Romeo Sarmiento has a message for military-related students at Tidewater Community College.
“You are not alone. Your service is remembered. There is a place for you at TCC.”
Sarmiento spent seven years in the U.S. Marines as a demolition expert. He deployed three times across 13 countries. During his last tour of duty, he was a combat instructor at the Marine Corps training base in Quantico, Virginia. Training newly commissioned Marine officers is what motivated him to pursue a college degree.
“I understand what it’s like to get out of the service and start college. It’s no easy feat making the transition,” he said. “But having a community around you, connecting with faculty, staff and other students is key. I know from my time at TCC, if I ever need help I can get it whether it’s from a tutor or advisor or a dean.”
Sarmiento is giving back as president of TCC’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter through the colleges’ Center for Military and Veterans Education. SVA provides resources, support and advocacy to ensure student veterans can connect, expand their skills, and ultimately achieve their academic and personal goals.
For Sarmiento, it’s important to support other veterans because when you serve together you become family. “We engage veterans by bringing in experts to talk about areas of concern like disability services and other resources for veterans,” he said. “Most importantly we provide a voice for veterans on campus.”
Sarmiento came to TCC in the spring of 2021 and is using his Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for college. “I wanted to get a fundamental understanding of being a college student, to sort of get my feet wet,” he said.
Sarmiento started taking 21 credits as an Accelerated Degree student. He is now working on two degrees – one in general studies and the other in business administration. After TCC he has his sights set on the University of Virginia’s school of commerce and is considering a career in banking or management consulting.
“There’s always a misconception that a community college is not going to deliver the same value. For me, it was better because I was able to connect with professors who are working full-time in their fields and bringing all of that knowledge into the classroom.”
Working full-time and earning a 4.0 GPA at TCC has been challenging for Sarmiento, but he says it’s also been 100% worth it.
“TCC as a whole made me feel like part of a community – even during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s been a place to thrive.”
In remembrance of 9/11 and in recognition of our military heroes who lost their lives in Afghanistan, SVA is holding a “Coffee Chat” on Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. – noon in the Virginia Beach Campus Student Center, Veterans Lounge. To learn more about TCC’s Student Veterans of America chapter email Alesia Wroten at firstname.lastname@example.org.