Thursday morning Bainbridge State College proudly introduced its Adult Learner and Veteran’s Center, a place for nontraditional students and student veterans to receive vital college resources and —while creating a comfortable atmosphere to welcome these students to college life.
Five years ago, BSC became part of the University System of Georgia’s Adult Learning Consortium. Within that time, USG urged the consortium to become a more adult and veteran-friendly institution. After several years of planning how to make resources and information, while developing a comfort-level for adult learners and veterans, BSC officially opened the center, located on the second floor of the Student Wellness Center in Room 951.
Bainbridge State is known for both its traditional and non-traditional students. College life can be quite the transition for traditional students, and can be even more challenging for non-traditional students that are returning to class after many years or for the first time.
There are several BSC employees who were non-traditional students and remember the uncertainty they felt enrolling in classes with recent high school graduates.
“Having been a non-traditional student, I personally know how overwhelming returning to college can be,” said Pam Barnes, BSC Director of First Year Experience and Student Life. “This space will be a haven for our students to gather, study, use the computer lab and use the many valuable reference books that are available. It will also be the home to our Adult Learners Student Organization and the Student Veteran’s Association.”
Patricia Williams, the Adult Learning Specialist at BSC, was a non-traditional student at Bainbridge State and reminds the students no one is ever too old to learn.
She said, “I was a non-traditional student and I realize the challenges that we have to overcome. Our job here at the center is to help our non-traditional students in that transition. We realize these students may learn differently than today’s traditional students and they have different needs. We will help them succeed in transitioning and returning to school. You’re never too old to learn.”
Employees, such as Dr. Rodney Carr, VP of Student Affairs, knows what it is like to be both a non-traditional student and a veteran. In his address at the grand opening, he relayed his experience.
“During my senior year of high school, I enlisted. After serving my country, I realized life began happening fast, and college had been set aside,” he said. “I also quickly found out I needed a college education. I remember taking classes whenever I could and remembered being scared that I would be the oldest in my classes; however, I soon found others like me—non-traditional students.”
After Carr found students who were more like him, he became comfortable in the classroom.
He said, “It was comforting having people like me in the class. And here at Bainbridge State, we are committed to help everyone finish; and also committed to providing them the space and resources. Now that we have the Adult Learner and Veteran’s Center, it will serve as a refuge for them—a place to connect to each other and the college.”
Adult learner and veteran students began taking advantage of their newest resources as soon as the doors were open.
Larry Scott, a student veteran who will graduate this spring with an Associate’s Degree in Political Science, was glad the college had a place for veterans like him to come together.
“It’s great to have a place like this where people with things in common and with similar personalities can learn from one another and share experiences. We’ve all been exposed to similar things and can understand one another,” said Scott.
He also mentioned how convenient it to have a place that specifies in adult learner and veteran’s questions and needs.
Adult learner student, Patricia Addison, is a second semester Criminal Justice student who has found dedicated staff members, such as Patricia Williams, the Adult Learning Specialist, to be beneficial in her college career.
She said, “Without people like Ms. Patricia Williams I wouldn’t even begin to know how to use all these resources available to me. Now, with the center, it’s going to help me to learn things better and teach me in the way that I learn.”
Barnes thanked the many people who made her dream of an Adult Learner and Veteran’s Center possible at BSC, which includes Dr. Tonya Strickland, Dr. David Pollock for playing an instrumental role in BSC becoming a member of the adult learning consortium; Sam Mayhew, Beverly Thompson, Wesley Whitehead, Jeff Napier, Spencer Stewart, Dr. Richard Carvajal, Dr. Rodney Carr, David McQuaig, Justin Gravlee and Patricia Williams, in various capacities.