A Different Path
By Liz MacDonald
Lamar Green found the inspiration to return to school at age 50 after his 18-year-old son, Zachary, passed away from a drug overdose. His son had just graduated from high school, and for Lamar, going to college became a way to honor his son’s memory and create something positive.
“I want to help other young men not take that path, so other families don’t have to go through what ours went through,” Green said.
The longtime Seaside resident started by taking classes at MPC, and then transferred to CSUMB where he majored in Collaborative Health and Human Services.
“I was scared at first. I felt like I was too far beyond college,” he said. “I saw that you had to maintain a 2.0 GPA and I thought, how am I going to do that?”
With the support of his family (four other children and six grandchildren), he made the commitment, buckled down and developed the study habits that would get him through. When he completed his coursework in December 2015, his cumulative GPA was 3.46. He’ll walk in the commencement ceremony this May.
“CSUMB is a wonderful campus and great resource for the people of this area,” he said. “Had it not been for CSUMB being local, I would not have had the opportunity to get a university education.”
As a military veteran, he was entitled to benefits that helped him earn his degree. Giving back to other vets has been an important part of his educational experience.
Resources for veterans
For his Capstone, Green worked as an intern at the Monterey County Military and Veterans Affairs Office. During the internship he organized a veterans’ resource fair to connect homeless veterans in the area to services and resources that could support them.
Fourteen local organizations participated and about 40 homeless veterans attended. Many of the participating organizations gave positive feedback, stating the fair provided them an opportunity to network with other veteran-serving organizations in the area. “They were able to better understand what each other does and learn how to make referrals,” said Green. “It really opened up the chain of resources.”
The Monterey County VA plans to organize resource fairs on a quarterly basis following the model Green developed.
Now Green works as a case manager with Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists, Inc., providing veterans with vocational counseling and employment services. During his first month on the job, he’s worked with 10 veterans, three of whom have already found employment.
In the future, he is considering returning to school again, this time for a master’s degree.