Helping Rye veterans get back to school

(Courtesy of Martin Brigden)

(Courtesy of Martin Brigden via Flickr)

Chris Munro spent a good portion of his life either in the military or as a blue collar worker; he thought of himself as a physical man. After returning to civilian life, he wanted to get back into school but didn’t know where to start.

This is where Bridges to Ryerson came in. It is a program operated through Ryerson’s Chang School of Continuing Education which assists people who want to return to school but don’t know how.

According to Ryerson’s president, Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson has a history of being involved in transitioning war veterans into civilian lives by providing them with an education.

“From the beginning in 1948, the purpose of the creation of Ryerson polytechnical institute was for the people who were coming back, the veterans,” Lachemi said.

Those who get into the program are guided by a co-ordinator who helps them decide what courses they should do based on their interests. Eventually, the hope is for them to either enter the civilian workforce or dive further into their education.

The program itself caters to anyone who wants to get back into school, but it has a favourable path for veterans. According to the dean of the Chang School, Marie Bountrogianni, the program appeals to veterans and current members of the armed forces because of scheduling freedom.

“We had an individual that had to go away for three months of training and when they came back, they were able to pick up where they left off in the program,” said Bountrogianni “We were able to connect them to resources on campus like counselling or supports in the community.”

And with for those with financial constraints,she says the program has a specific number of spots reserved for veterans which is funded through bursaries.

Lachemi has said that he is in talks with parts of the government to introduce new programs for veterans, either financial or academic.

He said. “We are having discussions hopefully with people from the military to really have something great for Ryerson. And not only for the veterans but also the school and students.”

Since going through the program, Munro has become a student within the social work undergraduate program. When he graduates he wants to work with divorced fathers from the military to support them and their families.

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