After leaving the Army, Diana checked to see if Cabrillo College had a veteran’s center. Seeing that it does, she started at Cabrillo in 2014 and “instantly gravitated to the Veterans Information Center.”
She says, “I was missing the comradery I had in the military, and I found that community at the VIC. I felt safe and comfortable there.”
Diana took full advantage of the VIC. She used it to study, find tutoring in math, use the computers, and meet with friends. She was grateful that there was always someone in the VIC willing to help. She says “not only do you create relationships but also a network. It was nice to know that help was available on and off campus.” At the time of her attendance, a childcare voucher was available to help lift financial stress for veteran parents and that voucher was another benefit that Diana utilized.
She also appreciated that it is a one-stop center with academic counseling and help with financial aid, school applications, and other paperwork. She could do everything she needed at the VIC without going to other sites.
Diana appreciated the work-study positions that were available in the VIC. She was able to be a work-study for a few semesters, and also became a member of the Veterans Club (link to club page) and was President of the Veterans Club for a semester. She helped plan events, like the Veterans Day BBQ, tabling events and advocated for more resources for student veterans.
After graduating in 2017, she transferred to San Jose State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science Concentrating in Dietetics. She is now working with a senior nutrition program in Palo Alto as an assistant program manager. This summer she will start a dietetics internship, which will lead to her ability to take the registered dietician’s exam and one day be a licensed Registered Dietitian.
In a few night classes to see if it was possible. When she arrived at Cabrillo, there was no VIC.
“A few of us would meet up at SAC West to talk about setting up a center,” Julie says.
She left again to work as a chef in Antarctica, and when she returned, she didn’t engage with the now formed VIC.
“I was thinking I can do this on my own, and I didn’t want my full identity to be as a veteran.”
Even after transferring to UCSC, she didn’t quickly engage with their Veterans Resource Center (VRC).
However, after Julie graduated from UCSC, she later became the UCSC Veterans Program Coordinator, meaning she managed their VRC. Even with it being run remotely due to Covid, she learned about campus policies and helped break down stereotypes. Over time this led to adding cultural competencies and removing harmful language from campus websites.
There was a lot of collaboration with the Cabrillo VIC. Julie was trying to emulate what Flor had accomplished at Cabrillo –building a community and ensuring resources to serve student veterans better.
During her time at UCSC, Julie did an internship at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in Washington DC. There she fell in love with working on national-level veterans’ policy.
She returned, getting a master’s degree in public policy at Mills College. She now works at the Paralyzed Veterans of America as an associate legislative director. She follows legislation focused on housing and vehicle adaptations, education benefits, access, and equity at VA. She also covers policy for women veterans. PVA also champions access and ADA compliance.
Julie also gets to help with planning an annual women veteran empowerment retreat for PVA members, which focuses on empowering women to find their voices and courage to advocate on behalf of their fellow veterans effectively.
After finishing his time in the Coast Guard, Kirk attended Cabrillo College. During those two years, Kirk spent a lot of time at the VIC.
Kirk remembers, “All of the staff and counselors were extremely helpful and supportive. Every day they were so encouraging – the VIC was the only place I had this support system while in college.”
He says that, for him and many veterans, transitioning from the service environment to the college environment can be difficult. But, he appreciated walking into the safe, supportive environment at VIC. He also appreciated that the staff would go out of their way to find right resources to help if they didn’t have the answers themselves.
“I found that going to the VIC and being around other student veterans facing the same obstacles helped me in what was otherwise an overwhelming place. It was motivating to be around student veterans with the same mindset of getting a degree.”
After getting his A.A. in communications, Kirk transferred to the University of Hawaii to earn his bachelor’s degree in geography, with an emphasis on cultural geography. With that degree combined with his A.A., he plans to work in public safety. His education will help him interact with people.
Actually, Kirk never thought about getting a bachelor’s degree until he met other student veterans. His main goal was to complete the A.A. But he engaged with other student veterans who were accepted into universities, so he was motivated to apply, getting accepted quickly into the University of Hawaii.
“Because of them, I got my bachelor’s degree,” says Kirk.
Daniel found the VIC helpful as soon as he started at Cabrillo College. He used the VIC to meet other veterans, get his homework done, and find tutoring for math.
“Other student veterans helped me pass my math classes,” says Daniel.
Daniel felt so welcome at the VIC that he wanted to join the team. He was hired in his first semester, working at the front desk. He assisted veteran students in registering for their classes, especially those who weren’t used to an online system.
He then went on to give presentations every semester. People who identified themselves as veterans to Cabrillo receive an invitation to a specific orientation. He would talk about the VIC’s being a great place for veterans to visit and about all the benefits available to veterans.
In addition, Daniel was in the Cabrillo College Senate and later elected Student Trustee, where he advocated for veterans. He credits Flor for giving him the support needed to run.
Daniel earned two associate degrees at Cabrillo and received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Davis. He is now looking at getting his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Idaho.