FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2014
Student Veterans Find Success at College of the Canyons
As U.S. veterans head home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the College of the Canyons Adult Reentry and Veterans Center continues to serve an ever-growing population of local student veterans who have sought out the college as their first stop on the path to educational and career success.
During the 2013-14 academic year the Center assisted more than 1,000 student veterans in making a successful transition to the college atmosphere, representing an increase of approximately 20 percent from the previous year.
By advising students on how to utilize their veteran educational benefits, apply for financial aid and navigate the wide range of student services and support programs designed to help all students meet their educational goals, the Center has also seen the college’s student veteran graduation rate increase by more than 50 percent since 2012-13.
At the college’s 2014 commencement ceremony there were 68 student veterans included among the class of 1,343 graduates.
With the recent passing of federal legislation directing U.S. colleges and universities to charge in-state tuition to all student veterans and their families, regardless of residency, those numbers are only expected to rise in coming years.
However, not included in the most recent crop of graduates are three successful student veterans currently pursuing their educational and career goals at College of the Canyons.
Student Veteran Set to Complete Double Major in Fall
Former U.S. Army infantryman and current Army National Guard reservist Philip Ballor first attended COC in 2009.
At that time Ballor admittedly placed little importance on his education and ended up failing all of his courses. Not knowing what to do next, Ballor decided to enlist, eventually deploying to Iraq in June 2010.
Following his honorable discharge in 2013, Ballor immediately returned to College of the Canyons — this time with much more success! Upon visiting the Adult Reentry and Veterans Center, Ballor was connected with a counselor who helped him identify a potential major and complete the steps necessary to register for classes.
A double major in accounting and fire technology, Ballor has maintained a 4.0 GPA since returning to COC and is on track to complete his degrees in fall 2014.
Upon graduation Ballor plans to transfer to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) where he intends to double major in business and finance. He also hopes to apply the skills and knowledge gained in the college’s fire technology program as a volunteer firefighter.
COC Veterans Office Awards ‘Ricky Slocum Memorial Scholarship’
Earlier this summer, the college honored a pair of student veterans who have recently found educational success at COC.
On Thursday, July 10, the Adult Reentry and Veterans Center held a brief presentation ceremony for two student veterans receiving the 2014 Ricky Slocum Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Slocum, a 2003 graduate of Saugus High School, paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country on Oct. 24, 2014, in support of operation Iraqi Freedom. He was just 19.
Established in 2014 by the Slocum family, the scholarship is meant to honor Ricky’s memory while assisting other local student veterans in obtaining the skills, training and education necessary to improve their ability to be self-sufficient.
To be eligible, students must be residents of Santa Clarita, be attending COC at least part time, and have served in operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom.
Upon receiving their awards, students may apply the funds toward any costs associated with their educational endeavors, including books, supplies, transportation and other identified areas of need.
The Ricky Slocum Memorial Fund Scholarship is one of three veteran specific scholarships offered at the college.
This year, two $1,000 scholarships were awarded to COC student veterans Ryan Brown and Yves Cachuela.
Cachuela, an Iraq combat veteran, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps immediately after high school in search of the educational opportunities provided through the military.
During his deployment Cachuela was injured and became physically disabled. In the months that followed he completed various rehabilitation programs and therapy sessions, discovering in the process a career calling to become a physical therapist.
Following his honorable discharge in 2012, Cachuela returned to COC as a kinesiology sports medicine major, with a dream of one day being able to positively influence other veterans in the same way that his physical therapists did for him.
“Instead of imagining what you can become in the future, lead the way to make that future,” said Cachuela, in offering advice to his fellow student veterans.
“I say ‘don't follow your dreams, lead them,’” added Cachuela. “Lead those dreams and success will follow.”
Brown, an Afghanistan combat veteran, served in the U.S. army and was honorably discharged in 2005.
Currently working a full-time construction job and attending class full-time, Brown is majoring in small business management.
His career goals are to complete his associate degree, obtain his contracting license and eventually run his own construction business, with a focus on providing job opportunities for his fellow veterans.
With his G.I. Bill benefits expected to exhaust in the fall, this scholarship award will help Brown bridge that financial gap, removing a potential obstacle from his educational path.
Follow the link below for more information about the College of the Canyons Adult Re-entry & Veterans Center.