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Veterans Get Help Going Back To School With "Veterans Upward Bound"

Pensacola State College

The Veterans Upward Bound program, at Pensacola State College is helping area veterans go back to school. The mission of the VUB program is to provide eligible veterans with remedial coursework to prepare them to enroll in college. During a recent visit Project Director Rob Gregg provided a tour of their offices.

 In the computer lab where, we met Jarrell Diggs.  Diggs, an engineman, in the Navy, where he served for nine and a half years.

Credit Timothy Jones
Navy Veteran Jarrell Diggs at Pensacola State College.

“I served in Chicago, Virginia, South Carolina, and Pensacola,” said Diggs.

After years of working various odd jobs following his military service, he needed to further his education. That decision led to Veterans Upward Bound, “this program helped me,” according to Diggs, “I’ve been out of school 35 years,” said Diggs.  

“You got to have a degree in something and the cost of living is steadily going up.” said Diggs, who now works with homeless veterans for Volunteers of America, says one of the main reasons he decided to go back to school was because he wanted a new career path.

This story is a familiar one to Rob Greg, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, who took over as Project Director for the VUB program, last fall.

“You're talking about the new tradition, which are the non-traditional students, anyone over twenty-four,” Greg said. “Coming back to college and trying to fit in, sitting there possibly with their children trying to learn a new skill set or new academic skills that they are not sure they can comprehend.”

The Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program at Pensacola State College is a federally funded TRIO program that provides college prep and/or GED courses at no cost to qualified veterans. “The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate participants enroll and complete post-secondary education,” said Greg.

The focus is on the basics: reading, writing, and math depending on pre-college test scores. But, Greg says, it’s also about helping veterans navigate the complexities of the college system.

For veterans enrolled in VUB, each college prep (or remedial) course is at least four weeks long. The length of time it takes to complete the program depends on the different individual veterans’ level of academic need.

“Don’t pay for it, then make a mistake, and failing then you got to do it again,” Diggs said. “So, the best place to start is here, it’s free.” Navy veteran Jarrell Diggs, who has completed his course remediation, thinks VUB is a valuable resource veterans have earned and should take full advantage of.

Diggs, has completed the VUB program, but he still spends numerous hours each day at the computer lab. What keeps him grinding? “I don’t want to be dirty anymore,” said Diggs. “I don’t want a manual labor job that pays nothing.”

Diggs, is on his way. He is in his second year, at Pensacola State College with the goal of transferring to UWF to study cyber security.