The United States Navy brought Daniela Vasquez and Tom Krohl together. Today they are married, pursuing degrees at OCC and are regulars in the college’s Veterans’ office on the second floor of Coulter Hall. “We like coming here and doing work. We’re seeing more people coming here every day,” said Vasquez.
Vasquez and Krohl are an unlikely couple. She is a native of Colombia who moved to the United States at age 9 and graduated from New Dimensions High School in Kissimmee, Florida in 2010. Krohl is a lifelong Central New Yorker who earned his diploma at Central Square High School in 2010. They met while in the Navy and attached to the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship. They spent most of their four years stationed in Sasebo, Japan before being honorably discharged in 2015. Two years later, they married.
Both are pursuing dual degrees at OCC. Vasquez is in the Nursing and Liberal Arts & Sciences: Humanities & Social Sciences programs. “I always wanted to take care of patients,” said Vasquez. “The Nursing program is tough. You have to be very organized. If you’re not it will make you organized. It’s a good technique to learn before you graduate. It’s something you will need to be a nurse.”
During the 2017-18 academic year Vasquez received financial assistance thanks to a grant provided by the Carrier Corporation which supports Student Veterans. “It helped me so much. I was able to pay for a class the Veterans Administration could not cover because it wasn’t part of my major. It was a great relief to me because I was afraid I would not have enough for rent or other needs.”
Krohl is focused on Nuclear Technology and Electrical Technology degrees. “An officer in the Navy used to talk to me about nuclear and she was incredibly enthusiastic about it. When I came here I planned to get a Math & Science degree. Steve White who runs the Veterans’ office told me about the Nuclear Tech program and here I am.” Krohl did an internship at Nine Mile nuclear plant during the summer and it reaffirmed his choice of a major and career.
Krohl is a Work Study at the Veterans’ office. He knows what it’s like to walk in and ask for help and remembers when the staff here helped him and his wife. “They’re knowledgeable about the GI Bill. You get out of the military and you have all of these benefits but they don’t teach you how to use them. The people here know about them and helped us.”
Vasquez and Krohl are on schedule to earn their degrees next May.