On September 18, the United States Air Force celebrated its 76th birthday. In honor of the milestone, UofL’s Center for Military-Connected Students introduces us to veteran Raphael Garcia, who retired from the Air Force in the Phoenix, Arizona, area and is in his second year in UofL’s online Master of Science in Human Resource and Organization Development program.
Following a 21-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Raphael Garcia is excelling as a graduate student at the University of Louisville.
Garcia is an active member of the campus community serving on leadership councils for three student organizations, including as president of the Student Veterans of American (SVA) chapter. Through his efforts, the SVA chapter recently earned Registered Student Organization (RSO) status at UofL.
Academic success is not new to Garcia. During his Air Force career, he excelled in Professional Military Education, earning an Academic Award at Airman Leadership School, as well as earning Distinguished Graduate from the Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership Academy.
His seven assignments included three stateside assignments as well as assignments to Turkey, two assignments to the Republic of South Korea, Germany and Guam. Among his deployments included two tours in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and two tours in Al Jaber, Kuwait. Raphael’s major decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal for direct Army support in Afghanistan, Korea and Washington.
Among his favorite Air Force memories include shooting mini guns from a Chinook helicopter with the Australian Army during an aerial gunnery training, and leading or supporting fundraising events as well as mentoring children at orphanages in the Republic of South Korea and Germany.
Travel is something Garcia always appreciated, and the optional overseas immersion portion of UofL’s program appealed to him. He attended the University Forum for Human Resource Development Conference and other events as part of the Global Human Resources Development course in Dublin, Ireland, calling it an “unforgettable experience.”
Garcia also identified the new, $600,000-state funded Center for Military-Connected Students as being vital in supporting and guiding the UofL military-connected community. The center, in Brodschi Hall on Belknap Campus, will hold a ribbon-cutting in October, but was already cited as a factor in UofL earning the 2023 Military Friendly® “Gold” designation from Military Friendly®, a program that measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community.
Garcia, who will graduate in spring 2024, intends to seek a leadership role in talent development or organizational development after graduation.