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From camo to Bronco: military veteran set to graduate from Boise State

Abbey Gatlin in her Air Force uniform

To many in our community, being a Bronco means more than wearing blue and orange. Being a Bronco holds the meaning of innovation, transformation and determination, three things this Boise State University student does not fall short of. Abbey Gatlin, a 35 year old Boise State senior, is set to graduate this upcoming May with a degree in Integrated Media and Strategic Communications with an emphasis in Strategic Communications and a minor in sustainability. A ‘not-so-typical’ college student, Gatlin returned to school after serving in the Air Force from November 2005 to October 2013.

A native of Illinois, Gatlin attended Mount Carmel High school, where she graduated in 2005. Upon graduation, she decided to join the Air Force to pay for school, learn structure and discipline, and to discover a world outside of her small town. While in the military, she was stationed in Japan, Idaho and Arizona and was deployed to Qatar in both 2007 and 2012. Throughout this time, she worked in medical logistics. After completing two active duty enlistments, Gatlin enlisted into the Air National Guard where she worked in healthcare administration. As a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8), she will celebrate 18 years of military service on November 8, 2023.

After living in Arizona from 2010-2017, Gatlin and her husband moved to Idaho to be closer to family. In January 2021, she enrolled and began taking classes at Boise State.

Gatlin shared the tough transition that she went through after taking a break from attending school for about four years. “It was hard to transition from making a full time income to being a ‘broke college student,’” she recalled, “But I know that getting a degree will be a huge pay off, leaving me feeling more fulfilled and with more career options.”

Abbey Gatlin and her husband

Gatlin shared some advice for younger students saying, “You have more time than you think to get things figured out. The opportunities that are meant for you will find you. Keep working hard and doing good things for yourself, and the rest will fall into place.”

Gatlin currently interns for the Public Affairs Department at the Bureau of Reclamation, Colombia-Pacific Northwest Regional Office. Upon graduation, her internship will convert into a full-time position. Gatlin’s long-term goals include starting her own business and, once her husband graduates from Boise State with his Bachelor’s Degree in Cloud Computing, they plan to start a family of their own.

[Article written by Aubrie Albrand, a student in Integrated Media and Strategic Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and member of the Blue House Agency at Boise State.]