. “The military opened my eyes to possibilities, to a future, I hadn’t imagined.”

Graunke returned to Rochester to pursue his future as a chemical engineering major at the University. In addition to his studies, he works in the Benoit Lab for Therapeutic Biomaterials, helping his professors with research into regenerating salivary glands. “It’s rewarding to see where all of the books, lectures, readings, and tests ultimately lead.”


October 1944

1944 photo of Navy ROTC midshipmen

Anchors aweigh for V-12 graduates. Navy V-12 trainees at the University of Rochester parade past Rush Rhees Library en route to Strong Auditorium for graduation exercises for the first sailor group to compete their training for college degrees.


Andrew Wronski ’15

Andrew Wronski

Andrew Wronski, from Buffalo, N.Y., is the type of person who plans ahead. He wanted to see the world and get job training before attending college, so he enrolled in the U.S. Army as a junior in high school.

His duties as an army machinist and sergeant took him from Hawaii to Iraq. Wronski completed five years of service to our country, but like some veterans, he continues to experience the aftereffects of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

But Wronski’s drive and determination keep him moving forward. “I worked as a machinist after the army, but realized that my experiences better qualified me for a leadership position.”

Like many veterans, he decided to further his studies. Wronski is now a mechanical engineering major who has “learned how to think not just about myself, but about others as well—in the field, in the classroom, and beyond.”


March 1949

1949 photo of Navy ROTC midshipmen

The annual review of midshipmen of Rochester's naval Reserve Officers Training Corps on the River Campus.


Nathaniel Powers ’16

Nathaniel Powers

In 2008, Nathaniel Powers decided that he wanted to finish the college degree he started several years prior. But before doing so, the North Chili, N.Y., native joined the U.S. Marines. “I was determined to complete something difficult in order to explore the limits of my abilities.”

Powers’ five years in the marines as an avionics technician included deployment to the Persian Gulf. He credits his military experiences with building his self-confidence. “As a technical professional, I often ended up in charge of the shop. It was satisfying to discover and develop my leadership traits.”

After completing his service, Powers was ready to return to school: “My wife is a Rochester alumna, and she encouraged me to explore the University as an option.”

After participating in the Yellow Ribbon program and receiving the Rochester Pledge Scholarship, he enrolled as an electrical and computer engineering major. He finds the faculty and staff to be accessible, the University veteran-friendly. And now Powers blends his technical background and experience with the theories and concepts behind them.


May 1944

1944 photo of two female members of the armed services holding a plaque

University Alumnae Association presented the school a plaque listing all women graduates and undergraduates as well as faculty members in the armed services. Ensign Helen Shaddock ’37, left, and Captain Margaret Ferry ’34 look it over.

Veterans Day Events

Carillon Society Veterans Day Concert
Eastman Quadrangle
12:30 p.m.

Gift wrapping event at U of R for wounded veterans
Student volunteers were wrapping gifts that will be sent to Walter Reed Hospital for wounded vets. The veterans will then in turn give the gifts to their loved ones to ensure the veterans have a opportunity to spread the holiday cheer.
WHEC-TV



A Rochester Commitment to Veterans

University Expands Resources for Veterans

Rochester is committed to ensuring that those who have given the ultimate service to their country face minimal barriers in attaining higher education. To that end, the University has offered the Rochester Pledge Scholarship since 2009.

When combined with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program, qualified veteran-students are granted full tuition at the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, the Eastman School of Music, and the Simon School of Business.

In addition, the University was included in Military Advanced Education’s listing of “2014 Guide to Military Friendly Colleges and Universities,” and continues to add support services for veteran-students and their families.