Tuesday, November 10, 2020

By Claire Quigle


Lorenza Hilliard is an Army Veteran who has been out of the Army for nearly four decades. But she still finds a way to continue giving back to other veterans.

Hilliard spent her career working with veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a clerk, secretary, and program administrator in the healthcare system after she served in the military for six years. She also worked with the benefits administration as a veterans service representative and later as a rehabilitation counselor.

Hilliard is now bringing all of her experiences to her roles as a doctoral student in Counselor Education and Supervision and in her new position as the Veterans Resource Specialist for Iowa Supports Education and Resources for Veterans and Enlisted or I-SERVE in the University of Iowa College of Education.

I-SERVE helps veterans, enlisted, and military-connected individuals' transition into higher education at the University of Iowa.

As the Veterans Resource Specialist, Hilliard has the opportunity to assist and support other veterans. I-SERVE offers many resources, including career development and helping veterans secure financial assistance. In addition to I-SERVE, the UI offers another program called Iowa Veteran Education, Transition, and Support (IVETS).

“Currently we have I-SERVE as a resource depot for veterans and military affiliates,” Hilliard says. “We help veterans, enlisted, and military-connected individuals’ transition into higher education at the University of Iowa.”

Hilliard has a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Springfield College and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling from San Diego State University and she is currently a doctoral student in Counselor Education and Supervision at the UI College of Education.

“I am pursuing a Ph.D. because the opportunity presented itself at a women’s veterans conference,” Hilliard says. “I looked at the possibilities of using the experience that I have gained in the field as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, and the Ph.D. program was the next step for me to study ways to best serve and educate future counselors.”

She also has found ways to stay involved and help others outside of her career.

“Outside of my professional career,  I have spent many years working with women and veteran women to encourage and empower them as I have been empowered,” Hilliard says. “I truly have embraced the pay it forward concept.”

Hilliard is looking forward to the opportunity to help students through her position.

“I’m able to assist veteran students in their journeys into helping and teaching careers and at the same time receiving the help that I need,” Hilliard says. “I understand that any helping position is reciprocal.

Hilliard is originally from San Diego, California, and she enlisted in the Army in November of 1979. After spending a short time in Fort Dix, New Jersey, for basic training, she went to advanced training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Her military occupational specialty code (MOS) was a Non-Communications Interceptor. She was then stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, where she was attached to the 1st Armored Division.  Upon returning to San Diego, Hilliard spent four years in the Army Reserves stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, as a Watercraft Operator (Amphibians) and Retention noncommissioned officer (NCO).

This is Hilliard’s first year at Iowa, and because of the pandemic, her experience has been anything but ordinary.

Hilliard says her time in the Army has helped her successfully transition into the Counseling, Education, and Supervision doctoral program. She connects how the support of counselors is similar to what she learned during her time in the Army.

“This field is rewarding but tough,” says Hilliard. “Just like veterans.  There is something that happens during boot camp that instills in us that sense of comradery and desire to be of service.”

Hilliard is in the I-SERVE office at the Baker Teacher Leader Center, Room N122, in the Dr. Paul D Larson I-SERVE office.  Her office hours are Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon and on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to1 p.m. To meet with Hilliard, one must set up an appointment. Hilliard can be contacted at iserve@uiowa.edu to set up an appointment.

As a veteran, Hilliard serves as an inspiration to others as she continues to devote herself to helping student veterans while remaining open to new opportunities.

“I have already in my first semester realized that there are so many opportunities here at the University of Iowa for personal growth, self-knowledge, and gaining a world view of the profession,” Hilliard says.