CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coastal Bend is home to many active-duty service members and plenty of veterans.
The military presence is one of the major aspects that defines the Coastal Bend community and something residents take pride in.
Now there is a program at Del Mar College that is giving back to those who spent their time dedicating all they had to their country.
The Veterans Upward Bound Program aims to help veterans get back to school.
"We service veterans that have either been in school and joined the service, or they made a career out of the service and want to go back to school," said program advisor Veronica Barbosa at Del Mar College.
Hannah Ochoa is a former hospital Corpsman. She had no interest in returning to school after serving for five years.
"I was working day in and day out, and it's a schedule that you have for years," she said. "I didn't think I'd have the same gratification going to school."
Ochoa changed her mind in 2018 and enrolled in the Veterans Upward Bound program. She says it's changed her life.
"I would be going from job-to-job right now," she said. "I would be frustrated and lost."
The program accepts 125 applicants per year and is split into four specific focal points:
- Enrollment Assistance
- Financial Aid Counseling
- Career Exploration
- Academic Assistance
Ochoa found herself using academic assistance as she pursues her degree in liberal arts.
"I got that extra push, that extra drive to be the best because I had those people cheering me on," she said.
For the veterans heading back to school, they are having the favor returned to them.
Barbosa said the team at Del Mar College is as dedicated as they come.
"If there is a funding issue and they help with financial aid, we help them," she said. "We help them find grants and we help them find different programs that pay for them to go to school."
In order to qualify, you must be a veteran who served at least 180 days with an honorable discharge and a first-generation college student from low income.
For those interested in applying you can send an email to VUB@delmar.edu or call 361-857-4390.