By Mike McKissack
The College of DuPage Veterans Services program serves more veterans than any community college in Northern Illinois, according to the annual state report produced by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
The report also lists College of DuPage as eighth among all colleges and universities in the state. During the past 50 years, the College has served more than 25,000 veterans.
College of DuPage President Dr. Ann Rondeau, a retired U.S. Navy officer, three-star admiral and the second woman to achieve this rank, said College of DuPage is pleased to be one of the top institutions in the state serving veterans.
“It is with great pride and humility that we serve the men and women of the armed forces who have dedicated themselves to our country,” said Dr. Rondeau. “I am equally honored that we provide key resources to help veterans transition smoothly from their military careers into school and the workforce.”
The Veterans Services program provides a broad range of services to current and former military personnel, including assistance with veterans and military personnel educational benefits, assistance with veterans’ scholarships and emergency loans, work study programs, academic and career planning, referrals to local veteran’s assistance organizations and specialized counseling, and referrals to internship and employment opportunities. The College also features a dedicated Veterans Lounge with a study area and computers as well as a Student Veterans Association.
“College of DuPage attracts a large number of veteran students because of the great reputation the institution has earned across the state and country,” said COD Veterans Student Services Manager Jose Alferez. “We have made it our mission to ensure our military-connected students feel educated about the use of their benefits, excited about the opportunities to connect with others with similar experiences and enlightened by the opportunities for learning that can take place all over the district and across the globe.”
College of DuPage student Tanya DeMoss has been in the military service for 10 years and currently serves as a reservist. In 2010, she volunteered to go to Iraq, where she served as one of only six mechanics in a unit responsible for convoy security, escorting civilian commodity trucks and supporting 2nd and 183rd Cavalry. While at COD, DeMoss has earned an Associate in Applied Science in Management degree and is currently working toward completing the requirements for an Associate in Arts degree. Upon completion of the A.A., she plans to transfer to the University of Illinois at Chicago for a bachelor’s degree in Information and Decision Sciences with a minor in Business Analytics.
DeMoss said she chose College of DuPage primarily for the College’s Veterans Services program.
“When I tried to go back to a community college in Virginia, there were a whole bunch of hoops that I had to jump through just to sit in class,” she said. “College of DuPage actually sat down, helped me fill out all the paperwork that was taking me forever to figure out. They also did a deferred plan where I wasn’t having to spend any money out of pocket to sit in class. It’s honestly the best veteran’s program I’ve been exposed to.”
She said community colleges offer a great opportunity to those who have served in the military.
“The community college environment is really welcoming when it comes to trying to transition back into school,” said DeMoss. “In big universities, you’re sitting in 80 to 90-student classes and it can be intimidating. The classes at COD typically have just 25 to 30 students, which is similar to what I’m used to in the military.”
COD recognizes a number of tuition-based veteran education bills and programs, including the Montgomery G.I. Bill for Active Duty, Survivors and Dependent Educational Assistance Program, the Reserve Educational Assistance Program, and the Illinois Veterans Grant. COD also accepts the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which provides a maximum benefit of free tuition, a monthly housing allowance and a yearly book/supply stipend for qualifying veterans.
(Pictured above: Tanya DeMoss)