Cypress College celebrated its commitment to veterans with a milestone event in campus history. On March 15, 2019, the campus hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the beginning of construction on its new Veterans Resource Center (VRC). Nearly 300 guests attended the ceremony, including California State Senator Ling Ling Chang; California State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva; City of Cypress Mayor Stacy Berry; City of Cypress Council member Mariellen Yarc; Cypress Chamber Vice Chair of Events and Programs Shirley Bradley; Cypress Police Chief Rod Cox; City of Stanton Mayor and President of the Cypress College Foundation Board of Directors Dave Shawver; Citizens Oversight Committee member Leroy Mills; Chair of the OC Veterans Advisory Council Bobby McDonald; and Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army and member of the OC Veterans Advisory Council Carl David.
Dean of Student Support Services, Kinesiology, and Athletics Richard Rams reflected on the evolution of the VRC over the past 10 years and how it has become a home to hundreds of student veterans at Cypress College. President JoAnna Schilling thanked the community, local taxpayers, Citizens Oversight Committee, legislators, Cypress College faculty, staff, and students, and the veterans community for their support in making the VRC project a reality.
Funded by Measure J (a $574 million bond approved in 2014 to fund the renovation and building of NOCCCD facilities) as well as generous donations, the VRC project will result in a state-of-the-art Veterans Resource Center, Tribute Garden, Veterans Memorial Bridge, and Outdoor Event Plaza. These components will support the transition, integration, and personal development of student veterans as they navigate their path through the higher education system. Services offered at the VRC will include assistance with the admissions application and financial aid, veterans benefits information, academic and personal advising, success and retention services, career development and advising services, and a sense of community.
Dr. Schilling also acknowledged donors present at the ceremony, including President and CEO of Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries Darin Drabing and Cypress College's most-recent Alumnus of the Year Curtis Scheetz. Forest Lawn committed $100,000 to the VRC project. The Tribute Garden and Outdoor Event Plaza will be named in honor of Scheetz, who committed $300,000.
VRC Coordinator and Counselor Juan Garcia; US Marine Corps veteran and Cypress College student Grady Sanderson; and US Marine Corps veteran and Cypress College alumni Stevan Vargas shared the challenges they faced returning home from war to pursue higher education and new career paths. "This new Center will provide a space for [veterans] to feel at home, reignite the camaraderie that was lost, and receive on-campus and off-campus support services to help [veterans] achieve their academic goals," said Garcia. "Years from now, we will look back and be proud of what we have done for those who were willing to give up their lives to protect us."
Colonel Keith Bushey, a retired member of the US Marine Corps, and State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of the 65th District closed the event by envisioning what lies ahead. The new VRC will not only connect veteran and student life, but it will also remind members of the community of the service and sacrifice made by our military personnel. Following the event, the NOCCCD Board of Trustees, CEOs, Cypress College faculty, staff, and students, and special guests gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking photo opportunity. Click here to view photos from the event.
Your financial support facilitates the success of our student veterans and the expanded VRC project. For more information about the project and how to make a contribution, visit: www.cypresscollge.edu/vrc-project.