Staff Spotlight: Jenny Frank

female wearing glasses standing in front of an American flag art piece

Thursday, May 30, 2024

By Deanna Rea

Jenny Frank is the Director of Veteran Services and Programs at Bakersfield College. Having been with BC for four years and working alongside veterans for sixteen, she has become a beacon of support for other veteran students. She says, “The minute I started working with veterans and being a voice for them, that’s when I knew that this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life.”

Jenny is an alumnus of Bakersfield College. She received most of her education as a Marine and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Grand Canyon University. She shares, “I absolutely loved my time in the Marine Corps. It has given me a lot of courage and confidence in life [because] if I could be a marine, if I could do that and earn that title, then I can do anything else.”

Her journey ultimately brought her to BC, which she says, “felt both professionally and spiritually the right thing to do at the time.” She explains, “My predecessor was going back to the classroom, and I felt like when his position opened up, this was a place where I could expand what I was doing to help veterans; [and] the namesake of the building was my mentor, who passed away as a Vietnam vet.”

As Director, Jenny seeks to establish a safe environment for veteran students to feel accepted and understood, along with a facility full of resources reaching beyond higher education. “I can relate to the veterans who are students of BC; I was there once. I know how challenging navigating higher education can be, and my goal is to give them what I didn’t have when I came to BC all those years ago,” she says.

The Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center has two educational advisors equipped with the necessary knowledge to assist veteran students with dedicated, specialized educational advising. “We have a dedicated team; everyone here is specifically dedicated to [serving] veterans,” Jenny says. “We provide workshops, peer mentoring, tutoring, a computer lab, and a space for them to have comradery.”

“The challenge for many veterans when they get out is navigating the systems that are not necessarily created to be structured or streamlined, [and] it is quite challenging for veterans to transition to that. When they get out into the civilian world, they have to learn that reaching out for help is not a weakness,” Jenny says. “This is my belief: many of us are strangers to these people who raise their right hand and choose to protect our country. We owe a debt to them for what they did for us. They are a demographic of students who have a significant, specialized need,” she affirms, “and to be equitable, they need these resources. Every college should have a Veterans Resource Center.”

Jenny says her favorite part about working for BC is “watching the students gain confidence in their journey. I think the biggest thing I like to impress on these veteran students is that they belong on a college campus.” Her words of encouragement for veteran students are “Ask for help. Don’t give up because one person says no; keep knocking on doors until someone says yes.”