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‘Very frustrating’: U.S. Army veteran was just 1 class short of degree when Vista College closed

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - After twenty years of serving his country, Dale Lawrence was ready to graduate with his bachelor's degree from Vista College this Friday.

"It felt like a weight lifted off," said Lawrence, a U.S. Army veteran with five deployments. "The thought of them closing never came through my mind."

On October 8th, the veteran learned his months of hard work might go to waste when the college closed unexpectedly weeks before he was set to complete his degree.

“It was very frustrating," Lawrence said. "I finally saw my goal almost accomplished and then (it was) taken away from me."

The veteran, who also works for the V.A., originally studied business at New Mexico State University. He said he transferred to Vista College after his NMSU classes conflicted with his work schedule.

“That’s the reason I went to Vista in the first place," Lawrence said. "Because it was online, I wouldn’t have to leave my job.”

Lawrence said Grand Canyon University will accept some of his Vista College credits, but he worries he will have to pay thousands of dollars with his V.A. benefits almost exhausted.

He also said veterans and working professionals often rely on non-traditional universities because of their schedules.

"All we're trying to do is get our education and better ourselves the best way that we can when we have limited options," Lawrence said.

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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