By KYLE MCDANIEL
In October, Pima Community College was awarded a grant entitled The Veterans Upward Bound Program.
The program serves as a bridge from working citizen to college student. This gives Pima an excellent chance to help veterans start their college experience.
Many veterans would like to go to college but don’t know how to receive benefits or where to begin preparing for classes. That’s where Hector Acosta, Lorrie Hough, Rey Marinas and other veterans come into play to help veterans get on the right track.
“The VUBP will be housed at East Campus and is a five-year cycle grant and it is strictly designed to go out in the community and recruit veterans that are not attending college,” said Acosta, who noted that 125 can participate in the program each academic year. “We will provide services to get them college ready, and to be successful in school. Only veterans will be targeted, not active duty personnel.”
According to Acosta, the program will partner with veteran services in the community who will let them know about veterans who are interested in going to college.
For example, there often are veterans who join the military out of high school and are no longer active duty. When they return to Tucson, they go to work instead of college. That’s where program leaders will ask them if they are willing to join a program that would help prepare them for school to get an associate’s degree or higher.
“If the veteran says ‘Yes,’ they would then enroll into the program,” Acosta said. “The program in turn will first have them do an assessment test to see where they’re at, then will work to get them ready for college”
Once the veterans are no longer in the program, they shift to a veteran adviser for Pima and the Student Veteran Organization president to receive benefits so they can help pay for school.
The adviser will help get the veteran enrolled in courses and figure out what the next step is and where they want to go with their education.
“Not just that, though, but helping ones that come in who are like myself who have disabilities and need to learn how to transition from being active duty to a school setting,” Marinas said.
“When I first came to Pima, I didn’t know what programs were out there and it was kind of like a dark room,” Marinas said. “That way they are seeing it as a safe place because another veteran is taking them there, because we as veterans have that built trust with one another.”