KCC makes Military Friendly School list
Posted On: 07/27/20
Kankakee Community College is one of only 11 Illinois community colleges selected for the 2020 Guide to Military Friendly Schools, published in conjunction with “G.I. Jobs” magazine.
“When I started going to school I had expected the worst,” said Shyanne Jackson, an active Illinois National Guard member. “Thankfully, online classes and the veterans section of KCC’s financial aid department helped me every step of the way. I use my benefits for school and every semester I need help. When I do need help, KCC is always there for me.”
Typically, KCC has 70 veterans who enroll each year, according to the college’s Office of Financial Aid. Among veterans, there were 36 KCC student veterans who utilized VA Education benefits in Spring 2020.
“KCC's veteran services have been a huge help furthering my education,” said Ron Griffin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “Dealing with VA benefits can sometimes be a headache, but Kendra does a fantastic job of helping you through the process of applying and using your benefits the right way.”
"KCC is proud to be designated as a Military Friendly School,” said Kendra Souligne, coordinator of financial aid and veterans services. “We are committed to assisting those who served or are currently serving in the U.S. military and their family members as they transition into the college setting.
“Our main role is to guide them in utilizing their federal and state VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) educational benefits and financial aid. We also offer referral sources within the community and state to assist them with benefits beyond education."
In 2016, KCC opened the Veteran’s Resource Center offering resources such as computers, a meeting area, a lounge, and a Vet Center student assistant.
“The KCC Veterans Association, an approved chapter of Student Veterans of America, provides a community atmosphere, camaraderie, a gateway to leadership development, and accessibility to benefits,” Souligne said.
The military friendly schools list has 29 Illinois colleges on it. KCC is one of only 11 Illinois community colleges listed.
According to Victory Media, which publishes “GI Jobs,” schools were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from its own survey.
Military-friendly attributes of Kankakee Community College
• Full-time advisers on staff
• Priority registration
• Local veterans representatives to help with career placement
• Scholarships for military students and veterans
• Veteran’s Center, which is staffed and offers dedicated resources
• The Veterans Association is an approved chapter of the Student Veterans of America.
• Military students called to active service return without penalty
• In-district tuition for CH. 33 Post 9/11 and CH. 30 Montgomery GI Bill recipients
• Awards credit for College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and/or DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams
• Accepts the ACE recommendations for awarding credit for CLEP and/or DSST
• Gives college credit for military training and experience
• Annual military friendly events: Veteran Stole Ceremony for graduating service members and a Veteran Recognition Ceremony.
• Disability Services
• Tutoring Services
Veterans’ experiences at KCC
“Kendra guided me through the entire process of getting started at KCC. I actually told my girlfriend the other day that I don’t think I would have enrolled in classes if it weren’t for Kendra. I absolutely utilize my VA education benefits, and I’ve made good use of the Vet Center. It’s nice to have a place to isolate myself from distractions and focus on work that needs to be completed.”
- Scott Kidd, Illinois National Guard veteran (2020 KCC graduate)
“After six years on active duty, I decided to transfer into the reserves and go back to school. KCC’s veteran services was amazing. They helped me utilize my Post 9/11 benefits and helped ease the transition back into civilian life. I have since graduated with an AAS and have gained full employment at Carle foundation hospital as a Registered Respiratory Therapist.”
- Lydia Salgado, U.S. Navy veteran (2019 KCC graduate)
“I’m currently a 91B in the Illinois Army National Guard. I enlisted in November of 2015 with goals of being a nurse in the military someday. Kankakee Community College helped me find that passion at one of their school events. When I started going to school I had expected the worst. Thankfully online classes and the veterans section of KCC’s financial aid department helped me every step of the way. I use my benefits for school and every semester I need help. When I do need help, KCC is always there for me. They make school as stress-free for me as they can. I email any questions about anything you can think of and it’s answered within 24 hours most of the time. I’ve also utilized the KCC Veterans Association for a multitude of reasons. I’ve met other vets and heard their stories and connected with some of them. I even saw faces I thought I’d never see again. I will continue to choose KCC for as long as I can, because I know I will be taken good care of.”
– Shyanne Jackson, Illinois National Guard, active
I graduated from KCC in 2005 with my associates in Early Childhood Education. I used the IVG (Illinois Veterans Grant) as well as Montgomery GI bill to attend school. Although when I attended KCC there was not a veterans association on campus at the time I attended, I felt very welcome at KCC and was supported immensely. At the time I was attending KCC, I don’t think that there were a lot of veterans going to school there. If there were, I was not aware of it. About seven or eight years ago, I was interested in going back to school and earning my bachelors’, I had credits left on my IVG to use, so I re-enrolled at KCC and was welcomed with open arms. I took online courses to earn more credits toward a bachelor’s degree. In the meantime, I was offered a job as the superintendent for veterans assistance of Iroquois County. I took it!!! The rest is history. I am a veteran that now helps veterans with veteran stuff!!! My education at KCC has helped this old sailor be successful in the lives of other veterans.
- Jennifer Ingram, U.S. Navy veteran (2005 KCC graduate)
“KCC's veteran services have been a huge help furthering my education. Dealing with VA benefits can sometimes be a headache, but Kendra does a fantastic job of helping you through the process of applying and using your benefits the right way. Whether using the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Illinois Veterans Grant (IVG), KCC's veteran services provided me with a non-stressful process toward getting my educational benefits rolling. The KCC Veteran's Center is also a huge perk at KCC. It's a great spot for hanging out, getting some snacks, studying, or just taking a much needed break. The best part about it is that it has provided me a place to meet other veteran or military connected students, staff, and members of the community; and it has been a helpful medium for all of us toward building a network and supporting each other.”
– Ron Griffin, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“I have utilized all of these services such as the VA educational benefits, the Vet center from time to time and Guidance. The Vet Center was a great place to work on assignments and get guidance from fellow Veterans. Other Veterans were able to recommend which classes and professors to take. If I ever struggled with an essay or anything schoolwork-related the fellow Veterans were able to give me tremendous help! Also having Kendra made the VA education system super easy to enroll. I highly recommend any Veteran who needs educational benefits to check out KCC, because of the outstanding services that are there! KCC is definitely above the rest in helping out Veterans!” - Michael Brady, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
About the photos:
In February, the KCC Veterans Association held its annual fundraiser for 1Pet1Vet, a not-for-profit organization that pairs companion, emotional support, and certified service dogs with military veterans coping with Post-Traumatic Stress.
In February 2020, veterans (left to right) Ron Griffin, Brandon Rock, Aleshia Rabideau, Dustin Blaylock, John Shivers gathered in KCC’s Veteran’s Resource Center.