By Rolinda Espinoza
Norco College’s new and expanded Veterans Resource Center will open in fall 2021.
Norco college shared its vision for a new center Nov. 10 to promote the project.
The new center will provide assistance to veteran students attending the college, including mental health services, degree audit assistance and college credit for previous military service.
The proposed 2,000 square foot facility will consist of a welcome center, an office, a lounge and restrooms.
State Sen. Rich Roth, D-Riverside, a veteran, and Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, headed the project and fought to secure necessary funding.
“I have seen the impact our veterans have had on our communities and our lives,” Cervantes said during a video presentation for the center. “This is why I want to ensure that we provide the best opportunities possible to the men and women of our military once they’ve returned home.”
The state has distributed $4.3 million to Norco College for the funding of this center since 2017.
According to the center’s website, all veterans, active duty members and VA dependents will be welcome at the new resource center. The current center serves 500 students from the armed forces.
Norco College veterans are eligible for priority registration. Active duty students are allowed to drop their courses using military withdrawal status if called to duty. Military withdrawals are not counted in a student’s overall GPA on transcripts.
“(The new center) is going to make things a lot easier for us veterans to transition out of the military, become a civilian, and then be really successful in being a student,” said Ruben Aguilar, a U.S. Army veteran and Norco College student.
Military Times has recognized Norco College as one of the top 20 “best for vets colleges” for five out of the last six years.
“Norco College is committed to serving veterans and active service members in their transition from the classroom to career,” said Monica Green, Norco College president. “I share this excitement with our remarkable employees who work tirelessly to provide quality resources.”
Norco College has a 73% veteran retention rate and 67% of those students go on to graduate.
“This center and the plan to serve more veterans and to increase the services provided is both ambitious and badly needed,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood.
Director Lorenzo Harmon III, who served 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as a gunnery sergeant in 2006, will manage the center. While in the service, he recruited and mentored over 200 Marines during and after their conscription. He has received four Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals throughout his career.The Norco College Veterans Excellence Fund is still accepting donations, which will go toward veteran focused initiatives at Norco College.