Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Navy veteran now views her duty as serving Cuyamaca College

Cuyamaca College employee Kaylin Rosal has stayed true to the “Can Do” motto of the Navy Seabees, the Armed Forces construction battalion where she served for three years.

Rosal now serves double-duty as coordinator of Cuyamaca College’s Veterans Resource Center and as coordinator of Cuyamaca Cares, which addresses basic needs of students with a drive-thru food pantry, housing referrals, emergency assistance funds and mental health resources.

At the Veterans Resource Center, Rosal’s primary role is supporting the needs of veteran students and backstopping the work of Veteran Student Specialist Allan Estrada. She coordinates the center’s pantry program, which helps veterans and their families; manages book loans and vouchers; and arranges for Troop Talks, a monthly presentation by a veteran-focused community partner. Social media and the center’s promotion are also part of her bailiwick.

With a quiet air of confidence and efficiency suggestive of her military training, Rosal is a constant presence at the campus, although during these pandemic times, it is more virtual than physical.

“Cuyamaca Cares has managed, like all of our campus, to think outside the box and create new ways to provide services to our students, like the drive-thru pantry in order to ensure that our students have what they need while keeping students and staff safe,” Rosal said.

Rosal said the pandemic has led to a massive demand for Cuyamaca Cares services and resources. The college has hosted four drive-thru food distributions, serving nearly 120 people, far fewer than the total number of those in need.

“The huge spike can be seen in our emergency assistance funds, where we were averaging roughly 20 applicants per semester prior to the pandemic, compared to fall 2020 when we received 2,311 applications,” Rosal said. “Each one of our students who is asking for help is in a very real and very serious bind. Our campus is stretched, our department is stretched, and our community is tapped out of resources. The need is great.”

A pre-pandemic food distribution

Rosal said the pandemic has prompted her to look for more sustainable solutions to the ever-growing demand for students’ basic needs.

“It has opened my eyes to look for ways we can connect students to services that will sustain them during hard times and good, and beyond their time at Cuyamaca,”  said Rosal, who first began working at Cuyamaca College as a work-study student in 2012.

After earning associate degrees from Cuyamaca in social/behavioral social/behavioral science, university studies in math and science, and fine arts, Rosal transferred to San Diego State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in public health. This year, she obtained her master’s, also in public health, from the University of San Francisco.

She returned to Cuyamaca College in 2018 to take the job as the VRC coordinator. She then worked closely with Lauren Vaknin, dean of Student Affairs, and a Student Services team to create the Cuyamaca Cares program.

“Kaylin has been so instrumental in the development of the various Cuyamaca Cares programs,” Vaknin said. “She expanded the pantry and created numerous programs to provide students with food, housing, and community resources.”

Through this difficult period, Rosal finds solace in the caring spirit of her coworkers.

 “What I like most about my job, besides being able to help students, is getting to be a part of such dedicated and caring teams,” said Rosal, who first began working at Cuyamaca College as a work-study student in 2012. “It’s invigorating to be in a room full of people with the same passion and intent as you. We feed off each other’s positive energy. I also really love creating community relationships and being able to bring those relationships to campus to create change.”


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