Monday, November 6, 2023

College of Education doctoral candidate Yareli Reeve-Mendoza will be honored at the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award Ceremony this Thursday, Nov. 9, alongside other members of the armed forces who have demonstrated exceptional service to the United States, their communities, and our university. 

Senior Airman Reeve-Mendoza served for five years in the United States Air Force. For her service, she earned an Army Achievement Medal and two Iraq Campaign Medals. She is currently serving a national appointment in Washington, D.C., on the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Former Prisoners of War.

As a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program (HESA) Program in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, she is passionate about building support for female veterans.

Sherry Watt, a professor in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, nominated Reeve-Mendoza for a Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award.

“Yareli has been involved with the veteran community since 2012. Currently, Yareli’s research centers on student veterans in higher education, specifically minoritized veterans such as women, LGBTQ+, racial, and ethnic veterans,” Watt says.

Watt also cited Reeve-Mendoza's work as the student assistant for the College of Education’s Iowa Supports Education and Resources for Veterans and Enlisted Center (I-SERVE) from 2017-2020.

Yareli Reeve-Mednoza wears a military uniform and stands near a truck.

“During her time with I-SERVE she served on the advisory council for the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Recovery in Action, developed the first women veterans’ event in collaboration with various community stakeholders in 2020, and presented at several national conferences on student veteran research.” Before coming to Iowa, Reeve-Mendoza advocated for women Veterans in southern California from 2012 to 2017.

Originally from Santa Ana, California, she enlisted in the military in 2005, where she spent five years as part of the security forces branch of the Air Force. She was stationed stateside in California and primarily worked in law enforcement, where she responded to domestic violence and driving under the influence calls, and other base emergencies.  

Reeve-Mendoza ‘s unit was first deployed to Iraq in 2006, where she worked in law and order. She was a first responder for rocket or mortar attacks and was responsible for securing all impact sites and rendering medical attention until paramedics arrived. She also worked in prisoner detainee security and guarded prisoners awaiting transfer.

Reeve-Mendoza was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and to Afghanistan in 2009, where she secured the base perimeter and guarded against any breaches. In addition to being a first responder, she searched incoming convoys, guarded entry points to the base, and checked personnel entering the installations. 

As a veteran, Reeve-Mendoza  understands the rewards and challenges of military life first-hand, and she wants to ensure that no female Veteran ever feels isolated or unsupported, especially at the UI.

Reeve-Mendoza is also a recipient of the Iraq Campaign Medal (two bronze stars), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOT-E), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (GWOT-S), Non-Article 5 NATO Medal - International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) and Air Force Training Ribbon (AFTR).

To learn more about the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Awards and other 2023 recipients, read this Iowa Now story.

There are currently 143 Veterans and military-connected (VMC) individuals in the College of Education. This includes active members, Veterans and military-connected spouses or family-members.

Past Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Awards recipients from the UI College of Education include the following:

  • College of Education Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) Faculty Emeritus and Lt. (retired) Ernest “Ernie” Pascarella, U.S. Marine Corps, in 2015
  • HESA alumnus and Capt. Jeremy Williams, U.S. Army Reserves, in 2017
  • Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program alumna Tiffany Baker-Strothkamp, U.S. Army, in 2018

The Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award ceremony will be held Thursday, Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) Main Lounge. Established in 2015, the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award honors members of the armed forces who have demonstrated exceptional service to the United States, their communities, and our university.

The UI will dedicate the Veterans Plaza on Friday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. on the north side of the IMU (East Lobby and North Room if inclement weather). The plaza will feature seven granite monuments and the United States flag standing in permanent tribute to the University of Iowa VMC faculty, staff, students, and alumni who served in the United States armed forces in recognition of their service to our country.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Jocelyn Mueller at or at 319-335-1162.