By Anna Grace Usery
The Ole Miss Veterans Association is hosting its inaugural Veteran Alumni Gala to honor alumni and provide opportunities to connect them with current student veterans. The black-tie, networking event is set for Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at The Inn at Ole Miss.
The featured speaker of the night is Will Jimeno, a Port Authority police officer and Navy veteran who survived the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. At the time of the attack, Jimeno was a rookie cop assigned to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. While trying to escape to a safer place, he collapsed under the rubble and was buried for 13 hours before being rescued.
Evan Ciocci, a student veteran and president of the Ole Miss Veterans Association, said he’s excited to have student vets and alumni together in one place for such a monumental occasion.
“We want to provide students the opportunity to meet alumni in their fields of study and form business relationships,” he said.
Five $1,000 awards will be given to student veterans throughout the night, said Andrew Newby, assistant director of Military and Veteran Services. Recipients are chosen based on an essay detailing how they would utilize the award and are approved by the Executive Committee of Student Veterans.
“If they need money to fix their car, get new clothes for a job interview, feed their family, or any other need that may arise, I want them to have some financial support to help them continue on their path towards graduation,” he said.
“Each award is different, and will highlight different traits I find most compelling to the student veteran: the Initiative Award, the Spirit Award, the Perseverance Award, the Genius Award, and the Leadership Award all highlight things these student veterans possess, and those who are selected from among their peers will most effectively display these traits.”
The “Stars”, “Stripes” and “Red, White and Blue” sponsored tables can be reserved in advance and include the following:
Stars: $5,000 — Reserved table for 10 in the preferred Tier One ballroom location, 10 signed copies of Oliver Stone’s movie “World Trade Center,” recognition from the podium, the program, and social media as a Stars Table Sponsor.
Stripes: $3,000 — Reserved table for 10 in the preferred Tier Two ballroom location, recognition from the podium, the program, and social media as a Stripes Table Sponsor.
Red, White and Blue: $2,000 — Reserved table for 10 in preferred the Tier Three ballroom location, recognition from the podium, the program, and social media as a Red, White, & Blue Table Sponsor.
Individual open seating reservations are $125 and can be reserved by following these directions.
Proceeds from the event go to the Welcome Home Campaign for veterans who attend the University of Mississippi. The campaign provides assistance for permanent housing for student veterans.
“Above all, we’re creating more opportunities for veterans to succeed in higher education,” Ciocci said.
For more information about the event contact Andrew Newby of Veteran and Military Services at 662-915-2845.