In honor of Veterans Week at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, we profile a student veteran.
When a hip injury ended her military career, Kaylin Rosal turned to Cuyamaca College to get the education she needed to start her civilian career.
The 30-year-old Spring Valley resident, who was medically discharged in April after two years in the Navy, enrolled at Cuyamaca last summer under the new G.I. Bill.
“I really appreciated the fact that as a veteran, I had priority registration,” Rosal said.
Rosal said her first semester back in school was intimidating.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” she said, pointing out that in the military, a person gets used to following directives nearly every waking hour and not having to make any decisions on one’s own. “I didn’t know what forms to fill out, who they go to, where to get them – nothing.”
With help she received from Cuyamaca’s veterans services office, Rosal said she gained confidence in herself and became attuned to the paperwork process to consistently receive the VA benefits that have allowed her to continue her education.
Still, accustomed to a strict military regimen, Rosal said getting acclimated to life as a student was a bit disconcerting at times.
Some changes were unexpected, like the simple act of walking outdoors while carrying something in her right hand. On a military base, she explained, uniformed personnel aren’t allowed to walk with anything in their right, or saluting, hand in case they encounter a senior officer.
“Talking on the phone or texting while you walk was new, as was eating or drinking while in motion,” she said. “All these things I had to remind myself that it’s OK to do now. The biggest thing for me is waking up every morning and not putting on a uniform. I really miss that.”
These days, she’s busy with her classes and her part-time job as a student worker at the veterans’ counseling office at Cuyamaca, where she helps with phones and assisting other student veterans.
The nursing major is currently completing her prerequisite courses and plans to transfer into the nursing program at either Grossmont College or San Diego State University.