Student Success Stories

ARC Grad Michael Monk to Attend Notre Dame

Michael MonkEntering the military at the age of 17, Michael Monk spent 7 years in the Army and served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After being critically injured by an incendiary explosive device (IED) while on his last deployment in Afghanistan, and suffering the effects of a traumatic brain injury that left him with permanent hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, he was medically retired in 2013 and had no future game plan.

One month later he showed up at ARC’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC), admittedly not in the best shape physically or mentally, nor prepared to take on a college degree program. If it wasn’t for the excellent training and compassion of the VRC staff, he says he probably wouldn’t be where he is now -- on his way to start law school at Notre Dame.

Michael was so taken with the quality of the services ARC’s Veterans program provided, he ended up working in the Center so he could give back and help others who showed up in the same condition he was in when he first arrived. He says, “Not all higher education Veterans Affairs programs are as top-notch as ARC’s.” The difference is, ARC is one of the few colleges in California to have a VetSuccess on Campus program (VSOC).

Through this innovative program, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to work at ARC helping Veterans make the transition to college life.  This is done by providing a coordinated delivery of on-campus benefits assistance and counseling, leading to the completion of an education program and preparation for entering the labor market. ARC is one of the 94 colleges and universities that have this service in the U.S. and has the 6th largest veteran population among community colleges in the state, enrolling 1,300 veterans.

Michael’s less than stellar high school performance has become great through his experience at ARC, where he found his passion in English through writers like ARC English Professor Lois Abraham. After scoring 165 (91st percentile) on the LSATs, Michael was offered the choice of attending several law schools, including Loyola, William and Mary and UCD. He chose the University of Notre Dame, and this summer Michael and his therapy dog Lexie will be moving to Indiana to start a new chapter of success.

From Sailor to Student: Scott Mitchell’s Story

Navy veteran Scott Mitchell spent his first year of community college riding his bicycle between his home in El Dorado Hills and Folsom Lake College.

“I was putting in a minimum of 12 miles a day,” said the Enfield, Connecticut native. “To and from school.  It was a challenge to maintain the consistency through the winter but I had to get to class.” 

When Mitchell left the Navy in 2016, he figuratively threw a dart at a map and it landed on Sacramento. Shortly after, family friends welcomed him into their home in El Dorado Hills. Being within biking distance from his residence was the initial deciding factor in enrolling at FLC.

A sailor for four and a half years, Mitchell first took interest in the Navy as a musician but spent the majority of his naval career as an Aviation Boatswains Mate. He spent the vast majority of his time in Norfolk, VA and cruising the Mediterranean Sea, receiving shipboard awards such as Blue Jack of the Month and Sailor of the Quarter. At the end of April 2015 his reenlistment was cut short due to medical separation, and he walked off of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower as a Petty Officer 3rd class.

Navigating civilian waters was a challenge. “I was clueless about college,” recalls Mitchell, “I had no idea where to begin, however, Folsom Lake College offered the First Year Experience Program which made the transition into college life seamless.”

The FYE Program wasn’t the only factor that gave Mitchell the initial boost he needed to acclimate to college life. Due to a generous gift from the El Dorado County Veteran Commission made possible through the county's transient occupancy tax, the Folsom Lake College Foundation is able to offer much needed textbook scholarships in the amount of $250 to help ease the financial challenges of transitioning from active duty to student.

Christine Wurzer, FLC’s Admissions and Records Supervisor who works closely with veterans explains the importance of this segment of philanthropic support: “Textbook scholarships are a valuable resource for our student veterans who reside in El Dorado County.  This is a supplement to their GI Bill, which typically does not meet all of the textbook and supply needs that a student veteran has.” 

Giving to Folsom Lake College's Veterans Success Center provides unrestricted, invaluable support for the college to spend on veterans related programs. These types of resources are used to support programs, equipment and services that would otherwise not be funded by general college resources.  To support students like Scott, you can make an online gift here, or for more on giving to our veterans programs, please contact Sally Howard at 916-608-6643 or howards@flc.losrios.edu.

CRC Student Scholarship Recipient Spotlight

Erin Bates-MeehanCosumnes River College student Erin Bates-Meehan was awarded the prestigious CRC Veteran’s Scholarship this spring.  She returned to college after serving in the Air Force and raising a family. With a significant amount of experience in the medical field, both as a medic in the Air Force and an LVN for the State of California, she is looking forward to putting her education to work after graduation. She is currently pursuing her associate degree in biology and plants to transfer to the University of San Francisco, where she wants to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing and eventually a master’s in public health. “I hope to work with other disabled veterans, preferably at a VA institution, because I know personally how it feels to be in their shoes,” she said.

Despite her busy school schedule, she still finds time to do volunteer work as an EMT for the Special Olympics in Sacramento and Stanislaus County, and has done humanitarian aid in Nicaragua with the United Nations, as well as during her time in the Air Force.

This spring, the CRC Foundation helped nearly 120 exceptional students just like Erin Bates-Meehan to pursue their dreams through education by providing scholarships from donors like you. Thank you for all that you do to better the lives of our students and this region. If you 'd like to learn more about how you can help at Cosumnes River College, click here.

Wells Fargo Foundation Awards $45,000 to Establish Veteran Student Emergency Fund

This school year, the Los Rios Foundation was awarded a $45,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to establish a Veteran Student Emergency Fund at the four Los Rios Veteran’s Resource Centers. This incredible funding allows us to give immediate financial assistance to Los Rios veteran students involved in emergency situations. Our Veteran’s Resource Centers provide a variety of academic and support services, but this fund allows them the additional resources they need to help particularly vulnerable students. So far, we have already provided more than $6,000 in grant funding, including helping a homeless veteran with PTSD to get into stable housing and another with relocation costs when a partner turned violent. We’ve also been able to intervene when the emergency seemed more mundane, but was just as overwhelming in the life of the student. For instance, we were able to help a student whose overdue utility bills meant that the power was going to be shut off, and intervene when a delay in GI benefits meant that a student’s rent would be late and set off a chain reaction of late fees he simply couldn’t absorb.

This grant funding also helped create food pantries in the VRCs. Students often face the impossible decision of whether to buy food or books, and we never want our students to go hungry.

Many of our students live on the edge, and it takes just one setback to halt their progress. A grant of just a few hundred dollars allows a student who is temporarily in need to stay in school so that their continued academic progress towards a certificate, degree or transfer is not adversely affected. By combining these two programs for our veteran students with the services already provided by our Veteran’s Resource Centers, we hope that we can help our veteran students succeed and reach their goals.

If you'd like to contribute to this life changing program, just choose LRF Veteran Student Emergency Fund on our Donate page. And on behalf of our students, thank you.