Long Beach,
09
November
2017
|
02:01 AM
America/Los_Angeles

Program Gives Veteran a Chance to Achieve His Life’s Mission

Summary

Lonnie Richardson was a year out of high school and knew he had to make some choices to meet his life’s goals of getting an education and achieving financial stability. That’s when he enlisted in the Air Force.

By Ofelia De La Rosa

Lonnie Richardson was a year out of high school and knew he had to make some choices to meet his life’s goals of getting an education and achieving financial stability. That’s when he enlisted in the Air Force.

“I knew I needed help with school, so I was going to need some money, and that was the No. 1 reason why I joined,” Richardson said.

While the Air Force provided the takeoff, it is California State University Long Beach’s Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts (BALA) degree completion program that is helping Richardson land his goals. The program helps those in the workforce achieve their higher education dreams.

Maythee Rojas, director of the BALA program, reached out to Richardson through the university’s veteran’s department and helped him jumpstart his career at CSULB.

“The program was perfect,” Richardson said. “I had already done some schooling, which is what the BALA program wants, and in my head I was behind. So this was a two year, nonstop program and I knew it would push me to where I needed to be. It was the perfect solution for me to finish what I started.”

With Veterans Day approaching, Richardson and others who have served their country are being recognized as key members of the CSULB community.

While he viewed his enlistment as a means to an end, Richardson thrived in the Air Force. He served as a dispatcher in Northern California for several years before becoming a recruiter in Southern California. While a recruiter, he enrolled at Orange Coast College to pursue his degree.

“I wasn’t going to get out [of the military] until I got my degree, so I stayed,” Richardson said. “Without the Air Force’s benefits, I wouldn’t be studying here at CSULB today.

“Recruiting is what really helped me realize what I wanted to do. It gave me the time that I needed and it was a wake-up call to help myself.”

Richardson applied at CSULB in fall of 2014 but did not get in. However, soon after he was surprised by a call from Rojas, who told him he qualified for the BALA program at the university.

Richardson parted ways with the Air Force in December 2014 and enrolled at CSULB in spring of 2015. Now he is getting ready to graduate in the spring with a degree in human resources.

“The program helped me develop certain tools to ease my anxiety of writing because I definitely didn’t like writing before, but now it’s not as bad,” Richardson said. “The BALA program has gotten me closer to my ultimate goal of graduating.”

Richardson is thankful for the BALA program and especially his mentor Rojas.

“Maythee has definitely, by far, been an amazing mentor for this program. She’s understanding, very straightforward, hardworking and lays everything out,” he said.

Richardson credits his success at CSULB to the discipline he learned in the military during his 10-year stint as well as the support he received from the BALA program.

Once Richardson departs CSULB, he plans to use his degree to pursue a business in commercial real estate.