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Marine Corps Student Honored With Superior Service, Outstanding Thesis Awards

By Javier Chagoya and Khaboshi Imbukwa

NPS Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Manpower Systems Analysis graduate U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Tamara J. Velding is the recipient of the Superior Service Award for the 2017 Winter Quarter. Not only is Velding a top-notch performer, graduating with a 3.97 GPA and an Outstanding Thesis recognition, it's her commitment to service and to her beliefs that sets her apart among her peers.

"I've been working at Dorothy's Kitchen in Salinas as a food preparer on my weekends off since October 2015," Velding said. "I'm known as the tuna fish lady because that's one of the main foods I prepare at the kitchen. I'm thankful I can help the homeless men, women and children, who seek safety and a hot meal."

In March 2016, Velding was licensed for foster care through Monterey County and has been caring for an infant since birth, including a toddler that has been part of her own family for the past year.

Velding also volunteered as a chaperone for science camps with La Mesa Elementary School, adding her personal touch to many other school activities throughout the year. And if that wasn't enough, Velding also volunteered for a season as a tutor in the long-established mentoring program, Motivating Others Through Outreach, or MOTO.

"NPS Marines started the outreach mentoring program about four years ago, but all services are now working to improve academics in the community, and I'm proud to have been able to serve with the group that mentors kids that are at many times at-risk for dropping out," said Velding.

On campus at NPS, Velding joined other business school students in the Manpower Systems Analysis curriculum in presenting their research via video-teleconference to senior service leaders in manpower and personnel, including the Chief of Naval Personnel's office.

Velding's research focused on the effects of public school choices on Marine families' co-location decisions for K-12 schools. She evaluates the degree to which having school-age children influences a family's decision to co-locate when assigned to duty stations that have a reputation for under-performing public K-12 schools.

As Velding sees it, it's a question of Marine retention and mission readiness since the whole family's quality of life is taken into account in duty station rotations.

"I believe my research topic was received very well and the feedback from the CNP's staff seemed to have raised interest in having a similar study done within the Navy … My research methods can also be applied to other services," said Velding.

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April 2017

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