Anthony Meza: Second from left

A journey made possible: Fresno State helps Veterans with their education

By ELISA NAVARRO, Student Writer

“It can be scary coming back…it can be very daunting.”

That was the first impression of Anthony Meza, a current student at Fresno State, on his journey back home from military service, as he began considering applying for college. It became even more scary and daunting after he started receiving rejection letters from various universities.

That’s when he received the letter from Dr. Daniel Bernard (2005), a Fresno State alumnus, and the Executive Director of the Veteran’s Education Program at Fresno State. The letter let him know everything the program had to offer and the opportunity he would have to enroll in the year-long program at no cost. It sounded too good to be true, but Meza called Dr. Bernard anyway, figuring he had nothing to lose.

Dr. Bernard

“I spoke on the phone with Dr. Bernard and I came…he showed me around and told me ‘this is the classroom you’re going to sit it in, and the professors are going to be here…and you are going to have a parking pass, ID, textbooks, and a tablet on the first day of school.’ I was in disbelief…until after the first day of class,” stated Meza.

Opened in 2012, the Veteran’s Education Program offers those who have served in the armed forces and who otherwise may not qualify to attend college the opportunity and access to resources at Fresno State, and connects veterans to support organizations in the Central Valley. In addition to traditional coursework, the program is structured to help create a sense of belonging for veterans on campus by providing a lounge, study area, dedicated smart classroom, and academic skill sets required for successful careers.

Dr. Bernard’s passion for his work is unmistakable. “My favorite part of my job is that we provide an opportunity and access for higher education to students who otherwise may not be able to have that experience. It’s easy to come to work knowing that something that I’ve been fitted from with my degrees here, I get to turn around and help provide that access to people who otherwise wouldn’t have that.”

Meza agrees. “He has always been there for any one of us and for any need or concern that we have. If he didn’t have the answer he would find someone who did. He’s provided great guidance for everything and everyone in the program.”

Anthony Meza: Back row (tallest)

For Meza and other veterans, the work of Dr. Bernard and the Veteran’s Education Program has made the journey less scary, less daunting, and success much more of a reality.