Former Marine Corps Staff Sergeant José Rojas to be Honored During Board Meeting on November 9, 2020
(ORANGE, Calif.) - Learning to trust and protect one another is crucial to the fabric of the U.S. military -- and despite having turned in his uniform more than a year ago, Santiago Canyon College (SCC) student and Marine Corps veteran José Rojas is still answering that call.
On Monday, November 9, 2020, Rojas will be recognized by the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) Board of Trustees for his efforts to serve his fellow veterans at SCC. Since enrolling at SCC, Rojas has consistently been involved with the Veterans Service Office (VSO) and the Veterans Club on campus helping veterans engage with other veterans and non-veteran students alike. He is currently a Veterans Affairs work-study student supporting the Battle Buddy Bridge Program, which assists veterans in the surrounding community. In this role, he provides support to homeless veterans and assists with those seeking employment opportunities.
“Helping each other is like what we did in the service itself. It's natural -- they are our brothers and sisters,” said former Staff Sergeant Rojas reflecting the U.S. Marine Corps' motto Semper Fidelis, always faithful. “You never know what they're going through. I help other veterans because now, this gives me a sense of purpose. This is my mission now.”
The former Marine who served from 2004 to 2019 was deployed twice to Iraq, and once to Okinawa and Korea. He has been the recipient of a number of awards while he was in active duty, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Unit Commendations, Good Conduct Medals and campaign-specific recognition.
Pictured: José Rojas, Santiago Canyon College (SCC) student and Marine Corps veteran.
Rojas is studying psychology and hopes to someday work for the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital where he will help to treat and heal the mental scars that many veterans are left with after their time in the service. According to a report published in 2019 by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, an average of 17 veterans die each year by suicide, a statistic that is simply unacceptable to Rojas.
“There’s so many of us [veterans] dying,” Rojas said. “We're coming back [from deployment], and then dying here and leaving behind families. This is why I’m so passionate about helping my brothers and sisters. Mental health support is what is going to save us.”
SCC Interim President José Vargas, who served in the Army from 1987-1989, said the college is committed to providing resources to all of its student veterans.
“Rojas’ accomplishments are commendable,” Interim President Vargas said. “As a veteran, I recognize the potential challenges that exist with the transition from military life back to civilian life. I am grateful to José Rojas for his service to our country and honored to play a part in his recognition.”
SCC was recently recognized as a military-friendly school in G.I. Jobs for the third year in a row. President Vargas was also highlighted by the magazine as he is one of the few college administrators who is also a veteran. These two distinctions come soon after the Veterans Service Office (VSO) was awarded its first Federal TRIO Grant, which will further its ability to provide for SCC’s veteran students. This five-year grant, given to only 1,100 colleges and universities nationwide, bestows SCC's VSO $271,000 yearly for a total $1.3 million to help expand their program and give students additional support services.
Contact for Veterans Service Office at SCC:
Joseph Alonzo, Director of Student Equity and Success, (714) 628-5040
firstname.lastname@example.org - https://sccollege.edu/Departments/VSO/Pages
About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) serves more than 17,000 credit and non-credit students each semester. In 2017, SCC was ranked 13th among the 50 Best Community Colleges in the U.S. by College Choice and is currently ranked 3rd in California by bestcolleges.com, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and careers, and provides courses for personal and professional development, as well as customized training for business and industry. The college is recognized for its adult education program, which keeps the working adult, and senior, in mind by offering flexible schedules, and community locations. Serving the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park, SCC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.