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Saluting the Women who Serve

Student’s project featuring female veterans earns national recognition

Often when Micaila “Mickey” Britto-Patten is in public and wearing clothing that displays a military emblem, people offer their gratitude. However, too often the comments are misplaced.

“I always receive ‘thank yous’ for their service,” said the U.S. Marine Corps veteran and director of Veterans Services of Fall River.

Indeed, Britto-Patten can’t count how many times well-meaning people have asked her to thank her husband, brother, or father; the assumption being that it was a man in her family who has served in the military.

“I say, thank you, but I am the veteran,” she said.

To change the misguided impression that the military is a still primarily a male preserve, Britto-Patten applied for and was awarded a 2021 Adrian Tinsley Program for Undergraduate Research (ATP) grant to carry out her photographic documentary, Melting Back into Society: A Photographic Documentary of Women Veterans.

The project has been well received, so much so that Britto-Patten, who is studying studio arts with a concentration in photography, recently learned she is one of 60 students across the country selected to present her work at the prestigious Posters on the Hill, a highly competitive undergraduate research showcase.

Presenters will share their projects virtually on April 26-27 before U.S. House and Senate lawmakers and legislative staff members, as well as other federal and non-staff members.

“It’s been a pleasant surprise, actually a total shocker,” Britto-Patten said of being selected.

This is the twelfth year that BSU has had at least one student attend Posters on the Hill.

According to Dr. Jenny Shanahan, assistant provost for Academic Affairs, Bridgewater State holds the distinction for most student acceptances.

“Mickey will be an excellent representative of BSU, the United States Marine Corp and Veterans’ services at Posters on the Hill 2022,” she said.

Britton-Patten is excited to present her project and hopes it sheds new light on women veterans.

“I wanted to be able to show what women do. Women have been part of the military since 1943 and a lot of us don’t have our voices heard or don’t speak loud enough to be heard,” she said.

Soon, the BSU community will get to view Britto-Patten’s work as it will be on display this fall in the Maxwell Library.

“The BSU ATP program has allowed me to not only use my voice, but to raise the voices of all women veterans,” Britto-Patten said. “Allowing me to create this work of photography has been so fulfilling and for this I am grateful.”