Transfer Center and Veterans’ Lounge Open at Ramapo

Photo by Jessica Musinski

Ramapo celebrated the grand opening of its brand new Transfer Center and Veterans’ Lounge on Wednesday. Located in E-221, the center has been more than two years in the making.

“[This] is really a great day for us, the opportunity to be opening a Transfer Center and a Veterans’ Lounge, which will serve as really a central point for those two important student groups here at Ramapo College,” said provost Beth Barnett.

“It’s a proud moment for me to be here today,” said trustee Gary Montroy, a veteran and advocate for opening the Transfer Center and Veterans’ Lounge.

The center is meant to be a place to offer transfer students and veteran students their own space on campus as well as offer them academic and technological resources.

“Today really is an exciting day for the college, one that comes after many discussions with student leaders about how we might continue to facilitate and foster their success here on our campus,” said Chris Romano, vice president of enrollment and student affairs.

Ramapo welcomes 900 transfer students each year. The opening of the center is one of the many ways the college invites them to be part of the community along with the arching ceremony, welcome week and the Transfer Connections program.

“Today and the opening of this center is really the next phase of our commitment to our transfer students and our veteran students, who are all transfer students,” said Romano.

Ramapo, named a military friendly school by Victory Media, currently has 63 veterans enrolled.

Joseph Barbato, president of the Veteran Student Organization and combat veteran, told the audience of his enlistment in 2007 as well as his three deployments.

“Following my return from my last deployment in 2015, I realized it was time to take advantage of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, continue my education and complete a degree,” said Barbato, who aspires to help people by becoming a social worker.

Barbato continued by saying that Ramapo’s welcoming environment helps him to enjoy going to class full time and to interact with other students despite his initial anxiety and doubts about going back to school.

“The Transfer Center and Veterans’ Lounge is such a great resource for us. We are able to use the computers and printers for school work, relax on the couches and watch television in between classes, utilize the microwave and refrigerator or just unwind and share experiences amongst ourselves,” said Barbato.

Kyle McAlister, a member of the VSO, said, “It’s a great camaraderie. We get to come together as veterans and just talk and bond about our experiences and kind of vent a little bit and clear our heads.”

Kathryn Brennan, Transfer Connection Student Coordinator, also sees the center as a great asset for transfer students.

“I believe the Transfer Center and Veterans’ Lounge will function as a great academic resource, providing students with a space to quietly study or simply print out an assignment,” said Brennan.

County Executive James Tedesco thanked Ramapo and Trustee Montroy for the work and dedication that went into opening the center.

“It’s important that we remember that these men and women gave part of their life to serve us, to protect us and that we owe them something when they come home,” said Tedesco. “Ramapo has your back. They’ve given you a place where you can relax, where you can call home here at Ramapo.”

Tedesco, an advocate for veterans, also went on to note that Bergen County has eliminated veteran homelessness.

“I’m glad to represent you,” he said speaking to the veterans, “and thank you for your service to this country. Because without you, this world would be a different place.”