Staff You Should Know: Julia Heuer

"I come from a very traditional, patriarchal family," said Julia Heuer, UNI's military and veteran student services coordinator. "I was taught that you get a high school education, then get married and have kids."

That's not the future Heuer wanted for herself. "I recognized that I was more than what I was being told," she said.

Iowa's Statewide Military and Veterans Conference is being held at UNI this year. 

"Uncamouflaging Campus Diversity: Creating Transparency through Cultural Competence"

8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 23

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Heuer has a passion for diversity, a love of traveling and a desire to break out of the traditional roles she was raised to believe she had to follow. It was these interests that led her to pursue a career in the army from a very young age.

"I was 13-years-old when I first started calling military recruiters," she said. "It seemed honorable; it seemed against the gender norms and I just had the strong idea that I wanted to do something for my country."

Heuer officially enlisted in the military at age 18. It was an experience that influenced her in many ways.

"It broadened my picture of what the world is," she said. "Feeling more how societies interact, especially in this day and age gave me this global perspective. I think that's what drove me to try and be more educated."

After leaving the military, Heuer began pursing a bachelor's degree in psychology. However, the transition from the army to the classroom proved to be a challenge.

"I felt kind of lost," she said. "I kept looking for that camaraderie that you have when you're in the military."

In addition to the culture shock, she also struggled to locate resources on campus, because her university lacked a veterans center.

Fortunately, through developing positive relationships with her professors, she completed her undergraduate work and began pursuing a master's degree in social work. For Heuer, this was an opportunity to apply her passion for psychology in a new way.

"It was more of a holistic approach to life," she said. "It really looked at the environmental perspective. It was a perfect fit for me because it combined sociology and psychology."

After completing her graduate work, Heuer began looking for employment. It was then that she heard about an opening for a military and veteran student services coordinator at UNI's newly-acquired Military and Veteran Student Services Center. She applied for the job and received the position.

According to Heuer, her role in the Military and Veteran Student Services Center is more than just a job, it's an opportunity to provide military and veteran students with the support and resources her college experience lacked.

"This is pretty much a dream job," she said. "You're working with individuals, but you're also working with local communities as well as on-campus departments and organizations."

In her position, Heuer acts as a resource to students who need help finding resources on- and off-campus, and as an advocate, helping to educate the campus community on how to accommodate the special needs of military and veteran students. She also attends a number of on- and off-campus events to help connect students and community members.

Taking on so many responsibilities is a huge effort but it's worth it, because her work has a large impact on the campus community.

According to Heuer, both in and out of the military, "Your work isn't just for yourself. You're doing it for the safety and benefit of everyone around you."