From Devil Dog to Golden Eagle: A West Hills College Lemoore Veteran Student Journey

Naval Air Station Lemoore sits a mere 8 miles away from West Hills College Lemoore. As a result, WHCL has the unique opportunity to serve veterans, reservists, military personnel, and their families. The college prides itself on helping to ease the transition from the military to college life.

Veteran and WHCL student, Steve Johnson attributes much of his suc­cess as a college student to the col­lege’s Military Services team. “I served in the Marine Corps for over 21 years and worked as an aircraft mechanic instructor, said Johnson. “I also men­tored other Marines and helped with the suicide prevention and domestic abuse program on base.”

As Johnson started thinking about retirement from the USMC, he took stock of his strengths and reflected on meaningful times during his military career. “I started thinking about what my step next would be. I knew I liked being a Marine Corps instructor and I really liked helping people in need,” he said. “I was open to exploring classes and I thought going to school might be the best option for me.”

As a newly transitioned civilian, Johnson started attending the Kings County Military and Veterans Coalition in Hanford. It was there he connected with WHCL Military Services and Veterans Upward Bound Program.

“The Lemoore Veterans Upward Bound Program really helped me start with college and connect on campus,” said Johnson. “Thanks to their team, I was able to register for classes and get plugged in on campus.”

“Steve has come a long way and is very focused on completing his de­gree program. “He has learned how to best balance his school schedule, his job, and spending time with family, “said Janet Young, WHCL Interim Veteran’s Upward Bound Coordinator. “He has worked hard and used the resources our college offers. He sees how the support we provide has helped his educational journey and gets excited to tell other vets on campus about our program. He’s so passionate about helping others.”

In addition to the help he receives with Military Services, Johnson also benefits from the WHCL Disabled Students Programs & Services (DSPS) and Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS).

“I am a first-generation college stu­dent and have a service-connected disability, so I am also able to use ser­vices from both DSPS and EOPS which has been very helpful,” said Johnson.

Quickly into his Lemoore college experience, Johnson found himself enjoying the math classes he took. Jay Thomas, Math Instructor at WHCL took notice of Johnson’s math apti­tude and willingness to participate in class.

“I noticed right away Steve was an excellent student. He wasn’t afraid to ask questions,” Thomas said. “He wanted to know the ‘why’ behind the math. I mentioned he would be a great fit as a supplemental instructor (SI) here on campus.”

Johnson applied and began working as an SI while contin­uing taking general education classes. “Steve is a great SI,” said Young. “He goes over and beyond to help students. He currently tutors both vets and civilian students.”

Johnson is currently completing an Associate for Science Transfer (AS-T) degree in mathematics and attributes his current goal of becoming a high school math teacher to the mentorship he received from Thomas.

“As I saw Steve interacting in class as a SI, I noted he was comfortable speaking to large classes,” said Thomas. “With his military background, he is assertive, can command a room and gets students’ attention. He also has a great understanding of mathematics and can explain the process in getting to a particular solution. Because of this, I thought he should consider becoming a teacher.”

Johnson is looking forward to completing his degree program at WHCL and has just four classes left to complete. Because he is earning an AS-T, he is guaranteed admission to the California State University system.

“After my time here in Lemoore, I am looking forward to trans­ferring to a 4-year college and working towards my goal of becoming a high school math teacher,” said Johnson. “I am grateful for all the support here and the awesome staff and faculty who helped me get focused on a path that I am passionate about and pretty good at.”

Veterans Upward Bound Program

The WHCL Veterans Upward Bound Program has served 250 students since 2017 and provides the following services free of charge to WHCL Veteran students:

  • Individualized career assessment and planning
  • Application assistance
  • Financial aid and GI Bill® information
  • Help obtaining Military and other Transcripts
  • Advisement and assistance with college admission and enrollment steps
  • Academic counseling
  • College preparation instruction and academic support for Math and English skills improvement
  • Preparation and placement assessment
  • Access to other resources: study area, computer labs, student union
  • Referrals to additional college and community resources

Military Services

The WHCL Military Services team understands the unique challenges of military life. We serve active-duty service members, proud veterans, and military spouses by connecting these students with the support and resources needed to meet their personal and academic goals. Through our free West Hills College Lemoore Veterans Upward Bound Program we help prepare Vets to enter, be successful, and to graduate from college.

Supplemental Instruction (SI) and Academic Support

Academic support services are available on campus and online. Accessing academic support at West Hills College Lemoore requires students to enroll in NC 100, a no-cost, non-credit course. There are no assignments or expectations for NC 100. The NC 100 online Canvas shell provides access to online services as well as current schedules for both online and in-person academic sup­port. In-person services are available in the Academic Center for Excellence, which is located in the library.

Disabled Students Programs & Services

The WHC Lemoore DSPS team gives special attention to remove physical barriers on campus and to provide support services to students with disabilities. DSPS provides special assistance to students with disabili­ties through individualized help and counseling. Because adjusting to college life and its academic demands is a new experience and there are special challenges confronting disa­bled students, DSPS is committed to providing students with the support that will enable them to reach their academic goals.

Extended Opportunity Programs & Services

Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS) is a state-funded program designed to help eligible students gain access to and success­fully complete a program of higher education. EOPS provides eligible students with school supplies, EOPS grants, KART passes, food vouchers, educational counseling/advising, priority registration, and CSU/UC application fee waivers.