Class of 2021: former Marine wants to help veterans suffering from addiction – VCU News


Shae Gavit’s plans changed dramatically after an injury ended his military career.

“In high school, I had the idea to go down the law enforcement route, and that was my plan in the military,” said Gavit, who graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in December with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in addiction from the College of Humanities and Sciences. “As cliché as it may be, my ultimate goal was to get into some sort of detective work or the FBI.”

Gavit enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 at the age of 20 after working for a few years to raise funds for the university. She was still at the start of her military career when she broke her hip during field training. She was released on medical parole in 2008.

“I was not able to serve my contract. I didn’t feel like my shift was over, ”said Gavit, originally from Hamilton, Texas. “I felt like I had unfinished business.”

A single parent with two young children, Gavit enrolled as a major in biochemistry at the VCU School of Pharmacy in 2019. She had previously worked as a pharmacy technician and graduation “was the next step,” said she declared. But participating in the program was more stressful and demanding than she had expected.

“I couldn’t give my kids the time they needed,” she said. “I switched to psychology as a major for a better work / life balance. ”

Her professors in the psychology department were empathetic and in tune with her struggles as a single mother, she said. When Gavit was trying to home-school his children during the pandemic, and also attend school, Geri Lotze, Ph.D., associate professor in developmental psychology, understood Gavit’s commitments and offered him some flexibility.

“She went above and beyond,” Gavit said. “I’ve asked professors at VCU to do this stuff a million times. The faculty is quite phenomenal.

“I was not able to serve my contract. I didn’t feel my shift was over. I felt like I had an unfinished business.

Shae Gavit

During Gavit’s time at VCU, she worked with veterans through the Office of Military Student Services. In September, she was part of a group of veterans collecting donations to help Afghan refugees temporarily housed at Fort Lee and Fort Pickett.

“Director Stephen Ross was the initial reason I was drawn to Military Student Services. He will continually fight for us every day, ”she said. “He has become a father figure. It is an honor to work with a man of this stature who carries these values.

Gavit hopes to graduate from VCU to earn his Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. She would like to work with Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center or a non-government affiliate program that works with veterans, active duty military, and military families struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

“It’s a way to continue to serve,” she said. “To help those who have taken the same type of oath as me.”


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