Quantcast

Pittsburg State graduate hopes to help her fellow soldiers - KOAM TV 7

Pittsburg State graduate hopes to help her fellow soldiers

Updated:

NEWS RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY

Graduate hopes to help her fellow soldiers

Four of the soldiers Carol Meza deployed to Iraq with in 2010 later committed suicide.

“It hit me pretty hard,” Meza said.

That experience and her own struggle with the lasting effects of war have inspired Meza to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work at Pittsburg State University and now to pursue a master’s degree at KU.

Meza is one of more than 1,100 students eligible to participate in commencement exercises at PSU on Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10. She will graduate at noon on Saturday.

Born in Texas, Meza moved as a young child with her family to Mexico, where she lived for 13 years. She came to Pittsburg as a teenager because her grandmother lived here.

Meza joined the Army National Guard in 2007 and deployed to Iraq in 2010.

“I was doing convoy security and then convoy operations,” Meza said. “I was also a suicide prevention officer.”

On July 18, 2010, Meza was driving an M1070, a heavy equipment transporter through an Iraqi checkpoint, when they were struck by an IED.

“Everything just went blank,” Meza said. “All I could see was white. My ears were ringing. I looked over to see if my partner was OK.”

Soon, medics evacuated Meza’s partner, who had suffered a severe concussion. She, however, thought she had escaped injury.

“I was not really in pain at the time,” Meza said.

But the blast had done unseen damage. Meza had headaches and soon an allergic reaction to the chemicals associated with the explosion. There was injury, too, to her back and knees.

Healing the physical injuries was more straightforward than healing the emotional ones, Meza said.

“The Army teaches us to be tough,” Meza said. “There’s this stigma about needing help.”

Meza did reach out for help, however, and through the VA received support from veteran counselors to address what was diagnosed as PTSD.

Meza said that experience was one important reason that when she returned to Kansas, she enrolled in the Social Work Program at PSU, where she also minored in psychology.

Kristen Humphrey, associate professor in the social work program, said Meza was an outstanding student who influenced others.

“She excelled in her classes and continually supported other students,” Humphrey said. “She started the Dana Cameron Scholarship for social work and justice studies students to honor the wife our Brad Cameron (social work program director) after Dana's death last year. She has been active in Social Work Plus (our social work club) and Phi Alpha (our honor society). She also became a mother during her time in the program.”

Meza said she formed strong relationships with faculty in social work, psychology and other departments across campus.

“I truly enjoyed working with all of my teachers,” Meza said. “They all have prepared me for the next big step.”

Meza was named one of the outstanding social work seniors this spring.

Meza said the goal that drives her is to help others like herself.

“I would love to work with vets someday, maybe through the VA,” Meza said. “I can relate to what they are feeling and what they’re going through.”

It looks as if she’s going to get that chance.

Meza has been accepted into the Advanced Standing Clinical Masters program of Social Work at KU and has won a $10,000 Wounded Warrior Scholarship to support her studies.

Meza said she and her 1-year-old daughter, Heidi, will continue to live in Pittsburg while she attends school at KU’s Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Meza said the blended program consists of weekend classes every other weekend, online classes and a practicum.

“I’m really excited about the future,” Meza said, “and I’m really appreciative of the support I’ve had from PSU faculty across the campus.”

# # #

  • NewsMore>>

  • 4 State Lotto Fever

    4 State Lotto Fever

    Friday, October 19 2018 8:03 PM EDT2018-10-20 00:03:00 GMT

    Typically, morning visitor's to Pete's in Carl Junction are there for coffee, but Friday was a bit different, all because of a billion dollar jackpot.

    More >>

    Typically, morning visitor's to Pete's in Carl Junction are there for coffee, but Friday was a bit different, all because of a billion dollar jackpot.

    More >>
  • Joplin Man Sentenced for Arson, Set Apartment Fire

    Joplin Man Sentenced for Arson, Set Apartment Fire

    Friday, October 19 2018 5:34 PM EDT2018-10-19 21:34:02 GMT
    Apartment fire in Joplin, MO in May 2018Apartment fire in Joplin, MO in May 2018
    Apartment fire in Joplin, MO in May 2018Apartment fire in Joplin, MO in May 2018
    Brian Barksdale is sentenced for first degree arson for setting fire to his Joplin apartment on South St. Louis. On May 23rd, 2018, Joplin emergency crews responded to the Cardinal Apartments at 1015 South St. Louis for a structure fire. Firefighters arrived on scene shortly before 10:00 p.m. and found a two-story wood frame multi-residential structure with heavy fire coming from an apartment on the first floor. Crews extinguished the fire by 10:30 p.m. When officers arrived on ...More >>
    Brian Barksdale is sentenced for first degree arson for setting fire to his Joplin apartment on South St. Louis. On May 23rd, 2018, Joplin emergency crews responded to the Cardinal Apartments at 1015 South St. Louis for a structure fire. Firefighters arrived on scene shortly before 10:00 p.m. and found a two-story wood frame multi-residential structure with heavy fire coming from an apartment on the first floor. Crews extinguished the fire by 10:30 p.m. When officers arrived on ...More >>
  • Former Southeast Kansas Principal Convicted of Sex Offense

    Former Southeast Kansas Principal Convicted of Sex Offense

    Friday, October 19 2018 12:20 PM EDT2018-10-19 16:20:10 GMT
    Ray Alfred GoldenRay Alfred Golden
    Ray Alfred GoldenRay Alfred Golden
    A former Columbus elementary principal is found guilty of attempted indecent solicitation of a child. Baxter Springs resident Ray Alfred Golden is accused of trying to persuade a child to enter his home with the intent to commit an unlawful sexual act upon the child in the home. The alleged incident happened in August 2015. On October 18th, 2018, Golden entered a plea of guilty in lieu of proceeding to trial. Cherokee County Attorney Jacob Conard says the 81-year-old maintained ...More >>
    A former Columbus elementary principal is found guilty of attempted indecent solicitation of a child. Baxter Springs resident Ray Alfred Golden is accused of trying to persuade a child to enter his home with the intent to commit an unlawful sexual act upon the child in the home. The alleged incident happened in August 2015. On October 18th, 2018, Golden entered a plea of guilty in lieu of proceeding to trial. Cherokee County Attorney Jacob Conard says the 81-year-old maintained ...More >>
Powered by Frankly

KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas
Send tips, ideas and press releases to: tips@koamtv.com
Send newsroom questions or comments to: comments@koamtv.com
Phone: (417) 624-0233 or (620) 231-0400
Web comments or questions: webmaster@koamtv.com
Newsroom Fax: (417) 624-3158

Powered by Frankly, Inc. All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KOAM. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.