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Pepperdine University Honors Graduating Veterans and Current Members of the Armed Forces With Distinctive Honor Cords

Student wearing military honor cords at commencement

Seven military veterans and two Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets graduated from Pepperdine University’s Seaver College on Saturday, April 27, 2024. These distinguished members of the student body were recognized by the institution with red, white, and blue honor cords celebrating their service and sacrifice to the United States of America.

“Distinctive cords are worn at most commencement ceremonies, often for scholarly excellence,” says Eric Leshinsky, director of student veteran affairs at Pepperdine University and a retired United States Air Force colonel. “Introducing military honor cords, which recognize and honor our veterans, active service members, and  ROTC cadets entering military service, is phenomenal. Our PeppVets wear them proudly.”

Student at graduation wearing military honor cordsThe idea to institute the military honor cord tradition was introduced to Pepperdine in 2022. Inspired by the different stoles and honorary adornments available to high achieving students, Leshinsky pitched the idea of red, white, and blue cords for veterans to the various deans of Pepperdine’s five schools. After receiving positive feedback from each, these patriotic emblems recently became a fixture in the University’s commencement ceremonies.

“One of my great joys as dean was recognizing and honoring the contributions of Seaver College students,” says Michael Feltner, dean of academic initiatives and former dean of Seaver College, who approved the conferral of military honor cords during his tenure. “At the milestone celebration of commencement, it seemed appropriate that we also recognize the student veterans who have either served or committed to serve our country and who have also completed their baccalaureate degree with a special red, white, and blue honor cord. It's my sincere hope that these students take as much pride in wearing the special honor cord as the Pepperdine community takes in their accomplishments and service to our nation.”

Pepperdine University demonstrates its commitment to supporting military-connected students in many ways. The University actively aids just under 500 enrolled students who have either served in the Armed Forces, are current active service members or ROTC cadets, or are related to a member of the military. In 2023, Pepperdine opened the PeppVet Center, which serves as an on-campus hub for its military-connected students. The PeppVet Center helps provide guidance on educational benefits, academic support, career development, and community building opportunities while also providing a dedicated space for peer-to-peer support, development and fellowship. 

This commitment to supporting the military was recognized by the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings, in which Pepperdine is ranked as the 45th best college for veterans to attend.The University continues to honor the achievements of this student population through its military honor cord initiative.

“It's important that we acknowledge these service members, as many of their fellow students may not know their story,” says Leshinsky. “The military honor cords provide an opportunity for the Pepperdine community to say thank you to these students for their service to our nation as they move on to the next chapter of their lives”