Pair of Marines, Penn State Great Valley Students Recognized Before 100,000 Fans at Beaver Stadium

Carolina Aceto

penn-state-great-valleyBefore Penn State’s Big Ten victory over Iowa on Nov. 5, Penn State Great Valley students Carolina Aceto and Tahseen Firoz walked onto the field at Beaver Stadium, in front of 100,000 fans, to be recognized for their service in the Marine Corps.

Donning Military Appreciation Day t-shirts, they joined Penn State veterans from all branches of the U.S. military in holding a giant American flag across the end zone, as the opening bars of the national anthem rang out.

When Aceto was 18, she wanted to join the military. Having recently moved to Philadelphia from Colombia, she felt compelled to serve her new country and help others around the world. She started boot camp in October 2003.

Although an injury the following year prevented her from furthering her military career, she was determined to continue her involvement. After graduating from Temple with a degree in finance and international business, she took a job with the Veterans Affairs office in Philadelphia, where she still works.

“As a veteran myself, I take pride in what I do, and want to make sure I give back to those who have sacrificed so much,” she said.

“Even though my experience in the Marines was short, I give a lot of credit to what the Marines taught me, and where I am now in my career. Leading by example, teamwork, and the Marines’ core values of honor, courage, and commitment guide many of my decisions at work and in my personal life.”

Aceto decided to enroll in Penn State Great Valley’s Master of Leadership Development program, because she wanted to make a difference at her workplace and motivate others. Great Valley’s flexible pacing is a huge asset to her — in addition to working in Philadelphia and being a part-time student, she’s also a mother of a four-year-old boy.

Tahseen Firoz
Tahseen Firoz

Inspired by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Firoz joined the Marines in 2008. Taking a break from his undergraduate studies, he served at Camp Pendleton in California as an aviation supply specialist. In 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan. Firoz spent a total of seven months in the Helmand Province and Kandahar Airfield.

“I enjoyed serving my country in Afghanistan, and am grateful for my experience,” said Firoz. “Being deployed made me appreciate the little things I often took for granted in the United States.”

Upon returning home, Firoz enrolled as an undergraduate student at Penn State Brandywine. While taking a business course, he encountered Great Valley professor Cyndy Walton, while she taught a semester for another instructor. She encouraged him to consider a master’s degree, and Firoz enrolled in Great Valley’s MBA program shortly after graduating in 2015.

Balancing his career and studies, Firoz has quickly progressed through his courses, and will complete the program in the spring.

“Penn State Great Valley’s MBA program gives me a competitive advantage both in the military and in my career,” he said.

While Great Valley’s student body is diverse — including many working professionals and international students — Aceto and Firoz’s background with the Marines provides a different perspective.

“I’m so pleased to have veteran and military students as part of the Great Valley community, not only for the service they have provided, but also for the rich experience they bring to the classroom that is a benefit to all of our students,” said Penn State Great Valley Chancellor James Nemes.

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