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September 2012

Air Force veteran seeks degree from Avila with help of
Yellow Ribbon

Nikky Maggio

> Learn more about Yellow Ribbon & Avila's Veterans Program

When Amber “Nikky” Maggio graduated high school, she knew two things – she wanted to go to college, and she wanted out of her hometown of El Paso, Texas.

There was just one problem. She didn’t have any money. But, instead of throwing up her hands, giving up and locking herself into some random menial job on the far western point of the Texas high desert, Maggio sought a solution.

She found that solution in the U.S. Air Force.

“The biggest selling point of the military is it pays for your education,” she said. “I wanted to travel. And, after 9/11, I felt it would be a good thing to help protect the country.”

Maggio enlisted in the Air Force in 2002 and for the next 5 ½ years she served as a munitions loader on F-16 fighter planes. She was stationed in Misawa, Japan and served four months in Iraq, also serving brief, temporary deployments in Malaysia and Las Vegas.

“I really enjoyed my time in the military,” she said. “It was very good for me.”

But 5 ½ years was enough, and now, Maggio was left with where she was going to continue her life … and not in El Paso. While in the Air Force, she met and married her husband, Anthony, and the two soon had a daughter, Layla. Anthony was originally from Grain Valley, Mo., just east of Kansas City, and wanted to get back closer to family.

Nikky eventually found a new home in the Kansas City area … and, at Avila University.

It was Anthony who first enrolled in Avila’s business program.

“He had heard about Avila through a friend,” Nikky said. “He knew Avila was a well-known university in the area.”

Maggio said she felt intimidated about returning to school at first, but quickly found solace at Avila, where she enrolled in the radiological science program.

“The class sizes were small, and there was a lot of faculty/student interaction,” she said. “I would hate a big school and big classes. I need that 1-on-1 interaction.”

The Post 9/11 GI Bill would cover only a portion of Maggio’s education expenses, so she applied to the Yellow Ribbon Program, which covers the rest.

“I would not be able to afford it without Yellow Ribbon,” she said. “I love it here. It’s user-friendly, but at the same time, I’m getting a really good degree.”

Maggio said she’s on track to graduate in May 2014. AU


Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434