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Lake of the Ozarks student recounts harrowing Army career

Posted by on Jul 10, 2017 in Lake of the Ozarks, Military | 0 comments

Lake of the Ozarks student recounts harrowing Army career

via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A 35-millimeter camera probably saved the life of Army medic and Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks student Rebecca Deuel. On Oct. 17, 2004, Deuel was stationed at Camp Freedom in Iraq as an Army medic. She was in the phone center talking to a friend when the base came under mortar attack. “We had pretty regular mortar attacks on our forward operating base for weeks in the evenings, almost like clockwork,” Deuel said. “I had left the phone center to go to a shelter when the mortar hit and I was thrown into a chain link fence. I had a backpack on with a camera in it and a piece of shrapnel went through the backpack and got lodged in the lens of the camera. It was going to hit me in a soft spot on my vest, but the camera stopped it.”

Click here to read more.

Columbia College celebrates Military Recognition Day

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Featured Story, Military | 0 comments

Columbia College celebrates Military Recognition Day

Keynote speaker Lieutenant General Richard Harding urged attendees to be mindful of those men and women who have sacrificed themselves for the cause of freedom during his remarks at the Columbia College Military Recognition Day ceremony May 25.

Lieutenant General Richard Harding, an Air Force veteran and Columbia College trustee, gave the keynote address at the Military Recognition Day event.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

Harding, a 34-year Air Force veteran, former Judge Advocate General and current member of the Columbia College Board of Trustees, implored the near-capacity crowd at Bixby Lecture Hall in the Brouder Science Center to use Memorial Day to remember the price paid by countless service members whose stories don’t reach the headlines or get depicted in popular media.

“Hollywood’s great about projecting the image of the soldier who charges into the machine gun nest,” Harding said. “But sometimes we lose sight of the less obvious people we also want to remember on Memorial Day.”

Harding highlighted stories of service members killed in training maneuvers, through illness in the combat arena and through friendly fire. He told the story of a court reporter from his corps that he sent to Afghanistan, who suffered traumatic brain injury after the vehicle in which he was traveling was launched into the air by a blast and slammed back to the earth.

The sergeant emerged from the vehicle and provided covering fire, his actions saving many lives and earning him a medal of valor that Harding had to convince him to accept. The sergeant doesn’t remember anything about that day after the crash.

“To this day, he cannot remember at lunch time whether he had breakfast. And, if he did, what he may have eaten,” Harding said. “While I sent a very literate, smart (non-commissioned officer) over there to be a court reporter, to transcribe statements, he can’t write a complete sentence today. Paragraphs elude him. He’ll be cured someday in the future. I’ve got to have that faith. But we need to remember his service on a day like Memorial Day as well.”

Columbia College’s 10th annual Military Recognition Day ceremony, held four days before Memorial Day, recognized the contributions of all the college’s alumni, students, faculty and staff who have served or are currently serving in the military. Columbia College serves more than 9,000 service members, veterans and military dependents each school year.

The event also included recognition of this year’s 11 recipients of the Colonel Charles E. McGee, Colonel Mike Randerson and Ousley Family Veterans Service Center scholarships, all of which benefit students at Columbia College who are service members, veterans or military family dependents.

The Ousley Family scholarship was established in 2011 and, with this year’s five honorees, has been awarded to 19 students since then. This year’s recipients were: Mark Bayliss (Evening Campus), William Delvalle (Orlando), Michael Guthrie (Whidbey Island), Donald Hines (Lake of the Ozarks) and Christina Yarborough (Hunter Army Airfield). Bayliss, who was in attendance, just finished a six-year stint as an Army National Guardsman and is enlisting for another six. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology with the aim of going to nursing school.

Alumnus Greg Ousley (right) presents the Ousley Family Veterans Service Center Scholarship to Evening Campus student Mark Bayliss, who is in the Army National Guard.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

Bayliss spent some quality time with 1997 Columbia College alumnus Greg Ousley and his family before the ceremony.

“It’s incredible what they’re doing for veterans,” Bayliss said. “A lot of times you leave active duty or come back from deployment and you’re kind of lost. You kind of wander. You don’t know how to go to college, find a job. A lot of these programs that people like the Ousleys have created and helped fund are immaculate. They’re saving a lot of lives out there.”

The three recipients of the Charles E. McGee scholarship were Robert Gustafson (Crystal Lake), Heidi Raymond (Elgin) and Cristhian Restrepo (Orlando), bringing the total number of honorees since its establishment in 2010 to 14.

Sharonda Guzman (Hunter Army Airfield), Kelly Whitley-Roberts (Jacksonville) and Harrison Zamudio (NAS Jacksonville) earned the Mike Randerson scholarship, bringing the total number of recipients since its establishment in 2013 to seven.

After the scholarship presentations, a color guard made up of four Columbia College students — Lance Corporal Landon Miller (Marine Corps reserve), Petty Officer First Class Dustin Beckwith (Navy), Specialist Lynn Crum (Army National Guard) and Staff Sergeant John Penick Sr. (Army reserve) — hoisted the American and Columbia College flags on Bass Commons. The flags were first flown over the college’s location at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California.

Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple presents the American flag to a color guard composed of Columbia College students.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

The event concluded with the playing of the bugle call taps, which holds a special resonance for Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple.

A trumpet player as a youth, Dalrymple would be called upon to play taps at Memorial Day celebrations in his home of Waterloo, New York, and the surrounding communities.

“It really affected me more than anything,” said Dalrymple, whose father served in the Army. “I’d even call it a spiritual experience, doing that. I really was just affected by Memorial Day ceremonies, even as a kid. I took it seriously. And I still do, very much.”

Columbia College also served as the host to the finale of the Salute to Veterans Parade on Memorial Day. The parade ended at R. Marvin Owens Field, with parachute teams from the US Army and Canadian Armed Forces landing on the field.

Honoring the ones who serve our country

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Featured Story, Instagram, Military | 0 comments

Honoring the ones who serve our country

Miniature American flags border the walkways at Columbia College’s main campus, stuck in the ground about three feet apart, 2,996 flags in all.

Lieutenant General Richard Harding, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General and current Columbia College trustee, speaks at the Veterans Day remembrance ceremony. (Photo by Kaci Smart)

Lieutenant General Richard Harding, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General and current Columbia College trustee, speaks at the Veterans Day remembrance ceremony.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

The number represents the people who lost their lives during the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The gesture, combined with the yellow ribbons tied around trees on campus, represents gratitude for the men and women who fight — and have fought — to keep our country free.

“We’re trying to recognize all our military and veteran members of our school community,” Columbia College director of Veterans Services Keith Glindemann said. “The takeaway I’m hoping for is that those who have served or are continuing to serve will know that we honor them.

“This nation is built on the fundamentals that our military has fought for through many years. Knowing that I can help honor those who went before me is an honor in itself.”

More than a dozen volunteers gathered on the morning of Monday, November 7, to help decorate the campus for Veterans Week, five days of celebrating the military that culminated on Veterans Day (Friday, November 11).

In 2015, Columbia College served nearly 9,500 servicemembers, veterans and military dependents and spouses. Veterans Week serves as a chance for the college community to give a little for those who have given so much.

“You’re signing up to make a sacrifice that most people wouldn’t even think about,” says Landon Miller, a lance corporal in the US Marine Corps Reserves and president of the Columbia College Student Veterans club. “The flag is a really important symbol to us. When you see that people recognize that and want to show their support, that’s a really cool sign of support from the school.”

Miller, a junior criminal justice major with a legal studies minor, is one of the more than 5,000 Columbia College students who are currently serving in the military. He envisions his club as a resource for students like him, veterans, family members and any others in the college community who are looking for ways to support military students.

He and the CCSV club took part in the “22 Pushup Challenge” to raise awareness of the estimated 22 veterans a day who commit suicide. Each member of the club did 22 pushups a day for 22 days — the last falling on Veterans Day — and posted videos online, along with links to resources such as the Veterans Crisis Line.

On Veterans Day, the club joined together with other students, faculty and staff at Southwell Complex to complete the final day of the challenge.

Columbia College held a number of activities to commemorate Veterans Day, including a ceremonial flag raising on Bass Commons, participating in a national moment of silence later in the day and lighting the Military Service Tree at dusk.

And, for the sixth straight year, the school took part in a remembrance ceremony to honor the 6,872 American servicemembers who have died since the War on Terror began in 2001, all of whose names were printed on banners displayed behind a stage at Atkins-Holman Student Commons. Jennifer Boyt, a systems analyst in Technology Services and an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with the Army National Guard, read the names of the 31 who have lost their lives since last year’s ceremony, and other Columbia College staff members read citations for the three new Medal of Honor recipients since last year.

Lieutenant General Richard Harding, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General and current Columbia College trustee, addressed the crowd and stressed the nobility of serving one’s country.

“Patriots have served regardless of political party or personality in charge at the time,” Harding said. “What drives young men and women and their predecessors from every earlier generation to raise their right hand, swear to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? There’s something inside the heart of those who protect freedom that calls them to humility and the service and sacrifice of the self.

“Today’s generation of veterans are made from the same stuff as their predecessors. The only difference is the color and style of their uniforms. But their sacrifices in defending freedom have had a continuing and positive impact on the development of this country.”

Alumnus Tim Rich takes the reins at Welcome Home

Posted by on Nov 7, 2016 in Alumni, Featured Story, Military | 0 comments

Alumnus Tim Rich takes the reins at Welcome Home

Every day for two weeks, Tim Rich would walk nervously into Dr. Donald Ruthenberg’s office and check inside the Columbia College president’s rolltop desk to make sure it still contained two things.

Tim Rich, a 1989 alumnus and executive director of Welcome Home, stands at the future site of the organization's new shelter for homeless veterans. (Photo by Kaci Smart)

Tim Rich, a 1989 alumnus and executive director of Welcome Home, stands at the future site of the organization’s new shelter for homeless veterans.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

One was an envelope with cash that Ruthenberg had saved from trading antique cars he had restored. The other was a journal notebook containing Ruthenberg’s will.

Rich was working through a bachelor’s degree at Columbia College while serving as Ruthenberg’s special projects coordinator. Ruthenberg had headed out on one of his regular trips to the Far East, Japan this time.

“A cleaning crew’s coming in every night. What if someone stumbles on it?” Rich remembered, with a laugh. “He placed his trust in me with something very tangible. That changed the way our relationship was. There’s something very powerful about knowing that someone trusts you with their memory and their money.

“It was still there when he came back, which he was pleased with.”

Rich, who graduated from Columbia College in 1989, has used Ruthenberg’s example to guide his own career in non-profit organizations all the way to his latest post as the executive director of the Welcome Home homeless veterans’ shelter, where he started in September.

Welcome Home is a Columbia, Missouri-based organization that can provide housing for up to 12 homeless veterans at a time as they work to get back on their feet and into a more permanent living situation. Rich made the move to Welcome Home after a short stint in the private sector that followed a six-year tenure as executive director of the Heart of Missouri United Way.

Rich said he’s excited for the challenge, especially with a significant expansion to Welcome Home’s service capabilities coming within the next year.

“In the last month or so, we’ve turned away 15 veterans that would have been eligible for our services, because we didn’t have enough bed space,” Rich says. “We’ve never been able to serve all the veterans that were here, and it’s heartbreaking when you have to turn somebody away knowing full well they qualify for everything and we could literally change their lives if we could get them in.”

Since its founding in 1992, Welcome Home has been a valuable tool for homeless veterans who are getting their lives back together. Rich says that the shelter can accommodate a veteran for up to six months through contracts with the Veterans Administration, but their average stay is only about 3 ½ months, after which 95 percent of their tenants are able to find permanent housing.

Richard Harding, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, vice president of the Welcome Home board of directors and Columbia College trustee, says homeless veterans living together can be an important bonding experience. Welcome Home is the only shelter in the state devoted solely to veterans.

“They support one another just like they did on the battlefield. The reason they fight as hard as they do in war is because of their buddies,” Harding says. “That translates extremely well in a homeless shelter. They’re there for each other. That kind of support is pretty important.”

The problem is Welcome Home can only serve a portion of the estimated 700 homeless veterans in the state. The organization broke ground in June on a new, $3.1 million, 32-bed facility by Patriot Place Apartments on Business Loop 70 as part of an $8.1 million Patriot Place project, and Rich expects it could be completed by next Memorial Day or July 4, at the latest.

It doesn’t fulfill the entire need, but it’s a start. The new facility will also be able to accommodate female veterans and families, something the current home cannot.

“Having the success rate we have, which means we can turn people through pretty quick and get them stabilized and back into housing, I think we’ve got a program in this new facility that we will be able to really take a chunk out of veteran homelessness in our area,” Rich said.

Rich wound up at Columbia College precisely because of his admiration for Ruthenberg. Rich became the Salvation Army officer in charge of Boone County operations in 1984 and met Ruthenberg’s wife, Dee, through her work on the Salvation Army board. Ruthenberg served as a keynote speaker at the Salvation Army’s annual meeting, and Rich came away so impressed that he wrote Ruthenberg asking for an opportunity to learn under him.

Ruthenberg created a position for Rich with one condition: He also had to go to night school and earn his degree.

When Rich graduated with his degree in individual studies with a business and marketing focus, he got to walk across the stage, look his boss straight in the eye and give him a big hug.

The contents of the rolltop desk remained safe and sound.

“He taught me some of what I have to do as a leader going forward. I have to teach and mentor my staff, then I have to entrust them with authority and responsibility to implement whatever it is we’re working on together,” Rich said. “I can’t withhold all of that authority and only put the responsibility on them. You have to have both of those. I looked up to him as a father figure in an awful lot of ways.”

Uber and Columbia College team up for discounted tuition program

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Coast Guard Island, Crystal Lake, Day Campus, Denver, Elgin, Evening Campus, Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sill, Fort Stewart, Fort Worth, Freeport, Guantanamo Bay, Hancock Field, Hunter Army Airfield, Instagram, Jacksonville, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Lake County, Lake of the Ozarks, Lemoore, Los Alamitos, Mesquite, Military, Moberly, NAS Jacksonville, Nationwide, NS Everett - Marysville, Online Education, Orlando, Patrick Air Force Base, Redstone Arsenal, Rolla, Salt Lake, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Springfield, St. Louis, Whidbey Island | 0 comments

Uber and Columbia College team up for discounted tuition program

9-28-16_quad_ks_pr_panoramic2Uber and Columbia College of Missouri today announced a unique partnership that will give thousands of Uber driver-partners in Missouri and around the U.S. a 15 percent discount on tuition. The discount will also be available to any current Columbia College of Missouri student who signs up to drive with Uber.

“Uber has a great global brand, and we’re pleased to partner with them,” said Dr. Scott Dalrymple, president of Columbia College of Missouri. “This initiative has the potential to change many lives.”

Tuition costs at Columbia College of Missouri are less than half the national average. The college offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees on its main campus in Columbia, Missouri, through a robust online program, and via a network of 34 additional locations across the country. Eight-week classes begin six times a year.

“Uber is a natural fit for students looking to earn money while pursuing a degree. With no set hours or shifts, students can choose when they want to drive in a way that works around their lives and class schedule, not the other way around,” said Andy Hung, Uber Missouri General Manager. “We are thrilled to team up with Columbia College of Missouri to offer this program to drivers seeking an affordable way to further their education.”

To be eligible for the tuition discount, Uber driver-partners must complete at least one trip per month. For more information about how current students interested in driving with Uber and current driver-partners interested in applying to Columbia College of Missouri can take advantage of this offer, visit


About Uber Missouri

Uber’s mission is to make transportation as reliable as running water – everywhere, for everyone. We started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get a ride at the touch of a button? Six years and over a billion trips later, we’ve started tackling an even greater challenge: reducing congestion and pollution in our cities by getting more people into fewer cars. Follow us on Twitter @Uber and find us on Facebook: Uber.

Glindemann named president of National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Military | 0 comments

Glindemann named president of National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators

KeithGlindemannColumbia College Director of Veterans Services Keith Glindemann was recently elected the president of the National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators (NAVPA). Glindemann was vice president of the organization for the past two years and served as the legislative affairs director in 2014. NAVPA is an organization of higher education institutions and individuals who are involved or interested in the operations of veterans’ affairs programs and/or the delivery of services to veterans as school certifying officials across the country.

“I am honored and excited to serve as president of this great organization that passionately advocates for veteran and active-duty student soldiers and their families,” Glindemann said. “This is a great opportunity to advance their cause and continue to represent Columbia College on a national level.”

As president of NAVPA, Glindemann at times will be requested to appear before the U.S. Congress on behalf of the organization and Columbia College to provide in-person as well as written testimony on veterans’ educational benefits.

He is also charged with maintaining a relationship with the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office and numerous other veterans services provider organizations.

Glindemann was also recently asked to chair the steering committee for the SALUTE National Honor Society. SALUTE is the first national honor society established for student veterans and military in two-year and four-year institutions of higher education. Members include veterans, active duty military, National Guard and reservists returning to higher education, starting second careers or helping fund their college careers with military service. Columbia College features the second largest chapter of the honor society in the country with 1,181 members.

Following an outstanding 24-year career in the U.S. Army where he received the Bronze Star for actions in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Glindemann joined Columbia College as associate director of veterans services in 2010 and was promoted to his current role as director of veterans services in 2015.

Glindemann earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Franklin University and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia College. He is a member of the Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society and was also awarded the Legion of Merit medal for career military service.

Paying the way for military families

Posted by on Oct 4, 2016 in Coast Guard Island, Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sill, Fort Stewart, Fort Worth, Guantanamo Bay, Hancock Field, Hunter Army Airfield, Jacksonville, Lake County, Lemoore, Military, NAS Jacksonville, NS Everett - Marysville, Online Education, Patrick Air Force Base, Redstone Arsenal, Whidbey Island | 8 comments

Paying the way for military families

military-biggerWe call it a free class, but we know the price paid by military families can’t be put into numbers. At Columbia College, we will cover the tuition of your first class for you.

When we pay for that first class, you’ll be free to focus on learning. All of our tuition grants for military spouses and dependents are designed to help you take a risk-free step towards your degree.

What does Columbia College offer?

You may be able to try out CC without spending a penny in tuition costs. Our three grants for eligible military spouses and families can save you up to $600 on your first class or up to $6,000 over the course of your degree with the Military Spouse Tuition Grant. Use the following information to see which grants are best for you.

Military Spouse Tuition Grant

Allows eligible military spouses to receive a 20% tuition discount on all in-seat undergraduate courses, at any nationwide location.

Am I eligible? 

  • You must be the spouse of a military member currently serving on active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves.*
  • You cannot receive the grant if your tuition is covered under any tuition assistance program, with the exception of the MyCAA program.

Spouses Opportunity Grant

Allows eligible military spouses to take their first class, online or in-seat at any of our 35+ nationwide locations, with CC covering 100% of the tuition fees.

Am I eligible? 

  • You must be the spouse of a military member currently serving on active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves.*
  • You must be seeking your first undergraduate degree.
  • You must be registered for your first course at Columbia College (grant will be awarded to cover the cost of this course).

Military Family Member’s Opportunity Grant

Allows eligible military family dependents to take their first in-seat class at any of our 35+ nationwide locations, with CC covering 100% of the tuition fees.

Am I eligible?

  • You must be a dependent family member of a military member currently serving on active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves.*
  • You must be seeking your first undergraduate degree.
  • You must be registered for your first course at Columbia College (grant will be awarded to cover the cost of this course).

*including Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserves.

We’ll help you decide what grant and classes are right for you. With six class sessions each year, you don’t have to wait months to get started. Click here for more information, and we’ll be in touch to get you going.

Seaman-to-Admiral program helps Naval students become officers

Posted by on Jun 6, 2016 in CCIS Homepage Headlines, Coast Guard Island, Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sill, Fort Stewart, Fort Worth, Guantanamo Bay, Hunter Army Airfield, Lake County, Lemoore, Military, NAS Jacksonville, NS Everett - Marysville, Patrick Air Force Base, Redstone Arsenal, Whidbey Island | 0 comments

Seaman-to-Admiral program helps Naval students become officers
From left: Dustin Beckwith and Corey Ring

From left: Dustin Beckwith and Corey Ring

Street performing just was not offering Dustin Beckwith the sort of fulfillment he desired. While he was a talented juggler who could also make a yo-yo perform complicated maneuvers, Beckwith yearned for more.

“Apparently, the market for that in Lubbock, Texas, wasn’t very good,” Beckwith said. “I was looking to do something more serious with my life. One day I went into the (Navy) recruiting station, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Beckwith has been in the U.S. Navy for the past six years. A couple years into his service, while stationed at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California, Beckwith started his higher education career at the Columbia College location on base and ended up earning an associate degree. That’s one of 18 Columbia College locations that are on military installations.

When he was selected to the Navy’s Seaman-to-Admiral program earlier this year, he had a pretty good idea where he wanted to continue his schooling.

“I started my college career with Columbia College, and they’ve always provided the best support,” Beckwith said, singling out NAS Lemoore location director Betsy Quade for her help. “The Navy said I could pick any college that I wanted to go to, and Columbia was at the top of my list.”

Columbia College and its crosstown Naval ROTC affiliate the University of Missouri are the only schools in the state of Missouri that the Navy lists as hosts for its STA-21 (Seaman-to-Admiral) program, which serves as a gateway for enlisted servicemembers to become commissioned officers through the receipt of a college degree and completion of the program. All branches of the US military have similar scholarship programs.

The Navy offers its servicemembers a chance to remain on active duty at their current pay grade while adding in up to $10,000 a year to help cover tuition, books and fees.

“This is their full-time job, and their lone requirement is go to school,” said Tery Donelson, senior director of programs and partnerships for the Columbia College Division of Adult Higher Education. “It’s a pretty popular program. Usually these are older, more focused students, so they are attracted by our smaller class sizes and tenured professors actually teaching our programs.”

Donelson said Columbia College attracts students from all of the military branches through these types of programs, ones that have often already begun their education at one of the college’s locations and seek the smooth transition to the main campus and its ROTC courses, which are conducted just across town at the University of Missouri. Two of this year’s STA-21 students —the 26-year-old Beckwith and Corey Ring, 27 — took in the college’s ninth annual Military Recognition Day festivities May 26.

Ring, a native of St. Peters, Missouri, has been stationed in San Diego for the past nine years and started taking Columbia College online classes to supplement his coursework at Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley, California. A history major, Ring said Columbia College made transferring academic credits from a variety of sources simple.

“I liked what I saw in the online campus, I liked this grant. I knew it was going to be an easy transition,” Ring said. “I thought, ‘Hey, if the Navy recognizes Columbia College as a good school, then it won’t hurt me.’”

Donelson took part in the Air Force’s scholarship program when he was an enlisted servicemember. He has first-hand experience with the process as a student, as well as seeing how the decades-long partnership between the military and Columbia College has benefitted students such as Beckwith and Ring in the past.

“Sailors, Marines, soldiers, airmen can come here for those military programs, do their college work at a small, private, liberal arts school and still go through the ROTC program,” Donelson said. “It’s beneficial. Columbia College and the University of Missouri ROTC programs are a very good partnership for both entities.”

Col. McGee on hand for Military Recognition Day festivities

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Day Campus, Evening Campus, Featured Story, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Military, NS Everett - Marysville, Orlando, Whidbey Island | 2 comments

Col. McGee on hand for Military Recognition Day festivities

Timothy Davis wasn’t going to let some quality time with Colonel Charles E. McGee pass him by, especially when the 96-year-old McGee had made the trip to Columbia all the way from Bethesda, Maryland.

Davis got to chat with McGee, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and the National Aviation Hall of Fame, as well as the U.S. Air Force record holder at the time of his retirement in 1973 with 409 combat missions flown during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, for about 20 minutes in Missouri Hall before Columbia College’s ninth annual Military Recognition Day ceremony May 26.

The two talked about how McGee got into the military in the first place, McGee’s decision to pursue his education at Columbia College-Kansas City and how McGee earned his degree in 1978 at the age of 58.

“He’s just a really nice, genuine guy,” Davis said. “He just talked about education being really important and to keep pursuing it and moving forward with it.”

Davis, a former petty officer in the Coast Guard is one of two recipients of this year’s $1,000 Col. Charles E. McGee Scholarship and was the only one on hand to be recognized for the achievement during Military Recognition Day. He has earned three degrees from Columbia College-Jefferson City and is now in the pre-Nursing program at the Evening Campus.

“It’s just invigorating to be able to give back and share in what’s taking place,” McGee said. “The young folks are our country’s future. We can’t overlook that.”McGee

In all, Columbia College gave out $6,500 in scholarships to military and veteran students. Davis and Orlando location student Nelson Espinosa received the award named for McGee, Evening Campus student Travis Reynders and Jayme Viscarra from Columbia College-Whidbey Island both earned the $1,000 Col. Mike Randerson Scholarship, and Jessica Bock (Online), Adrien Broussard (Evening), Kymberly Guerrero (Jefferson City), Semindu Solomon (Day) and Tyees Wesley (Orlando) all earned the $500 Ousley Family Veterans Service Center Scholarship. Broussard, Davis, Guerrero and Reynders were present for the May 26 ceremony in Launer Auditorium.

“Please recognize that our future promises exist because someone accepts the responsibility to serve today,” Dr. Brad Lookingbill, Columbia College history professor and a former member of the Army National Guard, said before the scholarship presentations. “And Columbia is here for you.”

During the 2015-16 academic year, Columbia College served 4,688 military servicemembers, 3,027 veterans and 1,564 family members, nearly 40 percent of the college’s total students for the first four sessions of the year.

Reynders, a four-year Marine Corps veteran, started his college career at the University of Missouri before joining the military. He chose Columbia College when it came time to pick up his schooling again and graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies from the Evening Campus in May, with plans to pursue Master of Business Administration from Columbia College.

“I just realized how veteran-friendly and how easy it was just to communicate with (the college),” Reynders said. “One of the big things veterans struggle with is finding a good college and a good veterans center they can really deal with and have interaction with. I think that’s kind of one of the biggest benefits I saw in coming back to Columbia College.”

The Military Recognition Day ceremony concluded with a color guard made up of four Columbia College students who raised the American and college flags on Bass Commons. The flags had been flown earlier this year at the Whidbey Island and Naval Station Everett/Marysville locations.

Columbia College also served a vital function in the city of Columbia’s Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Parade on May 30, with R. Marvin Owens Soccer Field serving as the parade route’s end point. The field also served as the landing zone for two parachute jump teams — the U.S. Army Golden Knights and the Canadian Armed Forces SkyHawks — that performed aerial maneuvers over downtown Columbia before touching down safely.

“Our values can slip away very easily if we’re not vigilant and don’t want everybody to be on board,” McGee said. “It’s not difficult to give back. You just have to be willing to do it.”

Fort Worth student becomes a hero on base

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in Fort Worth, Military, Nationwide | 3 comments

Fort Worth student becomes a hero on base
Christina Cook

Columbia College-Fort Worth and VCC worker Christina Cook with Scooter the Cougar.

Columbia College-Fort Worth student Christina Cook recently went beyond the call of duty in her position at the Visitor Control Center. When three men requested access to the joint reserve base with fake credentials, Cook sprang into action.

“I knew at first glance they were fake IDs but had to wait for confirmation,” Christina recalled.

She quietly confirmed her suspicions with coworkers, and the team notified the authorities. Cook stalled the three men while waiting for the police to arrive. The commander of the base, Capt. Mike Steffen, asked everyone on the base to acknowledge Cook’s heroism.

Cook has been a Columbia College student since August 2014 and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She has also been a friend to the Fort Worth campus since beginning her tenure with VCC. Cook goes out of her way to make sure college students have an excellent experience when visiting the center, and the staff at the center and on campus feel lucky to have her. Join us in thanking Christina Cook for helping keep NAS Fort Worth JRB safe!