The center will provide myriad of benefits to student veterans.
By Austin P. Taylor
College President Robert Vela, along with District 26 Sen. José Menéndez and Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie, opened the college’s Victory Center with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony May 1.
The ribbon cutting was preceded by a ceremony in which district administrators, state representatives and members of the community paid tribute to student veterans and spoke on behalf of this college administration’s commitment to serving the veteran population.
Veterans affairs Director Tammy Micallef said this college serves a student veteran population of 3,500.
The Victory Center will house this college’s veterans advising program, TRIO support services, the transfer and career center, specialized classes, financial aid and veteran benefits registration.
The center’s main office is on the first floor, which houses the center’s seven academic advisers, four school certifying officials, a representative of Disabled American Veterans and the office of the center’s director. The office is expected to house a representative of the Texas Veterans Commission, but that has not been finalized.
When visiting the center for the first time, students will need to check in at the main office, VA adviser Tony Botello said.
The main office is where students will be able to get advising on their academic careers and manage their VA benefits and documentation.
Botello said when students go to see their adviser at the front office they will be able to explore the center while they wait.
“We have a den where veterans can hang out and they don’t have sit at the lobby and crowd the lobby and be out there,” Botello said. “We’re going to have a text messaging system that’s going to be tied to our sign-in system and what’s going to happen is the advisers will send a text message to student saying ‘make your way down to this office; we’ll be ready for you in five minutes.’”
Botello said students can take advantage of the tutoring labs and other resources available while they wait to be seen by an adviser.
The center’s tutoring labs will provide tutoring in English and math. Students hoping to receive tutoring at the center should make appointments in advance, but they will be able to see a tutor if there is space available.
Student advising support Eddie Martinez said tutoring staff would be able to suggest a recommended timeframe for students to make an appointment once they have gauged traffic.
Specialized classes will be in one of the three “valor rooms.” These classrooms are on the second floor of the center and can be easily reorganized to fit the needs of the classes.
Right now, there are three reserve officers training corps classes scheduled in the valor rooms in the fall semester. No other classes have been scheduled.
The rooms also can be used to hold workshops for workforce training.
“We’re trying to connect these individuals to the education they seek, or go straight into the workforce,” certified VA adviser Erico Barrera said in an interview May 1. “A lot of times what you’ll see is that they don’t necessarily know how to transfer those careers in service to the civilian side.”
Barrera said they want to get employers who actively hire veterans to come and host workshops in the valor rooms, but they need to see who will best benefit the veteran population at this college.
The center’s TRAC office will help student veterans who are interested in transferring to a four-year university.
The Victory Center’s TRAC office is not operational because the services have not been implemented. Micallef, center director, said this was because the person in charge of making sure the services were ready had “fallen through.”
Until the TRAC center is ready, students can use the TRAC center in the first floor of Moody Learning Center if they need help transferring to a four-year university.
The center’s TRIO office houses the “Project Valor” program, which will assist student veterans by providing individualized academic advising, tutoring, assistance with FAFSA, transfer planning, financial literacy education, peer mentoring, personal counseling, community service opportunities, and academic and cultural event opportunities.
Students seeking to use the TRIO center will need to fall under one of three criteria:
- Student veterans must be first generation college students.
- Student veterans must be income eligible. If student veterans are receiving financial aid, they could qualify for “Project Valor.”
- Student veterans must have a verified disability; they will receive this paperwork after visiting with the VA for the first time.
The Victory Center will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays; and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on the first Saturday every month during the spring and fall semesters.
The center will be open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday during the summer.
For more information, call 210-486-0111 or visit the center at East Dewey Place and North Main Avenue.