Navy veteran plans career in rehabilitation services
Michael Jewell joined the U.S. Navy to see the world and help pay for college. But his six years as a nuclear machinist mate and engineering laboratory technician taught him a lot more.
“The journey had its ups and downs, but I learned to test my limits and subsequently realized my true capabilities along the way,” said Jewell, a senior in kinesiology. “I feel like I’m continuing that journey at UIC through involvement with the Student Veterans Association, where I also get to work alongside with some fantastic people.”
Jewell served aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), where he was responsible for the chemical and radiological aspects of nuclear power operations on an aircraft carrier. He performed radiation surveys, analyzed radioactive and nonradioactive chemistry samples, processed and transferred radioactive materials and performed decontamination processes.
“The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program was an intense and fast-paced program that was mentally and physically demanding,” he said. “I learned valuable skills through experiences in both the classroom setting and on-the-job training, while also working with some fantastic people.”
Jewell achieved the rank of Petty Officer First Class (E-6) and completed two WESTPAC deployments. He visited many ports, such as Dubai, Bahrain, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
He was awarded three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Pistol Marksmanship Medal, and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. He was qualified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and is a Shellback, a title he earned after participating in a crossing the line ceremony after he first crossed the Equator.
He began his studies at UIC in fall of 2012. “I chose UIC to be closer to family and friends while also getting the big-city experience,” said Jewell, who’s from Peoria. “I like the diversity at UIC — getting to interact with people from various cultures.”
He will graduate in May from the College of Applied Health Sciences with a bachelor’s in kinesiology. He has served as secretary, treasurer and also vice president for the Student Veterans Association at UIC and he is a member of the Kinesiology Club.
He has a work-study position at the UIC Office of Student Veterans Affairs working with Veteran Integration to Academic Leadership initiative. He volunteers at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in rehabilitation services.
“I plan to go to physical therapy school or grad school, and possibly work as a physical therapist with the VA one day,” he said.