Student Veteran of the Month
By David Kwon — firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Helwink initially joined the service for the college benefits the military offers. But her reasons for serving evolved into something bigger.
“The mission comes first,” Helwink said. “Active duty taught me the value of teamwork, hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice and duty.”
Helwink enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in July 2012. She served on active duty for three years, then transferred into the U.S. Air Force Reserve in August, serving with the rank of SrA, Senior Airman (E-4).
Helwink attended U.S. Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and Aerospace Medical Service technical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in January 2013. During her time in active duty, Helwink was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base as a medical technician with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at San Antonio Military Medical Center. She provided medical care and assistance for premature babies. She continues her job as a medical technician, spending one weekend a month with the reserves at Scott Air Force Base near Belleville.
Throughout her career, Helwink has been awarded the Air Force Training Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Gallant Unit Citation.
She was promoted from Airman First Class (E-3) to Senior Airman through the Below the Zone program, an early promotion opportunity restricted to airmen who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank.
Helwink, a native of Ukraine, joined UIC in the fall as a junior studying Russian language. She moved to Chicago’s Ukrainian Village when she was 15-years-old. An Honors College student, she’s also a member of the Student Veterans Association at UIC.
She chose to attend UIC because of the “great Russian program, excellent faculty and numerous opportunities for internships and professional experience,” she said.
After she graduates, Helwink plans to study Russian at the graduate level and eventually work as a translator.
“I am looking forward to being a translator for government agencies, private firms or nongovernmental organizations in the future,” she said.