Matt Crowley/The AS Review
Quentin Irion came to Bellingham in 2009 after 15 months in Iraq, where he served for the U.S. Army. The 27-year-old from Multree, Ga. has never been a fan of idle time. After enrolling at Western to finish his degree in human services, he decided to apply to the AS Veteran’s Outreach Center, where he has been working since earlier this school year. We sat down with Irion to not only learn more about him, but the VOC and the veteran community in Bellingham.
The AS Review: How long have you worked in the VOC?
Quentin Irion: This is my first year in my position. I didn’t really know what it was until last year, when Paul Wright was here, and he asked me if I would speak on a veteran’s panel. So that’s how I heard about it and then I was looking for a job for the school year and I wanted something to do because I have too much time on my hands. So I applied for the position and didn’t think I would get it, but then I found out I did. I didn’t know how much energy and time and personal sacrifice I would be making in the office, but it’s actually turning out to be the best experience I’m having. I’m really exhausted but it’s worth it.
Review: What originally attracted you to the VOC?
Irion: To be completely candid, I was pissed off. I was a little disappointed with the simple fact that I didn’t know what services or what programs or what events catered or were tailored toward veterans. I knew that Whatcom Community College had a huge veteran’s community and there’s always things being publicized and promoted, but it was always service-learning projects. It’s hard for me to tell people to go volunteer their time when most people don’t want to. But surprisingly there are people that want to volunteer.
I also wanted to bridge the gap between various populations of students on campus, such as non-veteran students or veteran students or LGBTQ students who might be threatened by but not necessarily opposed to communicating with veteran students. There are all these people who could benefit from a massive networking experience and that’s basically my angle, but at the same time making sure there are opportunities on campus for veteran students and their dependents and any other student who is not a veteran, just to have the same experience, and know that we’re all people, we’re human; you and I might be different perspective-wise but we’re all here for a common reason.
Review: Whom would you say the VOC is geared toward?
Irion: The VOC’s mission states that it’s mainly here to service veteran students and their family members and providing them with the greatest experience while on Western’s campus. And then, being part of a Resource and Outreach Program, it’s also an all-inclusive environment, so it’s always going to cater towards the veteran independents but at the same time it’s also going to cater toward the non-veteran population.
Review: What is your overall goal for this year?
Irion: My overall goal is to graduate. Coming into the position, I asked myself why the person before me kind of, not necessarily gave up but slacked off in terms of programs being provided and the energy and effort being put into the position. And he’s a friend of mine and we’ve talked about it. I am hoping to not get tired and to remember to take care of myself, not to get overrun or rundown, basically to start great and finish great. I want to raise awareness overall about veteran students on campus and I think for me, communication is a big thing. I think as a whole that’s one thing the campus suffers from, that we’re all about individuals and diversity, and it’s interesting how we say one thing, we preach our values and our morals and our beliefs but we don’t back them up with our actions.
For more information on the VOC and upcoming events, visit voc.as.wwu.edu, or go to VU 530.