Student Veteran of the Month
By Lauren Newsome — firstname.lastname@example.org
When Andres Nealis is not in class, he works at the U.S. Coast Guard recruiting office and with the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Willowbrook, where he inspects boats and industrial facilities on the water to ensure they comply with federal safety and security regulations.
“The military has taught me what it’s like to truly be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Nealis, a senior in biological sciences and Spanish. “What I say and do no longer only reflects on me; it also reflects on my branch of service, and that’s a big responsibility.”
Nealis enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and attended boot camp at USCG Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, where he was awarded the National Defense Medal in 2015, between his sophomore and junior years at UIC.
He is part of the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Program. He is currently a Seaman (E-3) and an officer in training. Over the summer, Nealis completed an officer training exercise in Mobile, Alabama. He inspected foreign oil tankers and refineries on the water in the Gulf of Mexico. He also ensured vessels had proper life-saving equipment.
Nealis is the public affairs officer of the Student Veterans Association at UIC. Upon graduation in spring, he will commission as an officer in the Coast Guard and attend Officer Candidate School, all while pursuing the military’s physician’s assistant program.
“I chose UIC because it’s a good school for pre-health majors and I love Chicago and wanted to stay here,” he said.