SVA Leadership Institute 2013

Posted August 26, 2013

Student veterans converged in Indianapolis, Indiana a few weeks ago for the annual 2013 Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute. SVA chapter leaders from 45 different institutions came to learn best practices for running student veteran organizations, and how to maximize chapter success. Last year’s institute was hosted at the Google headquarters in Mountain View. This year the Lumina Foundation, an organization committed to increasing the number of Americans with higher level degrees to 60 percent by 2025, hosted the event alongside the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI). MFRI and SVA developed the “Chapter Success Manual” in 2012 to help veterans organize and lead their groups on campus. The manual was once again the touchstone for this year’s event.

The objective of the Leadership Institute was to help veterans expand on their already ample leadership skills for the success of their chapters, and the greater veteran community. Small group workshops allowed attendees to hone mission statements and elevator pitches, and exchange ideas about effective organizing. Peer-to-peer networks once again proved their worth by helping create these focused goals and objectives that are essential for running an effective organization. Representatives from SVA, the Lumina Foundation, MFRI, the Graduate Management Admission Council, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars spoke about the value of veterans in higher education, and how to make chapters vibrant sources of community activism! (Check out our Storify for more accolades, insights, and photos from the 2013 Leadership Institute!)

And while an event on higher education is obviously focused on classroom learning, there was plenty of opportunity for extracurricular activities around Indiana’s capital city. A trip to Indianapolis would not be complete without a visit to The American Legion’s national headquarters. The Legion has a long legacy of supporting veterans, and that history is proudly on display at The American Legion National Library and Museum, which houses over 50,000 rare documents. Student veterans viewed the original 1944 GI Bill and many more items on their visit.

Perhaps even more inspiring was meeting survivors of one of the most infamous attacks of World War II. 68 years ago, the USS Indianapolis, a naval cruiser, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, which killed over half of the 1,196 crewman. The story is an inspiration, and Leadership Institute attendees were honored to shake the hands of some of the survivors during the USS Indianapolis Survivors Organization reunion.

To celebrate the conclusion of another successful Leadership Institute, veterans attended an Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field. Student council member Jim Yauger threw the opening pitch, and another student council member, Ashley Parker-Roman, did a radio interview in the announcer’s booth!

Leadership Institute attendees walked away from the experience with tools, tips, and lots of inspiration for making their chapters even better advocates for student veterans. Thank you student vets for making the 2013 Institute a great success.