November 04, 2021

9/11 spurs decision to join the Navy

By: Mykayla Capeles

Candace Terry joined the Navy when she was 19 years old and served eight years in the Navy as a Russian and Persian Farsi Cryptolinguist—a military professional who monitors, translates and analyzes messages.

“I found out very young I had an aptitude for language, so around 11 to 13 years old I decided I was going to join the Navy,” Terry said. “I stayed around a year after my high school graduation and then 9/11 happened and I realized it was time to go.”

Once out of the Navy, Terry attended the University of Kentucky where she earned her bachelor’s in Russian studies. After graduation, Terry realized she wanted to pursue a master’s degree back in her home state and officially become a Gamecock. 

While at the University of South Carolina, she earned her master’s degree in social work with a certificate in social and behavioral health with military members, veterans and military families. During her time at UofSC, Terry became the president of the University of South Carolina’s Student Veterans Association (SVA). She spent her time alongside her amazing team to support veterans. For three years, Terry and her team advocated for the veteran’s experience. They set up a panel for faculty members to talk about the veteran’s experience in higher education and fought for a larger common space for veterans to come together.

“Studies show that if veterans have a common place to commune during the day, their success at universities is much higher,” Terry said. “The ribbon-cutting happened after my graduation, but it was still really exciting.”

Terry and her team worked closely with the student government for the Purple Heart parking spaces - dedicated parking spaces for all Purple Heart Recipients. She also worked with the student government to put in the POW-MIA chair at the basketball arena.

Being the president in SVA allowed Terry to have the experiences needed for veteran advocacy to transition her into the job she has now. For the past 18 months, she has been the Director of Governmental Affairs for the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs. Candace sits on the board and is a founding member of the non-profit organization, South Carolina Veterans’ Higher Education Group, to provide and advocate for veterans attending institutions of higher education in the state of South Carolina. 

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