Although Chuck Pierce has retired as principal, the Glendale Community College Veterans Service Center is still in operation on the college campus. In fact, veterans now have a new on-campus service center that will be dedicated at 9 a.m. on March 24.
GCC is ranked eighth in the nation among veteran-friendly two-year colleges. The GCC Veterans Service Center advertises itself as a “one-stop-shop” service for veterans wishing to pursue an education.
Named a Veterans Support Campus by the Veterans Administration, the Veterans Service Center can help veterans transition from military life to academia, gain academic support, and embark on a civilian career. .
Acting GCC President Teresa Leyba Ruiz, Director of Development Frances Mateo, who has worked at the college for 27 years, and Acting Vice President of Student Affairs Monica Castaneda gave a tour of the new center last week ahead – premiere of the grand opening.
Castaneda said there were more than 800 veterans registered at the center. They bring their families with them when they register, and the new center is a major improvement over the small building that has been providing services since 2010, and there was only one staff member.
Leyba Ruiz said the center serves veterans of all conflicts, “as well as their family members”.
Veterans can transfer their educational benefits to relatives. Leyba Ruiz recalled a veteran who transferred his benefits to his daughter.
“It was a beautiful expression of a father’s love for his daughter,” she said.
Demand far exceeded installation, and Leyba Ruiz said: “We had to find an alternative, an option. So we gathered the capital resources and invested. The decision to expand was the right decision.
One more worthwhile fact – veteran GCC students are 58% more likely to graduate in three years, compared to GCC students overall, Castaneda said.
The counselors at the center are veterans themselves. They can help plan an academic path, identify federal and state benefit options, and connect with veterans services on campus and in the surrounding community.
The VSC can help veterans:
• Choose and register for courses
• Plan your degree
• Complete financial aid forms
• Understand tuition and book deferment options
• Explore civilian career options, career counseling and job search tools
• Comply with Department of Veterans Affairs regulations for using Veterans Education Assistance benefits
• Network with other veterans of the Veterans Support Coalition or the Veteran Women’s Support Group
Leyba Ruiz said veterans have plenty of services to be successful. She said they get a stipend each month they are in school. If they stop attending a course, the college must notify the Veterans Administration.
Castaneda said one-stop services help veterans who avoid the college disability resource center because they don’t want to be labeled.
“They are encouraged to access a note taker in their class,” Castaneda added.
“The faculty is sensitive to the needs of veteran students,” said Leyba Ruiz.
She mentioned that some are sensitive to fluorescent lights, that a veteran may feel the need to be seated by a door, or that they may be constantly late to class.
A professor had a veteran student who was always late, and he finally asked him why. The veteran said he always took a different route to get to class from home because when he was overseas in the Middle East, he and his troops had to take a different route every day to avoid IEDs .
Castaneda said: “Each student is unique. We do what we can for a student to succeed.
Mateo said, “We’re a very friendly campus here.”
To emphasize this, Leyba Ruiz pointed to a small poster on her wall that reads, “Keep calm and be kind.” It’s a campus-wide campaign.
The college is located at 6000 W. Olive Ave. For the Grand Opening Ceremony, enter campus from 63rd Avenue and turn onto Via Gaucho.
Disabled parking spaces are marked with a wheelchair symbol.
RSVP to [email protected], or call 623-845-3477 by March 21.