Christopher McGee returned to Lorain County after serving six years in the Navy. He wasn’t sure of his next step, but he knew where to start. Before joining the Navy, McGee had earned certification as a State Tested Nursing Assistant at Lorain County Community College and he still had an interest in the medical field.
“I saw opportunity, but didn’t know how to access it,” he says.
His search led him to Esperanza “Espy” Correa, the career and academic adviser for Veterans Services at LCCC. The pair hit it off immediately after discovering they had served on the same ship, and Correa helped McGee translate his passions into a career.
“Once Espy told me about the respiratory therapy program, my whole world began to open up,” says McGee, who is two classes away from earning a bachelor of science degree in respiratory therapy. “I became really engaged and attached to my coursework. I could see myself becoming successful in a niche, in-demand medical career. It was exciting to be so focused.”
Correa also helped him navigate through the process of returning to school.
“She introduced me to the Veterans Services department and set me up with classes, walking me through it step by step,” he says. “She helped me with the GI Bill and set me up to get me through. And she introduced me to other people like me and stayed involved with my college career.”
Correa had no doubt McGee would succeed once he found that focus.
“Getting out of the military, there is a loss of identity,” Correa says. “I could relate to that, and we connected immediately. He is a bright soul who exudes confidence, and I knew he would be my star student.”
LCCC is designated a Military Friendly School, providing all the tools necessary for veterans to succeed. For McGee, a father of four, the Veterans Services department was critical in helping him ensure he was receiving all the benefits he was entitled to. And because he doesn’t need to worry about paperwork, he can focus on other things.
“He’s so entrenched in his academics now and spends a great deal of time on campus interacting with and inspiring other veteran students,” she says. “Christopher is a family man, and he makes daily compromises to move himself forward in this field. We’re here with him, cheering him on. We’re so proud of what he’s achieving.”
McGee says Correa has been with him every step of the way and credits her for much of his success.
“If it had not been for Espy, I wouldn’t have done half of this,” he says. “She has helped in very positive ways. Veterans Services came through and put me in the right direction, helping me create a positive story out of a regular life.”