College Credit for Heroes initiative grows

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The Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) College Credit for Heroes initiative hit a major milestone in May when its second phase was launched, expanding current program offerings. Launched in 2011, the initiative develops streamlined degree paths and workforce certifications in order to expedite military veterans’ transition into the Texas workforce. The new phase of the initiative will expand the program to other regions of the state and include development of accelerated curricula in a number of new career fields, such as information technology, firefighting, advanced manufacturing, logistics, wind engineering, and oil field technology.

Timothy Kennedy, a former corporal in the U. S. Marine Corps, is enrolled in a 12-week Fast Track Field Service Technician Marketable Skills award program at Lone Star College (LSC) through the College Credit for Heroes initiative, which prepares student veterans for employment in the oil and gas industry.

“It is amazing to see that my military training is actually paying off,” said Kennedy. “I already have these skills and am ready to apply them to a future career.”

The first phase of the College Credit for Heroes initiative focused on developing accelerated curricula for student military veterans to earn associate degrees and certifications in allied health fields such as emergency medical services, surgical technology, respiration therapy, and nursing. In addition to expanding the initiative to other colleges and fields of study, the new phase will also include the introduction of accelerated curricula for bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

“I am so proud of the progress College Credit for Heroes has made toward rewarding Texas’ military veterans with college credit for the experience and training gained through their service to our country,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Expanding the initiative to include more educational partners and career pathways will enhance the academic and employment opportunities for our Texas heroes.”

LSC outlined and reported the research findings of the Texas Inter-College Council on Veterans in the initiative’s first phase, identifying and proposing solutions to barriers to employment and education facing student veterans. LSC’s participation in the initiative continues to evolve in the second phase through the creation of the Fast Track Field Service Technician Marketable Skills award program in which Kennedy is enrolled.

“This kind of quick turnaround and success is just what a student needs to see that he or she can be successful in college,” said Tina Dealy, a former U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard staff sergeant and program coordinator for LSC Corporate College. “It also can help create a lifelong learner, which makes for a better employee and higher wages.”

The Fast Track Skills award program provides the students with credit courses in AC/DC circuits, hydraulics and pneumatics, motor control, and programmable controller classes that can also be applied to an associate degree. Students also may be able to apply their GI Bill educational benefits and receive housing allowances.

According to Dealy, the award program has shown promising results. “Nearly all of the 23 students in our pilot program were placed in jobs where they earn a median salary of $72,000,” said Dealy. “The average person in the current program came out of the military with a rank of corporal, which means, at most, they made a base salary of less than $30,000.”

LSC’s Fast Track Skills award program is just one example of how College Credit for Heroes improves opportunities for veterans.  The initiative also launched www.collegecreditforheroes.org in 2012, a web-based application and database for veterans and service members to receive an official evaluation of credit that can be used at colleges and universities throughout the state. Texas veterans who used the website have been awarded an average of 25 credit hours.

For a full list of academic opportunities available through College Credit for Heroes, visit
www.collegecreditforheroes.org/ccfh.

Laura Ybarra

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