Senators Blumenthal and Murphy Laud GCC for Embracing “8 Keys to Success” for U.S. Veterans

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) met with student veterans and Gateway Community College (GCC) administrators recently to discuss the college’s implementation of the Obama Administration’s “8 Keys To Success” challenge.

This U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs initiative challenges higher education institutions to adopt best practices to educational success for returning service members.

During the meeting, Senator Blumenthal lauded Gateway for its work with veterans, specifically siting the college’s Veteran’s Oasis and its flexibility in working with the veteran population, “It’s an investment in all the experience that’s been gained will benefit all of us,” he said. “Making it through makes all the difference.”

Senator Murphy thanked the college for “being a leader across the state,” stating that he felt it was important to “listen and gather ideas.”

Gateway Community College is the first academic institution in Connecticut to sign on to the program.  Kellie Danso, who directs the college’s veteran’s affairs office, said that veterans face many challenges when returning to the academic environment, from timely receipt of tuition benefits to the need for a quiet retreat space, “we understand what they are going through,” she explains. “When they first come home, veterans can feel alone. They have experiences that those outside the military do not understand.”  About 20 people a day take advantage of the college’s Veteran’s Oasis before, after and in between classes.                                                 

Gateway is among 250 community colleges and universities across the country committed to implementing the 8 Keys to Success on their campuses. Developed by the Administration, the Department of Education (ED), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in conjunction with more than 100 education experts, the 8 Keys to Success on campus are eight concrete steps that institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there.
The 8 Keys to Success on campus are:

  1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
  2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
  3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
  4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).
  5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
  6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.
  7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
  8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

The colleges and universities that are committed to the 8 Keys to Success help veterans and military families afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses, while preparing graduates for jobs in high-growth sectors of the economy. Information about the program and how schools like Gateway are helping veterans pursue their education and employment goals can be found at