By David Madden

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A Rutgers-Camden graduate student who served as a U.S. Marine has been honored by the school for the achievements she has made in her life. And she, in turn, thanked the school for helping to make those achievements happen

Laura Tolver of Edgewater Park already works as an ICU nurse at Cooper Medical Center, and is studying for her nursing doctorate. She’s getting help through a Tillman Foundation scholarship, aimed at aiding veterans transition to civilian life.

img 3184 South Jersey Nursing Student And Veteran Receives Tillman Scholarship

Laura Tolver (Credi: David Madden)

NFL standout Pat Tillman abandoned his football career to serve in the U.S. military in the days after 9/11. He lost his life serving in Afghanistan. The foundation was formed in his memory.

Tolver is one of 61 national recipients this year, and the only one in New Jersey. Tolver credits the vet services program at Rutgers-Camden for helping to make it happen.

“This university is not only a military friendly school, but the one and only Purple Heart university in the state of New Jersey,” Tolver told KYW Newsradio. “And it’s because of implementation of programs like this that the treatment of our veterans here at Rutgers is far superior to that of other institutions.”

The award is somewhat bittersweet for Tolver. During the application process, she revealed that she had been the victim of sexual assault while in the Marine Corps. While initially shocked that her assault became public knowledge, she now embraces the opportunity to tell it in a way to aid others in a similar situation.

“I know that all things work together for good and I know that this happened to me because I have been blessed with an ability to tell this story and to bring awareness to this issue from a very different perspective,” she added.

She never thought she’d become a nurse when she entered the Corps. Personal experiences pointed her in that direction, including the passing of both her parents. Now she says she’s looking forward.

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