Grants to support military-connected students

  • Harper College News Bureau
  • November 9, 2016

Del Vecchio, Friedlund and StebbinsFor Andrew Stebbins and many other student veterans and military-connected students, having a Veterans Center on campus isn’t just about having a comfortable spot in which to hang out. It’s about creating a safe, supportive and engaging space that will help better serve the men and women who served our country.

“We’re not your typical 18-year-old out of high school, and we have different needs,” Stebbins said.

Stebbins, now 30, served in the U.S. Navy for five years as a submariner and spent time in a warzone in the Middle East. After leaving the service in July 2015, he came to Harper where he works as a student aide and recently became president of the College’s Student Veterans Association.

“A lot of us have been around the world working an unbelievably stressful job, and there’s often a sense of isolation when you come home,” he said. “We’ve lived a lifetime already.”

Next spring, with the help of two grants and campus-wide support, Harper plans to open its new Center for Student Veterans and Military-Connected Students.

The center, which will be located in the registration bay just outside the cafeteria, will provide a central location for services designed for veterans and a space to gather socially. It will also welcome community partners such as the Veterans Affairs clinic in Evanston.

A private foundation wishing to remain anonymous awarded Harper an $80,000 grant to support the College’s larger objective to better serve veterans and military-connected students (active duty, spouses and dependents). Harper also received a $10,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation and the national Student Veterans Association to help transform the space.

As part of the private foundation’s grant, Stebbins, fellow student veteran Victor Del Vecchio and Courtney Friedlund, systems coordinator and school certifying officer, traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a presentation on military-connected research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia. They also met with congressional leaders and other organizations to discuss how veterans can help connect service members across the nation.

Currently, Harper serves an average of 300 to 400 veterans and eligible dependents each semester. The College hopes to increase its reach into the veteran student population and become a sought-out institution because of these efforts.

Friedlund said the center is scheduled to open sometime around spring break.

Media contact:Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159