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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Veterans’ Support Program advisor retires after 42 years

Michaela Wahlstroem
Magdalena Torres, veteran’s support program adviser and chicano studies instructor, on Monday, March 6, in front of the City College Veterans Support and Resource Center. Torres is retiring as part of the Supplemental Early Retirement Program. She has worked at City College for 42 years.

After 42 years of running the Veterans Support and Resource Center, Magdalena Torres, a prior City College student, will retire through the Supplemental Early Retirement Program.

Torres works in the center as a veteran’s support program advisor and coordinator. The center holds the college’s Veterans’ Support Program. It serves as an accommodating and open place for veteran students and dependents of veterans to freely walk in whenever they seek out support, information, or just a relaxing place to work. She also instructed American Ethnic Studies courses for 18 years.

“She’s so selfless especially with how many hours she has put into working with us,” Kyle Brekke, 25-year-old Marine Corps Veteran, said.

Torres worked closely with veterans and dependents since joining the program in 1974 after attending City College herself. She has been with the program consistently ever since.

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“I have a lot of passion since coming here to City College since ‘69,” Torres said. “That passion of the college doesn’t go away.”

She started working in the veteran program after the Vietnam and Korean War. She described it as “the peak of veterans coming into college.” Torres was eager to join the program because she said she had a lot of compassion for the veterans, especially at that time.

“When a student succeeds, we succeed,” she said.

Torres struggled during the beginning of her years in the program because of the lack of technology and advisors with high volumes of students. Applications and other paperwork were filled out and filed by the three workers who handled about 2,300 students.

The program excelled after technological advances where Torres took advantage of sending out many emails to her students relaying information about scholarships, upcoming events and shout-outs to outstanding veterans of the week.

In November 2008, she coordinated the first “Veterans Appreciation Week“. The Student Senate and Food Services came together to make it happen.

She held a “Veteran Welcome Week” at the beginning of every semester for students to come to the center and grab some food while making connections with other veterans and dependents. There was also a Women Veteran Appreciation Week under Torres’ belt.

Torres has veteran dependents working in the center with her so they can connect with veterans and work with each other through questions and obstacles.

Kourtney Trough, dependent of a veteran, has worked in the center with Torres for three years and continues to hold it down while her advisor retires.

“She really keeps everything in control,” Trough said. “She’s done a lot of work here and I am so sad that she is retiring.”

Graduating veterans and dependents receive sashes to represent their association with Veteran Affairs and showcase their accomplishments that Torres encouraged students to work towards.

She was also a part of the Faculty Recognition Committee that she felt was a highlight of her City College career. She enjoyed being involved in recognizing her peers for their outstanding work.

“I love seeing all these students graduate and I participate as well,” Torres said.

In 2011, the veteran program received the Rice Diversity Award and traveled to the Sacramento to accept it. Torres said it was an honor to receive on behalf of being the first college to accept the award.

Torres instructed night classes for American Ethnic Studies with emphasis in Chicano(a) Studies. She was a student when the department formed and said that she’d someday like to see the department required at City College so “folks can really understand how similar we are.”

Torres is currently on medical leave for the majority of her last semester at City College after a recent surgery. She hopes to return in May to visit her students and coworkers.

After retiring, she plans to travel and do research at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. She’ll possibly stay connected with Veteran Affairs by instead being an hourly worker for City College’s Veterans’ Support Program.

“If I could do it over again, I would still work here and do the same thing,” she said.

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