Posted March 13, 2020
Lorain County Community College (LCCC) student and Navy veteran Heather Richard credits the college’s Veteran and Military Service Member Center in helping pave her path toward earning an in-demand nursing associate degree and ultimately a bachelor’s of science in nursing through the University Partnership.
Richard, 29, knew she wanted to work as a registered nurse her entire life. She wanted to take after her mother, a nurse, but first she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and contribute to the country by joining the Navy.
“I chose to go into the nursing field because I used to help my mom study while she went through the nursing program at a community college,” Richard said. “Ever since then I wanted to be a nurse.”
“My dad was in the Navy for 14 years and my brother also joined out of high school,” she said. “I remember going to his boot camp graduation in 2007 and I knew I wanted to be a part of that someday. Five years later I joined at the age of 21.”
The Elyria resident served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman third class petty officer for six years of active duty and is currently part of the reserves.
Richard chose LCCC because of its reputation and location, but the main draw was that LCCC’s nursing program is number one in the county.
“I really enjoy how friendly the college is to veterans,” Richard said. “A lot of colleges still lack the support that veterans need. Our office offers a lot more for veteran students than most colleges across the country. The fact we are so veteran friendly is a really great thing and wonderful for the students.”
Since 2010, LCCC has served nearly 1500 veterans with 616 veterans earning 898 degrees and certificates. The Veteran and Military Service Member Center helps veterans with questions, job connections, financial aid, G.I. bill benefits and more.
Richard said two people in the Veterans Services office were especially helpful. “They live for helping other veterans and bringing new opportunities to them” Richard said. “Every time you’ve got a question or concern, Epsy (Correa) is there to help.”
“Michael Weston is knowledgeable and passionate about his job,” Richard added. “Between those two, they’ll help with any question or concern. They are so knowledgeable and helpful to figure out whatever your issue is.”
The 2009 Midview graduate joined the Navy in 2012 and was stationed at the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida before going to San Antonio, Texas, for training where she learned to do physical therapy for the Navy, which gave her an introduction to the healthcare field.
“Physical therapy was a way for me to work hands-on with patients and further educate myself in the Navy,” Richard said. Her last station was in Newport, Rhode Island. In December of 2017 she separated from active duty before joining the reserves upon moving back to Ohio.
Richard plans to graduate in May 2021 with her associate of nursing before starting a bachelor’s degree in nursing through the LCCC University Partnership with Ohio University. Through the program, LCCC collaborates with 14 colleges and universities delivering more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees – saving an average of $74,000.
Richard has already earned the credentials for her associate of the arts and applied science degrees from credits earned previously from LCCC combined with her recently completed classes.
Lorain County Community College is located at 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria.