True Life: Ensuring Success for Int’l & Veteran Students

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By Aaron Moorman, Social Media Editor

Among the many faculty and staff members at Tri-C, there are none quite like Damian Thorkelson. Though Mr. Thorkelson is not the only VA Certifier at the Western campus, he is currently the only individual authorized to process paperwork for international students. With a significant student population that are either military veterans or of international origin, Damian’s services and personal attention is often in high demand.

Mr. Thorkelson has been with Tri-C for about 12 years now. Before he joined the ranks of our fair college, he worked at Bowling Green State University with responsibilities in Student Registration and Orientation. He began his time at Tri-C handling student transcripts.

Damian has said that student graduation and success, including the achievement of life goals, is what really drives him as he interacts with all those he works with. One of the things he enjoys the most is the one-on-one aspect of assisting students individually. According to Damian, it’s about more than just processing paperwork—it’s about building relationships. In an interview with him, Damian proudly declared, “I love working at Tri-C, and the Cleveland area in general.” He added that it really helps to have such a great team and good leadership, which all adds up to make his level of commitment so possible.

One of the things Damian likes most about serving international students is the rich diversity he experiences in meeting and getting to know young men and women from all different parts of the world. He expressed how much he admires and respects their courage, as well as what a positive impact it has in expanding his worldview.

Damian gets just as much satisfaction out of supporting our military veteran students. He indicated how important it is to be proactive, to see potential problems and avoid them before they become too much of an issue. Damian has worked within the system long enough to know how to navigate all the bureaucracy, which many veterans are not familiar with or are unsure how to handle. He said he is always looking to reduce the stress of students, realizing that they already have plenty of other life circumstances to deal with. Damian has learned to recognize not only the needs and wants of veterans, but also how their experience in the military might help or hurt them in different situations.

Despite the heavy workload, it is clear to anyone around him that Mr. Thorkelson enjoys his job immensely. Veterans and international students can be confident that when they go to Damian, who works in G-220, they will have the best of care at their disposal, both professional and personal. As a veteran myself, I am very grateful to have an ally in someone like Damian.

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