Jason Rodriguez

Jason Rodriguez

KANKAKEE — Kankakee Community College is one of 15 Illinois community colleges selected for the 2021 Guide to Military Friendly Schools, published in conjunction with “G.I. Jobs” magazine.

“Kankakee Community College has given me the opportunity to really enjoy my college journey,” Jason Rodriguez, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard, said in a news release. “I have had the best experience possible. What really impacted my time was the culture of caring exuded by the KCC staff.

“When I first came to KCC, college was difficult for me and Veteran services was new, but with the help of the Veterans Association, Kendra [Souligne], and the faculty, I felt very welcome at KCC,” Rodriguez continued.

“I remember when I first walked up to the financial aid counter, a member of the Veteran’s Association welcomed me, showed me the Veteran Resource Center and gave me a tour of KCC. I knew from there I would have numerous resources to help while here at KCC and even in my future endeavors. Whenever I have the opportunity, I recommend KCC, especially to military-connected individuals in the community.”

Typically, KCC has about 65 veterans who enroll each year, according to the college’s Office of Financial Aid. Among veterans, there are 31 KCC student veterans currently utilizing VA Education benefits.

“KCC is proud to be designated as a Military Friendly School,” Kendra Souligne, coordinator of financial aid and veterans services, said in a news release. “We are committed to assisting those who served or are currently serving in the U.S. military and their family members as they transition into the college setting.

“Our main role is to guide them in utilizing their [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] educational benefits and financial aid,” she said. “We also offer referral sources within the community and state to assist them with benefits beyond education.”

In 2016, KCC opened the Veteran’s Resource Center offering resources such as computers, a meeting area, a lounge, and a Vet Center student assistant.

“The KCC Veterans Association, an approved chapter of Student Veterans of America, provides a community atmosphere, camaraderie, a gateway to leadership development, and accessibility to benefits,” Souligne said.

According to Victory Media, which publishes “GI Jobs,” schools were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from its own survey. The list will be published in May.

For more information about educational benefits for military veterans, spouses and dependents, visit kcc.edu/veterans.