CUNY’s First-Ever Conference for Women Vet Students Hosted at CUNY SPS

CUNY SPS hosts women veterans' panel discussion

Continuing its legacy of veteran support, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) hosted the first-ever Women Who Wow Us Freedom Conference on March 22. This milestone event brought together a group of approximately fifty women veterans from around CUNY for a memorable evening of information, support, and community building at the CUNY SPS campus.

Subtitled “Black and Blue, Leading Even When It Hurts”, the conference’s theme was designed to show support for and listen to the voices of women veterans who have empowered others through their advocacy and made a difference in their community.

The Women Who Wow Us Freedom Conference was made possible through the joint efforts of the CUNY Office of Veteran Affairs (COVA) and CUNY SPS. DeQuency Bowen, a COVA veteran peer mentor, U.S. Army veteran, and two-time CUNY SPS graduate (BA in Communication and Media ‘20 and MS in Business Management and Leadership ‘22) joined fellow COVA veteran peer mentors Nina Perdomo, a Brooklyn College student and Navy veteran, and Nicole Tomazi, a Baruch College student and CUNY Army ROTC member, in hosting this event, which featured a panel discussion and various information and service booths, all aimed at providing valuable support to women student veterans.

Jessica Agatha Funes, the coordinator for inclusion for COVA and a U.S. disabled Army veteran, reflected upon the goals of the conference. “This is the first-ever women student veterans' event at CUNY,” said Funes. “We are so excited to hear the students and leaders tell their stories. The mission of the event was to identify and provide a safe place—a nurturing and welcoming environment—for women student veterans. As a veteran myself, [I know that] some women veterans do not identify as a veteran within higher education because they don't feel welcome or supported, and some events may be triggering for them.”

Pamela Hunter, New York State Assembly Member for District 128, served as the keynote speaker for the evening. In her address, she offered encouraging words of advice and strength to the veterans in attendance.

A panel discussion followed that included Angela Indardeo, New York State Department of Veteran Services Deputy Commissioner and retired army command sergeant major; Nancy Schiliro, Wounded Warrior program senior community liaison and marine veteran; Wendy McClinton, CEO, Black Veterans for Social Justice; Madison Fletcher, Veteran Foreign War Commander, District 2; and COVA peer mentors DeQuency Bowen, Nina Perdomo, and Nicole Tomazi.

In addition to the speakers, several information booths offered special services for women veterans. These included organizations such as Women Veterans Health Care; the Topfield Center, offering equine therapy as VA adaptive sports; America’s VetDogs, New York State Department Veteran Services; and American Corporate Partners. There was also an informational station offering legal services as well as a pop-up cafe sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation.

Bowen summed up the evening by speaking to the importance of building a support system, not only for women veterans but also for the spouses and families of veterans. “We plan to continue our outreach for women,” said Bowen. “We want to be able to help women get the services they need. It's important that women vets self-identify—even if you are a spouse of a veteran—because there are many benefits that are extended to the vets, the spouses, and their dependents.”

The support provided by CUNY SPS for the conference is part of the School’s longstanding efforts to provide its active military and veteran students with specialized resources, financial assistance, and community-building opportunities. This network of support has earned CUNY SPS numerous accolades, including most recently by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked the School #3 on its 2024 list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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