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Longhorn Veteran Spotlight: Sephora Ngoma

To celebrate Veterans Day, UT Austin is highlighting a few of the outstanding Longhorn veterans on campus. The university is home to more than 475 military veterans, and nearly 1,300 students are spouses or children of current or former military members.

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Where are you from, where and when did you serve, and what do you do currently?

Hello, my name is Sephora Ngoma. I’m 27 years old and was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and raised in Gabon. I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2013 and was medically discharged from the military in 2018. I served with the 173rd Infantry Division in Vicenza, Italy, and with the 128th Task Force in Fort Benning, Georgia. I am currently a UT Austin student studying to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and working part-time at the Austin VA Vet Center.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day, in my opinion, is a day to honor and thank those who have served in the military but are no longer serving. A veteran is someone who was willing to risk everything to ensure that you and I have the liberties we take for granted at times.

What skills or lessons from your service have you brought to the UT community and used in your work or studies?

Being in the military has taught me how to be resilient. I’ve developed the tenacity to understand why and where I belong and where I need to go. When I left the military, I felt lost and alone…but since joining the UT community, I’ve built a great support system and have a clear path of what I’m trying to obtain and accomplish.

UT Austin was recently ranked the No. 1 school for veterans in Texas. What, from your perspective, makes UT a world-class destination for veterans?

This is my first semester here, and I found navigating military and veterans benefits to be relatively simple. The staff at the veterans services center is extremely friendly, welcoming, and helpful. Rosie Bravo, the president of the veterans club, is the best; she’s always checking in on me and inviting me to events, whether it’s a concert, a school event or something else.

During or after your service, who would you say was your best mentor?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to meet some wonderful people both during and after my service. For that, I’d like to express my gratitude to SFC Hostler, SFC Dominguez, and SGT Davis, who is now a warrant officer, for assisting me in overcoming adversity during my time in service, as well as Sandy Khim and Ashley Smith for assisting and allowing me to grow spiritually, physically, and mentally as I navigate civilian life and my educational career.