ILLINOIS - The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) will present the 2024 Illinois Student Veteran of the Year Award to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Michael Jacobson, Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering PhD candidate at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Michael also earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

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Michael served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps including conducting counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom. He was recognized for exemplary service with the Good Conduct Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.

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In nominating Michael, Dr. Mia Garcia-Hills, Director of the Student Veterans Affairs Office of the Dean of Students, pointed to his involvement with the UIC’s Student Veterans Center, mentorship of undergraduate students, and his innovative approach to his studies.

As a student veteran, Michael volunteered with Breaking the Chains, a rescue team that extracts animals of all types to safety from dangerous conditions worldwide. Michaels’ mission was in Ukraine where he participated in saving animals abandoned because of the war. As a PhD candidate, he researches machine learning and has developed prototypes of robotic prosthetics designed to support persons with critical injuries.

Michael was selected among an impressive pool of student veteran candidates who demonstrate a strong engagement with their college/university and/or the wider community. Recipients portray leadership characteristics and excellence in academics. They serve as role models for the student veteran body by volunteering, participating in events, academic achievement, reaching out to fellow student veterans, and portraying an overall positive attitude. This is the fifth year the award has been presented.

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