Lifestyle, News

NSCC’s Lynn campus unveils a new veterans lounge

From left, Harold Panos of Lynn, Simon Tongo of Lynn, Jeanine Foisy of Salem, and Tracy Wood of Beverly talk during the Veterans Coffee Social in the new Veterans Center at North Shore Community College. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — North Shore Community College is taking its military-friendly approach a step further.

In 2012, the community college’s campus in Danvers unveiled a lounge that would give student veterans a comfortable space to relax and study. After receiving a $40,000 donation, the Lynn campus now has its own Student Veterans Lounge, which will open this fall.

The money was donated by the family of a Vietnam veteran who wishes to remain anonymous. The veteran went back to college after he served and knew how important a gathering place for student veterans was, so he jumped in to help NSCC’s Danvers campus get its lounge six years ago.

“It’s helped with our retention rate with veterans, which means that those students in Danvers have been returning every semester,” said Kristine Babcock, NSCC’s veterans services coordinator. “It’s also helped with our graduation rate.”

The veteran quickly realized how much of a role the area played in re-assimilating student veterans into a civilian environment, which is why he wanted to help the Lynn campus get its own. The veteran’s family worked closely with NSCC’s veterans services coordinator to get the newest Student Veterans Lounge up and running.

“Our Lynn student veterans weren’t given the same level of service that the Danvers students were because they didn’t have the space,” said Babcock. “So now more people can come, more events can be held, and we’re able to give them the same kind of services.”

The lounge is a large, open space with three separate rooms. The open area has four computer stations with a color printer, lounging couches, tables, bean bag chairs, and a coffee maker. A conference room, used for club meetings and private counseling sessions, and two additional working areas, designated for students seeking a quiet study, are the three separate rooms.

Babcock said the biggest benefit of the lounge is it’s a one-stop shop for all their counseling, admissions, benefit information, and educational needs. She hopes the student veterans on the Lynn campus will consider the lounge a “home away from home.”

“Civilians don’t talk the same language that veterans do, especially newly discharged veterans,” said Babcock.

NSCC had a soft opening for its Lynn lounge in May, where many of the campus’ student veterans attended. Babcock said some of them were really excited they finally had a place where they could take a break and get their schoolwork done.

Since the soft opening, the campus has hosted a Veterans Coffee Social every Tuesday morning. From 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., veteran students and veterans from the community are invited to the Lynn lounge to connect with one another.

Jessie Perkins, who served in the Marines from 1984 to 2005, is an NSCC alumnus currently taking classes at Northeastern University. He is participating in a work study at NSCC’s Lynn campus and is ecstatic about the new veterans’ lounge.

Perkins attends the coffee social every Tuesday morning. He said whenever he has a problem, there is always someone there who can guide him or help to answer his questions. He said the lounge will not only help every student veteran, but every veteran in the community.

“I’ve been out of the Navy since 1997 and I still enjoy talking to other members about the military,” said Babcock. “It’s just a special bond. There can be a 30-year age gap and there will still be something to talk about.”

 

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