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Johnson C. Smith Veteran’s Hub continues to boost academic support for those who served

CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 8, 2019 – North Carolina has one of the country’s largest military veteran populations. Those who choose to attend post-graduate institutions are not your typical students; they’re usually older, may have more responsibilities and often require more flexibility to obtain a degree.

Johnson C. Smith University supports its veteran students through the Veteran’s Hub housed in Metropolitan College. 

Maurice Hanns ’20, who served in the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1992, is one of 70 veterans enrolled at JCSU. Hanns who is preparing for graduation in the spring, originally had his eyes set on another institution, but is glad he chose Smith.

“I try to get other veterans to come here,” he said.

Hanns, who transferred from Central Piedmont Community College, especially loves the attention he receives at JCSU. He has smaller class sizes, the ability to have one-on-one moments with professors and more opportunities to do research. 

“There has not been one teacher that I've had that hasn't helped me,” Hanns said. “It was different here because these people generally wanted to help.” 

Another reason Hanns has been able to thrive at Smith is because of Dr. Cheryl Curtis, Director of Educational Enhancement Services who runs the Veterans Hub in Metropolitan College. Curtis not only helps veterans with their transition she advocates for them. As Hanns emphasized, “She's not afraid to speak on our behalf”. 

“As the spouse of a retired combat veteran who graduated from JCSU, this advocacy, this work, is a calling for which I have a passion to answer,“ Curtis exclaimed.

Under her leadership, JCSU is expected to begin accepting Joint Services Transcripts spring 2020. JST is a synchronized transcript that includes data from the United States Army, Marine Corps. Navy and Coast Guard. The American Council on Education will consider test scores, data and experiences during their time in service for course credit. 

In addition, Curtis is working with consultants and NC STRIVE (Student Transition Resource Initiative for Veteran’s Education) to insure that the University will be able to offer Military/Veteran Student cultural competency trainings. She is also in the process of completing the application to offer military work-study opportunities for Veterans and military student enrolled at the University.

“To graduate students with additional work experience is exciting to me,“ Curtis said. 

Curtis’ efforts don’t stop there. She is also an elected member of the Piedmont Veteran Coalition (PVC).

“If the Veteran or their family has a need, no matter whether that need is successful transition from military service to higher education, combating food insecurity, homelessness, connection with on-campus or off-campus supports, I serve as a liaison to provide those information or services to them,” she explained.

Metropolitan College, in partnership with GSPAR, will honor veterans during the week of November 11, 2019. Laura Colson McLean, dean of Metropolitan College, will hand deliver and distribute thank you bags to veterans on campus. The bags include JCSU paraphernalia and a note of thanks for their service and choosing JCSU.  

“I also plan to schedule a desserts and dialogue event with veterans during the month of November to hear firsthand from the group collectively on the things that we are doing well in order to support them, and ways we can work to improve to assist them and those who follow behind them,” McLean added.

Hanns feels supported at JCSU, but would like to see more campus events to bring veterans together. He plans to use his degree in computer information systems to design apps following graduation next semester.

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