Spotsylvania, Virginia; School of Social Work
Baldwin is proud to be an older student on campus. âI bring a little experience to the table,â said the 28-year-old army veteran.
Baldwin obtained a master’s degree in social work so that he could help veterans as well as people in the community.
He chose VCU because the âSchool of SSocial work is extremely well known nationally. It’s a powerhouse, âhe said. “Plus, VCU has its finger on Richmond’s pulse.”
Baldwin enlisted in the military at age 22 after working in outside sales.
âI was looking for a structure, benefits and incentives like the GI Bill,â he said.
He was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, and served in the military for five years as a unit supply specialist, reaching the rank of sergeant with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). It provided logistical support to the training missions and operations of Special Operations Command Europe.
While stationed in Stuttgart, he obtained his Bachelor of Psychology summa cum laude from the University of Maryland Global Campus as well as a Certificate of Foreign Language Studies in German.
He wants to pursue social work because he enjoys “working one-on-one with people and understanding what’s going on,” he said.
As a student during the pandemic, he wants to make sure he is conscientious and puts the health and well-being of others first.
âWe are protecting each other,â he said.
Even though he’s only been on campus for a short time, Baldwin has enrolled in the Honorary Council and the Student Conduct Council. He is a member of the MSW Student Association and the Student Veterans Association.
âSo far my experience on campus has been fantastic. All the staff and professors welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. From the second I started talking to VCU, everyone always made me feel welcome, âhe said.
– Jeanne Tupponce
Moseley, Virginia; School of Dentistry, Honors College
Orellana took a non-traditional path to VCU.
Her father was in the military and she moved as she grew up. The family moved to Chesterfield County, Virginia a few years ago, not far from their grandfather’s home. After high school, she attended John Tyler Community College, where she completed her prerequisites in dental hygiene.
Shortly after starting classes at John Tyler, Orellana realized that there was no club or organization for students interested in dentistry. She founded a dental careers club. It now has about twenty members.
âI saw there was a need to let people know what the prerequisites were and to network,â she said. âA lot of the advice confused the students. “
She started classes this fall at VCU and hopes to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. She still lives at home with her parents and goes to VCU. The atmosphere on campus and around the university is very different from his quiet life in the rural community of Moseley.
âIt has been an adventure to be in Richmond, because where I live, not much is happening,â said Orellana. âThe city is much more lively than I had imagined. But I love this.”
She had thought of moving, but enjoys living in the countryside and being near her family.
âI know it would be easier to live on campus, but I love my family,â Orellana said. âI love my grandfather and see him. He lives in the middle of nowhere, which is only five minutes from my house. I like being in the middle of nowhere. I would miss that very much.
Instead of working in a dental clinic after graduation, Orellana dreams of working with the prison population.
âI want to work in a correctional facility as a dental hygienist,â Orellana said. âI plan to get my masters in adult education [and] I want to eventually teach dental hygiene or other science courses at a university.
– James Shea