Newswise — If you're someone who is "military-connected" -- meaning you're an active service member, a veteran, or a dependent of either -- you should know about the resources the California State University (CSU) offers to these students, all with the goal of making it easier for you to reach your personal and professional goals.
"Since the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the CSU has made transformational changes in the services provided for military-connected students," says Patrick O'Rourke, Ed.D., director of CSU Active Duty and Veterans Affairs at the Chancellor's Office, In Long Beach.
"Not only do CSU campuses take great pride in advising, advocating and certifying federal and state educational benefits for these students, all of our campuses work hard to build a welcoming on-campus environment for military and veteran students and their dependents," Dr. O'Rourke says.
We spoke with military-connected students enrolled at various CSU campuses about how the university's Veterans Services have helped them and their families as they work to earn a degree.
Miguel Flaquer, 31 | Public Relations | San José State | U.S. Marines
"The CSU's Veterans Services has helped me succeed as a student by being an excellent mediator between myself and the Veteran Affairs' education department. Veterans that are transitioning out of the military have many struggles that others do not experience.
The San José State Veterans Resource Center serves as a fantastic community hub where I can make friends with other students who share the same experiences as myself. It's nice being around other people that don't judge or label you because they share the same experiences. The center makes me feel like I'm a part of the college community rather than being an outsider.
My goals and aspirations include continuing my service to my community of veterans as a public relations professional."
Claudia Acosta, 27 | Taxation | CSU Fullerton; alumna of CSU Long Beach | U.S. Marines
"The CSU Fullerton Veterans Resource Center provided a space and events where I was able to connect with my fellow veterans, especially the female veteran population on campus. Spending time with other veterans and hearing their stories helped give meaning to my service.
The center became my support system as I adjusted to the demands of graduate school; it was a place to decompress, provided study buddies, and a sense of family."
John R. Nall, 47 | History | CSU Channel Islands | U.S. Army
"Veterans tend to be a bit older as we have been in the military prior to attending a university. Being able to connect with others that have the same problems or have navigated similar obstacles is vital. Also, just having a place that is quiet and allows for completing work between classes is an amazing asset.
I transitioned from the Post 9/11 GI Bill to the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program; the Veterans Services office has been instrumental in assisting me with this transition.
I plan on completing a BA in history as well as acquiring a Single-Subject Teaching Credential so that I will be able to teach history in high school."
Andrew Romo, 27 | Sociology | CSU Fullerton | U.S. Marines
"I honestly did not consider pursuing an education after the military. [I decided to enroll at CSU Fullerton] due to the influence and inspiration of my wife, Melissa, who was attending the college at the time. She showed me the benefits and opportunities that this university had to offer.
The Veterans Resource Center (VRC) at CSUF has helped and is still helping me develop the skills for my career field.
The VRC provides opportunities for peer mentoring with students in my major and has several programs that meet the student wherever they may be in their educational journey."
I plan on eventually heading into the law enforcement career field, as my goal in life is to help the troubled and underrepresented youths in gang and drug prevention programs."
Matt Meza, 28 |Business| CSU Channel Islands| U.S. Navy
Meza is CSUCI Veteran Resource Center student assistant and Student Veterans Organization president.
"The CSU Channel Islands Veteran Resource Center has helped me succeed as a student by connecting me with other students with similar backgrounds.
My goal is to earn a master's degree in sport business/sport management and to work in professional or collegiate sports. The CSU has helped me on the path to fulfilling this goal by providing me with great professors from the business program, all of whom come with a wealth of knowledge from their experiences in the business world.
Our relatively small class sizes allow me to form relationships with my professors, which help to offer networking possibilities that would otherwise be rare at other universities."