Arizona State University student Jessica Vaupel (top) with Past Department President Jan Cushing at a Pearl Harbor Memorial; Vaupel in the Prime Minister’s seat at the Belgian Parliament; Vaupel in ASU gear at a basketball game
Jessica Vaupel joined the American Legion Auxiliary as a Junior member in 2007 and has continued her membership into her college years. Now a senior at Arizona State University, Vaupel attributes her involvement in the ALA as a contributing factor to pursuing a career dedicated to the betterment of others and our society.
Tell us about yourself and your connection with a member of the military. I am a graduate of Peoria High School in Arizona. While in high school, I was the school’s news producer and elected student body president. My activities included participating on the volleyball team, spirit line, and an internship with a radio program called Teen Talk in Scottsdale. My family has a proud tradition of military service that includes my father, who served in the Navy, and my brother in the Marines.
What college degree are you pursuing? Why does this career interest you? Currently, I am a senior at Arizona State University studying criminology and criminal justice. After graduation, I plan to join the Air Force Officer Academy, and ultimately, a career with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. I selected my college major and career path because of my interest in educating Americans on the negative effects of drug trafficking, illegal drug use, and how this is impacting the well-being of our citizens and the nation’s security.
Tell us about additional experiences preparing you for your career after college. I am president of the Community Rotaract Club in Peoria and a member of the Next Generation Service Corps at ASU. I studied for one year abroad in Belgium, where I learned French as a part of the Rotary Youth Exchange. Most recently, I returned from Israel where I studied counterterrorism and emergency management through an ASU study abroad program.
In addition to my studies, I have been employed as a TSA officer at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix for the past year. It is my hope that my experience with the TSA will open future employment opportunities with other federal agencies. Over the past year with the TSA, I have received two Eagle-Eye Awards recognizing my commitment and dedication in my work to protect our transportation services. This award is given to officers who went above and beyond to stop a breach at the airport. Each one of these experiences, I must credit my participation and involvement in the ALA which helped to develop my interest in serving the public to this day and into the future.
Tell us about your experience in the ALA and why is it important to be an ALA Junior member. In 11 years as an ALA Junior, I met many leaders and mentors I look up to and now call family. Being a member of the ALA has provided me with many real-world experiences, numerous friendships, and the ability to participate with others nationwide who are passionate about serving veterans, military, and their families. As an active ALA Junior, these contributing factors have been invaluable to my future opportunities and career interests.
While in high school, I was selected to attend ALA Arizona Girls State. As Honorary Department of Arizona Junior President, I traveled to Maryland and North Carolina where I connected and learned from other leaders, taking that knowledge back to help Juniors in Arizona.
Several times, I traveled to Las Vegas to attend the ALA Western Division Convention and once served as the Honorary National Western Division Vice President in 2016-2017. As vice president, I led attending Juniors representing several states in meetings, listened to influential guest speakers, learned the importance of the ALA’s mission, and conducted service projects benefiting veterans. Being elected to a leadership role in the ALA offered me a wonderful learning experience, ability to network with others, and inspire other young girls to reach for higher goals in the ALA and throughout their lives.
How will being the recipient of an ALA Junior Member Loyalty Scholarship benefit you? It is an honor to be a recipient. With the expense of higher education, the scholarship award will greatly help me in my senior year to offset the cost of tuition and related expenses. It is my goal to keep the cost of my education down so I can begin my career with minimal debt. This generous scholarship award, in addition to my current job as a TSA officer, will help me come closer toward accomplishing this goal.
Why is it important for donors to support the ALA’s scholarship funds? When you make a donation to ALA scholarship funds, it is an investment in our members, their future pursuits, and strengthening the ongoing mission of the ALA. Every member is related to a veteran or is a veteran themselves, and we owe our lives and freedoms to their sacrifices. Yet, often we forget about those left behind to support our country while they are away. As ALA members, we make that commitment, choose to volunteer, and work to fulfill that mission of supporting veterans, military, and their families. When donors support ALA scholarship funds, it is another way of going above and beyond our important work that we can support those remaining home to carry on. Whether it be a large or small donation, it all helps to better the lives of those in the ALA. I am so eternally grateful to all those who gave and made my scholarship — and those of many others — possible over the years.
In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.