Sherie Yoon has been a Programs Specialist with the Military and Veterans Programs Office since February 2014 and was recently promoted to a Training position. Her father is currently active duty in the Army, serving his 21st year in the armed forces as a nurse. Growing up as a military brat, Sherie has moved every three years and lived overseas for six years, prior to coming to Texas Tech University. She has lived in and visited Germany, Italy, Korea, and Italy. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Nutrition as a double major. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school to become a Registered Dietician and enter the field of Corporate Wellness. Aside from her passion for health and fitness, she is also passionate about helping veterans and their families getting started at Texas Tech University.
Sherie is active in several other organizations at Texas Tech, including the Multicultural Greek Council, Departmental Ambassador Program for Kinesiology, and as a Chancellor’s Ambassador. In her free time she enjoys managing her Chiweenie’s Instagram, crafting, and going to the gym.
My name is Brian Conkin. I grew up and went to school in Springlake-Earth, Texas. I have a Bachelor from Texas Tech in Marketing, and I am currently working on a double major to include Management. My goal is to attain my Masters through the Rawls College of Business MBA for Working Professionals Program. I served in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2014 in the medical field. I have a five-year-old daughter named Hannah, and we both attend Trinity Church. I officiate football and basketball part-time, and, in my free time, I volunteer at the Trinity Outreach Center and enjoy watching the four major sports. I look forward to helping veterans and their families understand their federal and state educational benefits.
Ikaika Iuta was born and raised in the state of Hawaii. His first name means “strength” in Hawaiian and his last name means “Judah” in Samoan. Ikaika is part Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, and Samoan. Ikaika attended a private Hawaiian school while he lived in Hawaii. After graduating in 2007, He attended Menlo College in Atherton, CA where he played football. After a year at Menlo College, he moved back home to Hawaii where he attended community college in Maui and the Big Island. In 2010, Ikaika joined the United States Army as Motor Transport Operator (88M). He was station at Fort Lewis, WA where he was assigned to the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. He was deployed for one year to Kandahar, Afghanistan attached to the 10th Mountain Division and 82nd Airborne Division. Ikaika separated from the Army in 2014 where he continued his education at Green River Community College. He graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in December 2014. Ikaika enrolled at Texas Tech University in the Fall of 2015 where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He plans to graduate in December 2017 and attend graduate school to become a school counselor. Ikaika is an avid football fan and his favorite team are the Pittsburgh Steelers with his favorite player being Troy Polamalu.
Philip Gaona grew up and went to school in a small town called Shallowater, Texas. Right out of high school, he spent four years in the United States Marine Corp infantry stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. Philip completed two tours of duty which included a combat tour to Helmand Province, Afghanistan (2009) and on the 26th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) in support of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (2011). Philip moved back to Lubbock after his time of service and decided to attend Texas Tech University. He is currently a junior and pursuing his Bachelors in Wind Energy with a Minor in Natural Recourse Management.
James was raised in the small town of Baird, TX, just outside Abilene. He joined the US Navy in 2006 as a Nuclear Electricians Mate. After 2 years of job specific training, he was assigned to the USS Key West (SSN-722), a Los Angeles class attack submarine stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI and Piti, Guam. There he served the majority of his 9-year naval career as a member of the engineering department, charged with the operation and maintenance of the on-board nuclear power plant. He participated in deployment during the Global War on Terror to the Pacific theater and local military operations in the Hawaiian Islands, including Pacific Rim joint exercises coordinated with many countries’ militaries. He left the Navy in 2014, and is currently enrolled at TTU in pursuit of a BS in Physics.
In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and ultimate, skydiving, sci/fi and fantasy, gaming, and learning guitar.
Anthony Burks was born in Lake Jackson Texas a small town an hour south of Houston. He served six and a half years in the United States Air Force. After receiving an honorable discharge he is now working on a Bachelors in Computer Engineering.
Ryan McElfresh is a Programs Specialist with the Military and Veterans Programs. As a Navy veteran, he completed over 20 years as an Operation Specialist Chief. He served on four ships, and completed two shore duty tours one as an instructor for Single Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare and one as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Underway Mentor. He also spent four years with Naval Special Warfare where he completed one tour in Iraq and assisted the establishing of the Crisis Response Element in the Middle East. He moved to Lubbock with his family after his naval career and decided to attend Texas Tech University. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors of Science in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics.
Riley Buonamano is currently a sophomore studying Nutrition Health and Wellness at
Texas Tech. At the moment she is trying to get her Bachelor's degree in nursing, which
she can accomplish after she finishes her prerequisites for nursing school. Riley
hopes to get into Texas Tech's nursing program by next year. Riley was inspired to
become a nurse because of her mother. Her mother serves as a Nurse Practitioner in
Before coming to Texas Tech Riley traveled the world as a military brat. She was born in Fort Hood, Texas and from there she moved to San Antonio and then Galveston in Texas, Hawaii, Italy, and finally Maryland. Because of the amazing life experiences she had while living as a military brat, Riley chose to work at the MVP office to give back to the active duty service members and veterans.
In her spare time Riley likes to take naps with her two cats, Barry and Tuna.
Joe Raya is a work-study here at the MVP office. Joe served six years in the United
States Air Force as an Aerospace Ground Equipment mechanic. Was last stationed at
Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina as a Production Support NCOIC. He was charged
with tool management and purchases, ensuring (PMEL) Precision Measurement Equipment
Laboratory items were properly calibrated and building safety inspection completion
and oversaw hazardous waste inspections and disposal. He also received an Associate's
Degree in Applied Sciences from the Community College of the Air Force. He is a current
member of the (VATT) Veterans Association at Texas Tech. He is currently pursuing
a Nursing degree here at Texas Tech University.
Joe loves spending time with his wife Ashley and dog bandit. He is an avid football fan both college and professional. He is looking forward to answering questions and assisting in the transition of fellow veterans and their families in starting or furthering their education.