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New center will help military students at UALR

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Zulma Toro and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson cut the ribbon on UALR's new Military Student Success Center Dec. 16 in the UALR Speech Building. Photo by Rayna Mackey.

When Stelicia Christian was ready to use her military education benefits at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, she was not sure where to have her questions answered. 

With the opening of a new UALR Military Student Success Center, the 23-year-old senior history major and Arkansas National Guard member is looking forward to the convenience of having the university’s military student resources in one location in the UALR Speech Communication building.

“I’m very excited about the center,” Christian said. “Other students will have an easier time than I did with everything being in a centralized location. It will make everything much easier and make UALR a more welcoming place for military students to take classes.”

The center will serve as a place where military students can socialize, study, and get information about available resources. The 1,634-square-foot facility has a computer area, where military students can do homework, as well as a lounge area and a break room.

The center will house a veteran student support team that includes representatives from the offices of admissions, records and registration, transfer student services, financial aid and veterans benefits, academic advising, student health, mental health counseling, career advising, disabilities resource center, and UALR’s military student support organization, Students Affected by the Military.

UALR Chancellor Andrew Rogerson called the center another example of the university’s commitment to its military students.

“While many of us go about our day-to-day lives, our military students manage the delicate balance of their commitment to serve our country, civilian life, academia, and a host of other responsibilities,” Rogerson said. “We hope this center will make that balance easier and provide you with additional resources, comradery, and a sense of connection.”

Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and Provost Zulma Toro recognized the efforts of Kathy Oliverio, UALR director of military student success, Cheryl Kleeman, veterans affairs coordinator in UALR’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and Sherry Rankins-Robertson, associate vice chancellor for student success and online education, and their teams for the hard work needed to get the center running.   

“They have been trying to get this going for at least three or four years, and finally it’s a reality,” said Toro, who is leaving UALR to become president of Central Connecticut State University on Jan. 3. “What a way for me to wrap up my tenure as provost at UALR. I would really like to express my appreciation for the military students. We really appreciate you. We are very thankful to your service to the country.”

The center was funded by a $9,963 grant from Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation. The grant is part of the Vet Center Initiative, which was created in 2014 to support the Student Veterans of America mission to provide veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and after they graduate.

“This is really a time to celebrate,” Oliverio said. “It’s a great time for our military students and their success at UALR. It would not be possible without the Student Veterans of America and the Home Depot grant, and for that, I am ever so grateful.”

Several special guests attended the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 16. Attendees included: Anita Deason, military liaison for Sen. John Boozman; David Carnahan, military liaison for Congressman French Hill; Steve Eggensberger, military liaison for Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Little Rock Air Force Base Education Officer Michael Jones; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Vocational Rehabilitation Director Trena Hyde; and Mike Ross, Mark Diggs, and Bill Asti, members of Veterans Villages of America board of directors.

In the upper right photo, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Zulma Toro and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson cut the ribbon on UALR’s new Military Student Success Center Dec. 16 in the UALR Speech Building. Photo by Rayna Mackey.