Whether they came from the Army, Navy, Marines or National Guard, whether they were first-time college students or returning alumni, the students gathered in the Student Life Center on Sept. 2 all had at least one thing in common: they were embarking on a new journey.
Some, like Navy veteran and current reservist Mike Luma, were returning to college after a lengthy layoff, armed with a long stack of questions. Others, like Army veteran and Brookdale alumni Erica Perez, were returning to earn a new degree and set out on a promising new career path.
All of them, regardless of age, experience or length of service, were now on the same team. They were members of the Brookdale community.
“I could not be more proud to welcome you here tonight,” said Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy, who joined a host of college officials at the 2015 Veterans Student Welcome Reception in Lincroft.
“On behalf of everyone here, I want to thank you for your service. Your dedication, your hard work and your spirit of community will continue to serve you well here at Brookdale, and we want you to know that we will be here for you every step of the way.”
The new and returning students, who will join more than 350 student veterans currently enrolled at Brookdale, were introduced to a wide range of exclusive resources and student services available to them at the college.
The Brookdale Veterans Center, opened last year in the MAC building, now serves as a “one-stop shop” for nearly all of those resources, including student counseling, GI Bill assistance, degree planning and career services, said center associate Christine Forman.
“The one thing we hope you understand is that you don’t have to be afraid to ask for help,” Forman said. “We are here specifically for you. Talk to us, talk to your fellow student veterans. We understand where you’re coming from.”
The students also spoke with David Stout, dean of Brookdale’s Student Success division; William Burns, dean of the Innovation and Learning Resources Institute; Stephen Curto, director of Student Services; Ernest Oversen, director of Disability Services; Robert Quinones, director of Student Life and Activities; Jerry Russell, administrator of the Academic and Career Transitions Institute; and Donna Bastedo, student services generalist and Student Veterans Club co-advisor.
From technological assistance and academic support to personal counseling, local veterans organizations and campus clubs, each speaker encouraged the students to take full advantage of the resources and opportunities available to them at Brookdale.
Returning students Rich DeCola and Stephen Cooper also spoke about the benefits of the Brookdale Student Veterans Club, which offers students a unique opportunity to meet and talk about their college experiences in a casual setting.
As a member of the club last year, Cooper said he met a classmate who helped him successfully apply for full medical benefits.
“We’re all going through the same things,” said Cooper. “It really helps to just sit down and relax in the [veterans] center, have some lunch and talk about classes or professors or things like that. It has made a difference for me.”
To learn more about Veterans Services at Brookdale, click here.
Check out more photos of the Welcome Reception here.