GVSU program supports veterans with degree completion

group of people around table
At left, Antonia Gordon participates in a financial literacy workshop at Veterans Upward Bound.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Nearly five months after opening its doors, the Veterans Upward Bound program at Grand Valley is doing as promised — supporting area veterans who want to complete a college degree.

Antonia Gordon is one example. Gordon served four years in the Army and is now a member of the Army Reserve. She enrolled at Grand Valley but found it a difficult place to navigate without knowing what resources and services were available.

"My family members were not familiar with the college experience, and couldn't understand why I just didn't want to keep working at my same job," Gordon said.

Through VUB, Gordon attends workshops and meets regularly with an advisor, gaining information on study skills and budgeting. She said she feels better prepared to tackle the upcoming fall semester at Grand Valley, where she will major in public and nonprofit administration, with a concentration on personnel management. 

"I got a reenlistment bonus and the financial workshop taught me how to manage that money and set up a budget," she said.

Last fall, Grand Valley received a $1.3 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a TRIO Veterans Upward Bound program, providing free academic support services to low-income veterans from Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties who want to complete degree programs at any college or university. The office officially opened its doors in January.

Tim Marroquin, director of VUB, said staff members are busy recruiting participants like Gordon, reaching out through area veterans organizations and attending community events.

Participants enrolled in VUB undergo assessments to assist with placement and can choose from online coursework or other services based on their individual plans; tutoring services are also available. Workshops are available in various topics: resume building, time management, study skills and budgeting.

Learn more about VUB at gvsu.edu/vub or call (616) 331-8387.