Portraits of Courage

The Veterans Resource Center is proud to showcase Portraits of Courage, highlighting the stories of current and past Cal State LA student veterans who have served our nation with honor and distinction. Each month, we will introduce a new honoree.


CJ, wearing a polo shirt

CJ Evans

CJ Evans enlisted in the Marine Corps and landed in basic training in February of 1999 at MCRD Paris Island. Spending nearly a decade as both Active Duty and Active Reserve, she has been stationed at Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton and MCAS Iwakuni, Japan as well as having spent a tour in Iraq in 2007. 

CJ Evans is currently pursuing a BS degree in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering after transferring from Los Angeles City College with several AA and AS degrees. Upon graduating in the spring of 2022, CJ plans to continue on with a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering followed by a Ph.D. in the Neurosciences. CJ’s plan is to further the advancement of Brain-Machine Interfaces through the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology for both commercial and medical use, as well as figuring out ways to interface machine technology into the human nervous system for cybernetic based prosthetics. 


Jose, smiling and wearing business suit

Jose Sanchez

Jose grew up in Boyle Heights then moved to Pomona, Ca. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and left for boot camp in July of 1994. After serving 11 years on active duty as a supply and logistics specialist, including a 2003 combat deployment to Iraq and achieving the rank of sergeant, Jose was honorably discharged in August 2005.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from California State University, Fullerton, Jose was hired as the Veterans Benefits Coordinator at Cal State LA in April 2013.  His responsibilities included managing the Veterans Resource Center (VRC), admissions assistance, peer counseling, program development, budget tracking and academic counseling for veterans. While working at the VRC, he began taking classes towards an MBA degree on campus. Jose completed his master’s in Business Administration from Cal State LA in December 2016.

Jose began working for the U.S. Department of Labor in January of 2015 as the Assistant Director for Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) for California. In his current role, Jose manages DOL programs that assist transitioning service members and veterans in finding employment and careers. These programs include: the Department of Labor Employment Workshop (DOLEW) presented to transitioning service members on military installations as part of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP); Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) in partnership with the states EDD programs; and the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants awarded to non-profit organizations to assist homeless veterans find employment

He is also responsible for conducting federal investigations related to the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) and Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA). These laws are in place to protect service member’s employment rights against discrimination by their employers.


Janet, wearing her U.S. Navy uniform and smiling.

Janet Bocanegra

Janet Bocanegra is a proud U.S. Navy woman who served as a boatswain’s mate and climbed up the ranks to a second-class enlisted member. Janet is currently receiving Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) services that will prepare her for a career.

“Being a female veteran is empowering and prideful, because we represent a small number of all service members and serving our nation is not a job that everyone enlists to do,” she said. “Every experience in my life has allowed me to look back and feel pride and gratitude to be a female Navy veteran.”

Janet grew up in Los Angeles. She is currently in her second semester at Cal State LA as a transfer student. Janet is working on a bachelor's degree in Urban Learning and a teaching credential for mild to moderate special education. She aspires to be a special education teacher and mentor to other women veterans.


Anthony Martinez, smiling with son, daughter, and wife.

Anthony Martinez

Anthony enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 2007 and began basic training in June 2008 at MCRD San Diego, CA. He completed MOS 5803 training as a Military Police Officer in January 2009 in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and was sent to his first duty station at MCB Camp Pendleton, CA. By October 2009, he was in Afghanistan with Combat Logistics Battalion 1. Before completing his first deployment, he volunteered to redeploy to Afghanistan. After a few short months of being home and training, he redeployed to Afghanistan in October 2010 with Combat Logistics Regiment 15. Anthony returned stateside in April 2011, and transferred to work with the Provost Marshal's Office. He spent his last two years in service as a police officer responding to a wide variety of calls at Camp Pendleton.

Anthony separated from active duty in June 2013 and began attending school at Glendale Community College, where he majored in biology. He transferred to Cal State LA in the fall of 2015 to pursue a B.S. in microbiology and a minor in forensic science. Anthony completed his programs in the spring of 2019 and began his graduate program in criminalistics in fall 2019 with a projected graduation of spring 2021. Anthony’s dream career is to work as a criminalist, collecting evidence from crime scenes and analyzing it in the laboratory.



Dalilia Minter, smiling

Dalila Minter

Dalila enlisted in the military upon graduating high school, shortly after 9/11.

“My country and my values were under attack. The armed forces allowed me to serve the United States for a higher purpose,” she said.

Dalila served in the U.S. Navy for five years aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Carol Vinson. During her two deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, she transitioned from a Pollywog to a Shellback.

In 2007, she was honorably discharged and started her educational journey at Pasadena City College. A parent with three children, Dalila graduated with an associate’s degree in behavioral science in 2017.

Her quest continued at Cal State LA in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in law and society.

“As a student veteran, mother, wife, and business owner, this was no easy task. I had to sacrifice my time, energy, and effort. However, the blood, sweat, and tears were worth the return,” she said.

She graduated in spring 2020 and is now proud alumni with plans to go to law school.



Brett Hernandez, shaved head, full beard

Brett Hernandez
Brett served in the United States Navy for 8 ½ years. Stationed in San Diego, Japan and the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois, Brett has completed several deployments throughout Southeast Asia on board the aircraft carriers USS Kitty Hawk and USS George Washington.

In 2011, he was honorably discharged and began his pursuit in higher education, aspiring to work in the entertainment industry. To date, Brett has obtained a certificate in Video Production & Digital Media, Associate of Art in Journalism and he is currently completing his Bachelor of Arts in Television, Film & Media Studies at Cal State LA. He is on track to graduate in fall 2020.