Tina SecreaseTina Secrease
'20 Communication Studies

By Pamela Dean

Before she attended CSUCI, Tina Secrease (’20 Communication Studies) spent eight years serving in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman. She was stationed at Camp Pendleton, Miramar, Japan and Iraq.

“I am so grateful for my time in the Navy. The places, people and experiences I had are so special and meaningful to me. I know I would not be the woman, mom and person I am now without my military service,” Secrease said.

As a corpsman, she performed a wide array of medical and clerical duties, from administration work to hands-on medical care.

“I worked on a ship providing emergency triage and care to our soldiers as well as foreign civilians. I’ve worked in a women’s health clinic helping doctors perform annual exams and OB care, an urgent care clinic providing wound care, a primary care clinic for active-duty military as well as a primary care clinic performing check in and out procedures, immunizations, and assisting with minor inpatient medical procedures.” Secrease explained.

Secrease left the military in 2005 and became a stay-at-home mom and military wife. Following a divorce, she found herself and her three children briefly homeless. It was at this low point in her life that she decided to go to college and pursue a degree. CSUCI was the perfect place.

I knew it was an amazing school for students like myself who craved a small classroom setting. I was intimidated by the thought of going to a CSU as a non-traditional student. CSUCI and its unique campus was what I was looking for.”

Secrease stayed mostly to herself during her first semester. But that all changed when she decided to tap into the resources offered by the University’s Veterans Resource Center.

“My second semester, I spent more time in the Veterans Center getting to know other veterans,” Secrease said. “I’m thankful for the people the center introduced me to, we still keep in touch. Eventually, I had the amazing opportunity to intern in the center assisting with outreach at local community colleges. This gave me the experience I needed to land my job as an outreach assistant at the Gary Sinise Foundation.”

Her professors helped her thrive as well.

“All of the professors in the Communication program are so helpful and passionate about their roles, it just makes our experience as students so incredible,” she said. “Dr. Traceylee Clarke and Dr. Megan Kenny Feister made the biggest impact on my journey. They taught us how to strive to be true leaders and how to make an impact in our communities. They gave us valuable and relevant opportunities for hands on experience while supporting us and taking the time to get to know each of us.”

Secrease loves her job at the Gary Sinise Foundation which assists veterans, first responders and their families who are in need or going through a difficult time.

“We aid those who have experienced trauma, illness, injury, or loss through our emotional and financial support programs,” Secrease explained. “I wanted to work for this particular organization because I was impressed by the life changing support they provide for the defenders of our nation. I knew that I wanted to work in service of others, and I wanted to work with veterans.”

In hopes of advancing her career, Secrease is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public administration at California Lutheran University. She plans on graduating in 2022.

“I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities and relationships that CSUCI afforded me. As a student, as a student assistant working on campus, and as an intern in the Veterans Center, I met so many incredible people on campus from faculty to staff to fellow students,” she recalled. “I’m grateful for the relationships I made and the impact they had on my journey."

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