Alumna Receives National Student Veteran Leadership Award

Lauren Graham chosen for her dedication to bridging civilian, military campus culture

UM alumna Lauren Graham is featured on the cover of the August issue of G.I. Jobs magazine.

OXFORD, Miss. – Lauren Graham, a recent University of Mississippi graduate, has been recognized as one of the nation’s top student veterans as a result of her persistence in overcoming challenges and excelling as a student, volunteer and leader in her community.

Graham recently received the G.I. Jobs Magazine 2020 Student Veteran Leadership Award and was featured on the cover of the publication’s August 2020 issue.

The national honor is handed out annually by the magazine’s editorial team to student veterans who make a positive impact on their school and fellow students.

“It’s honestly crazy that out of all the student veterans nominated, they picked me,” said Graham, who graduated earlier this year. “There are only 48 of us, so I’m really honored to be recognized.”

Graham, an accountant at the Houston, Texas-based accounting firm KPMG, said she is happy that the honor will highlight the opportunities the university offers veterans.

In the issue, which can be read online, Graham tells the story of how she found a home at Ole Miss, and within the university’s veteran program.

“We’ve been telling the success stories of student veterans in the post 9/11 era since 2001, and we wanted a way for postsecondary schools to recognize vets who are making a difference in their communities and with other veterans,” said Dan Fazio, managing editor of G.I. Jobs.

“Most veterans are better off for their service and go on to become great students, employees and community leaders. The military has equipped them to excel, and we love sharing their success stories.” 

The students chosen this year were selected specifically for their contributions to other student veterans and to bridging the cultural gap between student veterans and civilians students, faculty and staff while overcoming the unique challenges of being both a veteran and a student.

Graham received a medical separation from the U.S. Navy in 2017 and came to the university, where she had trouble finding her way until she found the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans Treatment Teams. Once connected to the SVA, she became active and advocated for veteran-civilian organization partnerships at universities across the country.

Andrew Newby, assistant director for veterans and military services, nominated Graham for this year’s award. He told the magazine that she has made an immediate, positive impact on the campus and community, calling her a “change catalyst” who championed a shift in campus culture for military-connected students.

“Lauren has been an incredible asset to the military-connected students at Ole Miss,” Newby said. “She has driven change for student veterans, traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for them at the national level and has connected the community to campus through her working with Veteran and Military Services and military families.

“Lauren will be greatly missed, but she’s left this campus in better shape than she found it.”