CUNY appoints first inclusion coordinator for veterans affairs



Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

The CUNY Office of Veterans Affairs welcomed three-time CUNY alumnus Jessica Funes as its first coordinator for inclusion on Nov. 10.

The U.S. Army veteran said in a press release she is thrilled to start this opportunity, adding that she is “a testament to the university’s commitment to the student-veteran community, as well as the power of a CUNY education.”

Funes experienced a traumatic brain injury while on duty in Iraq, and she lives with multiple disabilities as a result. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following her 10 years of service, but that did not stop her from going back to school.

Funes studied at LaGuardia Community College, earning an associate degree in managerial studies. She moved on to Queens College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

She completed a master’s degree in human rights this year at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she maintained a 4.0 GPA. The college congratulated the veteran on social media following her appointment.

When she enrolled in John Jay as a veteran, she wanted to begin a career where she could advocate for someone like herself: “a woman veteran with disabilities, and a Latina veteran who didn’t always have a voice in the world.”

“Having a disability doesn’t mean you are broken or less than,” Funes said in a press release. “A disability does not make you weak. It does the opposite. It makes you stronger.”

Funes also organized a conference for COVA on Nov. 4 at the CUNY Graduate Center. The event brought in close to 200 attendees and focused on the theme, “Pluralism and Diversity in the Military.”

“We’re proud of the growing platform of support services that is offered by CUNY’s Office of

Veterans Affairs,” CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in a press release, adding that Funes’ appointment to the new role reaffirms the college’s “efforts to ensure a diverse and inclusive student-veteran community.”

COVA provides support services for 2,400 students who are veterans or are connected to active or veteran military personnel, such as dependents and spouses. Its offices are on 19 CUNY campuses, including Baruch College.

The Baruch office aims to provide veterans resources for their student experience. It offers academic support, networking opportunities plus workshops and services that are focused on health and wellness.

Veterans at Baruch may reach out to John Seto, who is the veteran benefits coordinator for the registrar’s office. Seto earned a Master in Public Administration from the college in 2014.

Baruch lists on its website benefits eligible for veterans. These include tutorial benefits, workstudy programs, college credit from military services and the New York State Veterans Tuition Award. Veterans are encouraged to speak with Seto for more information.

The college offers vocational rehabilitation for veterans with a minimum disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The website also directs visitors to COVA’s website for more.

“Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends, family or professors,” Funes told John Jay in part. “If you need help, ask for it and when it arrives, accept it fully.”