Yvette Trapani’s journey to Plymouth State University spanned 10 years and took her across the country and the world. Before coming to PSU, Trapani, 30, spent a decade in the military, as a military police officer and National Guard soldier. The discipline, dedication and compassion she learned as a soldier has paid off. On Saturday, she will graduate from PSU with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, boasting a cumulative grade point average of 3.85. She has already been accepted into graduate school at King’s College in London, where she plans to earn a Master’s degree in War Studies. Her ultimate goal is to work internationally to provide aid to children who have experienced the losses and traumas of war.
Trapani has seen the effects of war on children and families in person. In 1996, she was deployed to Hungary for seven months to support the U.S. military mission in Bosnia. There she met children whose parents had been seriously injured or killed during the conflicts. The traumatic events these children had survived were heartbreaking to Trapani.
“I really got to see the effects of war on kids,” she said. “A lot of these kids witness things that are so atrocious, all they want is a hug and to know that there’s hope in the world.”
Two years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Trapani was deployed for a year to the military detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she worked as part of a security force. The stresses and challenges of that work helped give Trapani the confidence and discipline that have guided her academic successes.
During her 10 years of military service, Trapani attended local colleges off and on. While she was stationed in Texas, she took classes at Central Texas College. Later, after moving to New England and joining the Rhode Island National Guard, she attended school at the Community College of Rhode Island.
After returning from Guantanamo Bay in 2004, Trapani enrolled at Plymouth State to complete her Bachelor’s degree. As a political science major, she took classes in American, European and world politics, constitutional law and foreign policy. This past semester, she got special permission to take 22 credits, including an independent study, far exceeding the normal course load for a full-time undergraduate student.
Trapani believes her travel and military experiences have given her added confidence, discipline and perspective.
“I’ve been so focused on getting this Bachelor’s degree,” she said. “There’s not a lot I feel I can’t do.”
Trapani also said Plymouth State University was one of the best communities she has ever experienced. The support of classmates, friends and professors has been essential to her academic success.
“Everyone at PSU is great,” she said. “It’s the best group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”