Northeast State awarded Veteran Reconnect grant
By TOM WILSON
Aug 23, 2018 at 6:42 PM
BLOUNTVILLE — Northeast State Community College is one of 14 colleges and universities in Tennessee to be awarded funding from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) through the Veteran Reconnect grant for 2018-19. The college will receive $80,000 of the the grant’s total of $889,277.
The Veteran Reconnect grant focuses on improving the assessment of prior learning for student veterans by awarding academic credit, when applicable, based on their military training. The NSCC Office of Veterans Affairs plans to use the grant to hire a prior learning assessment (PLA) credentials coordinator. This person will work with academic deans and student affairs staff to identify academic credit markers for a student veteran’s military experience.
“With the addition of the military PLA credentials coordinator, we plan to improve our process for awarding and managing prior learning assessment credit for our service members and veterans,” said Jessica Kelso, director of Veterans Affairs for NSCC. “By doing this, we can potentially shorten students’ track to graduation.”
The full Veteran Reconnect grant supports programs and services for student veterans at campuses across the state. THEC also provides technical assistance to Veteran Reconnect campuses around prior learning assessment for veterans. Veteran Reconnect is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase educational attainment in the state to 55 percent by the year 2025.
Prior learning assessment at colleges and universities examines a veteran’s earned military qualifications. Veterans are granted equivalent college credit for those skills attained during service.
NSCC currently awards some specific academic credit, with the remainder being applied as a military elective credit. Office of Veterans Affairs specialist John Adcox, himself a United States Army veteran, said the grant puts a student veteran on a fast track to complete a technical certificate or associate’s degree. He also noted the PLA eased the challenge veterans faced when all their military training did not translate into academic credit.
The NSCC Office of Veterans Affairs operates veterans centers on the Blountville, Johnson City, and Kingsport campuses, provides a dedicated student advisor and hosts veterans-specific orientations. A chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) organization was established in 2013. NSCC served 179 student veterans who completed the fall 2017 semester. NSCC was named a Top Ten Award winner in the small community college category of the Military Friendly Schools list for 2018. The college is a THEC-certified Veterans Education Transition Support campus.