Melissa Van Keuren

Veteran’s Day Student Spotlight: Melissa Van Keuren

Melissa Van Keuren shares her experiences of serving in the Navy and why she decided to join the MS Marketing program.

Q: Tell us about yourself. What is your background?

Van Keuren: “My hometown is Pittsgrove, New Jersey. My bachelor’s degree from Lake-Sumter State College is in strategic leadership – organizational management.”

Van Keuren sits at a table with seven other Naval sailors.

Q: What do you remember about the day you enlisted? What was basic training like?

Van Keuren: “The day I enlisted, I was excited and nervous to find out what job I could select. I remember my recruiter telling me, ‘Choose your rate, choose your fate.’ Out of three choices, I selected Master-At-Arms, an anti-terrorism task force, and law enforcement.

Months later, I shipped out to Basic Training in Chicago, Illinois. Basic Training was loud, fast, and exhausting. At graduation, my late grandfather, Marine, remarked that he approved of the shine on my shoes. That was a moment I remember and cherish to this day.”

Q: Tell us about your service in the Navy.

Van Keuren: “After basic training, I was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to complete my specialty education for Master-At-Arms training. Texas was a huge change from bootcamp. We were allowed off-base and into the town. I visited the Alamo and went out with sailors all over the city.

Next, I was stationed on the USS Wasp located in Norfolk, VA. Since I was unmarried and a junior sailor, I lived, worked and slept on the ship. The sunsets in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean were beautiful.”

Van Keuren poses in formal attire in a desert.

Q: What are some things you miss about being in service?

Van Keuren: “What I miss most about the military is the comradery and being a part of something bigger than myself.”

Q: Why did you join the MS Marketing program? What do you enjoy the most in the MS Marketing program?

Van Keuren: “I joined the MS Marketing program because the course load contained unfamiliar topics that I knew would expand on my business knowledge and previous degree. I have enjoyed learning about how data analytics can be applied in making strategic marketing decisions. Additionally, I have befriended peers from various parts of the world, some from countries I’ve never visited. The diversity I have experienced at the University of Florida is comparable to the military.

Outside the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my wife and four dogs. My 13- and 14-year-old corgis, Albert and Alberta, are named after the Gator mascots. I have season football tickets and love the fact that I am not just a fan – I am a Florida Gator now!”