Cal Poly Pomona welcomed new and returning veteran students to campus with a reception and networking mixer on Oct. 12. As part of an ongoing effort to support veterans and their education, the event allowed students to learn about services the university provides and connect with Student Veterans Organization, a group that launched in the spring.
After a Presentation of Colors by ROTC students, university President Michael Ortiz thanked the veterans for their commitment to the country and welcomed them to campus. “Cal Poly Pomona and the entire California State University system have a place for you known as the Troops to College program. We’re nailing down a comprehensive plan to create a clear path to a college education,” Ortiz said.
Recognizing that veteran students have different needs and issues,
the university established the Veterans Services Initiative, which
helps them through the admission process, offers an online orientation
program, and provides academic and social support networks. The
initiative is supported through a $100,000 Wal-Mart Foundation grant to
specifically develop an e-orientation program for new student veterans.
Last year, 18,000 veterans statewide took advantage of their
education benefits. At Cal Poly Pomona, 183 students identify
themselves as veterans, although university officials believe the
actual number is much higher. The number of veterans is expected to
increase dramatically in coming years as men and women complete their
Jason Knotowicz, an urban & regional planning senior who served
three tours in the Middle East, says he struggled in making the
transition from military life to college life, especially since most of
his classmates were younger and didn’t fully understand the military
world. Also, his Air Force background taught him to be extremely
disciplined, and many of his peers found him very intense.
“I know I’m intense,” Knotowicz says. “I’m so focused on this mission right now to finish this degree.”
At the event, Provost Marten denBoer said veterans are an important
part of the student body because they bring experience, depth and focus
to the classroom.
During his 12 years in the Air Force, Knotowicz developed a
deep-rooted sense of loyalty and discipline, which many of his
classmates see as a benefit. The Air Force emphasized mentorship, and
Knotowicz doesn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand. “If I see a
struggling student, I want to help them. I try to hold them
accountable,” he says.
Upcoming events include a Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 10 at
noon in the University Quad. Professor Liam Corley, who recently served
in Afghanistan, will be the guest speaker. On Nov. 12, a half-day
Veterans Awareness Workshop will explain the unique needs of student
veterans from different perspectives. Guest speakers include Harold F.
Martin, psychology professor at Pasadena City College; Pat O’Rourke,
director of Veterans University at Long Beach State; and urban planning
senior Jason Knotowicz.
For more information about Cal Poly Pomona’s Veterans Services Initiative, visit www.cpp.edu/~veterans.