Cary Coburn: Student veterans grateful

March 12, 2013 

As the adviser to the Military Veterans of Merced College Club, I am in a unique position to report that Merced College and the Merced community actively support our military veteran students in myriad ways.

It is in this light that I would like to express collective gratitude on behalf of our veteran students to all of the community organizations that support veteran-specific scholarships through the Merced College Foundation.

The veteran scholars described below have prudently spent these scholarship awards to advance their education goals.

Last year, our local American Legion Post No. 83 generously sponsored two scholarships which directly benefitted two of our students. I and several members of our Veterans Club belong to the American Legion and have benefitted from this organization and the camaraderie shared among the local Legionnaires.

One American Legion scholarship went to Antonio Talamantes, a former Marine who has since transferred to California State University, Fresno, in pursuit of a civil engineering degree and is doing very well there.

The second scholarship went to David Gomez, who will be continuing his education at Merced College in the fall. Gomez, an Army veteran, also benefited from a $500 scholarship sponsored by the American Legion Riders, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts within the American Legion who support local veteran causes.

In addition to scholarships sponsored by the American Legion, the Castle Air Force Base Officers' Wives' Club supported a scholarship awarded to Russell Foster, who serves in the Marine Corps reserves. Sgt. Foster serves as the president of the Veterans Club and soon plans on transferring to a four-year institution to major in kinesiology.

Another veteran scholar at Merced College is Terina Baiera, an Air Force retiree who received a generous scholarship provided by the Castle Air Museum endowment.

Terina is employed in the college's Veterans Resource Center and has been assisting her fellow veterans there for several years. Terina will be graduating with her associate degree in management in May, after which she plans on transferring to San Jose State in the fall to pursue a bachelor's degree in business administration.

In addition to the students mentioned above, the veterans club has recently added members that will be competing for these and additional scholarships this year.

On behalf of the faculty, staff and administration at Merced College, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Merced community and patriotic organizations such as the American Legion, the American Legion Riders and the Merced College Foundation.

If your group or organization would like to support our local veteran scholars at Merced College, please contact Robin Shepard, director of the Office of Institutional Advancement, who can assist you with the establishment of a Merced College Foundation scholarship.

Coburn is a professor of biology and environmental science at Merced College as well as advising veterans.

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