Soldiers to Scholars: QCC Participates in White House Forum on Military Credentialing and Licensing

Assisting returning troops with obtaining the credentials they need to successfully enter the workforce was the theme at the White House Forum on Military Credentialing and Licensing, held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 29.  The Forum provided an opportunity for key stakeholders from around the country, to share ideas on how to streamline credentialing and licensing opportunities for U. S. service members, veterans, and their spouses.

Alexandra Tarasko, Professor and Deputy Chairperson, Nursing; Chair, Faculty Executive Committee atQueensborough, attended the event on behalf of Dr. William Ebenstein, Dean for Health and Human Services at The City University of New York (CUNY). Dr. Ebenstein recently chose Queensborough to initiate a pilot program in nursing that would help accelerate the education of Veterans who are medics by offering college credits for content based on previous education and training.  This could potentially be used as a template for other CUNY schools.

“The training for medics is standardized across all branches of the armed services,” said Professor Tarasko. “Our mission is to provide them with additional skills through a bridge program so that qualified candidates may enter our nursing program.”

The Veterans Initiative for Accelerated Access in the Nursing Program at QCC will feature a specialized team of nursing faculty and administrators, including Kevin Stevens, Coordinator of Veterans Affairs in the Office of Veterans Affairs.

“This is huge step forward in working toward a military-friendly campus model,” said Mr. Stevens, who estimated that approximately 300 Veterans are currently enrolled at Queensborough.

soldiersProfessor and Project Director Georgina Colalillo said, “The first challenge we face is identifying students who want to be nurses and already have the military training.  The next step is to develop an appropriate curriculum.”

“We believe Veterans can have career transition and ability as well as credit for their expertise,” said Professor Carol Soto, who is heading Curriculum Development and Design. “The program will afford them the opportunity to enter the nursing program and achieve upward mobility.”

Currently there are some 4,200 Veterans attending two and four-year colleges across CUNY with a vast number of additional troops expected to be returning soon from Afghanistan, many of whom will be in need of support services as they begin navigating CUNY’s academic terrain.

Gail Patterson, Advisor for the Health Related Sciences Academy offered her perspective. “My role will be to help Veterans connect to the College’s many academic resources, and encourage them to check in with me on a regular basis.”

Additional team leaders for The City University of New York include Lisa Beatha, Director of CUNY Course & Transfer Information.

Veteran and QCC Alum Pursues a New Calling in Healthcare

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Eric Kim, ʻ12, R.N., who resides with his family in Bellerose, Queens, graduated fromQueensborough in December of 2012 with an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Nursing.

Eric served stateside as a U.S. Marine Corps Radio Operator in the Communications Battalion from 1996-2002. In that capacity, he traveled around the country for other units and to train with various divisions. He also interacted with Navy Hospital Corpsmen, with whom he felt a “strong camaraderie and a profound respect for their bravery on the battlefield.” His inspiring experiences with medical orderlies planted a seed that would grow in the years to come.

During Eric’s duties as a Marine Reservist, he enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice because “it felt like a natural next step,” however, he realized that it wasn’t the right time for him to return to school and so he entered the international wholesale courier industry field, in which he worked for the next decade.

In the midst of this period, a member of Eric’s immediate family became extremely ill and was hospitalized for many weeks. The long days and nights in the I.C.U. gave him ample opportunity to observe the complexities of medical care, especially from a nurses’ perspective.

“Watching what my loved one went through awoke a calling in me,” said Eric.  “I made a commitment to myself to be part of something bigger, to have a fulfilling career, to become a good nurse.”

Eric described being attracted to the Nursing program at Queensborough because of its renowned reputation as one the strongest and largest nursing programs in New York State.

He remembers that, upon enrolling in 2009, he was greeted with personalized support and encouragement from faculty and administrators who urged him to continue his education.

Eric added, “Just as important was connecting with other Veterans at QCC who understood not only what we’d all been through together but also what it was like for us to be back in school.”

Upon graduation from Queensborough, Eric received the Eva Bobrow Nursing Award in memory of Abdul Bodden, “for a graduate who exhibits excellent academic performance and high professional standards.” “Eric is truly worthy of this award,” said Anne Marie Menendez, Professor and Chairperson, Nursing.

Eric passed the NCLEX-RN in March of 2013 and is in the process of applying for positions as a Registered Nurse in Hospital Emergency Rooms. He is also pursuing an RN-BSN degree at Drexel University Online.

When asked what advice he would offer fellow Veterans, he said, “You can shine in school and in a new career, just as you did on the battlefield. You may wear a different uniform or be in a different surrounding, but your positive attitude can transfer into a rewarding civilian life.”