AN: $500,000 grant will help provide FSCJ veteran students a case manager

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FSCJ to provide all-around support for Veterans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new grant is helping our veterans succeed at the Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ). ―

The Veterans Service Center at FSCJ is here to provide all-around support to veterans and help them reach their academic goals. Now, a $500,000 grant from The U.S. Department of Education will strengthen that mission.

The grant, which will be disbursed over three years, helped hire Raquel Gonzalez, a case manager and career specialist.

“The most rewarding thing for me is seeing a student succeed,” she said. Gonzalez is now overlooking 300 different students, including Terrence Johnson.

Johnson went to college, then left for the Navy, and is now back to pursue his aerospace engineering degree.

“It takes a lot of stress off,” he said of having Gonzalez there to guide him. “A lot of stuff that I probably wouldn’t understand.”

“Now I know exactly what I have to do,” he added. “And every time I complete one of those checks in a box it’s just one step closer.”

The hope is to enroll more students like Johnson, which will in turn help hire more case managers after the grant expires.

“We think we can sustain it by getting a new case manager, let’s say full-time at the college, for the salaries and benefits by bringing in more tuition,” explained Retired United States Navy Rear Admiral James Stevenson, the Executive Director of FSCJ’s Military & Veterans Services.

Case managers can be invaluable because they often have the kind of insight that goes beyond the academic, in order to address any kind of concern or obstacle veteran students have. Much like the way Gonzalez is constantly looking out for Johnson.

She calls me throughout the week to ask me if I need anything or how I’m doing,” he pointed out. “It’s always nice to know someone’s got your back.”