Janet Lorenzo Receives Veterans’ Voices Award

Janet Lorenzo
Janet Lorenzo

U.S. Navy veteran honored by Minnesota Humanities Center

Janet Lorenzo, a graduate of the Human Services program at Inver Hills Community College, received the 2017 Veterans’ Voices Award from the Minnesota Humanities Center. The award recognizes Minnesota veterans and active-duty military personnel who are making significant contributions to their communities through their profession and/or volunteerism.

Recipients are honored in two categories: On the Rise (40 and under) or Legacy (over 40). More than one hundred veterans from 70 Minnesota communities have received the Veterans’ Voices Award since its introduction in 2013.

“I am grateful to receive this award, however, I did not do it alone,” Janet said. “I have many people who have supported me along this journey—my VALOR friends and family.”

The awards will be presented Monday, September 11, 2017, at the fifth annual Veterans’ Voices Award Ceremony at the Anderson Student Center on the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul. Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV reporter and veteran, will again emcee the event.

More about Veterans’ Voices

Veterans’ Voices is a fast-growing, statewide program that is changing the narrative of Minnesota veterans. The program harnesses the dynamic nature of the humanities to explore and share the full-life experiences of Minnesota veterans while empowering them to speak in their own voices via plays, discussion groups and literature as well as the recognition provided by the Veterans’ Voices Award.

Minnesota Humanities Center

Sue Flannigan, veteran services coordinator at Inver Hills, will accompany Janet to the Veterans’ Voices Award Ceremony. “Seventy nominations were submitted this year and only twenty candidates were selected for the award,” Sue said. “Janet has been a leading force for veterans at the college and in our community. She was nominated for the award by one of her student peers, who is also a veteran.”

Janet and Sue
Janet and Sue

Sue reported that Janet is completing an internship in the John H. Thill Veterans Resource Center on campus and serves as vice president of VALOR, a student veteran club that provides leadership, support, outreach and volunteer opportunities for veterans and military personnel as well as their family members.

Veteran Voices’ Award Ceremony and Dinner

Monday, September 11, 2017
Reception: 5 p.m. • Welcome and Dinner: 5:30 p.m. • Program: 6 p.m.

Anderson Student Center
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

More about Janet Lorenzo…

GuamOriginally from Agana Heights, Guam, Janet Lorenzo, 33, graduated in 2002 from George Washington High School in Mangilao, a village with 15,000 residents on the eastern shore of Guam, an organized territory of the United States situated in the western Pacific Ocean.

Shortly after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese military captured Guam and occupied the island for 30 months. American forces liberated Guam on July 21, 1944, and the event is remembered each year on Liberation Day. Guam’s economy is buoyed by tourism and the presence of U.S. Armed Forces.

Janet graduated from Inver Hills in May 2017 with a Human Service Worker Associate of Science (A.S.) degree. She plans on attending the College of St. Scholastica in the fall to earn her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Social Work. Once she completes her Master of Social Work (M.S.W.), she plans on entering Officer Training School in the U.S. Air Force. Her goal is to do social work while serving in the Air Force.

Three words that describe you as a person:
I’m a Chihuahua who thinks she’s a pit bull.

Before enrolling at Inver Hills, Janet served from 2003 to 2007 in the U.S. Navy while raising two children. She was a BM3, or petty officer third class with the job of boatswain’s mate, a traditionally male role aboard ship.

She served aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68), a 100,000-ton supercarrier with a crew of 5,680 (3,200 ship’s company and 2,480 air wing) and 90 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. She also served aboard USS Milius (DDG-69), an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer. From 2005 to 2007, she was stationed at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California. NAS North Island is considered the birthplace of naval aviation.

USS Nimitz
USS Nimitz

Janet worked for Veteran Services while going to Inver Hills through the VA work-study program and her Human Services internship. She likes to be known as “Sue’s assistant.”

During her time at the college, Janet led many volunteer opportunities, including:

  • American Red Cross Blood Drive
  • Majestic Hills Ranch
  • Eagles Healing Nest
  • Twin Cities Honor Flight Welcome Home Celebration
  • Fort Snelling National Cemetery Clean-Up
  • Toiletry Drive for the Eagan Pantry
  • Military 4 Kids Toy Drive
  • Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee

While Janet served as VALOR vice president, the student veteran club received the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award from Minnesota Campus Compact. The award is for an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience.

Janet Lorenzo gallery

As an Inver Hills student, Janet joined Student Senate and belonged to the student club, VIBE (Volunteering Individuals Brings Empowerment), and the Alpha Omicron Beta chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is a member of Student Veterans of America (SVA) and serves as chairperson of the Inver Grove Heights Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Campaign. She also oversaw Beyond the Yellow Ribbon at the college and under her guidance the two campaigns will be joining forces this fall.

“Our goal at IGH Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is to get back to the basics and make our presence known in our community,” Janet said.

Janet resides in Inver Grove Heights with Mike, her partner of two years. “Mike has always been supportive of everything I do even when he knows I am overloading myself,” she said. “He will find a way to help me balance myself out.”

Janet has three boys, Mason, 13, James, 8, and Scott, 8. The family has a transgender kitty name Skyball. In her free time, she loves riding with Mike on his Harley. She also enjoys hiking, being outdoors and archery. Mike taught her how to shoot a bow.

Janet Lorenzo Q & A

Janet Lorenzo
Janet Lorenzo

Why did you choose Inver?
I had heard nothing but great things about the school from people I know. Meeting Sue Flannigan sealed the deal. We connected right away when she mentioned VALOR and asked me to be a part of the student veteran organization on campus.

What do you like best about the Human Services program?
My mentors! Tom and Cheryl are amazing people with a wealth of knowledge to pass on. I capitalized on all they had to offer. (Tom Reis and Cheryl Redinger are human services faculty.)

Why did you join the U.S. Navy?
I joined the Navy because it was an opportunity to expose myself to new cultures and new people. My twin sister, Jaimee, joined the Navy after high school. She loved everything about it. She convinced me to give it a try and I did.

What did you do in the U.S. Navy?
I did a variety of things. I drove the ship (USS Nimitz and USS Milius), handled replenishment of supplies and even did maintenance around the skin of the ship. I was also a boatswain’s mate of the watch, which means during my watch I kept track of everything that happened in the pilothouse.

What were your duties as vice president of VALOR?
I held everyone responsible for their commitment. Volunteer work is based on our own time and free labor, however, anyone who chooses to do volunteer work should do so with the understanding of giving 110 percent. I organized our events and kept a healthy relationship with the organization.

What are your future career plans?
I would love nothing more than to work for Veteran Affairs and also have my military career. My heart has always been about serving our country and serving those who have served. I feel I am positioning myself to have all I dreamed of and more.

Veteran Pinning Ceremony 2017
Veteran Pinning Ceremony 2017

Why did you choose human services as your career path?
I love interacting with people. I appreciate people who want to make a change in this already cruel world. I remind everyone to pay it forward. People helping people is how we stop the violence, hate crime and division in our country.

What are the most significant issues for student veterans?
Student veterans can encounter a variety of issues. From transitioning from military to civilian life to visible and invisible disabilities. It can sometimes be difficult for a veteran to say they need help. We are here to let them know support is what Veteran Services does. We will do what we can to help them get established.

What advice would you give a new student veteran?
Utilize your resources. They are out there! Programs were created to help you! If you don’t use it, you lose it. That simple.

What would you tell someone thinking about doing volunteer work?
Best food for the soul. Volunteer work does not have to be boring or awful. With the right group, you can make volunteer opportunities the best memories anyone can ask for. VALOR has a ton of hours into volunteer work, but we also make a point to have fun, laugh and make great memories. We are each other’s support system and second family.

Person who has influenced your life the most:
My twin sister, Jaimee. She is my role model and my biggest cheerleader. She holds me accountable and lifts my spirits when I hit a rough patch.

Greatest challenge so far:
I try not to get to heavily involved with the people I am working with because it is not personal when I do volunteer work. I love what I do, but I cannot make changes for people that I help. This is a decision they need to make on their own. They are their own advocate.

Greatest achievement so far:
Going back to school!!! This will forever be the best choice I have made.

To learn more about Veteran Services at Inver Hills, contact:

Sue Flannigan
Veteran Services Coordinator

To learn more about Human Services at Inver Hills, including earning a Human Service Worker A.S. degree, contact:

Cheryl Redinger
Human Services Faculty

Tom Reis
Human Services Faculty

2017 Commencement
2017 Commencement

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