Saddleback College Honors Veterans Day at Moving Ceremony

(L-R) Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president, Saddleback College; Terence Nelson, dean of transfer, career, and special programs; Kolin Williams, VETS counselor and Army veteran; Nick Martinez, student veteran; Gary Poertner, chancellor, SOCCCD; Dr. James Wright, SOCCCD Board of Trustees member and Air Force veteran.

Student Amanda Strader Sings the National Anthem

On Thursday, November 8th, Saddleback College veterans were honored in a moving ceremony hosted by the Veterans Education Transition Services (VETS) Center at the college’s veterans memorial.  The event was attended by South Orange County Community College District Chancellor Gary Poertner, Saddleback College President Tod Burnett, faculty, staff, and administrators of Saddleback College, and veterans from Saddleback College and the community.  Amanda Strader, a student at the college, sang the national anthem.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. James Wright, a member of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees and a retired colonel of the United States Air Force.  In a stirring tribute to veterans, Dr. Wright stated, “This is a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed and especially those who have fallen.  They are our war heroes.”

Speaking of the services provided to veterans at Saddleback College, Dr. Wright stated, “Veterans are one of our greatest untapped resources.  They are self-sufficient, they understand the concept of sacrifice for the greater good; they have lived it.  They think globally.  They are the role models we need at our colleges.  We owe them our gratitude and the chance to have meaningful careers.”  To read Dr. Wright’s speech in full, click here.

Dr. James Wright

Dr. James Wright

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice, which does not go unnoticed at our college.  This group of men and women never fail to impress all of us at the college; not only have they risked their own lives for their country, but are typically model students and citizens who display great leadership and compassion.  They are a prized group on our campus and it is our pleasure to serve them.”

Nick Martinez

Nick Martinez, a Saddleback College student who served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, stated, “My fellow veterans: You have been part of the world’s bravest and toughest force.  Today let’s celebrate the acknowledgement of our sacrifice, the many thank-you’s, love, and support.”

Kolin Williams, a counselor in the VETS Center and a veteran of the United States Army, served as master of ceremonies and stated, “For many veterans, the transition to civilian life can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but with that challenge can come great achievement.  We are proud of our veterans and thank them for their service.”

Saddleback College Veterans Memorial Honored by Freedoms Foundation

Saddleback College Foundation Board Member Joyce Van Schaack, Saddleback College Foundation Board President Donna Varner, Saddleback President Tod Burnett, SOCCCD Board President Nancy Padburg, President of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Orange County Chapter Lane Curtis

Saddleback College was thrilled to accept the 2011 George Washington Honor Medal from the Orange County Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation on Saturday, February 11th at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. The award was bestowed specifically for the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, the most significant tribute to veterans at any community college campus in the nation. The college has seen a growing number of service members attending the institution and currently serves more than 1,000 student veterans and active duty military personnel each year. The memorial is representative of the Freedoms Foundation’s values: educating our youth, promoting the ideals and principles of a free society, recognizing outstanding civic achievements, cultivating excellence in education, and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.

The event was attended by several local elected officials, including Assemblyman Don Wagner, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees President Nancy Padberg and Trustee Frank Meldau, Ph.D., Mission Viejo City Council Member Trish Kelley, and Laguna Niguel City Council Member Gary Capata. Also in attendance were the memorial artists, Professor Richard White and Fred Olsen, and Dr. Diana McCullough, wife of Dr. Richard D. McCullough, former president of Saddleback College and the person credited with first envisioning the creation of the memorial.

Joyce Van Schaack, a member of the Freedoms Foundation Orange County Chapter and of the Saddleback College Foundation Board of Governors, stated, “The George Washington Honor Medal is given to those who draw public attention to America’s rich heritage and unique freedoms. Saddleback College has not only set up programs specifically for our veterans, but they have actually built a veterans memorial to honor all veterans, and they are the only community college in the country to have done so.”

The concept for building the memorial began on Veterans Day 2004, when Dr. McCullough, then Saddleback College’s president, called a committee made up of veterans, college employees, and community members to discuss ways to permanently pay homage to veterans. To honor Dr. McCullough’s role in the development of the memorial, there was a moment of silence in memory of the former college president, whose loss is mourned by his friends and colleagues at Saddleback College after he passed away on January 31st.

The Freedoms Foundation was established in 1949 as a not-for-profit educational organization by Ken Wells, Don Belding, and E.F. Hutton. President Dwight D. Eisenhower served as its first chairman and chairman emeritus until his death in 1969. The Freedoms Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization and is supported primarily by voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, service organizations, endowment funds, and its volunteer chapters.

Saddleback College to Commemorate 10th Anniversary of 9/11

To pay tribute to the victims of September 11, 2001 and those who died in subsequent action, Saddleback College will be hosting a 9/11 commemoration ceremony at the college’s veterans memorial on Thursday, September 8th at 4:00 p.m.

Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett and Associated Student Government President Joseph Hassine will provide the opening remarks, Emergency Medical Technician faculty member Ruth Grubb will lead a moment of silence, Marine Corps Veteran and Saddleback College student Elizabeth Tepe will speak, and student Chase Chandler will perform Taps.

Saddleback College 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony
Date: Thursday, September 8th
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Campus Quad in front of the Veterans Memorial
Parking: Free parking in Lot 5 during the event

Pendleton Marines and Sailors Visit Saddleback

For many active duty military college isn’t on the radar. If they do have a moment to think about education, they are often unsure of their career options, do not know all of the financial aid that they are eligible for, and don’t know what types of classes they should be taking. Unfortunately, many veterans have never set foot on a college campus and the possibility of reaching upward social mobility through higher education isn’t an apparent option.

Recently, the Saddleback College VETS  (Veterans Education & Transition Services) program brought 17 Camp Pendleton marines and sailors to campus as part of early transition assistance.  Several veterans who had successfully made the transition from military to school shared their stories about the struggles and triumphs of enrolling in college after being discharged. Attendees then took a campus tour, which ended at the Veterans Memorial, before heading off to UCI for another campus tour.

“Our intent is to have this serve as a template that I can share at the Region Representative meeting at the California Community College Chancellors Office in July with the hopes to have this event replicated across the state,” said Terence Nelson, Assistant Dean, Counseling Services and Special Programs.

One message was made clear throughout the day: start planning for college now.

After many attendees shared their fears of leaving the military and only being qualified for minimum jobs, presenters pushed them to open their eyes about high-paying career options that are available with a certificate or a degree. Several speakers encouraged the soldiers to go back to the base and immediately research several career paths and colleges that they might be interested in.

The event also carried a strong theme of starting over. High school performance doesn’t matter, said Elizabeth Tepe a Saddleback student, athlete and veteran. She went from barely passing her high school classes to getting excellent grades at Saddleback and becoming a successful student athlete. Her story seemed to hit a nerve with many audience members who expressed their own concerns about being held back by their past.

During the tour, the marines and sailors seemed encouraged to look into their higher education options and the conversation was lively and upbeat. One of the active duty members summed up the day by telling the presenters, “I never considered college an option for me, but I’m getting more pumped just by being here.”

Saddleback College Foundation Flag Day Ceremony

Please join us for a Flag Day ceremony honoring veterans at the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial. The newest memorial bricks will be revealed and light refreshments will be served.

What: Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett to Speak

Color Guard Presentation

Wreath-Laying Ceremony

Soloist to Performance of the National Anthem

When:Tuesday, June 14, 2011

11:30 a.m. – Light refreshments will be served

12:00 p.m. – Program Begins

Where: Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, Park in Lot 5

28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, California 92692

For more information, call the Saddleback College Veterans Office, (949) 582-4871