Joaquin Ortiz, Technical Assistant at Columbia State Film Crew Technology, was recently honored as a recipient of the 2022 Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans.
The recipients of the award are nominated by their respective college presidents, and Ortiz was one of 39 Tennesseans to receive the award.
“Mr. Ortiz exemplifies not only what it means to be a student soldier and project leader, but also what it means to come home as an alum and be a Columbia State Charger,” said David Smith, professor in Film Crew Technology at Columbia State, in his nomination letter, “It is a great honor that we nominate Joaquin Ortiz for the Third Annual Chancellor’s Award for Military Veterans.”
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Ortiz joined the Army National Guard after graduating from Independence High School in 2016. After basic training, Ortiz started his first assignment in the Middle East in 2018-2019. With his unit he carried out missions in Kuwait. Jordan and Syria. Within five years, he was promoted to sergeant, then staff sergeant, and trained to become his unit’s master resilience trainer, dedicated to training soldiers’ mental health. He also became his unit’s public affairs representative, which allowed him to take photos and record video.
After his stint, Ortiz graduated from Columbia State with a film crew technical certificate in 2021 and was then hired at Columbia State as a technical assistant on the program, where he has since worked with two cohorts of students.
Ortiz was also instrumental in running the 2021 Veterans History Project in partnership with the Student Veterans Organization, where he managed three recording studios simultaneously to film the stories of over 20 veterans during a Saturday event. After the event concluded, he continued to work on the project to prepare the footage for the Library of Congress.
“When I first decided to enter the film crew program after my assignment, I thought I didn’t have any transferable skills,” Ortiz said. “In the end, I got a lot of experiences that translate well to the film industry, like punctuality, professionalism, leadership, preparation and long work on the legs. Whether you’re a veteran or an average person with some life experience, there’s room for everyone in the film.”
Ortiz was presented with a special TBR Challenge Coin on behalf of the Chancellor by Dearl Lampley, Vice President of the Williamson Campus at Columbia State and Extended Services. A rich tradition in all branches of the military, Challenge Coins represent special achievement, excellence, hard work, unit pride, respect and esprit de corps.
Ortiz is currently enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting. In the future, he plans to retire as a staff sergeant in the Army, earn his bachelor’s degree, and eventually become a forensic accountant for the FBI. He also hopes to invest money to support local filmmakers and fellow students from Columbia State’s Film Crew program.
“That’s one of the greatest compliments I’ve had in a long time,” Ortiz said. “But this award is just as much a success for me as it is [for] the people who have helped me along the way. And some of those people are family, friends, mentors and of course my team. As military personnel, we all know that we need a team to operate. There is no one man army. I have my family and one of my most influential mentors, and now – the best boss ever – David Smith, so much appreciation and appreciation to all the veterans and my colleagues here. Special thanks to Columbia State Community College for opening up opportunities in my life.”
Established in 2020 by Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents Flora W. Tydings, the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans recognizes one military veteran from each Tennessee community and technical college each year to honor the service, bravery and sacrifice of military veterans in campus communities .
“Our college communities are strengthened by the presence of veterans and active staff — as students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said Dr. Tydings. “They – and the experiences and perspectives they bring – are an important part of the great diversity of people and backgrounds on our campus, from which everyone benefits. We pledge to serve them as they have served our country.”
View the full list of 2022 Chancellor’s Commendations for Military Veterans at www.tbr.edu.
Columbia State is an inclusive community college in south Middle Tennessee dedicated to fostering success and positive life change through teaching, learning, and service. Visit ColumbiaState.edu to learn more.