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Assembly panel discusses ways to increase college enrollment for military veterans at Norco hearing

By in Press Enterprise on October 26, 2017

By Alejandra Molina

Taylor Nicole Allen felt lost after completing her active duty service with the U.S. Navy.

“I was at a low point,” said Allen, who served in Mississippi and San Diego. “I didn’t have that everyday mission that the military gives you to complete.”

“I missed the camaraderie. I missed being around the people that will lay down their life for me every day,” she added.

Allen, now a student at Norco College, said the school’s veteran resource center was a lifeline. She works there now and hopes to involve more female veterans.

Allen spoke Wednesday, Oct. 25, at a hearing at Norco College held by the Assembly Select Committee on Veteran Employment & Education.

Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, chaired the meeting to explore expanding employment and educational opportunities for student veterans at community colleges. Cervantes, who comes from a military family, led a bipartisan effort to secure state funding to expand veterans resource centers at community colleges across California.

“I truly look forward to continuing down this path and figuring out ways where we can continue partnering with our cities, our community colleges, our UC systems (to address) the educational opportunities for our veterans,” Cervantes said at the hearing.

Roughly 70,000 veterans annually enroll in community colleges in California.

Witnesses providing testimony Wednesday included Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley of the California Community Colleges, Norco College President Bryan Reece, and Deputy Secretary Keith Boylan from the California Department of Veteran Affairs.

Oakley said veterans resource centers are main priorities for the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. He said the board requested $30 million from the state legislature. From that, he said the board was allocated $5 million in ongoing funding to develop or enhance veteran resource centers in campuses across the state. Funds should begin to be allocated this coming January, he said.

“We want them (veterans) to get out […]    

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