More than 75 people attended a ribbon cutting commemorating the
official opening of the Southeast Community College Veterans
Connect Center Friday morning.
The newly renovated space is located in Room U3 on the lower
level of the Lincoln Campus at 8800 O St. It includes soft seating,
a large conference table, Microsoft Surface tablets, desks, chairs,
a refrigerator, and flat-screen television.
Dr. Paul Illich, SCC president, thanked everyone involved in
helping create the space and for securing a $10,000 grant from The
Home Depot Foundation.
"We have an objective in our strategic plan specifically for
veterans," Illich said. "As a community college, we have a unique
mission that includes serving a diverse student population."
Charles Brewer, associate director of financial aid; John
Mamaril, administrative assistant in SCC-Lincoln's Registration and
Records Office and an advisor to veteran students; and Lauren
Rinne, Veterans Administration assistant representative, were
largely responsible for organizing the event, which was attended by
numerous SCC employees who have military service and others.
Brewer said, "When that grant was approved, it was one of the
happiest moments ever."
Kathy Boellstorff, chairperson of SCC's Board of Governors,
spoke about the effects military service had on her.
"I will never know what you have been through," she said,
directing the comment to veterans in the room, "but I can tell you
how service to our country has affected my life."
Boellstorff said that her mother's first husband was killed in
World War II. Her father, Vincent George Weber, served in the U.S.
Navy during World War II. His brother, Boellstorff's uncle Ray, was
killed while serving in the Navy. And Boellstorff's husband, Mark,
is an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. He is a member of
American Legion Post 246 and serves as honorary color guard during
veterans' memorial services.
SCC is one of 50 colleges and universities across the nation to
receive a 2015 Vet Center Initiative Grant from The Home Depot
Foundation. The Student Veterans of America announced the award.
SCC received $10,000 to help build the Veterans Connect Center. The
renovated space provides SCC's student veterans and their families
a quiet environment to study, relax and refocus.
Last December, Brewer, Rinne and Mamaril were among a group of
six people that appeared before SCC's Board of Governors and
outlined their goals for veteran students. Acquiring a grant to
build a dedicated space for veteran students was a goal.
"I feel really good about this space," said Mamaril, a Maryland
native who was a petty officer in the U.S. Navy from 2006-2010.
"This is a bridge to help veteran students connect with faculty and
staff and to help them to succeed in life."
Steve Leiker, manager of The Home Depot store at South
70th Street and Highway 2 in Lincoln, said he was
proud to work for a company that does so much for veterans.
"We have thousands of volunteers across the nation focusing on
how we can serve our veterans," said Leiker, who referenced the
Sept. 11 kickoff of The Home Depot's fifth annual "Celebration of
Service" project. "It's a volunteer army called Team Depot," whose
mission is to transform veterans' homes nationwide.
SCC's Computer Aided Design Drafting program assisted with the
design of the space.
Recognized as an institutional best practice by SVA and other
prominent leaders in the veteran education space, including the
American Council on Education, resource centers have been shown to
directly contribute to student veterans' successful academic
In response to substantial demands for this resource, and as
part of SVA's continued advocacy of both peer- and campus-based
support, SVA partnered with The Home Depot Foundation to launch the
Vet Center Initiative grant program in 2014.
"As thousands of military veterans return to college
campuses this fall, eager to re-integrate into society and
jump-start their college education, the promise of a dedicated
space that they can call home on campus is important," said D.
Wayne Robinson, SVA president and CEO. "Veterans centers are
critical in helping to empower veterans on campus. The Home Depot's
commitment will build pathways of opportunity for the next
generation of student veterans and ensure the success of America's
SCC was the only school in Nebraska to be awarded the grant.
"Congratulations on being awarded the $10,000 Veteran's Center
Initiative Grant from The Home Depot Foundation and this momentous
occasion," Boellstorff said. "You have faithfully discharged your
duty. Now you have a new purpose and mission to accomplish.
Southeast Community College will help you achieve your educational
goals and dreams as you transition into civilian life. You are the
light of liberty. You are the heroes we sing about in 'America, the
Beautiful.' 'In liberating strife, who more than self their country
loved, and mercy more that life."
SVA is a 501(c)3 non-profit coalition of more than 1,200 student
veteran organizations representing 440,000 veterans in higher
education. SVA's mission is to provide military veterans with the
resources, support and advocacy to ease veteran and active military
students' transition into higher education and leverage military
experience to launch successful careers in high-demand