Many veterans are returning home and going to college for career training and to further their education. To help support them in preparing for the next stage of their career, Quinsigamond Community College celebrated a grand opening of its new Student Veterans Center this week.
The college was chosen as one of 50 colleges nationwide to receive a $10,000 grant from Home Depot and the Student Veterans of America for the center, which provides a spot for student veterans to gather and network, as well as receive support services.
As a proud daughter and wife of a veteran, QCC President Gail Carberry said the college welcomes veteran students of all ages.
“Veterans in our community are valued not just for their past military service, but with regard for what they will do in our community in the future,” President Carberry said.
“You have no idea how hard it is to find space on this campus, but we did create space here because this is such an important program. Veterans have been coming to us in large numbers and we want to support them and offer them a space to be with other veterans,” she said. “This gives them a space to reflect and spend time with other veterans.”
“This is a very special place, a sign of real commitment from Quinsigamond,” said Francisco Ureña, Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. “I am a fan of community colleges, they offer an opportunity, an investment in veterans, to ensure we make your stay here as successful as possible.”
The Purple Heart recipient and Marine Corps veteran said he was pleased to be at the opening of the center.
“Our veterans have paid a great price of sacrifice, it is our opportunity as leaders to offer opportunities and a safety net for student veterans,” he said. “I am excited to be part of seeing this come together. To our student veterans, make the most of this space and when new veterans arrive, make them feel as welcome as we are today.”
Paula Ogden, Director of Veteran Affairs and QCC Vets Club Advisor, said college can be an overwhelming and sometimes disorienting experience for veterans.
“Veterans Centers on college campuses have a huge positive impact on their success,” she said. “Many of our veteran students are busy with jobs and families, and this offers them a place to meet with other veterans, as well as providing services and support.”
Founded in 2014, the QCC Veterans Club provides military veterans, their families, and active duty military students a comprehensive support of services, advocacy and resources to support their successful transition to college life.
The Veterans Center is in the main administration building on the Worcester campus and includes couches, a fireplace and 55-inch television. The room was painted in a red, white and blue patriotic theme and decorated with pictures and mementos from veterans. There is also a kitchen area, table and lockers for students to store their belongings. The center will be open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), presented a citation from the Massachusetts legislature for the new center.
“College offers an easier transition for our veterans back into the workforce. A center like this offers an added benefit, allows them to sit down and interact with fellow soldiers, who are the only ones who really understand what each other feel,” said Sen. Moore, a QCC alum. “I have a lot of respect for our veterans and their families, who have made a sacrifice on our behalf.”
“This is a great spot,” said State Rep. Harold P. Naughton, Jr., D-Clinton. “President Carberry and the college trustees support veterans through their programs and services.”
Rep. Naughton joined the Army after 9/11, serving four deployments. “Lot of things we don’t miss, but one of the things I do miss is the camaraderie and fellowship. It is important to be able to continue that fellowship,” he said. “The fact that Quinsig stepped up and put this center here speaks volumes.”