Student veterans now have a place on campus to call their own. The new Veterans Resource Center, located on the second floor of the CLA Building inside the Registrar’s Office, serves as a first point of contact and provides face-to-face guidance.
“Veterans already come with many skills. All we’re trying to do is assist them is taking those skills and applying them to an academic environment,” President Michael Ortiz said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 4. “This is a place that’s going to actually provide services to veterans so they can move forward in their programs and complete their degrees.”
Students can find answers about financial aid, military benefits, registration and orientation, as well as solve individual issues that require one-on-one assistance. Faculty and staff can learn about veterans and their specific educational needs through professional development workshops and improved communication channels.
In addition, the center provides a much-needed physical space for the student veteran community, which numbers 376 this fall. Inside, students can use the computers, meet in the conference space or relax in the lounge area.
“The student-to-student experience is very important. The center provides them that community,” says Elke Azpeitia, coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center. Four student assistants, designated as veteran resource advisors, can offer their expertise to peers as both students and veterans.
The center is part of the university’s ongoing commitment to support veterans, whose enrollment has grown by more than 60 percent in last three years. During the ribbon-cutting, Provost Marten denBoer, co-chair of the Veterans Services Initiative, highlighted the important contributions veterans make to academic life.
“Veterans are highly motivated. They’re very focused, and they’re goal-oriented in terms of their studies,” denBoer said. “With that training and their experience and their exposure to the service, they know how to work in teams and get things done. I’ve often heard professors say that they’re the kind of students you want to have in class because they really elevate the level of the class and they raise the bar for all students.”
The Kellogg Legacy Project Endowment provided a $95,000 grant over three years to the Boots To Broncos Initiative, which called for the creation of the resource center. The Kellogg grant also supports scholarships, recognition events, professional development workshops, and a review of the veterans website and eOrientation program. A $10,000 award from the Tri-City Community WellBeing Grant, which may be renewed for two additional years, will further develop the veteran community on campus.
(Top photo: A ribbon cutting celebrates the opening of the Veterans Resource Center on the second floor of the CLA Building Oct. 4. Bottom photo: Christine Featherstone speaks with Betty Ortiz during a tour of the new center.)