Tour of Duty
Veterans come to Clark for personalized attention and academic opportunities
It was a handful of years after 9/11 when Eric Loo was still in high school that he made the decision to join the Army.
“I felt a genuine American call to serve my country,” he said, adding that once in the military he was there to do a job no matter where he served. “I am proud of what I did.”
Trained as a ground and flight mechanic, Loo’s first overseas mission was in Pakistan in 2005 where he helped supply basic food, clothing and supplies to earthquake survivors. Despite the struggles of local residents in the wake of the earthquake’s destruction, he holds fond memories of the landscape.
“Pakistan is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The mountains are huge, green and the tops are all snowcapped,” said Loo, who today is a second-year Clark College student and a recipient of the Anna C. MacAskill and Dwight L. Schwab Sr. Scholarship.
Two more missions took him to Iraq where he spent most of his time at his company’s post with the occasional flights into Mosul or Taji to repair downed Blackhawk helicopters. His intensive Army training prepared him to work on helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. He rose to the level of a technical inspector—someone who ensures that work is done
After six years of service and with honorable discharge papers in hand, he began looking for a college that could suit his higher education aspirations. He found it at Clark.
I wanted to go to a college that had diversity, not just culturally, but ages too. I thought Id fit into Clark. With six quarters under his belt, Loo knows he made the right decision. He likes the small class sizes and accessibility to professors.
If I cant absorb a concept, its not difficult to clarify it in class, and my professors remember me, said Loo who is majoring in business and intends to pursue a CPA credential and become a public accountant. He says he feels fortunate that so many people at Clark have helped him.
The MacAskill and Schwab scholarship, together with his GI Bill, allows Loo to focus on being a full-time student at the age of 26. As a result, he will transfer to the University of Portland in the fall and double major in finance and accounting.
Keri Miller also spent time in the air during her 10 years in the United States Navy.
Stationed in New Orleans, the mother of two boys served as an aviation warfare systems operator on the P-3 Orion and C-12 Huron aircrafts. Her duties included listening for submarine activity using underwater sonar and observing fishing vessels for possible narcotics transport. Her unit sometimes flew to Central America on counter-narcotic operations.
Miller finished her tour of duty in January 2011, and moved to Washington with her sons and fiancé, a Marine she met on base in New Orleans. She looked at a few area colleges but found them too expensive as an out-of-state resident. She picked up a Clark College catalog and happened to see a section about veterans’ options. Miller found she could afford to pursue the pre-requisites for a degree in elementary education at Clark College through a combination of her GI Bill and scholarships.
A portion of Miller s tuition and books are covered through a Jane Hagelstein Scholarship, and the rest, including a housing stipend, is covered by the GI Bill. The financial assistance allows her to attend Clark full time and focus on her studies.
Miller is thankful for what the scholarship offers her. Now in her third quarter, Miller praises Clark for its knowledgeable instructors. Everyone is very helpful. The professors make themselves available and I appreciate that, she said.
Jane Hagelstein believes strongly in the sacrifices that veterans make to the United States. They give a tremendous amount to [citizens]. I want them to have the best opportunities because they deserve the American dream, she said.
Hagelstein’s grandfather was a veteran of both World Wars. Between conflicts, the San Antonio, Texas, resident continued to serve in the National Guard. The memory of her grandfather’s service, coupled with her belief education that allows them to move that Clark College provides students with right into the work force and into a a solid educational foundation, prompted Hagelstein to provide scholarship funds.
The quality of education is superb at Clark. Students get a solid technical education that allows them to move right into the workforce and into a good paying job, she said.