BY KRISTA DEANGELIS, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC & MEDIA RELATIONS, WESTMINSTER COLLEGE
On september 11, 2015, westminster College in Salt Lake City opened the doors to its first-ever Center for Veteran and Military Services (CVMS). On the symbolic date of 9-11, the college hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, which recognized the sacrifices of those who have served their country and announced the creation of a center that will support Westminster’s veterans and military community.
Westminster’s thriving military population includes more than 130 student-veterans and dependents, and over 90 ROTC students who attend the institution. As Utah’s only private, independent liberal arts college, Westminster hopes the new center will become a welcoming and attractive place for veterans throughout the state who are looking to go back to school.
“With our small class sizes, exceptional undergraduate and graduate degree options, and the personalized attention and relationships our students have with their faculty, Westminster is a great fit for veterans,” said Sylvia O’Hara, director of the CVMS. “Now that we have a designated veterans center that can serve as a one-stop-shop for veteran resources and information, we hope to support the needs of all our veterans and continue to grow our military population in the future.”
The establishment of the new center and director positon was made possible by generous lead gifts from alumna, trustee and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kim T. Adamson, and the R. Harold Burton Foundation. O’Hara, a former Utah Army National Guardsman, was hired as the full-time CVMS director and hopes the center will help will be a resource for the campus.
“I want students to take advantage of the space and use it to build community,” O’Hara said. “I want the space to provide a platform for success, and I also want the campus to see the center as a resource for questions and education.”
Westminster’s 1,100-square-foot CVMS showcases the five branches of the military on its windows in etched glass.
The center offers support for veteran-benefits counseling and resources, a lounge, TV and coffee bar, director’s offices, a conference area, and study space. It also includes a reception area to house a Veterans Administration (VA) student-worker position. Corbin Catmull, who worked in logistical management and operations in the U.S. Marines before attending Westminster, was hired as the current VA student worker and helps fellow veterans acclimate to college life. “I’m excited to be able to interact and work with other veterans as we try to transition them from service members to civilians to students—that’s quite a process,” Catmull said. “Being able to do that with others—as a group or as a community—makes that transition much more fluid.”
The center has already hosted several events to help students with the transition process and build awareness and community within the Westminster campus. From hosting book clubs and financial aid sessions to inviting the campus to make cards and care packages for its inaugural Veterans Day event, the CVMS has been
a busy place.
“We hope to build a community that stands out, just like Westminster does academically—a place where the vets feel most comfortable and that resonates with everybody,” added Catmull. “So far, every student who has come through the door has commented on how awesome the center is and how grateful they are that
CENTER FOR VETERAN AND MILITARY SERVICES
Westminster’s new 1,100 square-foot Center for Veteran and Military Services (CVMS) is located in Walker Hall and provides a relaxing place for student-veterans to meet and connect with campus and community resources. The CVMS serves more than 130 student-veterans and their dependents, and over 90 Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students at Westminster. The center includes:
• A full-time, dedicated director focused on serving the Westminster military community
• A Veterans Affairs (VA) student worker
• Office space to host representatives from the VA, financial aid, counseling center, etc.
• Free computer, fax, copy, and printing for student use
• A coffee bar and microwave
• Free coffee/cocoa
• GI Bill counseling
• A conference table and study area for meetings and tutoring
• Lounge space with 80” TV, DVD player, and oversized sofa
• A place for camaraderie
• Veteran-to-veteran tutoring and mentoring