Meet Morgan Torres, Director of Veterans Success Center (VSC)

September 19th, 2022

Morgan Torres enlisted in the Army Reserve at the age of 17 with the goal of pursuing higher education in mind.

The summer after her junior year of high school, Torres left for basic training and returned for the start of her senior year of high school. Shortly before her senior year ended, she was called for more military training.

Torres was set to begin her first year at Purdue that upcoming fall.

There was only one problem. Torres was required to lock up her phone for the duration of training, which caused her to miss informative emails related to orientation, including instructions on how to register for classes, set up loans and all the other things that must occur before classes begin.

“You can imagine how many emails you get the summer before your freshman year at Purdue,” Torres said. “I’m sitting on my duffle bag with my orders to go home and turn on my phone to 500 emails from Purdue University.”

Overwhelmed, Torres didn’t know who to turn to or which information was important.

Pictured: Morgan Torres, director of the Veterans Success Center, stands in front of BGR decorations on the Krach Lawn.

“I got one message from the Veterans Success Center, and they helped me apply for things, like the GI Bill, that I didn’t even know I could do,” said Torres.

The Veterans Success Center (VSC) at Purdue works with military-connected students to help them understand the new student onboarding process and explain the education benefits they may qualify for.

As the new director of the VSC, Torres works to help military-connected students acclimate to life on campus and plug into spaces and communities where they can find connection and belonging.

Q: What kind of students do you serve, what do you do for them?

A: The students we work with are going to be military-connected. From the administrative standpoint, we facilitate the GI bill certification process with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and we facilitate state benefits for veterans and military-connected students. There are several GI Bill programs that we help facilitate; we have certifying officials who are trained by the VA to do this work on behalf of students. We serve roughly 1,500 students, and most of those students are spouses or dependents of veterans who have transferred their GI Bill education benefit.

We also offer Green Zone awareness workshops for staff, faculty, and other campus community members. These sessions help individuals who work with students to understand the experiences of student veterans. We also host military-connected career fairs and provide a resume service where we help students translate military jargon to make sense to a civilian employer. Overall, our center meets students at orientation, retains them through student organization and solid support, and then we say goodbye through our employer to occupation operation.

Q: What are some specific goals for the Veterans Success Center you have as director?

A: I have a lot of ideas related to promoting Green Zone and communicating about the military, specifically the Absence Leave Policy, for example. There are many issues I’d like to explore with the state of Indiana. The main thing will be establishing a strong channel of communication so we can talk about the state benefits, specifically how they're navigated across different campuses.

Q: Do you have any plans for improving the diversity and inclusion in the Veterans Success Center?

A: When I think about diversity and inclusion, I think about the ability to have access to things that ultimately will promote you and give you the opportunity to go further in your life. Something like using the common access card (CAC), which is a military identification card. You need to use it to access websites and documents related to the military and benefits. However, it can be extremely difficult to find a machine on campus with CAC card access. Our office machines are equipped with CAC readers and are available for student use. However, they may not know this. In terms of access, we have an opportunity to better communicate to our students that we can help them retain those credentials through our office. Also, when thinking about lower-income students, access is a big hurdle. Paying for things like a new computer to access the benefits on demand is pricey, and I think we can do a better job helping our students understand our ability to help.

Q: What strengths do you bring to the role as director of the VSC?

A: I am determined. I am a learner. If I don’t know something, it severely intimidates me until I will just go do anything to learn about it.

Q: How can staff engage with the VSC this fall?

A: Ask military-connected students you serve if they are plugged into the Veterans Success Center and ask them if they have reached out to us about our resources or benefits. We are aware of so many resources at the county level, at the city level, and at the state level that can really make a difference in the lives of the students here on campus, for the children of veterans, spouses of veterans, or anyone else who is military-connected. Staff can help us by just pointing students in our direction, and we will do our very best to provide the stellar support they need.

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headshot of Hannah Lapeire, communications assistant for student success programs

Hannah Lapeire

Communication Assistant for Student Success Programs,

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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