This week I had the privilege to talk to Christine French, who is the Coordinator of Academic Support at Grace College and Seminary. She is also a member of our Veterans Affairs Student Services Team (VASST) to better your experience as a military student at Grace College
Tell me a little bit about your life and family outside of Grace College:
I am South African, born and raised. My husband John French graduated from Warsaw High and then Grace College and Seminary. He came to SA to be involved with church planting. That is where we met and married. We have two children: a senior in college and a sophomore in high school.
I enjoy being outdoors, gardening and going to sporting events.
What is your job at Grace College, and how long have you worked here/in your particular office?
I have been at Grace for three years. I provide accommodations for students with disabilities, administer standardized tests, make up tests for the campus, and follow up on attendance alerts from professors.
Why are you interested in helping military students?
In the South Africa which I grew up in, all males were required to perform military service after graduating high school. Both of my brothers served for two years. There were some men who chose to go to college first and then do their military service; their rationale being that they would immediately move into leadership positions.
Most of the students who came to college after their military service outperformed and were a lot more mature than the students who came directly from high school. However, there were veterans who struggled to adjust to campus life and who struggled academically. I was friends with some of the struggling students and had some in my classes. I remember wanting to help the students, and yet feeling helpless in not knowing how to help them. Those were the days before we understood much about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When it comes to helping veterans, what is your particular passion?
I appreciate their service to the country while they were in the military. I would like to make veterans aware of how much they can contribute to campus. They have been overseas and have a much broader view on life and the real world, and could help Grace become aware of life outside the Christian Midwest cocoon.
When it comes to students’ needs, my motto is: “What is too hard for most people is just right for me.” Meaning that if a student has difficulty adjusting to campus or with academics, I would like to facilitate the appropriate help. There is no problem which I am not willing to help with.
Why would you recommend Grace College to a prospective military student?
Grace focuses on the development of the student as a whole, not just academically. It is striving to be of service to military students, and has provided the beautiful lounge area in the Gordon Rec center. Students can go there to hang out, socialize, or study. On certain days of the week, a writing tutor is in the lounge to help students with class projects. Additionally, the college offers the Veterans Affairs Student Services team to help veterans with any issues they may have while in school.
What is your vision for the future of veterans at Grace College?
Veterans should not only experience academic success, but also feel connected at Grace. Veterans should see Grace as place where their experiences and service to the country are valued.
I appreciate Mrs. French taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. I think that her answers are insightful and well reflect the attitude of Grace College’s faculty and staff towards military students. To see more about other members of our VASST Team, check out the “meet the team” tab on www.grace.edu/military.
Grace College Veteran’s Affairs Student Worker