Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rep. Susan Davis visits Grossmont College

Chancellor Cindy Miles, Rep. Susan Davis, Grossmont
College President Sunny Cooke, and Board President
Bill Garrett at Grossmont's Griffin Center
Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) toured Grossmont College on Tuesday, praising the East County college for its strong support of student military veterans and the high-tech training it offers for aspiring nurses and other health professionals in the classrooms and labs of the Health and Sciences Complex .
Davis marveled at how much Grossmont College had changed in recent years with a bevy of new and remodeled buildings constructed with funding from Proposition R, a construction bond measure approved by East County voters in 2002.
“You have such a treasure here and the resources you have are really second to none,” Davis said of Grossmont College campus following her campus tour.
As the representative for the 53rd Congressional District, which includes El Cajon, San Carlos, La Mesa, Lake Murray and Spring Valley in the East County, Davis was following up on an invitation for a tour of the college from a college district delegation that met with her in Washington, D.C. in February.
As a former military spouse and the daughter of a World War II medic, as well as a past member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Davis has a long interest in matters involving those who have served in the nation’s defense. She is also a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, and has made education one of her signature issues.

Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, joined by Governing Board President Bill Garrett and Grossmont College President Sunita “Sunny” Cooke, gave the congresswoman an overview of what the district is doing to meet the educational needs of the 2,000 veterans and dependents enrolled in Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.
With more than 2.2 million veterans, California has the largest veteran population in the nation, she noted. Many of the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will turn to community college to get their education.
“At our colleges, we are very purposeful with our services to veterans and we always want to do more,” Miles said. “We know they need very specific counseling and support services after the experiences they have had.”
In a small office currently serving as the temporary site for Grossmont College’s Veterans Resource Center, Davis talked to veterans who gather inside the cramped quarters to study and to share their college experiences with fellow compatriots. Staffed by veterans, the center is heavily used, providing students access to computers and assistive technologies, academic counseling, peer support and mentoring, and financial aid resources.
“Every need I have ever had as a student veteran has been provided by the college, either through the Veterans Resource Center or the Veterans Services office,” said Darron DeVillez, 53, an honor student and president of the college’s Student Veterans Organization. “The help I got here really calmed my anxiety level as a veteran with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).  I am living a dream. I can’t believe all the wonderful things that have happened since I came here.”
With the passage last November of Proposition V, the college district’s $398 million bond measure, an expanded Veterans Resource Center is planned to better serve the college’s veteran and military students.
During Davis’ visit, college and district leaders urged the congresswoman to give a high priority to protecting federal spending for education in the face of sequestration-mandated budget cuts. Miles told Davis about the critical need to support federal expenditures like the dollars that help support the district’s 5,600 Pell Grant recipients.
Davis described Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges as crucial to the well-being of the East County region.
“It’s here that all things begin,” she said. “I would encourage continuing support to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.”