Veterans Services Center celebrates success

When student assistant Brian Bankston answers the phones at the SF State Veterans Services Center, he has a good idea of what questions he will hear and which campus resources he is going to tap into for help. Not long ago the former U.S. Marine was on the other end of the phone line.

A photo of six veterans with Vet Center cooridinator Rogelio Manaois

SF State veterans gather at the center. Standing (from left): Ryan Anderson, Baron Haas, Rogelio Manaois, Brian Bankston, Bobby Scharff. Kneeling (from left): Michael Bloom, Shea Caspersen

"I must have had a hundred questions and called almost every day with a new one, " Bankston said. "I was going to a community college, I had other college credits and I had to find out which of these I could use and what I still needed to successfully apply to SF State."

The Veterans Services Center serves more than 750 students on campus -- veterans, reservists and dependents of service-related, disabled or deceased veterans -- answering a range of questions on such issues as admissions, priority registration and getting the most out of one’s G.I. benefits.  Located within the Career Center on the second floor of the Student Services Building, the center’s staff, student assistants and volunteers also provide support and connections to other resources both on campus and in the community. The center celebrates its first anniversary this Veterans Day.

Currently 430 veterans and 323 dependents of veterans are students at SF State, according to Veterans Services Coordinator Rogelio Manaois, who is a U.S. Army veteran. A map of the world on the center’s wall indicates where veterans were last deployed. Colored pins representing the different military branches indicate deployments across the globe. While the center currently serves some Vietnam War era veterans and dependents and one veteran of World War II, most of the veterans at SF State have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"These are very motivated students, who are eager to pursue careers," Manaois said. "Most of them already have college or community college credits and want our help to focus on the classes and requirements they need to graduate in the most efficient amount of time."

For Bankston, a business management major, the help he received when calling SF State -- and the support he has since received at the Veterans Services Center -- really paid off. He has his career path clearly mapped, hoping to finish up his undergraduate degree and then apply to the University’s MBA program that has an emphasis in sustainability.

In addition to helping veterans maximize the use of their G.I. benefits and make the transition to college life, the Veterans Services Center staff and volunteers organize special activities and events.  They are planning a graduation reception for veterans. Scheduled for April 2012, it will recognize 2011 and 2012 graduates and will also feature a veteran appreciation component. They hope it becomes an annual event.  A student-to-student mentoring program is also in the works.

The Veterans Services Center will celebrate its first anniversary on Nov. 9 with refreshments in its office throughout the day and a Resource Fair that features, among other informational tables, an “Ask a Vet” table staffed by SF State veterans from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Centennial Walkway.  

The Veterans Services Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, visit the Veterans Services Center website, call (415) 338-2336 or e-mail Veterans or reservists interested in applying for admission to SF State should visit the prospective student's page.

-- Denize Springer