Three years ago I was privileged and pleased to interview some staff at Sac State's Troops to College office--not much more than a cubicle behinds the admissions office. Despite the cramped quarters, the director and staff impressed me with their work and vision. If you want to read about an excellent program with excellent people, click over to that link and get some good background information--this post will be waiting for you when you get back!
A couple weeks ago I received an invitation to the grand opening of the new Veterans Success Center, and tonight my son and I attended. What an uplifting evening! The Veterans Success Center is the new office for the old Troops to College Program, and we were there to celebrate its completion. The few speakers were thoughtfully brief, but they all spoke variations on a theme: it's not just the more spacious real estate, which is very nice and necessary, it's about the amazing work that's done there in the new center. One mentioned that on her travels to other universities, she found that other veterans centers are based on a deficit model--veterans must be helped to overcome some deficit they're perceived to have; Sac States is based on a success model, doing what is necessary to ensure our veterans succeed at school. Even the name of the office highlights this positive, forward-thinking outlook.
Democratic Congresswoman Doris Matsui also attended. After the speeches I made my way across the room to speak to her for a moment. I introduced myself and told her that her late husband nominated me to West Point; she very much appreciated hearing about that, and about the few correspondences I shared with him while I was a cadet. I also mentioned that I have a former student who wants to attend West Point, that she's his Congresswoman, and that he's looking forward to the upcoming interview process for his nomination; she seemed very interested in the topic, mentioning that interviews were going to be scheduled very soon. At that point I thought it best to let someone else get some "face time" so I excused myself. The congresswoman was very gracious.
All in all it was a very pleasant gathering, in nice, new quarters, for a terrific program. Sacramento State is, from the president on down, supportive of its veterans and of the varied veterans programs. As one speaker mentioned, it's not just the new quarters, but all the work that went into both their necessity and their creation, that made tonight so important.
It was a privilege to be there this evening.