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Queensboro opens center for veterans

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The Veterans' Center represents QCC's attempt to better prepare for returning veterans interested in enrolling in college, said Garrie Moore, CUNY vice chancellor for student development."We need to be ready," Moore said, adding that 10,000 veterans will return to the greater New York City area over the next two to three years. "Let's not wait for them to knock on our door."City Councilmen David Weprin (D-Hollis) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) as well as Queens Borough President Helen Marshall attended the ceremony. Weprin took a moment to describe an intern he had at his office last summer, a QCC student and Marine Corps veteran, and called the man the "best intern I ever had."Claude Copeland, an Army reservist and QCC graduate, spoke at the event and said the center could be helpful in assisting returning veterans deal with the many choices they face after returning from abroad.Copeland, now an international business student at Hofstra University, enrolled at QCC in the summer of 2005 after serving four years in Iraq, Germany and other war theatres. He said the school was very "welcoming" to him.The center, located on the first floor of the Student Union, looks more like a recruitment center than a counseling office. A banner with the slogan "Stand Army strong" decorates one wall, while a Navy poster and military uniform adorn another.Even so, there is one difference between the center and a regular recruitment office: the most recent New York Times list of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan covers one window.Three QCC student veterans who will staff the center were able to decorate it the way they wanted, said Stanley Rustin, director of counseling at QCC. The trio will act as peer mentors to other veterans.The main purpose of the center is to enable veterans to connect with other veterans, said Rustin, who began counseling veterans at QCC in 1968 during the Vietnam War.The center will offer everything from academic advising, study skills, and scholarship information to personal counseling. A computer with Internet access will be available for students to use.There are 1,700 veterans currently enrolled at the City University of New York, Moore said, putting the university within the top 10 universities nationwide. Queensborough is one of four CUNY colleges in Queens. The center was funded by a $45,000 grant from CUNY, which was awarded in September. Rustin said he must write a proposal to have the grant renewed in May.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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