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Superintendent/President Message

October 2, 2012

College CEOs Honor Student Veterans

The CEOs for the six district members of the San Diego Imperial County Community College Association began their Proposition 30 information campaign in earnest this week. Sitting aboard the flight deck of the USS Midway with retired Navy aircraft in the background, the CEOs spoke about the vital services all community colleges provide to returning veterans and their dependents.

Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish and the heads of the region's other community colleges.

Below are highlights from the speech I presented to the 30 people in attendance and the television crews from across San Diego County covering the event.

It is a great honor to be with you today aboard the USS Midway, and it is a further honor to be able to speak to you today about veteran students.

At Southwestern College we have served more than 11,000 active-duty students, veteran students and their dependents since 2006, at our Chula Vista Campus, our Higher Education Centers in Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, National City and our Crown Cove Aquatic Center on Coronado. 

This semester we have nearly 1,700 veterans and their dependents enrolled at our campuses.

I know personally about the transition from active duty to civilian life as two of my brothers are vets.  One served in the US Marine Corps, the other in the Army National Guard.  Both served foreign tours of duty, one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq.  Both of my brothers have transitioned to civilian life, in their own respective ways, but both depended on a network to help in this transition — a network which included other veterans.

So I understand the importance our student veterans play in helping each other transition into civilian life.

At Southwestern we have an active Student Veteran Organization, our SVO.  The SVO is an instant network of students who know instinctively how to reach out and help one another as only those who have shared a common experience can do. 

We have a full-time Veterans’ Services Department in our One-Stop Center Student Services building. This is an active area, providing our veteran students with answers to any and all of their benefits questions, as well as general enrollment information and specific program information. 

We also provide counseling services for our veteran students and are working to provide an expanded veterans' center, which includes dedicated counseling. This is important as all students need support both in and out of the classroom to succeed. Our counseling services are one of the most important keys to our veterans’ educational success.

Indeed, our goal at Southwestern, and at every community college, is to help our veterans reach their goal—whether that is transferring to a four-year university or completing one of our many career/technical certificates. 

One of the most popular degrees at SWC that our veterans pursue is Administration of Justice.

The most popular certificate programs are fire science and EMT/Paramedic.

The California Community College system shows its support of veterans by giving priority registration to ALL veterans and their dependents. This is just one way we demonstrate our gratitude for our men and women in uniform.

However, all California community colleges are struggling to provide enough class sections and supplemental services, due to budgetary challenges. We know that over 485,000 students have been turned away from California community colleges in the past three years due to our cuts in course offerings.  Many of those students may have been veterans.  It is our duty to work with the resources we have available to try to provide quality educational services to as many students as possible.

Despite shrinking resources, all of us here today are committed to finding ways to keep the doors of access open to our veterans and all Californians wishing to attend college.

In closing, I would like to thank all our men and women in uniform, our veterans, and their families.  We thank you for your service, your commitment, and your sacrifice.  Thank you for defending and protecting us.  Thank you.

After the prepared speeches, members of the audience were allowed to ask questions. Thanks to a question from Southwestern College student veteran Vincent Avila-Walker, I was able to address the potential impact of Proposition 30 at our college.

We’ll be compiling the video footage and posting it online as another resource for all of us to provide information on Proposition 30:

Gala Is Nearly Sold Out

The Southwestern College Education Foundation Gift of Scholarship Gala is nearly sold out. If you are thinking about attending, now is the time to get your ticket. Proceeds from this year’s gala will help the MESA program, which lost its state funding this year. While we are no longer receiving state funding, we remain committed to providing these experiences for our students. Every dollar helps.