Hancock College has opened its new Veterans Success Center, creating a larger lounge and academic resource space for the approximately 400 students who use its services.
The new space includes a lounge area with chairs and televisions, computers and printers for work, and new desks for center staff to advise students.
“To see this is so wonderful. I think the Cal Poly one is maybe a third the size of this one,” Hancock veteran and former student Bobby Ramos said during an open house at the center. Tuesday. “After my time in the service, I struggled a lot with [post-traumatic stress disorder]. With the support of the Hancock Veteran Success Center, I was finally able to continue and earn my bachelor’s degree at Cal Poly.
According to Stephanie Crosby, director of the Learning Assistance Program, Student Health Services and Veteran Success Center, the new space was designed and built with grants after the veteran community outgrew its original space in the Mechanics Bank Student Center.
“A lot of veterans come from a very structured, tight unit lifestyle to become individuals as students and that can be difficult. It’s one of our goals to help model this cohort for them,” Crosby said.
In addition to providing a workspace, the center provides access to campus resources such as tutoring, health services, and registration assistance. Through programs such as peer mentoring, he facilitates the transition to civilian life.
“The age gap was a shock,” said former Navy student and current David Gaspar. “I was doing group work in class and I just saw these kids slacking off; It would drive me crazy. But it helps to have people I can share those stories with, who can relate to.
According to Crosby, the Veterans Success Center serves about 400 current students who are veterans, active duty, and dependents of veterans, though there are likely more on campus who don’t use any just not the services currently.
“This place is a very tight community,” said former Navy student and current Ozvaldo Reyes. “Everyone is always helping each other out, making sure to maintain motivation and connect with other resources.”
The center held an open house Tuesday, where local veterans, current students and staff were able to tour the new facility.
“The veteran community is so strong here, from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara,” Crosby said. “They give us so much support and we are very grateful to them.”