MCCC Creates Writing Course Just For Military Veterans

Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA —Area military veterans now have a creative outlet to share their experiences with people who understand them best – fellow veterans. 

This fall, the Montgomery County Community College West Campus in Pottstown will offer a new course, English 265 HYBW2, also known as Intro to Creative Writing for Veterans. The course is limited to guest veterans from the community and current MCCC veteran students. 

The three-credit course, which was created by Susan Buchler, assistant professor of English; and Denise Williams, veterans’ resource specialist, will be held on alternating Monday evenings. The workshop setting of the course will include sharing written work such as creative non-fiction, short stories and poetry, and discussing select pieces of literature that are relevant to the course theme – freedom through writing. The course also includes an online component.  

“Back in civilian life, veterans often find there is no place to put memories and experiences and no one to share them with except others who’ve had similar experiences,” said Williams. “Through writing comes the most fascinating, heartfelt poetic work that is engaging and liberating.” 

Buchler, who has had several veterans in her writing courses at MCCC over the years, said the philosophy of the course is to help make the process of writing less threatening, and to create an atmosphere for veterans where there is a shared bond and trust. 

“This course will allow veterans writers to evolve at a unique comfort level,” Buchler said. “Writing about their experiences gives them the opportunity to find their voice and express their deepest feelings and emotions. Studies have shown that, through writing, an individual can find freedom, peach of mind, improved mood and all together healing.” 

The 15-week course runs from August 30 through December 19 and will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. in South Hall 249 on the MCCC West Campus at 101 College Drive in Pottstown. For more information contact Williams at dwilliam2@mc3.edu or Buchler at sbuchler@mc3.edu. To register, visit http://bit.ly/2oud0Qs. 

Montgomery County Community College is recognized by Military Times as a Best for Vets College, and G.I. Jobs magazine named MCCC a Silver Medal Military Friendly school. The Veterans Resource Center at MCCC, with offices on the Central Campus in Blue Bell and on the West Campus in Pottstown, serves more than 450 veterans, service members and spouse/dependents with their transition to college.  

About Montgomery County Community College 
For more than 50 years, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as customized workforce training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s thriving campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, and online through a robust Virtual Campus.  

As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, the institution is positioned at the vanguard of national efforts to increase completion, improve learning outcomes, and remove barriers to access for students. The College is also recognized regionally and nationally for its sustainability leadership, work with military veterans, community service and service learning opportunities, and use of classroom technology. For more information, visit http://www.mc3.edu. 

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MCCC Partners With Library Of Congress To Preserve Veterans’ Stories‏

Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA — Long after their time in the military, the stories of Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) veterans will live on, inspiring and educating future generations.

That is the goal of the College’s Veterans Coordinator, Mike Brown, as well as his colleagues from the Veterans Resource Center. During the fall semester, Brown began interviewing and capturing audio recordings of student veterans as part of the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center.

In all, Brown recorded the stories of 10 veterans so far. He plans to record the stories of many more of the College’s roughly 300 student veterans. Recordings will be permanently archived at the Library of Congress, where all recordings have been housed since the Veterans History Project began in 2000. Recordings are searchable online by war, military branch, the contributor’s name and various other search criteria.

“The variety of experiences from the students really has been fantastic to hear,” said Brown, an Army veteran who served in the infantry during a 1997 deployment to Bosnia. “I shared my story. Two generations from now my grandkids and great-grandkids will be able to listen to my story forever.”

The interviews, which must be a minimum of 30 minutes and generally span 45 to 90 minutes, cover the veterans’ early life, including where they are from, why they joined the military and details of their enlistment. While many who participated so far fought in combat zones, Brown said that is not required.

The College’s involvement in the nationwide effort is open to any and all veterans – even non-students.

“It’s a way to incorporate and include the community, not just the students,” he said. “We can live up to our community college name.”

One of the student veterans, for instance, interviewed his grandfather, a Korean War veteran, as well as his father, who is a Vietnam War veteran.

Sgt. William Keller, a business management student at Montgomery County Community College and an Army reservist coming up on eight years of service between the Army Reserves and the National Guard, said the recordings give the public a “more intimate” look at military life.

“I feel it’s important for veterans like myself to share their stories so other individuals have an opportunity to get a better understanding of what it’s like from our point of view instead of a social media point of view or the news,” Keller said, adding that listeners “get a chance to hear personal stories.”

Keller, who was deployed to Iraq from 2010-2011, called the experience “humbling.”

“The fact that we are given the opportunity to tell our story and that it gets preserved in the Library of Congress for eternity is a pretty honorable experience,” Keller said. “It’s not something that’s offered to every individual.”

MCCC Is Designated A ‘Military Friendly School’ For Sixth Time

2016_MFS_Logo_HRBlue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Making the transition from military to civilian life can be challenging for many veterans. Introducing college into the mix can make that transition even harder. While key services like veteran-specific orientation and advising can help veterans start their academic careers on the right foot, many challenges they face go beyond homework and test scores.

For the sixth time, Victory Media has designated Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) as a “Military Friendly School,” positioning the institution among the top 15 percent of colleges and universities in the country for its veteran support services.

MCCC takes its commitment to student veterans a step beyond orientation and advising—although those services are part of the mix. A Veterans Resource Center, located in a small, renovated farmhouse at MCCC’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, plays an important role in the lives of the institution’s veterans. Here, students can meet with Veterans Services staff, participate in study groups and tutoring, and build an important support network with their peers.

For student veteran Joe Long, having such a network made a world of difference. Long and other student veterans shared their experiences with the MCCC community during a Veterans Day panel discussion in November.

“It’s challenging to fill the time when no one is telling you what to do. I didn’t know how to be on my own, how to be a student. It’s why I wasn’t successful the first time I came back [to college],” shared Long, who served as a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force.

Today, with a supportive network he built at MCCC, Long is a successful engineering major and works part-time as an assistant in the VRC.

“For me, it started by stumbling on to another veteran in one of my classes, then going to the Veterans Resource Center, then being more active on campus by getting involved in the veterans club,” he shared.

The Student Veterans Organization meets weekly in the VRC and functions like a student club. The group engages in advocacy and education around veterans’ issues and participates in a variety of community service opportunities. This fall, the SVO partnered with MCCC’s Student Nurses Club to tag and donate Trees for Troops. Members have also been working with Shamrock Reins, a non-profit organization in Pipersville that provides equine assisted activities and therapies for veterans, active duty and reserve service members, first responders and the families of veterans, military personnel, first responders and fallen heroes.

MCCC also thinks outside the box when it comes to positioning veterans for success. For example, the College offers free yoga and meditation sessions each semester for student and community veterans. Also, this spring, Psychology faculty members Dr. Anne Marie Donohue and Dr. Deb Greenspan will team-teach a special Intro to Psychology (PSY 101) course section for student veterans. The Psychology department will also partner with the SVO to offer a Veterans Mindfulness Retreat for 20 students.

Veteran enrollment at MCCC has more than doubled over the past decade, with 505 veterans enrolled this fall. To learn more about Veterans Services, visit http://www/.mc3.edu/student-resources/vrc.