Fundraiser Provides Services for Student Veterans
(Santa Ana, CA) - When walking the Santa Ana College campus, take one look and Adriana Caldeira may look ordinary, but she is far from your typical community college student.
Prior to joining the Santa Ana College (SAC) community, she served her country in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for eight years. “I was sent on three combat deployments,” said Caldeira. “That included two trips to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.” During her time in the USMC, she was stationed in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Pendleton, California from 2005 to 2013.
Caldeira continues to make strides as she assimilates into civilian life from her active duty military service. Luckily she has not had to tackle this journey alone. “Had there not been a Veterans Resource Center (VRC) at Santa Ana College I probably would not be in college,” she explained. “The staff understands that everything veterans have is earned through hard work, courage and selflessness.”
The VRC has assisted Caldeira with counseling appointments, math tutoring, book loans psychological counseling, and referrals to veterans’ programs and services. “The staff treat us with the same respect we treat them,” she articulated. “They help us gain access to the tools we need to stay focused on our goals of graduating and moving on. All of the staff members I have worked with at the VRC have helped and motivated me,” Caldeira expressed. “But it was Mr. John Acuna who inspired me to not give up on my dream no matter how long it takes.”
Her future plans include completing her degree in psychology and then using that knowledge to help others. “My life plans are to own a home, be in love with my career, earn lots of money and make my children proud,” Caldeira added.
To raise funds to provide needed services for returning veterans like Caldeira, Santa Ana College is hosting a Soldiers to Scholars Wine Tasting event on Thursday, November 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Santora Building, 207 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
The Soldiers to Scholars event will include live music by the SAC Jazz Quartet, Spanish wine donated by Ronnie and Madeline Grant, complementary food pairings provided by Robbins Nest Wine Bar, and non-alcoholic beverages. Guests will be able to visit the current exhibit Aftermath: Resonance of War, Loss and Displacement in theSAC Arts Gallery at the Santora Building. The show features the work of four artists: Samira Yamin, Amber Hoy, Sara Dehghan and Gerald Sheffield and was curated by adjunct faculty member Joe deVera and a former USMC sergeant.
Reservations are available for $100 per person; corporate sponsorships range from $1,000 to $10,000. The event is sponsored by Bank of the West Commercial Banking. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact (714) 564-6091 or visit www.sac.edu/soldiers2scholars.
About Santa Ana College Veterans’ Resource Center
Since the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, over one million veterans and their dependents have enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). For many SAC student veterans, who are using their veteran benefits to access higher education, the VRC becomes their sanctuary on campus. Last year, there were 2,419 veterans enrolled in classes at Santa Ana College. In 2015, there were over 8,000 visits to the VRC to access needed services.
The college’s Veteran Resource Center (VRC) provides the following services:
- Access to a Certifying Official for help with accessing GI Bill benefits.
- Specialized academic counseling to develop educational plans to meet VA benefit requirements.
- Customized orientation and academic skills workshops for veterans.
- Quiet study area with access to computers,
the Internet and a printer.
- Mentorship stipends that are available to student veterans who participate in the VA Work-Study program.
- Free coffee and snacks for student veterans.
- Graphing calculator loan program.\
- Book loan program that enables student veterans to purchase books before their VA benefits kick in.
- Help with financial aid applications.
- Access to a vocational rehabilitation counselor.
- Veterans Student Association.
Other programs and services available to veterans through the VRC include: priority registration, accommodations for veterans with disabilities, distance learning, Board of Governors fee waivers, out-of-state tuition waivers, access to the college's child development centers, work-study/campus job opportunities, and health and wellness services. Strength in Support (SIS), a non-profit organization, provides free mental health support to active duty service members, veterans and their families through the SAC VRC. Services provided by SIS include individual, couples, family, and or group therapy. SIS therapists help students deal with isolation, PTSD, depression, substance abuse, anxiety, educational problems, marital issues, and the long process of transitioning back to “normal” life at home, enabling veterans to reintegrate as smoothly as possible into an educational setting.
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
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