SWCC Commended for Veterans 8 Keys to Success on Campus - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

SWCC Commended for Veterans "8 Keys to Success on Campus"

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Southwest Virginia Community College was selected as one of only 250 institutions from across the country that have been recognized for the commitment for implementing the 8 Keys to Success program on its campus. The initiative was announced this summer at the Disabled American Veterans National Convention, where President Obama outlined five Administration priorities that ensure fulfilling promises to those who have served our nation, including supporting veterans in institutions of higher learning.
Developed by the Administration, the Department of Education (ED), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in conjunction with more than 100 education experts, the 8 Keys to Success on campus are eight concrete steps that institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and service members transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there.
"We are extremely proud of this distinction. We take service to our veterans very seriously," said Dr. J. Mark Estepp, president of SWCC. "We value a high-touch philosophy, so when our veterans are enrolled they have access to a number of resources."
Mary Ragland, dean of student success agreed, "Veterans at SWCC, in addition to having the benefit of our academic and career counselors, can also work with specialists in the Veteran's Upward Bound Program and a Veterans Affairs Officer. These people assist them in acquiring the assistance they need, from financial aid to career counseling in order to help them achieve academic success at SWCC."
"The Veterans Upward Bound Program provides a number of services for this student population," said Gwendalyn Slone, director of the college's Veterans Upward Bound Program. She continued, The Veterans Upward Bound Program strives to be a One Stop center to meet all of our student veterans' needs whether it be academic enrichment, career readiness or referrals to community resources. "I believe the key to our success with student veterans rests in building strong rapport, actively listening to their needs and concerns, and empowering them with the skills and confidence to achieve both personal and professional milestones.
The 8 Keys to Success on campus are: 1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans; 2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership; 3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming; 4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size); 5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans; 6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion; 7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans; and, Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.
With more and more service members returning home, it has never been more important for colleges to have a roadmap in place to make sure veterans are getting the best possible educational experience. By adopting the 8 Keys to Success, SWCC is taking a positive step in that direction.
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