By Jeff Murphy, May 29, 2020
WARRENSBURG, MO – The national pandemic has resulted in tough economic conditions,
affecting many people who have been victims of business closures, furloughs, and cutbacks.
In the current employment climate, veterans wanting to make a transition to civilian
life may want to consider opportunities provided through Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) to begin preparation for a new career.
Through Veterans Upward Bound, the University of Central Missouri helps those who
fought for their country obtain educational assistance they need to prepare for a
new career path. VUB serves a 10-county area, and is a federally funded TRIO program
made possible by a U.S. Department of Education grant. It is a free program designed
to help veterans refresh their academic skills and give them the confidence they need
to successfully obtain a college degree or pursue other post-secondary education opportunities
that will help them transition into civilian jobs.
Veterans Upward Bound is to work with veterans to be better prepared to pursue higher
education programs that can help them obtain valuable knowledge and skills needed
in today’s job market. This is accomplished through an individualistic approach with
each veteran, said Tonya Kuranda, director of VUB and a United States Air Force veteran.
“When a veteran walks in our office and becomes a participant in the program, we make
it a priority to build a relationship of trust and authenticity,” she said. “Each
veteran has a unique story and plan for their future, however, all of them require
a strong foundation out of the gate as they pursue their education.”
She added that veterans also have different options for interacting with office staff,
other than an actual visit to campus. VUB can accommodate veterans virtually.
“We can help via zoom, telephone and e-mail, which is important during the current
pandemic. It no longer needs to be an office appointment,” Kuranda said.
To meet veterans’ needs, VUB offers specific tools that include academic coaching
and tutoring, admission preparation, assistance with scholarships, financial literacy,
GI Bill assistance, and career assistance. Program staff are located in Administration
Building 196 on the UCM campus, but VUB has outreach that extends to veterans who
reside in Benton, Cooper, Johnson, Morgan, Ray, Carroll, Henry, Lafayette, Pettis,
and Saline counties. The goal is to help veterans pursue their education, which may
include seeking a four-year college degree, or enrolling in vocational school or a
certificate program. Whatever the choice, location is no problem.
“We assist our veterans no matter where they want to go to school. We have even helped
one of our veterans go to school in Australia,” Kuranda said.
VUB will provide assistance with applications to a college or university of choice,
personalized counseling for degree and career selection. It also will connect veterans
with outside available resources, and develop an individualized academic plan based
on their personal needs and desire.
VUB also offers basic skills development to help veterans successfully complete a
high school equivalency program (if needed) and gain admission to college education
programs; and short-term remedial or refresher classes in areas such as math, science,
reading, literature, composition, and computer basics for high school graduates who
have put off pursuing a college education. Some services such as tutoring can be conducted
To be eligible for participation in VUB, an individual must have at least 180 days
of active duty service in the military or qualifying reserve time and any discharge
other than dishonorable.