A Texas A&M University-Commerce staff member was recently honored with an award celebrating his commitment to serving student veterans.
Dustin Pearson, veteran services manager at A&M-Commerce, received the 2022-23 Faculty/Staff Veteran Support Excellence Award from The Texas A&M University System.
The award is presented each year to an A&M System employee who directs the growth of student veterans, serves as an advocate for student veterans or veteran issues, and develops, implements or supports programs that enhance student veteran success.
In the Spring 2023 semester, more than 400 veterans were enrolled at A&M-Commerce. The total number of military-affiliated students—meaning veterans, active duty military, reservists, national guard, spouses and dependents—was 771.
A Hunt County native, Pearson served in the United States Army from 2003 to 2008. He originally served with the 2nd battalion, 9th infantry regiment in South Korea before joining the 101st Airborne/327th infantry regiment as an 11 Bravo Infantryman.
He served in Iraq, where he was wounded in combat in 2005. The recovery from his injuries lasted about six months. During his military service, he earned a Purple Heart, Air Assault Wings and Expert Infantry Badge.
Pearson initially struggled to find work after leaving the Army.
“At the time, there weren't a lot of jobs for people coming out of the Army, especially infantrymen,” Pearson said. “I decided to apply myself academically and utilize my G.I. Bill to attend A&M-Commerce.”
He graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2012. After working a few jobs in the short term, he was hired at A&M-Commerce in 2015. He was drawn to the opportunity to help student veterans navigate college life.
“For me personally, there were some struggles as a student,” Pearson said. “It was not ideal to be a 30-year-old veteran when most of your classmates are traditional students right out of high school. There isn't a whole lot in common to help you connect.”
He continued: “But I found camaraderie with other veterans at the university, and after graduating I found that I really wanted to be in a position to help veterans succeed in a university setting.”
While working at A&M-Commerce, Pearson also earned his Master of Social Work degree from the university in 2019.
Pearson stated that he was surprised, honored and humbled to be chosen for the A&M System award.
“It's very humbling to be honored in such a way because I know there are a lot of people working in the A&M System that do a great service for veterans,” Pearson said. “I just have to say that I couldn't do what I do to support our students without assistance from many other people on campus. It is a team effort.”
All recipients of this A&M System award receive a certificate and plaque, along with a $250 donation to the recipient's local student veteran association or campus veteran services office to support a student veteran program or event.
Learn more about Veterans and Military Services at A&M-Commerce.