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.”

Veterans Club Serves and Supports Homeless Veterans

Saddleback Student Veterans Give Back (Photo Courtesy of Virginia Johnson)

Before fall classes started, the Saddleback College Veterans Club was already giving back to the community. On the weekend of August 17th, sixteen student veterans joined forces with several organizations and government agencies at the Orange County Stand Down to serve and support homeless veterans. The Second Annual Orange County Stand Down was a three-day event that took place at the Army Reserve Center in Costa Mesa. Services, including mental and physical healthcare, benefits and housing assistance, children’s services, and showers and meals, were available for homeless and at-risk veterans as well as their families.

The Saddleback student veterans assisted the event by monitoring the showers, taking out trash, providing security at the entrances, providing water for all attendees, and providing other necessary tasks. All of the students were recognized at the event for their effort. The event was coordinated by Jacob Lampe, vice president of the Saddleback College Veterans Club.

Speech Instructor Receives Award from the American Legion

Stephen Robertson and Bill Cook

Congratulations to speech instructor and forensics coach Stephen Robertson, who was given a certificate of achievement from the American Legion Post 862 in recognition of his assistance with the American Legion High School Constitutional Oratorical Contest, which was held at Saddleback in December.

According to Program Chairman Bill Cook, “The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students.”

The national contest awards $138,000 in college scholarships to several students, including a $1,500 for each state winner. Local winners will advance to the district competition on January 29th, in hopes of moving on to the national competition.

Well done, Stephen!

Innovative Ceramics Program Gives Veterans a Free Outlet for Creativity

Jason Conway, USMC, Iraq War Veteran; Steve Dilley, instructor; Duane Matthews, USMC, Vietnam War Veteran; Ryan Anderson, USMC; Nick Koscielski, USN, Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan; Brandon Houser, USMC, Iraq War Veteran

It started with a casual conversation between ceramics instructor Steve Dilley and his long-time friend.  Inspired by research into alternative treatments for veterans experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dilley wanted to start a ceramics program open to veterans as an escape from the emotional and physical trauma they may have suffered. That friend, who is a veteran, gave Dilley a check for $12,000 and, with help from Dean of Fine Arts & Media Technology Bart McHenry, Ceramics Instructor Richard White, and Community Education Director Estella Castillo-Garrison, the program started this semester at Saddleback.

The program, which is free to veterans and their spouses through Community Education, saw a doubling of students from its first week to the second and it looks to continue to grow as more student veterans discover it. Dilley is working closely with the college’s VETS Center, specifically with Kevin Williams’ Applied Psychology 140 class geared toward veterans, to tout the benefits of having a fun course like ceramics.

Dilley tells all students to come as they are, regardless of physical or mental limitations. “You can do ceramics with one hand. You can do it if you’ve had traumatic brain injury.  It really doesn’t matter. These veterans can do it.” Ceramics has the ability to help improve fine motor skills and concentration, even if veterans have severe injuries.

Dilley sees the program as a bridge to academics, especially for those who are not yet ready to take traditional classes. “When we’re talking about ceramics, we touch on chemistry, geology, anthropology, and a lot of other areas of study. This may be a way for these students to find their calling and career path.”

Although the current donation will only cover this semester’s course, Dilley is hoping to continue and expand it.  In addition to starting a similar program at another community college, Dilley is also hoping to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the program to military bases and hospitals.  It appears that he may be close to his goal — the VA has shown an interest in having him speak to injured veterans about alternative PTSD treatments.

Even though the program is already bigger than he ever imagined, Dilley still believes, “If I help lessen the pain of just one veteran, this program will have been successful.”

Classified Senate Donates Thanksgiving Baskets to 33 Student Veterans

The Saddleback College community does it again! Following the Classified Senate’s second annual Thanksgiving basket drive, 33 student veterans were able to bring home a gift card to purchase their Thanksgiving turkey and baskets loaded with all the trimmings. This is a great way for our campus to give back to these men and women who have done so much for our country. I am very proud of the fact that we were able to collect enough food for 33 families, four more than last year!

Thank you to everyone who was able to donate and the Classified Senate for making this happen, especially Tracy McConnell who organized the food collection and basket distribution.

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.”

KSBR Birthday Bash is a Hit

The Crowd Enjoyed a Beautiful Day Filled with Jazz and Sun - Photo by Kari Coulter

The KSBR Birthday Bash is one of the most popular music events in Orange County and the 2011 Bash was no exception. More than 1,000 people came out to the Village Green of Oso Viejo Park in Mission Viejo on a beautiful Sunday to watch 30 jazz musicians and bands perform. Rick Braun and Najee were surprise guests, making their first Bash appearances. This year, the event paid a special tribute to veterans during a pre-bash color guard presentation.

Did you attend the Bash? Please share your memories and stories in the comments section!

More photos from the event will be available soon at http://www.ksbr.org/bash.html.

Tim Davis Sings the National Anthem - Photo by David Hopley

Mindi Abair Put on an Exciting Show - Photo by Steve Wylie

 

The Show Closed with a Jam with Saxophonist Paul Taylor - Photo by Steve Wylie

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

First Graduate of Medical Laboratory Technician Program is also a Veteran

During Friday’s commencement, Jim Curtella, a Veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps, was the first Saddleback College student to receive his Associate of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Technician. Curtella successfully completed the MLT program, which was state approved in December of 2009, with an overall GPA of 3.37. Curtella, a Lake Forest resident, plans to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Laboratory Science.

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps from 2004-2008, including a tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Curtella says he came to Saddleback because it was close, but stayed because of the MLT program and the support that veterans receive.

“I knew I wanted go into the health care field and Professor Scott Tharpe’s description of the MLT program intrigued me so much that I enrolled!   I was amazed and honored at the way Saddleback College supports veterans.”