I am so grateful to have experienced the Student Veterans of America National Conference 2019 in Orlando, Florida. This was my first submersion into the depth of the organization that is the SVA. Our chapter at NC State is in a growing phase and through my experience at this conference I hope that I can bolster the foundations of our student group and create an impact on our campus.

Community Engagement

On day one I was able to meet up with two other North Carolina chapters, Wake Tech, and Appalachian State. Creating and solidifying relationships with brother chapters in North Carolina opens the door for idea sharing, comparing programs, and collaboration. Within minutes of meeting the leaders of these chapters, we established plans for group collaboration and programming. This was the highlight of the conference for me and is what the conference intended to produce, along with inspirational guest speakers and leadership workshops.

Guest Speakers
Student Enrichment FundOn the subject of guest speakers, there were some truly inspiring ones. To start off, Medal of Honor Recipient Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts shared his humor and his message that student veterans are ideal to fulfill the gaps in leadership that the country currently faces. Robert Wilkie, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs gave us a personal update on the state of veteran affairs and provided a path moving forward after a rough transition of the Forever GI-Bill implemented this past fall. The Director of Amazon Air Sarah Rhoads, who also was a Navy Jet Pilot shared her experience in transitioning from the military to a corporate setting and why Amazon is dedicated to hiring 25,000 veterans.

 

 

Workshops & Professional Development

Out of the many breakout sessions I participated in, a few stood out as most impactful. Firstly, Chris Rolph, the SVA’s Student Veteran of the Year in 2018 from Queens University led a discussion on the importance of student veterans being involved on campus. He challenged the chapter members to seek out other student organization’s events and get involved in student government. These efforts are the best way to grow a diverse student veteran community and share that growth and learning with the greater campus community. Members from the SVA Chapter at UNLV and Wichita State presented a panel on public policy and how student veteran leaders can make an impact at the university, state, and federal level. Panelists shared their experience traveling to Capitol Hill to be policy liaisons for student veterans.


Overall, the conference was a real motivator for me to come back this spring and put in the time and effort towards improving our student veteran community at NC State.