Steve Czarnecki Makes Transition From Sailor to Student; Helps Other Veterans

Steve Czarnecki

Steve Czarnecki, Student Veterans Resource Center Liaison at McHenry County College.

MCC student Steve Czarnecki has spent the last year transitioning from sailor to student after serving four years in the U.S. Navy through August 2012. As a boatswains mate third class aboard the USS Mesa Verde LPD-19, he saw more of the world in four years than most of his peers would see in a lifetime.

He was deployed to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Arabian and Persian Gulf regions, which included two combat zones; one off the coast of Iraq and one off of Libya, during the Libyan uprising. He piloted his ship across oceans and worked as an on-board firefighter.

Czarnecki, who lives in Woodstock, enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and departed for boot camp two weeks after graduating from Jacobs High School in the spring of 2008. By the following December, he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.

Now, the 23-year-old veteran is using his Post-9/11 GI Bill toward college tuition, books and a living stipend. He enrolled at MCC last spring to begin working toward an Associate in Applied Science degree in fire science and hopes to someday apply his valuable military experience toward a firefighting career.

“I heard a lot about the Fire Science Program at MCC as being one of the better programs in the state,” Czarnecki said. “I appreciate the hard work the college has done to make the program the high quality training program it is today.”

While Czarnecki understands the daunting task of returning home from the military, looking for a job, he plans to help other veterans become successful in their educational endeavors through his student worker role as liaison for McHenry County College’s first-ever Student Veterans Resource Center in Room C122. The center officially opens on Friday, November 8 to offer outreach to the more than 320 active veterans of all ages who attend college classes at MCC.

“I’m glad the College established this Center,” said Czarnecki, who also serves as treasurer for the College’s Student Veterans Association.  “My goal is to reach out to the student veteran community and to make the center’s presence known. We want to learn what’s important to them and what services need to be at the school.” 

As student veteran liaison to Student Senate, Czarnecki said he appreciates the outreach to students by MCC’s Student Life Office.

“I like how MCC’s student clubs and organizations are very active with fundraising ideas and service projects,” he said.

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