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IMSE graduate earns public service award from Department of Defense

Carol Fleisher, director of the University of Missouri Veteran's Center, and Dan Sewell, a 2010 graduate of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and U.S. Air Force veteran, received the U.S. Department of Defense's Outstanding Public Service Award for their work with the MU Veteran's Center and advocacy for veterans transitioning to students. MU recognized the pair Jan. 23.

“If you say the name Dan Sewell, he’s the veteran that everyone on campus knows,” said Carol Fleisher, director of the University of Missouri Veteran’s Center as she introduced Sewell to a crowd gathered to honor the pair.

Fleisher and Sewell, a 2010 graduate of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, received the U.S. Department of Defense’s Outstanding Public Service Award for their work in advocacy and support roles toward veterans returning to study at MU. Vice Admiral A.E. Rondeau with the U.S. Navy nominated them for the award.

“Carol and Daniel’s efforts in development of the nation’s premier on-campus Veteran’s Center have set an unequivocal standard for all campuses to emulate,” Rondeau told the MU News Bureau.

Sewell advocated for the creation of the center, which formed in response to a task force convened by MU Chancellor Brady Deaton to examine issues that affect veterans as they assimilate into lives as students. MU’s Veteran’s Center opened in December 2008 in temporary headquarters in the College of Engineering with Fleisher at the helm, and later relocated to permanent quarters in Memorial Student Union. It was one of the first such initiatives in the nation.

Sewell said he was motivated to campaign for such a center by his interactions with other veterans on campus.

“Veterans often had difficulty navigating the university’s administrative system, and administrators and faculty were unable to handle the unique questions or circumstances that veterans face,” said Sewell.

‘The people at the Veterans Center can and do answer any and all questions related to any needs of veterans or facilitate with other departments on campus to help veterans,” Sewell said. “It embraces them and gives them the tools for success.”

Sewell enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2003, and served as a munitions system inspector in Spandahlem, Germany, until 2005, when he was deployed to Afghanistan for five months before returning to Germany. He returned to the U.S. and enrolled at MU where, besides earning a degree and working several part time jobs to help support his family, he founded the Mizzou Student Veterans Association and MU Veterans Week.

Seeing the need, Sewell initiated and taught a class, “Learning and Transition Strategies for Veterans” through the MU Student Success Center. He also serves as the vice president of Student Veterans of America at a national level.

“Not only did Dan make it, he made sure everyone else made it too,” said Fleisher of his efforts.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Sewell took advantage of a Mizzou dual degree program that allowed him to enroll in the university’s business school and earn his MBA in one additional year. He graduated in December and landed a job in St. Louis as a senior analyst with the Resource and Supply Management Group at Ascension Health.

“Employers want to see potential job candidates as more than someone who went to school and earned a degree,” Sewell said. “Any opportunity to do extracurricular activities or other meaningful work should be recognized as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from others.”

Sewell also currently serves in the Air National Guard.