When it was announced that North Georgia would consolidate with Gainesville State, there were many concerns voiced over the mixing of the two school’s respective cultures.
One concern often cited was the perceived lack of military resources and facilities at Gainesville, a school with an overwhelmingly civilian student population.
However, a new effort by Gainesville State to provide special assistance to military members is quickly changing that perception.
In March of 2012, in an effort spearheaded by coordinator Christy Orr, Gainesville State opened the Military Resource Center, a quiet group of rooms crammed with resources for past and present military members and their families.
The center contains couches, computers, satellite television, a small library, food donations from Gainesville State faculty and staff, and a trained academic counselor.
“We focus a lot on aiding the transition from soldier to college student,” said Orr. “As a soldier, you have very few choices, and then as a college student, you have all kinds of choices. So we try to aid in that transition.”
Its close counterpart at North Georgia is the Veteran Success Center, which opened in May 2009 under the leadership of Financial Aid Director Jill Rayner.
The North Georgia Veteran Success Center provides counseling and financial aid benefit advice to past and present military personnel. Although its current location is a single room in the Stewart Center, in January it will move to the renovated Hoag Student Center. There, it will be a fully functional, multiple-room resource center, where it will closely resemble its Gainesville counterpart.
In the midst of a consolidation process that has been met with trepidation on both sides, its nice to know that we have some common ground.
As Jill Rayner says, “They’re our heroes. And we need to take care of them.”