Lenoir Community College lights up green for veterans
LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Lenoir Community College showed their support for veterans on Wednesday by lighting the main building green, illuminating campus for the rest of November.
Organizers held a small ceremony at 3 p.m. thanking veterans and handed out green lightbulbs to the community for residents to put in their homes.
Richy Huneycutt, director of marketing, recruiting and communications, said the college honors veterans every year, but this is the first time they’re doing an initiative with lights. The idea was spearheaded by Syrina Wimberly, a veteran who works at the financial aid office.
“This is important because we want to show that we are all inclusive,” Huneycutt said. “We’re here for our veterans and our students to provide educational opportunities. Also, we’re hoping like with everyone, that this will also spark a national conversation, that we look at the plight of our veterans and what they have to deal with as they reenter our civilian life.”
The color green represents a sign of hope, renewal and moving forward for veterans coming back to build a life after years of combat.
“It’s also for us, a transition, so we’re focusing today on some of the transitioning that veterans face when they’re coming back into civilian life and that’s always a difficulty,” Huneycutt said.
Erik Perez, who graduated in Spring 2019, remembers his transition back to school.
“Initially it was a little bit hard just to transition back," Perez said. "You have to kind of find things on your own again.”
Perez stayed at his alma mater to help students as a financial aid advisor, and made closing remarks at the ceremony.
“It feels really good, really rewarding," Perez said. "Being able to help the community again, helping other veterans, makes you feel like you made a difference again.”
Jef Yourdon served four years in the Marine Corps before working as the program chair for culinary arts at the college, which Yourdon says is all about the community.
“We’re trying to train students for the community and we need to make sure our veterans feel welcome here,” Yourdon said. “And that we’re here to help build them and move them into the community as they come out of the service.”
With “quite a few,” veterans in the program, Yourdon said it’s easy for him to communicate with his students.
“They’re great I actually love the veterans," Yourdon said. "Because even before I was in the military, I’m very militant on how I run things so it’s easy to teach a veteran uniformity and specifications and things of that because that’s how a lot of them are used to doing things.”
Chef Jef taught a cooking class on Zoom Wednesday night as part of the “Greenlight a Veteran,” program titled “Cooking with a Vet.”
Huneycutt said while she hopes the light will focus on veterans, she’s looking forward to changing the color in other months to show the college’s commitment and awareness of other initiatives and campaigns.
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