Hoyas Making a Difference in Veterans’ Lives

#HoyasForOthers

Georgetown’s proud mission to serve as women and men for others is exemplified through many in the Hoya community, and perhaps doubly so by our Hoya veterans.

One particular group of Hoyas is impacting the lives of veterans through their work with an engaging national nonprofit. Since 2007, The Mission Continues has provided opportunities for veterans to network and connect with other veterans, as well as a chance to volunteer in and help their respective communities.

When a veteran joins The Mission Continues, he or she is are able to form a tight camaraderie with other participants through structured programs.  Those in the program become the participant’s new “unit,” which is something that the veterans overwhelmingly expressed was missing in their lives.  

“We try to take best parts of the military and keep that,” said Laura L’Esperance (B’01), senior vice president of brand and communication.

Inspired by service

L’Esperance is a McDonough School of Business alumna who left a successful corporate career in search of a job with a more personal purpose. She found that purpose in her current career, helping to shape The Mission Continues’ programs.

After working an internship at Merrill Lynch,  L’Esperance received a job offer with the company after graduation. She began her first day at the World Financial Center in downtown New York City on Sept 5, 2001, just six days before 9/11. Being so close to the tragedy of that day, L’Esperance was impressed by the brave people who stood up to serve their country following the 9/11 attacks. That experience inspired her decision to join The Mission Continues some ten years later.

Though she doesn’t have a military background herself, her grandfather served in WWII and her father was in the Army, giving her insight into the experiences of veterans and ultimately helping to shape her work with the nonprofit to aid post-9/11 veterans in making a successful transition to civilian life.


Laura L’Esperance (B’01) Mary Beth Bruggeman (MPM’17)Veterans lend a hand at the City Year Project.

A personal connection

Mary Beth Bruggeman (MPM’17) served as a Marine for eight years before leaving active duty in 2007. She soon found herself struggling to re-establish her place in society while working in private industry. Not long after, she began volunteering, and found that service to others made her feel as though she had purpose in her life again.

In 2014, she began attending graduate school at the McCourt School of Public Policy, and career counselors there helped her focus on finding a career at which she could excel. “They were a huge help in walking me through the process,” she said. She now leads the D.C. office of The Mission Continues as executive director for the southeast region.

“Being a veteran helps me to understand where we are coming from and where we’re going as an organization,” she said.

“The ethos at Georgetown is collaborative and supportive, with a high emphasis on service,” said L’Esperance. It therefore makes sense that The Mission Continues has such a strong Hoya connection. In addition to Bruggeman and L'Esperance, several alumni lend a hand in both volunteer and leadership roles, including Tony DeMarino (SCS’15), an Air Force veteran who is a member of the D.C. Service Platoon.

Veterans programs at Georgetown

In the fall of 2015, Georgetown began hosting the Armed Services Arts Partnership. a community-creating, expressive arts programs at no cost to military students. Participants were invited to enroll in a six-week Comedy Bootcamp, where servicemembers and veterans learn from renowned comedy instructor Chris Coccia. There was also the Veterans Writing Project, where veterans learned how to write about their military experiences with acclaimed writer and veteran Ron Capps.

Learn more about Georgetown’s veteran programs for both current students and alumni by visiting the Georgetown University Veterans Office.

All photos courtesy of The Mission Continues.