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Congressman Randy Hultgren

Representing the 14th District of ILLINOIS

McHenry County College project aims to help veterans transition to civilian life

Mar 31, 2016
In The News

Northwest Herald

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College will embark on a three-year project to create a series of courses to help veterans transition into civilian life after receiving a nearly $100,000 federal grant.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded MCC a $99,926 grant for the project, which is being called “Journey Home,” according to a recent MCC news release.

The program will create humanities-based courses, written and oral histories, and educational partnerships focused on the veteran experience, particularly the transition from soldier to civilian, MCC officials said.

Loreen Keller, associate dean of humanities and social sciences and the administrator for MCC’s veterans’ program, said the hope is for the project to provide student veterans with a better understanding of their experiences and a safe forum to share their thoughts.

MCC is one of 12 community colleges to receive a grant under the category, Humanities Initiatives at Community Colleges.

It will develop two learning community courses, which will allow students to learn two subjects in one time slot and earn twice the credits, the release said.

Classes will be co-taught by political science and history instructor Todd Culp and English instructor Mark Waters. Both will travel to Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago over the summer to conduct historical research and talk to museum scholars for the courses.

“I’m looking forward to getting started on this project,” Culp said in the release. “The number of vets returning from the battlefield to attend college has grown significantly in recent years.

“This transition can often be a difficult one for them, and I’ve worked through these struggles in my regular courses with quite a few of them in the past.”

The courses will combine modern American history from 1865 to the present (HIS 172) and American literature in the same time period (ENG 261), focusing on the experience of soldiers returning home from war.

Instructors also plan on seeking input from student veterans to design the course, the release said.

The six-credit course will begin in January 2017, and a second course based on feedback from the first will begin in fall 2017 on western civilizations (HIS 131), combined with introduction to literature (ENG 251).

That class will focus on the ways in which war has shaped people and nations.

The college’s grant has garnered praise from Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren.

“This federal funding will allow MCC to foster a more complete understanding of the transition from soldier to civilian,” Durbin said. “The Journey Home is a meaningful project, and I am glad to see the National Endowment for the Humanities support it.”

Hultgren expressed similar sentiment, adding he was encouraged by “MCC’s strong leadership to help America’s veterans flourish.”

For information on the Journey Home project, contact Culp at 815-479-7724 or