Campus News

Graduate student wins award for leadership in UB’s veteran community

Justin Downey at a podium.

Justin Downey, who served in the U.S. Navy from 2014-17, works as a student assistant in UB’s Veteran Services office and serves as a team leader for the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education Program, a liaison for Veterans Disability Service, president of Student Veterans Association and secretary of Veterans Business Association.

By BARBARA BRANNING

Published November 11, 2020

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“Justin is a truly outstanding student leader. He has been a tireless advocate for his fellow veteran students, and he has become an indispensable leader for many of our programs in Veteran Services. ”
Daniel Ryan, director
Veteran Services

UB graduate student Justin Downey, BS ’20, has been named a winner of the 2020 Student Veteran Leadership Awards.

This inaugural list honors 48 student-veterans who are making a positive impact at their schools and in their communities. It was published in the August issue of G.I. Jobs magazine, a national publication that has been connecting service members, veterans and their families to civilian career, education and business ownership opportunities since 2001.

In addition, Downey has been named to SUNY’s Student Voices Action Committee. This group is composed of 27 students representing every SUNY sector — from university centers to comprehensive, technical and community colleges.

The group’s purpose is to amplify the collective student voice and expand students’ representation and influence in key discussions and decisions that impact their lives. SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the creation of this committee last month.

Downey served in the U.S. Navy from 2014 to 2017, and reached the rank of E-4 as a petty officer third class. He worked as a cryptologic technician interpretive, serving as an expert in Spanish linguistics and deciphering information in other languages.

His responsibilities included collecting, analyzing and exploiting foreign language communications of interest; transcribing, translating and interpreting foreign language materials; and providing cultural and regional guidance in support of Navy, Joint Force, national and multinational needs.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in international business from UB in 2020.

Downey is currently pursuing a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs.

He works as a student assistant in UB’s Veteran Services office. He also serves as a team leader for the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) Program, a liaison for Veterans Disability Service, president of Student Veterans Association and secretary of Veterans Business Association.

Downey says he was honored to be nominated for both honors by Veteran Services Director Daniel Ryan, and to be “an active voice for veterans in the SUNY community.”

“Justin is a truly outstanding student leader,” Ryan says. “He has been a tireless advocate for his fellow veteran students, and he has become an indispensable leader for many of our programs in Veteran Services. He is singularly worthy of recognition.”

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