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Program helps veterans going to college

Posted at 10:29 PM, Feb 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 23:29:26-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A federal program is bringing awareness to its free services for veterans who are transitioning to higher education.

Del Mar College’s Veteran Upward Bound program is designed to motivate and assist veterans in the development of the required skills needed to succeed in post secondary education.

Since the program is federally-funded through the Department of Education, there is no out-of-pocket expense for any of the services.

In 2017 Del Mar College was awarded a $1.3 million grant to help our Coastal Bend military veterans start or continue pursuing a college education.

“Veteran Upward Bound is one of four in Texas, and we are nationwide, however, it is exclusive to only serving military veterans. There is not another program similar to this in the Coastal Bend area. Again, our primary focus is to help veterans in the transition,” said DMC Veterans Upward Bound Director Dion Krupa.

The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate at which veterans enroll in and complete college programs to earn degrees. The program will provide counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and academic instruction in the core subject areas.
“Given the Coastal Bend region, we also look at the high demand jobs, and Del Mar College has incredibly great opportunities for our students,” said Krupa.

After years of working various odd jobs following her military service with the Navy, Hannah Ochoa needed to further her education. That decision led her to enroll in the Veterans Upward Bound program.

“I felt really lost for a long time; I wasn’t really sure where to start, what to do, to work, or go to school. I heard about this program, and that is how I got into school,” said Navy veteran Hannah Ochoa.

For many veterans, the transition to civilian life is not an easy one.

“I was just fearful of failing, and the staff at Veterans Upward Bound really encouraged me, and they saw the potential that I had, and they are still now that I am in school; they are cheering me on. It is nice to have someone there who understands your hardship, your frustrations, and they can help guide you through it. They know what you are going through,” said Ochoa.

Since the program started in 2017, Del Mar College has helped more than 200 veterans take that first step to help further their education.

More than 39,000 veterans in Aransas, Kleberg, Nueces and San Patricio counties may be eligible for the Veterans Upward Bound Program.

To be eligible for the program, veterans must:

  • Have at least 180 days of active duty service or qualifying reserve time (certain exceptions apply)
  • Possess a discharge other than dishonorable
  • Meet at least one of the following criteria:
  • Meet federal low-income guidelines
  • Be a first-generation college student (neither parent completed a four-year degree)
  • Lack academic preparedness

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