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### Enhancing Education Benefits for Veterans’ Dependents: Advocacy by a Ph.D. Candidate

The Merced native mentioned that she was unsure about her college major initially, but following an internship at a Central Valley congressional member’s office during high school on her father’s suggestion, she discovered her passion for assisting people.

Realizing the impact of resolving issues for constituents through the representative’s office, Seijas decided to pursue a degree in political science.

She completed her undergraduate studies in political science and a master’s degree in public policy at California State University, Northridge. Subsequently, she ventured into public policy and government relations roles in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

In 2007, she tied the knot with a U.S. Army veteran, leading to relocations across the country and multiple deployments to Iraq, each lasting 15 months.

Following her husband’s military retirement, the family, including their two children, relocated to Merced to be closer to her relatives.

Engaging actively in community service, Seijas serves as the chair of the building committee at the Merced Veterans Memorial Building. She spearheaded efforts to secure air conditioning for the facility, advocating alongside local veterans at a Board of Supervisors meeting, resulting in a $1.5 million allocation for refurbishing all veterans halls in Merced County to ensure ADA compliance and air conditioning installation.

Professionally, she delved into public policy research at UC Merced’s School of Engineering before transitioning to a role as a graduate support staff member in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts. This experience broadened her understanding of post-baccalaureate studies, motivating her to pursue a doctoral degree at the university.

Seijas identified limitations in the original CalVet Tuition Fee Waiver, a beneficial program for veterans’ dependents with service-connected disabilities, during her own university enrollment process. Recognizing the need for modernization to align with the current economic landscape, she advocated for updates to enhance the benefit for veteran dependents.

With extensive experience in public policy, Seijas adeptly advocates for the post 911 military community, emphasizing the significant contributions and sacrifices made by military spouses and their families. She highlights the challenges faced by military families, underscoring the need for support and recognition in their unique circumstances.