Cuesta College has earned the designation as a military-friendly school in recognition of its efforts to assist veterans in furthering their education.
The college was named a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media, a veteran-owned small business based in Pennsylvania and founded in 2001.
“Cuesta College recognizes that those who serve in the military are highly skilled individuals with proven leadership skills,” said John Cascamo, dean of economic workforce and development.
Cascamo, an Air National Guardsman, assisted with collecting the data needed to respond to an extensive survey required by Victory Media to apply for the designation, which is given to the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that have dedicated resources to assisting military students.
“Our goal is to help these men and women translate their military experience into a college degree or certificate so they can advance in the civilian workforce and bring their talents back to their communities,” he said. The military-friendly designation is intended to assist military students in finding colleges. Victory Media will include the list of schools in its publications G.I. Jobs and Guide to Military Friendly Schools.
Cuesta serves more than 700 veterans annually. Those students are given priority registration, allowing them to seek the classes they need first. Counselor Karen Andrews also assists those students in navigating G.I. Bill funding.
Several workshops are also held on campus annually to connect students with additional resources for veterans throughout San Luis Obispo County.
A Veterans Resource Center, located on the San Luis Obispo campus, is equipped with computers, printers, fax machines and specialized software for students with disabilities.
Cuesta College also offers free parking permits to veterans through a program that honors former student Army National Guardsman Mike Mihalakis, who died in December 2003 when his Humvee hit a berm near the Baghdad airport, throwing him from the vehicle and crushing him underneath.
Mihalakis was a student in Professor Emeritus Jack Sullivan’s accounting class prior to joining the National Guard. After he deployed to Iraq, he emailed Sullivan asking him to save space in his spring semester course.
But Mihalakis was killed before he could return. To honor his memory, Sullivan began donating to a fund through the Cuesta College Foundation to purchase parking permits for all Cuesta College veterans.