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CMVE ready to assist military-related students with everything

Military-related students, we’ve got you covered.

Pose any question about almost anything, and Tidewater Community College’s Center for Military and Veterans Education will provide an answer.

“The buck stops here,” said Shelly Bearden, a VERITAS veterans resource liaison. “I’m not going to send anyone to another office. If something’s not working, if you’re frustrated with a process, if you have any kind of problem, I will make sure it gets solved.”

Bearden refers to herself as an advocate for all of the college’s military-related students. Echoing that are her colleagues Cassandra Harris, lead military academic advisor, and Alesia Wroten, also a VERITAS veterans resource liaison.

With the Navy a part of all of their backgrounds, the administrators don’t just understand the language of the military — they’re fluent in it. They understand acronyms, including myCAA, VMSEP and TA and can explain if you qualify.

They can answer any questions about GI Bill benefits. The email was set up specifically to respond to questions related to military-related students looking to use their GI Bill.

Wroten handles workforce programs geared toward military-related students seeking a short-term program that leads to immediate employment. A sampling:  

Wroten works with student vets to ensure they know all their options before selecting a program. “I make sure they know about all the workforce programs they can take advantage of,” she said.

Harris had been on base prior to COVID-19; now she is based at the Virginia Beach Campus with the others. She works primarily with active duty service members, but also assists veterans, spouses and dependents. She provides a range of services, including the evaluation of credit from military experience and prior college/universities attended to ensuring that qualified military-related students receive a domicile exception to pay instate tuition.

Harris also helps military who might not be able to finish the semester due to deployment or temporary assignment. “We can get them pulled out of class and get their tuition fully refunded,” she said.

She’s happy to help military-related students navigate the transfer process and will even advise a student vet on how many hours he or she can handle based on other obligations.

Bearden can assist former military looking to transfer to an Ivy League college as TCC is part of the Warrior-Scholar Project.

The CMVE is also able to direct veterans to a plethora of resources — from assistance to pay for books to filing a disability or unemployment claim.

“We take a holistic approach,” Harris said. “The CMVE is a one-stop shop.”

You don’t have to remember who does what if you’re a military-related student in need of assistance. Email for any questions. Virtual service is available daily or via phone; see this link for information.

From here, Marine veteran might be Ivy-bound thanks to new TCC partnership

When Marine veteran Christian Martinez graduates from Tidewater Community College this fall, he plans to transfer to Princeton University though he hasn’t ruled out MIT and Cornell.

It’s a road Martinez never thought possible until he completed the Warrior-Scholar Project last month. The mentoring program transitions service members to the academic world through a series of highly intensive, immersive boot camps hosted by the nation’s top universities.

Martinez had never heard of it until Shelly Bearden, the Veterans Resource Liaison at TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE) encouraged him to apply. The CMVE recently entered into an agreement with the Warrior-Scholar Project, which plans to hold informational sessions at the Virginia Beach Campus in November to recruit more military-related students from here.

The nonprofit trains military personnel in the academic and social skills required for college success and works with service members who are navigating the college application or transfer process.

Martinez completed the two-week experience at Princeton and admittedly, “I fell in love with the place,” he said. Now transferring there seems attainable.

Bearden said the skills-bridge project is perfect for high achieving enlisted, transitioning and veteran service members who have flexibility in their higher education plans. Accepted students pay nothing for their two weeks on campus held at a host institution. Princeton is one possibility; others include Yale, Harvard, Notre Dame and Georgetown.

Applying to any Ivy League school was a daunting prospect for Martinez, who enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Tallwood High six years ago. The former sergeant used his GI Bill benefits at TCC in pursuing an Associate of Science in Engineering. He planned to transfer in-state, but now his perspective is altered.

“I’m going to Princeton,” he said with confidence.

Martinez fell in love with the New Jersey campus, where, “All the buildings are castles,” he said. His first week there started a humanities focus, consisting of analytical readings of more than 15 books ranging in scope from early democracy to modern military. Lectures and analysis from Princeton faculty followed. Then the writing process started.

Christian Martinez and Shelly Bearden
Shelly Bearden, the Veterans Resource Liaison at TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Administration, encouraged student Christian Martinez to apply for the Warrior-Scholar Project.

“We learned how to analyze each text, dissect each paragraph, use study skills that I never knew before, write a strong Ivy League level essay and mostly, write an essay for their admission essay section,” Martinez said. “Reading and writing was my weakness before attending this program. I never had the confidence that I could be a decent writer.”

He ended up writing an essay that drew from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and the Melian Dialogue.

That essay will be part of his packet for Ivy League admission.

The second part of the program played more to Martinez’s strength, focusing on STEM, and in particular physics. He learned under a senior physics lecturer who connected to the class by using military-related analogies. He and his group completed a final project in cryptology.

“I never liked physics that much,” Martinez said. The professor he learned under at Princeton made such an impression that instead of a chemical engineer majoring, he plans to pursue astrophysics.

Martinez returned to TCC with more focus and drive, pumped about a future that likely will include a doctorate.

Already four from his Warrior-Scholar cohort have been accepted to Columbia, one to the University of Chicago, one to the University of Pennsylvania and another to Princeton. Martinez is still awaiting the final word from Princeton but all signs look good for that to be his next stop.

“I’m grateful to TCC for telling me about this program,” he said. “Being part of it was probably the best experience in my life.”

Are you a military-related student interested in the Warrior-Scholar Project? Contact Bearden, Veterans Resource Liaison at the CMVE, at