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VSA Club, Sponsor Receive Recognition

Saturday, May 3, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

VeteransThe Veteran Student Alliance (VSA) Club, its advisor Steve Guevara and their newly established scholarship all were all recognized at this year's Student Leadership Banquet a couple of weeks ago at the Cultural Arts Center at Texas State Technical College.

The VSA formed in 2011 and has grown in the last three years from about five members at its inception to nearly 50 currently. The club was formed by veterans as a way of connecting with other student veterans at TSTC and give back to the community through service projects.

Guevara, a veteran himself, was named Advisor of the Year, the VSA was Club of the Year and their work fundraising for a scholarship was recognized as Service Project of the Year. Guevara has served as the club's advisor from the start and has praised the group's leadership and initiative to make things happen. He deferred credit for his award to the group's willingness to work.

Guevara serves as Director of the Veteran's Center, which opened up last year with help from the Texas Workforce Commission's College Credit for Heroes Program.

College Credit For Heroes helps student veterans transfer their military skills into college credit.

"It's definitely a great honor but it's all a testament to the group here," Guevara said. "They're the ones that do all the work...I just guide them. I'm the lucky one here. I have a great group of veterans and people in this club."

The VSA has been one of the most active clubs on and off campus volunteering time helping the community and TSTC. Their latest project was establishing a scholarship to help other veterans at TSTC.

Club Vice President Ruben Rangel said the scholarship isn't going to cover all costs but it's something to help the students get by during the semester.

The VSA awarded two $300 scholarships in its inaugural year. Rangel said the goal is to award three next school year and possibly increase the monetary value.

"We're not on the same timetable as financial aid, so they don't have to wait," Rangel said. "They can use this money to buy books and that's a big help to anyone."

Scholarships are funded through various fundraisers. A couple of weeks ago, the VSA had a BBQ Chicken Fundraiser that netted the group $2,100. At the beginning of the school year, the club's budget consisted of $600. Currently, the club has $3,900 in its account.

VSA President Abel Gutierrez was beaming with pride after the accolades were handed out. He said the awards were a reflection of the club's willingness to work and help others.

"We're not on active duty anymore but we're still here to help one another," Gutierrez said. "That's why we're here."

Gutierrez joined the club in 2012 and served as its vice president. He's seen the club grow over the years and hopes to see numbers keep going up.

"You don't have to be a veteran to join our club," Gutierrez said. "If you want to be involved on campus and in your community, this is your club."

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