Virgin Islander A’Jada Burke has been selected the 2021 Veteran Student of the Year by the University of Northern Florida for her academic excellence and volunteerism.

“I wasn’t expecting the award, and I’m really grateful and honored to be selected,” she said.

Burke served in the U.S. Navy for six years as a hospital corpsman. Her service included work at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Naval Postgraduate Dental School in Bethesda, Md., where she was selected to serve on the Presidential Medical and Dental Team. She also deployed with the USS Fort McHenry to support the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in Latvia, Romania, Germany, Dubai and Spain. Her active duty ended in March 2020, but she continues to work in the Navy as a reservist supporting the medical units to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her junior year, Burke is majoring in interdisciplinary health studies with a minor in public health and is consistently on the dean’s list. She also volunteers with the Alliance Youth Group, and Jacksonville’s Habitat for Humanity program and has provided tutoring services for students in Duval County public schools. She plans to continue studying at the University of Northern Florida to obtain her master’s degree in health care administration.

“Where I come, because we’re so remote, health care can sometimes be difficult to access,” she said. “So, I want to take what I’ve learned back to the Virgin Islands and be a part of that culture that grows health care. I am looking for any role that I can work into to contribute towards that personal end goal of mine.”