What started with just two desks in a cramped space on the first floor of Building 6, and where students often had to sit on the floor, has now grown into a sizable and inviting place on campus for student veterans. Located in Room 111 in Building 23, the newly improved Veterans Resource Center is now open.
“When I got out of the military back in 1990 there was nothing—nothing like this,” said Kendall Evans, Veterans Services Specialist. “Now, this generation of veterans are finding ways to bridge that gap and come back together and better themselves and their communities.”
Students can use this space and its resources to support their academic and social activities. With designated areas for studying and hosting club meetings, along with access to a printer and both standard and ADA-compliant computers, the center accommodates various needs.
Additionally, amenities such as a fridge, coffee, microwave and water dispenser are available and snacks are provided weekly by the Community Pantry.
The purpose of this space is to “help welcome [student veterans] back and help them understand that Highline cares.” Evans said.
Most importantly, students can engage with a tight-knit community that understands them best.
“I’m a veteran and ‘you can’t understand me’ is this belief that goes on in our head because you haven’t had this same experience,” said Evans. “Well, the people that this space is made for have that experience and can share that like-minded experience…and work with each other to get through those dark periods of time.”
Evans explained how challenging it was to leave the military and enter higher education. “It wasn’t until I reconnected with veterans that I saw new possibilities and most of that occurred while I was a student at Highline.” It’s spaces like these that help encourage student veterans to succeed.
The development and funding process for the Veterans Resource Center involved creative approaches.
Late last year, minor renovations were underway in Building 23 to support development plans for the campus. These pre-existing projects provided the groundwork for the Veterans Resource Center to seamlessly repurpose and revitalize one of the unused rooms during updates. Changes to the space included the installation of LED lighting, replacing carpeting, adding a whiteboard, and implementing a large monitor with a video conferencing system.
In 2023, King County Councilmember, Dave Upthegrove and Major Pete Von Reichbauer (Ret.) from the Veterans Service Organizations Grant Program provided $10,000 to support veterans programs at Highline College.
This financial support will help provide emergency funds to assist student veterans facing financial gaps in pursuing their education.
In addition, the collaboration with the United States Marine Corp (USMC) Support Group and Highline College Foundation will further enhance Highline’s veterans programs.
The overall long-term goal for the Veterans Resource Center is to help increase the retention and graduation rates of our student veterans. With the assistance and support provided by this program, student veterans can achieve their academic and future career goals at Highline College.
Evans leaves one final note about the significance of this space, “It’s a lot of work, a lot of worry, a lot of stress, but in the end, in June, they get to relish in their accomplishment and walk across the stage. I get to join them. I get to sit there and watch this as they explore new worlds because of their education.”