Carl DeLa Cruz: Veterans Promise
FROM SERVING ON SUBMARINES TO FLYING HIGH AT VENTURA COLLEGE
Born in the Philippines and settling in Oxnard at the age of nine, Carl Dela Cruz never imagined his future would go to the depths of its current course.
Unsure of what he wanted to do after high school, Carl enlisted in the United States Navy when he was just 18 years old, volunteering for submarine duty. He attended “submarine school” for a year before reporting to his first ship, the USS Connecticut. Three days after arriving at his first duty station, Carl went on his first underway and started working on his submarine qualifications. Carl learned everything about submarines, from the oxygen generators to the nuclear reactor to submarine design and engineering.
While serving in the Navy, Carl visited Japan, Singapore, the east coast of the U.S., Hawaii, and his native Philippines. He even made it to the North Pole at one point. He calls his experience in the Navy “the most important factor in my life so far,” and cites his time spent working with amazing people who taught him many life lessons.
“For five years while in the Navy, I was inspired daily by this great achievement in engineering,” explains Carl.
Now, thanks to the William and Helen Scarpino Veterans Promise Program, Carl, now 27, is fully enrolled at Ventura College as an engineering major with a goal to transfer to UCLA to pursue a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
The William and Helen Scarpino Veterans Promise Program was established to assist veterans and active-duty U.S. military during their first year at Ventura College by covering the cost of enrollment fees, hence allowing students to save their G.I. benefits for when they decide to transfer to university.
Carl is extremely thankful for the Veterans Promise Program. “It has allowed me to not have to use my G.I. Bill, enabling me to save that for when I transfer to a more expensive institution,” says Carl. “I also believe that this program has saved me some time. If I had used up my benefits on community college, I would have had to pay more on student loans for university — which could add up to many more years spent paying off student loans.”
Carl recently joined the VC Foundation’s Student Ambassador Group in hopes of sharing the Foundation’s support programs with other Ventura College veterans or active-duty students. He is quick to give credit to the assistance of people from the Ventura College Foundation office, the Veterans Resource Center, and his professors.
“It’s been a real smooth ride,” says Carl. “I’m majoring in mechanical engineering with around two years left.”
Carl adds that his personal experience can benefit others who are contemplating enrolling at Ventura College — and dreaming of pursuing a degree and a career.
“My advice for anyone out there would be to take the initiative,” says Carl. “Don’t be afraid to go after something you want.”