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Veteran Student Finds a True Community

February 2024
  • QCC student and veteran Tom Vincent
    QCC student and veteran Tom Vincent

Taking the plunge into higher education after 50 years out of school may not be for the faint of heart, but for Quinsigamond Community College student and veteran Tom Vincent, the support of QCC’s Veteran Affairs department has made all the difference in his confidence and academic success.

“Before I was in school, I was depressed. But the staff and students in Veteran Affairs took me out of that depression and got me excited about school,” Tom said. “The atmosphere in the Veterans Affairs Office is fantastic. We’ve all been through similar experiences, no matter which branch of the military we were in.”

After graduating high school in 1972, Tom enlisted in the army during the Vietnam War. While his unit didn’t end up deploying to Vietnam, they spent years training, which Tom described as life changing. When he finished his service, he said it was an obvious choice to immediately start working because going to college wasn't an expectation for people in his family.

After decades of working in multiple industries, Tom wanted to go back to school so he could pursue a career as a virtual bookkeeper. Due to limited physical mobility, he thought a remote bookkeeping job could allow him the flexibility he needs to work from home and take breaks as needed.

Tom tried enrolling in college a few times before the fall of 2023, but often backed out. However, last September he officially started classes at QCC. He ended up withdrawing from his courses because he didn’t feel ready to navigate some of the online aspects, but signed up again this spring and is determined to complete his classes this semester.

Since starting at QCC, the Veteran Affairs office has become a source of community as Tom navigates higher education. After telling QCC’s Director of Veteran Affairs, Matthew Casaubon, that he was having issues walking to his classes, Casaubon obtained a scooter for Tom to make it easier to navigate campus.

“No one has ever done anything like that for me before and I’m not used to accepting help. But the joy it gave me…I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt,” Tom said when the scooter was delivered to him.

While Tom said they even helped him find an agency to install new rain gutters on his house, it is the friendly people he talks to on campus that make him feel like part of a community.

According to Casaubon, the Veteran Affairs office has also provided food, clothing, laptops and other assistance to QCC’s veterans.

“We are building a community where veterans can feel they are valued and supported,” Casaubon said.

“I would never have come back to school if it wasn’t for the Veteran Affairs office,” Tom added. 

To hear more of Tom's story visit WCVB Channel 5 News or Spectrum News Worcester.