From Combat to Community College

The Takeaway

Click on the audio player above to hear this interview.

Combat life in the U.S. Army is challenging. But for many veterans, reintegrating into the civilian world after serving in the military presents an entirely different set of difficult obstacles.

Kharisma James, a mother and decorated two-time combat veteran of the United States Army, knows these challenges well.

In addition to parenting two small children, she's studying full-time and trying to become a nurse at El Paso Community College in Texas—one of the five schools we’re profiling in our "Community College Challenge" series. Kharisma plans to attend Texas Tech University's nursing program this spring to purse an Accelerated Bachelor of Science.

El Paso Community College (or EPCC, as it’s known locally) enrolls over 1,000 veterans like Kharisma each semester. The school aims to provide a vital bridge for veterans, helping them reboot their academics, and skill up for new careers and civilian life.

EPCC’s President Dr. William Serrata says they take their commitment to military men and women seriously. In fact, they're so serious that they're building an entire college campus at Fort Bliss military installation in El Paso. Once completed, the new EPCC campus will open its doors to the 30,000 soldiers and their families based at Fort Bliss.