CCBC Veteran’s Day Celebration

February 15, 2022
VRRAP student Mr. Milton Bailey

By Crystal Radford, CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Community College of Baltimore County

The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) has an exciting new program set up to support veterans, which is being established with the help of CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA member Crystal Radford. The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) offers education and training for high-demand jobs to veterans who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterans can be eligible for 12 months of tuition and fees as well as a housing allowance in order to become career-ready for a living-wage job. Veterans enrolled in the program are provided with academic advising and career counseling, as well as support services tailored to their individual needs.

Currently, as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic, Crystal is serving low-income veterans and military-connected students living within the Baltimore Metropolitan Area through a partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) under the direction of Dr. Derrick Little, Director of Veteran and Military Services. CCBC and the VRRAP Team have partnered with several organizations such as the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the Maryland Department of Labor, and the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Set up and implemented at the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, the program is already having a positive impact on those who have been affected by COVID-19.

One business partnering with CCBC is Comcast, which is committed to removing barriers to academic success and achievement. This commitment was demonstrated on Veterans Day, November 11, 2021, when the VRRAP program had a ceremony to honor its veterans and their fallen brothers and sisters by providing free laptops and discounted internet, all donated by Comcast. One student in the program, Mr. Milton Bailey, spoke with gratitude about his experience in CCBC’s VRRAP program and how obtaining a laptop would make a huge impact on his studies and future success. He explained that it has been a while since he was in school and the rapid changes in technology have affected him: “I have been using my cellphone to assist me with assignments but having a laptop would help me with projects and assist me in writing a business plan while taking classes.” Finally, he thanked Comcast and CCBC’s VRRAP program for the laptop because it will help him to get certified. Enrollment of students is increasing, so the pieces are being put into place to continue to help student veterans affected by COVID-19.

After studying race, poverty, gender, and sexuality in hip-hop, Crystal Radford was a part of a burgeoning Second Wave Youth Arts Movement where hip-hop and hip-hop education began as the locus from which various social movements sprang up. Those movements addressed police brutality, vigilantism, sexual violence, and mass incarceration.

In 2015, Crystal moved to Baltimore during the wake of the Freddie Gray riots and she has been a part of the community ever since. She has been working to rebuild the community through education. As an Academic Advisor for prison-bound and former inmate students at Coppin State University, she assisted readmitted students and those on academic probation to develop a plan of action that removed the concerns that led to this institution prescribing this academic status. Additionally, as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for Morgan State University, she helped create economic recovery through forming partnerships with local businesses. Specifically, Crystal built relationships with partners interested in assisting students gain career-readiness skills, thereby strengthening the labor market for the community.

Crystal and Dr. Little have been the cornerstone of the VRRAP program, conducting recruitment efforts which provided Crystal the opportunity to conduct admissions counseling to veterans who were interested in the VRRAP program. Both Dr. Little and Crystal provide academic advising through degree planning, enrollment, and registration. They also help with financial aid and orientating low-income veterans to college by assisting them with navigating the student learning software called Brightspace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *