Leanne Babcock

Leanne BabcockMy SDSU story begins with…

A Spring Break trip to San Diego in March 2003. I was visiting a friend in the Navy and had never been before. I needed a new perspective. I was finishing up transfer requirements at community college and preparing to apply to two schools in Oregon. However, this spring break was different. The United States had just gone into Iraq. I was finally meeting with an Air National Guard recruiter after spring break to enlist in the Oregon Air National Guard. I wasn't sure how I was going to become a student at SDSU and still pursue my dream of becoming an Airman. At the time, I was unaware there was an Air National Guard unit in San Diego. During my campus wanderings, I had stumbled across the Air Force ROTC Detachment, but no one was there.

I remember sitting at Scripps Pond going through all of this uncertainty and feeling complete bliss in that small nature preserve on an urban campus. I loved watching the turtles and koi.

After spring break, I enlisted in the Oregon Air National Guard 8 May 2003 as a Vehicle Mechanic and left for basic training in July. I graduated Air Force Basic Training 11 Sep 2003, but instead of going direct to my tech school I went back to Oregon. It was too late for me to start the semester so I went back to my old job while I waited for a tech school training date. Fiscal Year 2004 and the Base Realignment and Closure list came out, my Guard unit was on it. I was still going to tech school in January 2004, but I would need to find a new unit to go to before the end of FY 04. I was fortunate that my recruiter in Oregon found a small Air National Guard station in San Diego and they were willing to let me transfer after school.

After joint tech school with the Navy in Port Hueneme, I was able to make a trip to San Diego and meet the Air Force ROTC cadre and my recruiter for California. On 18 May 2004, I officially transferred from the Oregon to the California Air National Guard. I moved from Oregon to San Diego in June and started working my plan to transfer to SDSU and complete the Air National Guard/Air Force ROTC Simultaneous Member Program. My major roadblock was a lifelong struggle with Dyscalculia. I was formally diagnosed after I sought out an academic counselor who evaluated me. At that point, I was embarrassed and had failed the math class I needed to transfer to SDSU. I had previously failed seven math classes in three years of college. Having an answer gave me the confidence to work with tutors, practice interventions, and quell the fear of failure to keep me from achieving my goals.

It took me two denials and a probationary acceptance to get into SDSU, my first full time semester was Spring 2006. I threw myself into organizations within Air Force ROTC, continued working as a nanny, and led a delicate balance as a Citizen Airman. During 2007-2008, I was deployed twice and activated for California Wildfire support. I found a group of Veterans who gathered at a small office that doubled as the Veterans Center. This group was formed by Marines and Sailors who became fast friends. They made sure I was introduced to Joan and able to access my benefits. They also encouraged me to work with my professors during periods of mobilization so I could graduate and commission on time. This group would become the Student Veteran Organization. That year was a blur, I was taking an average of 18-21 Credits, living a dual life as an Airman and cadet, and still trying to work.

With much support from my friends in the Student Veterans Organization, Veterans Center, my shipmates in the 147th Combat Communications Squadron, Air Force Association, Silver Wings, and Air Force ROTC…I graduated from SDSU in May 2008 and Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in June 2008.

What has SDSU meant to you and your family?
I am immensely grateful for SDSU being the foundation for my future. I am fortunate to have been at SDSU as a Student Veteran during a time of transition.

I am the first college graduate in my family, the first Airman, and the first Air Force Officer. All of those would not have been possible without the immense support network and my Mom encouraging me to preserve.

My cousin is an SDSU Class of 2021 graduate, we now share a special bond of being #AztecForLife

What are your hopes for the San Diego State University community in the future?
Continue to feel like home every time you step foot on campus and find yourself wandering to Scripps Cottage to see the turtles, to the War Memorial to honor those Aztecs who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to the alumni center where we reflect on our proud heritage.