Islander Nursing Student Desiree Tejada Awarded Folds of Honor Scholarship

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Islander nursing major Desiree Tejada ’23 is one step closer to reaching her dreams of serving injured veterans and military families like her own. As the daughter of a retired marine veteran, Tejada has been a multi-year recipient of the Folds of Honor Scholarship based on her father’s service and sacrifice during his time in the United States Marine Corps. This year, Tejada was chosen among a select group of scholarship recipients to share her story through a featured television spot that is currently running on NBC Sports.

Founded in 2007, Folds of Honor strives to honor the sacrifices of veterans by providing scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. Folds of Honor has doled out more than 35,000 scholarships since its inception, awarding more than 6,500 in scholarships in 2021-2022 alone.

“My family is grateful for the donations from grateful Americans that make this scholarship possible,” Tejada said. “Being a nurse is something I’ve always known I wanted to do, and without organizations like Folds of Honor, my education wouldn’t be possible.”

In 2010, while serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Tejada’s father U.S. Marine Corps Gunner Sgt. Guillermo Tejada (Ret.) stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs. Tejada says her time spent in the hospital during her father’s recovery inspired her to become a nurse.

“Seeing the impact that the nurses had – on not only my dad’s health and well-being, but also my family’s as well – made me fall in love with the profession. I knew that feeling was something I wanted to give to other families too.”

We grow from adversity, not complacency.

Desiree Tejada '24

Tejada, whose family is now based in Canyon Lake, Texas, says she’s overcome different obstacles – from finances to academics – throughout her collegiate journey. Pushing through without surrender, she credits her father with giving her a fighting spirit and for always being her biggest supporter.

“My dad has never sugar-coated the truth,” Tejada said. “When I wanted to give up, he saw through me and pushed me to go further. I wasn’t sure of myself, but he was, and always has been. He is my rock.”

Learning from her father’s journey through recovery, Tejada says she better understands that from great hardship comes great achievement.

“We grow from adversity, not complacency,” Tejada said. “You have to learn to take the good with the bad and to not let the hard days reign over your good ones. My dad nearly gave his life for his country, and I remember that every day. He didn’t push through his service or his recovery to watch me quit. He pushed through so both he and I could see better days.”

Tejada hopes to eventually pursue a career as a nurse in the United States Navy.

“Like my father, I’m humbled by our experience as a military family,” Tejada said. “It’s not always something easy or fun to remember and talk about, but I know that my story, our story, is something that so many others have experienced. It’s my biggest service to families like mine to share our experience and hope that it earns more support for the sacrifice given by brave men and women like my father.”

Dr. Hassan Aziz, Dean of the TAMU-CC College of Nursing and Health Sciences, commends Tejada for her selection as a Folds of Honor scholarship recipient.

“This prestigious honor is a direct result of Desiree’s commitment to her academics and passion to serve others,” Aziz said. “Caring, compassionate, and goal-oriented, Desiree is ideally suited for a career in nursing."