The Veterans Support Center at the U supports veterans, military members, and their families. They work to enhance the educational experience of military-affiliated students by removing barriers and maximizing their academic, psychosocial, and career potential resulting in unconditional success in the classroom and beyond.
In May 2022, associate vice president for Student Development and Inclusion for Student Affairs, Bryan Hubain, announced Fa’ama’i (Fa’a) Taupa’u as the new director of the Veterans Support Center (VSC). Fa’a joined the VSC from University of Utah Housing and Residential Education, where he worked as the associate director of Dining Management since 2018.
Fa’a was born in Western Samoa and raised in Hawaii. He has served more than 23 years in the enlisted and officer ranks of the United States Army. As a Field Artillery Officer, he served in multiple assignments such as Battalion and Brigade Operations Officer, Company Commander, Brigade and Battalion Fire Support Officer and Deputy Mission Crew Commander. Fa’a is currently serving in the Army Reserves as the Brigade Fire Support Officer. Fa’a earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Southern Utah University and a M.A. in Management and Leadership from Webster University.
Fa’a is married with three children and two dogs, and enjoys time with family and friends.
Get to know Fa’a and the VSC a bit more in the Q&A below.
What made you decide to switch from full-time enlistment to higher education?
It was a way for me to continue serving our military and families. I am grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that the military provided and this is my way of giving back.
What has been your focus since you started as the VSC director?
My focus is to ensure that all military and veteran students are aware of GI bill benefits and the many resources available to them at our VSC
What should people know about the veteran student population on our campus?
Our military and veteran student population is one of the most diverse on campus. There is a high possibility that there is a military and veteran student in your classroom, organization or group. Student veterans can enhance campus and classroom discussions with their unique background knowledge and perspectives, developed through military and cross-cultural experiences.
How can our community best support the VSC?
The U community can help to spread awareness that our campus has a Veteran Support Center that supports military and veteran students. Of course, you can also give to the Veterans Support Center Gift Fund on our website.
How can we best support our veteran students?
Spend time with a military and veteran student and take the time to listen. Like any other group, our military and veteran students also face challenges while pursuing their academic goals.
The good news is that when they are supported, military and veteran students’ grades, retention, and graduation rates are higher than their peers.