As the GI Bill® was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, America celebrated its 75th anniversary on June 22, 2019. This commemorative day honors servicewomen and servicemen who have pursued the opportunity of resuming their education. NOVA recognizes the dedication these women and men have had to serve in the military, and the perseverance and commitment it takes to pursue higher levels of education at the college.
NOVA, an institution officially recognized to be Military Friendly® offers an array of services to assist those transitioning from military service into civilian life. The Military Friendly® Schools list is created each year based on extensive research using public data sources for more than 8,800 schools nationwide, input from student veterans, and responses to the proprietary, data-driven Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions.
The college has a culture of accessibility, and this adheres to the culture of most community colleges. However, what makes NOVA stand out in the region is its’s commitment to success to a widely diverse student body. Currently, the college is comprised of 15% military, former military personnel, or military family members. NOVA has 3,500 students using veterans education benefits a semester through the GI Bill. NOVA is authorized by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to certify students who qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty/Selected Reserves), Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program, Reserve Education Assistance Program, and those who qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Vocational Rehabilitation. However, in making sure that these resources are provided with a personable touch, NOVA has dedicated team of veteran’s advisors on campus that are ready to address concerns and needs that veterans may face.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which manages benefits and services that veterans, service member, of their family can obtain through the GI Bill – like resources for health care, disability, education, and loans for a business or home -- has highlighted multiple service members across the nation on their website who utilized this investment from the VA. A recent NOVA graduate as pictured on the VA’s page, Narges Safdari, speaks about what the GI Bill has done for her and her family. For her, studying at the college now allows her to have a different life to be there for her children.
As a former Marine, Narges was a Staff Sergeant and Electrician working on F-18s, and was also a martial arts instructor. When she left the Marine Corps, the GI Bill gave her a lot of opportunities to carefully pick whatever career path she wanted to pursue. She recently graduated from the Dental Hygiene program here at NOVA. As a single mother, she is very involved in her two children’s school activities, and the courses she has taken at NOVA have provided her with the ability to work in the dental office in Fairfax with more flexible hours allowing her to be available for her family.
Upon further recognition of the institution’s efforts for providing resources to military students, NOVA was represented at a Virginia state sponsored event in Richmond to celebrate the anniversary of the GI Bill. The event was held at John Tyler Community College on Friday, June 21st -- and featured other speakers from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Central Virginia Better Business Bureau and other higher educational institution leaders as well as GI Bill recipients. On behalf of NOVA making remarks on a panel were; Takesha McMiller, Director of Military & Veteran Services; Ronny Romero, Veteran and School Certifying Official; and Elsy Morataya, a NOVA Veteran Student.
Takesha A. McMiller is the Director of Military and Veterans Services of Northern Virginia Community College. She is a military spouse, as her husband served in the United States Air Force. She is responsible for managing one of the largest military and veteran program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Takesha has been successful in streamlining the college military and veteran processes across the college six campuses. She collaborated with the United Way of the National Capitol Area, and was awarded a veteran success grant to help improve transition and education advising services to military students. She currently, serves as the President of Virginia Association of School Certifying Officials (VASCO) a new organization in which she help established in June 2018. She also serves on the Board of Director for the National Association Veterans Program Administrators (NAVPA); she serves on many taskforce representing veterans and cybersecurity initiatives. Takesha was recognized by, Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education, in 2018 as Educator of the Year.
Ronny Romero, who enlisted in the United States Army as a Chemicals Operations Specialist, 74D served for 12 years and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. He participated in four deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He received numerous awards for his service; including a Meritorious Service Medal Award and four Army Commendation Medals. After leaving service, Ronny attended NOVA and obtained an associate’s degree, and is continuing his education at George Mason. Currently, Ronny works at NOVA as a Veterans Liaison for Workforce Development, and assists other veterans in their education goals.
Elsy Morataya, who also provided remarks at the event from the current student perspective was a former U.S. Army Reserves member. She is finishing up her associate’s degree at NOVA utilizing the GI bill. She plans to continue using the GI Bill to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia.
NOVA echoes the backing of serving the nation’s military members by stating, that although the ‘Uniform May Change, the Support Remains the Same.’ The college will always continue this legacy of support.
# # #
Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.