-- Student and Former Marine Christian Valencia, Who Has Served in Iraq and Colombia, Among Honorees at Veterans’ Event Co-Sponsored With Council Member Rory Lancman --
FLUSHING, NY, November 6, 2015 – The quality of a college can be measured many ways: by the strength of its academics, accessibility of professors, graduation rates, return on investment through well-paying jobs, and many other factors. Queens College has been rated highly by top guidebooks in all of these measures. But another measure of quality is how well a college supports veterans—those men and women who put their lives on the line for their nation.
This month, Queens College was designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victoria Media, a multimedia, veteran-owned publisher founded to connect the military and civilian worlds. According to the editors, the designation “is awarded to the top colleges”… “that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success both in the classroom and after graduation.”
The ratings are data-driven, based on the results of lengthy surveys completed by thousands of schools nationwide and independently tested by Ernst & Young, one of the “Big Four” audit firms. More information is available at MilitaryFriendly.com.
In addition, the publisher Military Advanced Education & Transition (MAE&T) just selected Queens College as a “Top School” in its 2016 MAE&T Guide to Colleges & Universities. This guide, also based on research, measures best practices in military and veteran education at more than 600 institutions, from community colleges to nationally known centers for higher education.
“We owe veterans a debt of gratitude for their sacrifices,” says Félix V. Matos Rodriguez, the president of Queens College. “Here on campus, that gratitude is made tangible by offering veterans the specialized support they may need to succeed as students and in their civilian careers. And so I’m very gratified that Queens College has been recognized as an excellent choice for these dedicated men and women.”
In July, the college hired Dennis Torres to fill the newly created position of Veterans Outreach Specialist for its Veterans Support Services office. Torres served 10 years in the Marine Corps Reserve, and was deployed to both Iraq and the Syrian border area. During his service, he managed to earn a BA, as well as an MA in Industrial Psychology.
“My goal is to remove any obstacles that vets may encounter when transitioning to college,” he says. In this role, Torres advises on GI Bill tuition benefits, works closely with the students’ Veterans Club, brings in speakers who are veterans, and, depending on an individual’s needs, makes referrals to veteran-specific resources such as the Queens Vet Center and Workforce1, a public career center. Another part of his mission is outreach and recruitment. Speaking at elected officials’ fairs for veterans is one way that he communicates Queens College’s commitment and warm welcome to America’s former servicemen and women.
On Tuesday, November 10, Queens College and New York City Council Member Rory Lancman are co-hosting a luncheon, timed around Veterans Day, to honor community veterans.
Among the honorees is Queens College senior Christian Valencia,
33, an Accounting and Information Systems major and former U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery sergeant. “Gunny V,” a Queens native, enlisted in the Marines in 2001 and served 14 years both in active and reserve duty. Trained as a communications specialist responsible for radio, wire and data transmissions, he served two tours in Iraq and traveled to more than 60 countries. Of Colombian heritage, Valencia used his Spanish skills in that nation, where he advised and trained the Colombian military in their longstanding battle against the narcotics-trafficking paramilitary army FARC. For his last assignment, he was back in New York, heading 140 Marines in Alpha Company, 6th
“After traveling all over the world—which I loved—I wanted to return to my roots,” says the Fresh Meadows resident, who found a home at QC.
“College is a completely different environment, and at first I didn’t know what to expect.” During his time on campus, Valencia became Vice President of the Queens College chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America and an active member of the Veterans Club. He credits Torres with bringing new vitality to Veterans Support Services and building a sense of community among these students.
Valencia also has a strong commitment to continue serving in civilian life. He has volunteered at his local Boys and Girls Club and shared his financial skills with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. On campus, he is co-founder and co-chair of the Career Development Committee.
Like staff member Torres, Valencia represents the spirit of service typical of America’s veterans, whom Queens College salutes and supports in their new lives.
For information on Veterans’ Support Services and how to apply to Queens College and for veterans’ benefits, visit