SALUTE TO SERVICE: VETERAN TERISA TOUSSAINT ’23 CONSTRUCTS CAREER IN SECURITY
In honor of the admirable work done by our Military and Veteran Services Center and Veterans Association, we’re excited to highlight the achievements of our military and veteran community in our “Salute to Service” article series.
“I signed up to become a Marine because I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself,” says Terisa Toussaint ’23, an international criminal justice major. “Being in the military puts you in very tough situations, but the people around you push you to be your best, learn from the experiences, and make it out on the other end.” Over five years of service, the Brooklyn native developed expertise in ground supply and operations. “After receiving the opportunity to deploy to Iraq and Kuwait, I’ve worked directly with the men and women who fought on the front lines. That’s something I’m truly proud of.”
“Richard Pusateri (Military and Veteran Service Manager) helped me so much when it came to finding classes and getting me in contact with the right people.” —Terisa Toussaint ’23
Can you describe your best experience in the U.S. Marines?
Being from the city, I felt like I was already at a disadvantage on the shooting range compared to other Marines who grew up hunting in the south. But, I applied what I was taught and focused on the fundamentals. Shooting “range high” means that you scored better than everyone else who shot that day on the range with you. Before I knew it, I was shooting “range high” every year.
What’s it like being a veteran at John Jay?
Richard Pusateri (Military and Veteran Services Manager) helped me so much when it came to finding classes and getting me in contact with the right people. As far as the Veteran Center goes, it feels amazing to know that there is a safe space for veterans to come together. The percentage of Americans in the military is only 0.727 percent. Not everyone can relate to what we go through. That’s why engaging with other vets is so important to us. When you join the military, you become part of an organization that becomes your family. Once you take on the call to serve, you will always be a brother or sister in arms.
“I want that full-circle moment where a little girl in Brooklyn can see what I did and know that she can accomplish it too.” —Terisa Toussaint ’23
How has the military helped you grow?
I was sent to Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape school. It’s a 21-day course that’s half academic and half hands-on experiences. Once we finished the academic portion, we were put into the field to fend for ourselves—without water or food. I never would have imagined being able to do something like this growing up. My team and I applied the skills we learned to survive. We made snares and cooked deer over a handmade fire. I learned how to pick locks, figured out how to escape ropes and zip ties, and used land navigation to make my way through the woods with 80 pounds of gear on my back. Not bad for a young woman from Brooklyn.
What do you hope to be doing in the next 10 years?
I’ve always wanted to join a “three-letter” federal agency. Recently, with the help of some folks at John Jay, I applied for a police officer position in the Security Protective Service and was given an interview with the CIA. The interview went really well and I’m excited to see where this career opportunity could go. I also hope to earn my master’s degree and continue being a role model for the people back in my community. I want that full-circle moment where a little girl in Brooklyn can see what I did and know that she can accomplish it too.