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Mother-Son Duo Find Way to Make Impact on Charlotte Veterans Through Passions

Chris and Peter Demetriades smiling with Peter in his military uniform
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Chris Demetriades has had a connection to the military her entire life. 

Growing up, her mom spoke passionately of the experiences of Chris' grandfather, who was severely wounded from the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Then, after six years of marriage, Chris’ husband joined the Marine Corps. He was eventually followed by their son, Peter, who was overseas for nine years starting in 2014.

Though she herself did not deploy, Chris worked in various positions alongside the military, spending time with the Marines as a transition specialist. She is now working with the Coast Guard as a developer for their support equipment training, which involves machines like cranes and forklifts. 

In this new role, Chris believed she, and those she worked with, would benefit with her going back to school and enrolling in a training program herself.

“I realized this is a program where UNC Charlotte would really be beneficial not only to me, but to my clients, the Coast Guard and developing overall better quality training,” she said. “It was a good opportunity across the board, and the program itself is stellar.”

Chris came to the University, graduated in December with a master’s in Learning Design and Technology and inspired Peter to enroll last year once he was ready to pursue an education. 

But Chris wasn’t done on campus. She has continued to make an impact at Charlotte’s Veteran Services Office (VSO), teaching a résumé-writing course.

With the military being such a driving force throughout her life, working with student veterans to help them further their post-military careers was a fit that made sense with her passions.

“For military personnel, especially those that were in the combat arms fields, they have a hard time translating their experience,” Chris said. “I try to help them look at their background in a little bit different way so that they can see how their military experience can translate to, for example, being an eighth grade math teacher. I try to help them connect the dots.”

After working with a self-estimated 10,000 military service members throughout her career, Chris can now add another member to that list. Her son Peter is a senior at Charlotte, a work study with the VSO, part of the Veteran Engagement and Student Transitions (VEST) mentoring program and the standing vice president for the Military Affiliated Strength and Conditioning student organization (MASCO).

Along with the experiences from his mom, Peter was also inspired by a Q&A panel held on campus with two Medal of Honor recipients — William Kyle Carpenter and Salvatore Augustine Guinta — in March 2023. A quote from Carpenter at that event set Peter on a path to increasing his involvement with the University.

“Carpenter was asked: ‘If there was one thing that you wish you would have done more when you were a student, what would it be?’ And he said, ‘I wish I would have been more involved with the veteran community, and less focused on other things,’” Peter recalled. “When he said that, I immediately applied to work at the VSO. I moved closer to the school and then started making friends here. It's honestly been one of the best things I've done since coming to school.”

Chris and Peter both speak positively about sharing their time on Charlotte’s campus. 

Peter and Chris Demetriades celebrating Chris' graduation from UNC Charlotte
Peter and Chris Demetriades

“I love that Peter decided to go to UNC Charlotte,” Chris said. “Everybody that I've worked with over the years, they all say the same thing. They didn't realize how difficult transitioning from being an active duty service member to being a college student, or even just an employee with a civilian company, was going to be. It's a culture shock in a lot of ways, so I'm really proud of him.”

Peter agreed with that sentiment, saying he’s learned a lot having to adapt to the school environment after nearly a decade overseas. But he’s also learned a lot from his mom, who’s work at Charlotte comes from her heart above all else.

“My mom just has this outstanding love for the military and the military service members,” Demetriades said. “She does it purely just because she loves us, and that's really it. She definitely inspires me, not just to be more involved with the school and the veterans, but to try to be a better person.”

Peter and MASCO are participants at the Camo Classic, a VSO event happening on Friday, April 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that features both games and resources for veterans from within the Charlotte community. He said he likes these larger-scale events to see all the new veteran faces who weren’t previously aware of everything the VSO community provides.

That community aspect is significant for both the Demetriades on Charlotte’s campus. Having a group of people that can better understand each others’ situations is a benefit that can significantly improve someone’s tenure at the University.

One of the greatest benefits of Veterans Services is that military camaraderie,” Chris Demetriades said. “When you have somebody that can share your experience or understands your perspective, I think that makes your whole college experience a lot more meaningful. You get to experience college through your personal experiences, but also have an opportunity to help somebody else who may be struggling. Or if you yourself are struggling, you can find that connection that helps make your college experience even better.”

Family and military have always been intertwined for Chris Demetraides, and that trend has continued at Charlotte. Now, she’s doing it in a way that has made the results even more rewarding.

“I feel I have a duty to do what I can to help those that have given for this country,” Demetriades said. “For me, it's just an honor to keep that connection with our veteran community.”

Learn more about Veteran Services on the VSO website.