Military Veteran Dependent Excelling As Student-Athlete

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As a dependent of a military veteran, Madelyn Salonga ’23 is utilizing VA benefits, Post 9/11-GI Bill (Chapter 33) and the Yellow Ribbon Program, to cover tuition and fees so she can study nursing and play softball at Dominican University of California.

“It was a blessing,” says Mady, who wrote an essay on VA benefits during her senior year at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose. “I learned the benefits of the program and it opened my eyes and I’m very grateful for it. It helped my parents a lot. I do owe it to my parents because they sacrificed so much, especially for being apart for so long.”

Mady was born in Lemoore, California and, when she was a baby, her father, Jason, was deployed to San Diego and the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. His first mission was to assist tsunami victims in Indonesia while his wife, Anna, raised their daughter in Lemoore. Jason spent 17 years of active duty with the U.S. Navy and traveled the world from Hawaii to Hong Kong to Singapore to Thailand.

When Jason made the transition from sea to land to become a Navy recruiter, he and Anna met with Mady and helped her decide that nursing would be the best career path for her.

“I love helping people. I definitely see myself as a pediatric nurse because I really love helping kids.” Mady says. “It’s always been my dream to work with kids.”
Coming to Dominican was an easier decision because of family ties to the nursing program. Mady’s aunt, Jennifer Lagman, earned her BSN at Dominican in 2014 and is now a critical care nurse. Mady’s cousin, Paolo Salonga, is currently a senior in Dominican’s nursing program in the School of Health and Natural Sciences.

The opportunity to compete in softball at the NCAA Division II level in Dominican Athletics was another attraction. However, that has been challenging since Mady, a catcher, suffered a MCL knee injury as a freshman that ultimately required surgery her sophomore season. Now a junior, Mady has been cleared to play again. She and her teammates are currently in their fall scrimmage season and she is anxious for the Pacific West Conference’s spring competitive season, which will include an eight-day, 24-game road trip to Hawaii in March 2022.

Between practicing and playing softball as a student-athlete while studying nursing and doing clinicals two days a week, Mady is swinging for the fences.

“It’s definitely taught me to manage my time well as I have a demanding major as well as a very competitive sport,” she says. “Those two things made me concentrate and keep my head straight.”

The fact she is also connected with the Dominican University Student Veterans Organization (DUSVO) is also helpful. DUSVO provides a positive presence for veterans, dependents of veterans and active-duty personnel on campus while contributing to the overall cultural diversity of the University. In October 2019, DUSVO was officially recognized as a charter of the Student Veterans of America national organization. Membership is open to Dominican’s veteran and non-veteran student populations.

In the meantime, Mady’s dream of someday being a pediatric nurse is progressing as she goes through her clinicals experience at Dominican.

“I’m more of a hands-on person and I thrive in hands-on training so getting to apply the skills I’ve learned would be the highlight,” she says. “Also, being able to play softball and being a part of a team again after so long would be a highlight, too.”

Dominican is among the California colleges that accept the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon program. In recent years, the University has seen an increase in the number of students who are both veterans or military dependents. For additional information regarding Veteran Services, contact Dominican’s School Certifying Official at: or call (415) 257-1350. For more information about the DUSVO or the Veteran Services Office, email

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