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Graduating students at HACC's spring 2023 Commencement ceremony
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, welcomed the College’s newest alumni during its May 9, 2023, Commencement ceremony. More than 560 of the 1,192 students eligible to graduate in spring and summer 2023 walked across the stage at the Giant Center to receive their associate degrees, certificates and diplomas.

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25 November 2015

Once an Army Infantryman, Now a Nursing Student at HACC

Nontraditional student, Jose Velez of York, shares his story from military to college life

Jose Velez, an Army veteran, father and full-time student at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is in his sixth term and on his way to realizing his goal of becoming a flight or traveling nurse.
Velez joined the Army 10 years ago, serving in Afghanistan twice and in Iraq once as an infantryman. After retiring from the Army, he recognized that his military experience provided a great foundation but he needed more.
“I was a little worried about going back to college because I was out of school for a while. I wondered if I would be mixed in with all 18-year-olds,” Velez said.

After receiving the encouragement of others to attend HACC and then stepping on HACC’s York Campus in summer 2013, Velez quickly realized that he had no reason to fear going back to school – and he discovered the overall average age of a HACC student is 26.

“Many of HACC’s students have been out of the education environment for quite some time,” he added.
“My first semester at HACC was over the summer, and ironically, my first professor was a veteran. Right away, I felt more comfortable because I could relate to him. Additionally, the tutoring center has been my number-one resource. The center has been a crucial part of my success so far. The tutors, such as the math professors with doctorates, possess an incredible wealth of knowledge and a strong desire to share it,” Velez explained.

When Velez is not in class, he is assisting his peers by serving as a student aid in the Military and Veterans Affairs Office. He meets with veterans on a daily basis, answering questions and guiding them with information about benefits.

Velez is one term away from starting his clinicals to experience hands-on training in a healthcare setting. “HACC’s academic standards are higher than other colleges I have attended. The instructors are excellent and the courses are challenging.”

In summer 2016, he will enroll in Millersville University to continue his credits to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing while continuing to attend classes on the York Campus through a  dual admission agreement with the university. This ensures seamless transmission to completion of the bachelor’s degree within 12-18 months after graduation from HACC. The classes are held at Millersville University, Eastern Mennonite University and HACC's York and Harrisburg campuses.

Velez is among the more than 1,200 active military and veterans who attend HACC, a 2016 Military Friendly® School. HACC is the second largest active military and veteran population among public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and the only college in Pennsylvania chosen to participate in VetSuccess on Campus,

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HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers more than 150 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to over 25,000 students. HACC serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses, through virtual learning and the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), like us on Facebook ( and use #HACCNews.

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