By Holly Desrosier
Craven Community College (Craven CC) hosted the 2019 North Carolina Student Transition Resource Initiative for Veteran’s Education (NC STRIVE) Eastern Regional Conference Wednesday, April 24 on the New Bern campus.
As one of four regional conferences taking place this spring, the Eastern Regional Conference aimed to provide the student veteran community with the tools needed to facilitate a smooth transition from the military to higher education and ultimately into the workforce. Each planning committee consisted of representatives from community colleges, public and private universities, Local Management Entity-Managed Care Organizations (LME-MCOs), North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Governor’s Institute and veteran advocacy organizations.
“The purpose is to equip administrators, faculty and staff in higher education with information, resources and networking that will enhance the experience and success of student veterans in their pursuit of certificates and degrees,” said Mitch Martin, coordinator of military affairs at Craven CC.
The event’s opening ceremony began with a performance by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band of MCAS Cherry Point, followed by a welcome from Craven CC President Dr. Ray Staats, Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force (Ret.).
This year’s event featured guest speakers from the Marine Corps Community Services at MCAS Cherry Point, as well as a student panel consisting of active duty, veteran and dependent students from Craven CC, Park University, East Carolina University and NC Wesleyan.
Breakout sessions were facilitated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC-East) and Craven CC’s Workforce Development Programs, Career Programs and Dean of the Havelock campus. Each session was tailored to student veterans, higher education staff and faculty and community professionals who have a primary contact point with military service members, veterans or their families. Discussion topics included mental health and resilience, employment and disabilities, education resources/empowerment partnerships and post higher education employment. The sessions were followed by a student panel, lunch, roundtable and Q&A session. The event also displayed exhibits from federal, state and nonprofit organizations.
“An event like this really brings out the support from the community,” said Martin. “We had presenters volunteer to assist with the event from local organizations, and student panel participants came from four different schools. All food was graciously donated by businesses in our community.”
Craven CC prides itself on catering to a wide variety of students, including active duty military, veterans and dependents. Out of 2,656 students enrolled for the college’s spring 2019 semester, 158 are currently in the military, 209 are veterans and 149 are dependents. Hosting this conference ensured the 19.4% of military-affiliated students at Craven CC received the resources needed to succeed in their academic ventures and beyond.
“A smooth admissions process and a clear understanding of military benefits and other methods of financial aid used to pay for their education are crucial to the student’s adaptation into the school environment,” explained Martin. “Our advising processes can have a lasting impact in the successes of these students and help to empower them to achieve their educational goals. Additionally, knowing and connecting students to resources that aid in all phases of career readiness can help them move into the workforce efficiently.”
NC STRIVE was founded in 2014 as a project of the Governor’s Working Group with the goal of providing services and support leading to student veterans’ success in two-year and four-year public and private institutions of higher education in North Carolina. The organization is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and block grant funding from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
For more information on Craven CC’s military-friendly education options, contact Martin at 252-444-6003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article also appeared in the Sun Journal.