U.S. Navy veteran Eddie Exconde '20 made the transition from combat boots to textbooks, paving the way to his dream job as a zookeeper for reptiles and aquatics at the Tulsa Zoo in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Read on to find out more about his story!

North Central News

Inspiring mentors and unique resources led North Central veteran to his dream career


Kara Kots

Nov 16, 2020

For North Central alumnus Eddie Exconde '20, a day on the job isn’t like most. As a zookeeper for reptiles and aquatics at the Tulsa Zoo in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his daily responsibilities include observing and caring for 50 reptiles and amphibians from 14 different species. His favorite part? Interacting with the public and educating them about the incredible animals there.  

In 2017, Exconde enrolled at North Central as a United States Navy veteran, making the transition from combat boots to textbooks. "Being a student veteran was a challenge at first, but the camaraderie between veterans made my college career easier,” stated Exconde. “Veterans have an instant bond and a similar mindset that makes us feel we can depend on each other to get through the stress of school." 

North Central College celebrates the diverse military backgrounds of each student veteran on campus. Faculty and staff are excited to contribute to student veterans' academic and social success, ensuring they have an extraordinary student experience.  

"(Director of Veteran and Military-Affiliated Student Services) Julie Carballo went above and beyond to ensure all student veterans had a path to success,” expressed Exconde. “The veterans center was instrumental in my success by providing a comfortable, quiet and peaceful place to study and relax with other veterans who shared my background.” 
 

North Central College alumnus Eddie Exconde '20 poses with one of the giant tortoises he cares for at the Tulsa Zoo.

Eddie Exconde '20 with one of the giant tortoises he cares for at the Tulsa Zoo.

Student veterans at North Central are invited to access a wide array of support and resources developed specifically with them in mind. These services ensure student veterans feel welcomed and part of the campus community from their first day on campus to their last, helping prepare them for their future career or graduate school goals. 

Despite 2020 being a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Exconde landed a job he loves. “North Central made me dig deep to achieve my goals. The support from fellow students and staff kept me going and led me to my dream job,” stated Exconde.

“I wake up every day excited to be in the career that I’m in and I know it wouldn't be possible without the support I received from my friends, family and the community at North Central."

A giant tortoise at the Tulsa Zoo, workplace of North Central College graduate and veteran Eddie Exconde.

A giant tortoise snacks on a seasonal treat.