Crowder, a native of Cleveland and a military veteran who served in the Air Force from 1978 to 1980, will pursue an associate’s degree in computer information systems at SBCC beginning in August.
VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to veterans who are 35 to 60 years old, are unemployed and not eligible for any other education benefit or job training program.
Participants must enroll in a Veterans Administration-approved program of education offered at a community college or technical school and pursue a degree or certificate in a high-demand occupation as determined by the Labor Department.
Crowder had lived in California before and decided to return when his last position as a chef in Cleveland was eliminated in a business downsizing in 2010.
“I came to Santa Barbara to look up a friend and decided this is where I wanted to stay,” he said.
He explored various possibilities, including enrolling at SBCC, but the lack of employment and permanent housing created obstacles.
“I had to put school on the back burner until other things were resolved,” he said.
Crowder learned about VRAP at SBCC in May through a posted notice at the place he is staying. He followed up with SBCC’s Veterans Support Program and became the first student to take advantage of the new federally funded program.
“Many veterans are out of work, so I’m glad to have this opportunity to continue with my education,” Crowder said.
He is self-taught on computers and hopes to either start his own business or find work in the information systems industry when he completes his associate’s degree.
“Programs such as VRAP are really needed,” Crowder said. “Part of this country’s economic problems is based on not enough qualified individuals in the workforce for the jobs that are available.”
“SBCC is committed to providing educational opportunities for all,” said SBCC President Lori Gaskin. “Veterans give so much of themselves in support of our country, and programs such as VRAP are a way to repay that debt through education, retraining and investing in their futures.”
— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.