A few years ago, Raul Rosique ’24 was home in Richgrove, California, rehabbing a severely broken left leg. A U.S. Navy veteran, Rosique was studying kinesiology and exercise science at Bakersfield Community College and looking to continue his education at a four-year institution. Unable to walk for nearly a year, he watched a lot of movies and one, in particular, caught his attention: The Express, the 2008 film about Syracuse University legend Ernie Davis ’62, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. “It put Syracuse on my radar,” he says. “I researched Syracuse more and found out it’s really military friendly and a fantastic school. When I got in, my whole family was ecstatic, and I decided to get in the car and move here.”
Rosique arrived on campus in 2021 and navigated his way around on a scooter—the hills posed challenges, but were a minor blip on his radar. After all, he had served five years as an E5 logistic specialist on the nuclear submarine USS Charlotte, including two years total submerged in the depths of the Pacific. Stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he managed the sub’s logistical needs and served as the mission driver on three different deployments. “My experiences on the submarine gave me all the motivation I need to be successful in college,” he says.
Pushing Through Physical Therapy
Rosique’s motivation is apparent. He has embraced the Syracuse community and his academics, immersed himself in student activities and helped fellow student veterans adjust to campus life. He’s also been honored by the University as a Hometown Hero for his service to the country. This spring, he’ll graduate from the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics with a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science on the pre-physical therapy track, as well as a certificate in healthcare administration from the College of Professional Studies. “Physical therapists changed my whole perspective of health and exercise,” he says. “Through the power of rehab, I could walk and do other stuff again.”
Rosique carried that perspective with him last summer as an intern with the Syracuse Athletics training staff, gaining experience helping Orange football players rehab from injuries. “I assisted the athletic trainers with anything they needed,” he says. “I was there to learn as much as I possibly could.”
Following graduation, Rosique plans to pursue a doctoral program in physical therapy or head to law school with a focus on healthcare administration. He credits Falk public health professor Lisa Olson-Gugerty for expanding his view of public health through her course Personal and Social Health. “I want to work at a VA hospital,” he says.
Welcoming Student Veterans
For Rosique, connecting with student veterans is a top priority. He serves as secretary of the Student Veteran Organization, helping plan events and welcoming new student veterans to campus. He shares advice and his perspective as both a nontraditional and first-generation college student. He tells them college may be overwhelming at first, but they’ll adjust because they’ve conquered greater challenges in their military careers. “I know sometimes student veterans are afraid to ask for help,” he says. “I talk with them and tell them, ‘People at this campus want to help you, but they don’t know you need help if you don’t ask.’”
With encouragement from Amy Messersmith, associate director of HEOP and Trio SSS programs who served as his First-Year Seminar facilitator, he launched Deep Dive with Raul Rosique Jr., a podcast where he explores a variety of issues with other student veterans, including how they’ve navigated their transition to civilian life and higher education. He also works out with fellow veterans as a member of the Barbell Club and serves as the club’s social media officer. “We have groups for whatever your needs are, and we try our best to help everybody,” he says.
Rosique tapped into his social media savvy and familiarity with the Hill as a guide for a campus video tour on the University’s YouTube channel. He’s also familiarized himself with Syracuse’s proud military tradition, researching the history of veterans on campus as part of an internship with Mike Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and founder of the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families.
“Physical therapists changed my whole perspective of health and exercise.”
—Raul Rosique Jr. ’24
Amid all his activities, Rosique continues to rehab his leg. A metal plate and 16 screws were recently removed, and he says he’s “a million times better than I was when I transferred here.” He remains committed to ensuring student veterans are aware of the resources and benefits available to them and have the support they need to get through any obstacles they encounter. “People at Syracuse care about your mental health, your well-being. They care about you as a human being and your success,” he says. “That’s what I cared about and that’s why I wanted to get involved. And I try to help every single student veteran I come by.”
An SU Story by Jay Cox originally published on Jan. 26, 2024. In this Campus Tour video, Rosique takes you to his favorite spots on the Syracuse University campus: the National Veterans Resource Center, Steele Hall, Falk College, and the Barnes Center weight room.