Fresh out of the Army in 1975, I returned from Cold War Europe with the news fresh that we were evacuating thousands of our allies and troops by helicopter from the rooftops of the Saigon Embassy.
With a Cold War confrontation a constant, and a hot war still dividing our nation, I restarted my education at L.A. Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on the G.I. Bill with the aim of finding work that would make a difference.
The classes I took there as a communicator gave me the tools for a four-decade career in writing, reporting and editing. The classes at Pierce College in 1975 also provided the bedrock preparation I needed to deploy to Iraq as an embedded reporter in 2003 with the California National Guard.
That is what community colleges do. They provide a foundation for jobs, and better than jobs, for careers. I was able to attend a good college at a fraction of the cost of a university, and in return for my efforts and study, I managed a life-long career that was fulfilling, rewarding, and made a contribution.
This is why I support Measure AV, the Antelope Valley College long-term bond that will secure financing for infrastructure and needed overhaul at AVC for the next 40 years. It matters. It matters if you are heading from community college to university, or into the job market, or if your children are headed that direction, as many of them will be.
Community colleges remain the best bargain in higher education in the nation. Measure AV funds would improve AV College and cannot be taken away, and qualify the college for matching funds from California that would go to other communities.
At Antelope Valley College, the campus and its leadership are headed in the right direction, toward the future. More than 600 of AVC’s approximately 15,000 students are veterans of military service, most of them studying on the G.I. Bill. For them, community college offers the best prospects for transition from soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine – to success in the civilian job market.
Through its nursing program, by itself, AV College has contributed life-saving career RNs to the ranks of the local healthcare industry. They are your nurses, trained at our community college.
Through the effort of its leadership AV College also garnered one of the key program gems in California, to be one of the few community colleges with a Baccalaureate degree program — this one for aircraft structure.
This matters because some of the best paying careers in California reside in the Antelope Valley’s aerospace industry, which has a generation of longtime employees moving quickly into retirement without replacement. Defense hubs like Edwards Air Force Base and Naval Weapons Station China Lake continuously recruit for engineers. With the airframe training available at AV College, the career path leads right into the California job future’s horizon.
What I remember is how much more applicable my communications training was at Pierce College, and how, for a veteran, it enabled me to prepare for success at university, and ultimately, a master’s program from USC. My hope is that people of the Antelope Valley will support Measure AV and provide their friends and family members similar opportunity for success in life and career.
Editor’s note: The writer was editor of the Antelope Valley Press for 16 years, served in Cold War Europe during the Vietnam War Era and deployed to Iraq with the California National Guard as their embed. He has a master’s degree from USC with a specialty in counseling veterans and military families.