San Diego State student Amanda Wirtz was selected as the Veteran of the Year for Assemblymember Toni Atkins’ 76th Assembly District. The former Navy Petty Officer Second Class was honored in late June at the fourth annual Veterans Recognition Luncheon in Sacramento.
"Amanda is a dynamic young woman who has served our country with honor,” said Joan Putnam, director of SDSU's Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center. “She is the perfect recipient for this notable award."
Wirtz, a Chicago native, worked for six years as a cryptologic analyst for Naval Intelligence after high school before voluntarily deploying to combat operations in Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Her interest in health issues deepened in 2003 when she was faced with personal health challenges. She returned to school to obtain a bachelor's degree in community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In 2009, Wirtz relocated to San Diego and has since worked as a research coordinator for the Veteran's Medical Research Foundation specializing in diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Pursuing her passion
Currently at SDSU, she is working toward a master's of public health in health promotion and behavioral science. Her personal and academic passion is chronic disease management and health promotion with an emphasis on underserved populations and disparities in healthcare.
Wirtz has held many professional and volunteer positions throughout her life, including working as a military fitness rehabilitation counselor and an operations manager at Dulles International Airport and volunteering in Peru. She is also a talented musician, having played the violin for 23 years.