College of the Canyons Student Veteran Jacqueline Thornock

Uploaded by CollegeoftheCanyons on 09.11.2012

Graduating from a small northern California high school in a small northern California
town, Jacqueline Thornock was faced with a big decision: what to do next. In 2003, jobs
were scarce in Pioneer, California, while tight financial issues kept her from seriously
considering college.
She turned to the armed services, and it was the Navy that called to her– after all,
her uncle and two grandfathers had all served in the Navy.
“Well I went in undesignated, which is basically, there’s designated airmen, firemen and seamen.”
She left for boot camp in 2003 and was stationed on the USS Belleau Wood.
“I ended up being an aviation boatswain’s mate, which basically takes care of the aircraft
on board a ship.”
When the Bellaeu Wood was decommissioned, she was stationed on the USS Bonhome Richard
– a ship she already had ties to, as Donald Gilbertson, her grandfather, was stationed
on the first USS Bonhomme Richard, in World War II.
“That was kind of – nostalgic, for him. A proud moment for him. Yeah, that was kind
of interesting.”
In 2006, the Navy took part in war games, played with about 12 countries, including
Japan and Canada. And it was these and other experiences that opened the world up to her
in a way she hadn’t expected.
“As I said, I’m from a small town. So to get a bigger grasp of the world, and culture
was really neat. It was neat to go to other ports and see their cultures, and also to
be there with other militaries.
Honorably discharged, Jacqueline enrolled at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita,
“I really liked this school, because it’s really nice, it’s clean, it’s very accommodating
to its students. The VA office is outstanding, what they’ve done, and how they can streamline
everything for all the veterans here on campus.”
Here she earned her associates in English degree, while simultaneously maintaining a
4.0 GPA, taking care of the joy of her life – her son Jordan, and working as a tutor
in the college’s tutoring center. She also spent time working at the college’s Veteran’s
Affairs Office, where she assisted other vets who were making the transition to college
“A lot of veterans feel comfortable around other veterans, especially ones who have had
more daunting military experiences. I would have some come to me and say: ‘I don’t
feel comfortable going up there.’ It’s not that they don’t like the tutors up there,
or anything like that, I think it’s just a comfort issue for them.”
Now Jacqueline is preparing for the next big step – transferring to California State
University Northridge, where she hopes to earn her teaching credential.
No doubt that this student vet will succeed, as her life experiences given her a strong
perspective about what it takes for a woman to succeed in the military, and beyond.
“You are very much capable to do the same thing, and succeed at it, and be really good
at your job.”