Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lois J. Gray

Jeremy Williams believes strongly in service to our country, the community, and to Hawkeyes.

On any given day, one can find Williams being a campus and community leader and contributor. He speaks to school children and community groups. He gives media interviews. He collaborates with the Iowa City VA Health Care System and the UI Military and Veteran Student Services, just to name a few.

Williams, a doctoral student in the University of Iowa College of Education’s Higher Education and Student Affairs program, will receive a Distinguished Hawkeye Veterans Memorial Award in the student category, the only UI student to receive this prestigious award.  

Recipients of the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award must have demonstrated the following: a strong UI connection; honorable service to our country; military accomplishments or contributions; and service to the community.

“As an outspoken advocate for veterans entering the field of education, Jeremy both improves the opportunities offered to veterans and helps the College of Education grow its pool of diverse, widely-experienced educators,” writes Zachary J. Buettner, professor of military science with Army ROTC, who nominated Williams.

Williams is currently a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. He has also served as an enlisted medic and completed one combat deployment and several overseas training missions.

During the past two years, Williams has also served as the Veteran Resource Specialist for I-SERVE, Iowa Support, Education and Resources for Veterans and Enlisted program, located in the Dr. Paul D. Larson I-SERVE Office in the UI College of Education.

In this role, Williams works to increase veteran enrollment, support, and available resources. This year, he was joined by a new colleague, Yareli Mendoza, who is also serving as a Veteran Resource Specialist, learning the ropes from Williams and bringing expertise in supporting female veterans.

Williams’ 15-year Army medic career and work in sports medicine instilled in him a strong desire to serve others. Having deployed to Kuwait to support the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, he continues to seek new ways to serve others while completing his doctorate in Higher Education and Student Affairs in the UI College of Education.

Williams says his role with I-SERVE program was the opportunity-of-a-lifetime. During the past two years, he has served more than 500 student veterans/affiliates, created a veteran’s resource library, championed the Troops to Teachers program across the state, and facilitated multiple scholarship opportunities, all while commanding 270 Army Reserve soldiers. He never ceases to promote the value that student veterans bring to college campuses.

Not surprisingly, Williams’ research interests are student military veterans and civic engagement.

Williams will be honored in a ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 15th, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge on the first floor. It is free and open to the public. The ceremony begins at 5 p.m., followed by a reception at 6 p.m. The event is sponsored by the UI Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs, the Division of Student Life/Iowa Memorial Union, UI Military and Veteran Student Services and the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Memorial Awards Committee. For more information or special accommodations to attend the event, contact Jacob Varvel at 319-335-3117 or

Williams is one of six veterans being honored this year. Other recipients of the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Memorial Award will be:

  • Ensign Nile Clark Kinnick, Jr.- Heisman winner, football player, law student, Naval aviator
  • Capt. Hayden Fry- football coach, Marine captain
  • Corpsman Sandy Boyd- law professor, Navy veteran, Former UI President
  • SPC4 David Drake- Vietnam veteran, Iowa native, double major in the class of 1968 in history and Latin), and science fiction author
  • Capt. Luther Smith- Tuskegee Airman, engineer, civil rights leader

Each award recipient will also be recognized with a plaque displayed in the IMU, which was built to pay tribute to Iowans who served their country. The Memorial Honor Roll on the first floor of the IMU recognizes students and alumni who have given their lives in service to the nation as members of the armed forces. 

Winning accolades is not new to Williams. Earlier this year, Williams won the 2017 Ernest T. Pascarella Military Veteran Promise Award. Pascarella, who is both a highly distinguished scholar and a decorated veteran, was a 2015 award recipient of the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award. Pascarella also holds the Mary Louise Petersen Endowed Chair in Higher Education and is the founding director and current faculty affiliate of the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education at the University of Iowa College of Education.

After graduating in Spring 2018, Williams plans to work as a college administrator. In his Army Reserve career, he will also transition out of Command in summer 2018 and move into a Joint position.

I am thrilled and honored to receive this award. Dr. Pascarella started the tradition of College of Education personnel receiving this award, and I seek to carry forward that professionalism across military generations," Williams says. “This award connects past and present military generations with the common bond of dedication to a cause larger than any one person.  It represents how generations pass military professionalism forward through a life of service."