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UB graduate student wins Veteran Leadership Award

Posted at 4:15 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 18:25:44-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Justin Downey's main job is a student assistant at UB's Veteran Services Department, but he does so much more on campus to help veterans.

"I'm also the president of the Student Veterans Association chapter out of our university. I'm also the Veteran's Services office disability liaison," he said.

For all the work he has done for student veterans, Downey is a winner of the 2020 Student Veteran Leadership Awards.

"I was very much appreciative of the student leadership award," Downey said. "Anything in regards to veterans, or anything like student veterans or military connected to students in the University at Buffalo, I try to be involved in."

Downey is a veteran himself, he served in the navy from 2014 to 2017. He worked as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive, serving as an expert in Spanish linguistics.

A student veteran Downey helped was Chanel Powell, who served in the army national guard.

"Justin and I met in my first year at the University at Buffal," said Powell. "Justin's contributions have been so important in the veteran community especially in the Buffalo area. His willingness to go above and beyond for every person he meets is so important."

There are 545 “Military connected students” at UB, including 259 Veterans and 86 active-duty service members. The others are spouses and dependents.

"When I got out of the military and I started up school here, I really wanted to help my fellow veterans and the military connected students as well as the dependents and the spouses," said Downey.

To him, it's always been important that when soldiers come home, they are always supported in any way.

He is now working on a master’s in higher education and student affairs.