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Robinson: Student Veterans are unique in that they are the quintessential nontraditional students, and often face a variety of challenges that most of their peers in the classroom do not; they are generally older, more likely to have families, and often have significant financial responsibilities not shared by most 18 to 22 year olds. However, unlike other nontraditional students, many veterans deal with the added challenge of juggling academics with their transition to higher education. In some cases, temporary withdrawals from school to deploy or train are the norm for many National Guardsmen or Reservists, which often elongates their path to completion or it can put it on hold altogether.


HE&IT: Why do you believe it is important to support student veterans?


Robinson: I believe it is critical that we empower student veterans with the resources to succeed because they represent America’s smartest invest- ment. These individuals are trained at rigorous stan- dards in some of the most challenging conditions when they’re serving in our country’s defense. The leadership they then bring to the classroom when taking advantage of another great investment—the GI Bill—allows them to excel when they return to the civilian population.


HE&IT: In what ways have you personally seen SVA benefit students?


D. Wayne Robinson, president and CEO, Student Veterans of America


Robinson: I’ve seen Student Veterans benefit from the vast network established by SVA. With over 1,000 chapters across the country, they have the opportunity to connect with their peers in multiple ways. This ability to network with peers and employers makes the transition to the campus, then on to a career, a much smoother path.


HE&IT: What type of networking opportunities has SVA pro- vided to support its chapters?


Robinson: SVA provides its chapters with opportunities to attend an annual leadership institute where they learn how to develop a strong business case for their own chapter alongside peers from across the country. We also have regional leader- ship summits, which have a similar program as the institute open to a wider audience of individuals. The most anticipated event each year is our national conference, which began with the organization’s inception in 2008. The “NatCon” is our an- nual summoning of student veterans everywhere, and always a good opportunity to meet others.


HE&IT: What other organizations and corporations has SVA partnered with?


Robinson: We have many strong partners, which contribute to our organization’s value and reach for student veterans. Some partnerships of note include: Google, Raytheon, the Lumina


www.hispanicengineer.com


Foundation, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.


HE&IT: What makes you most proud of this organization?


Robinson: I’m proud of the fact that every day we get to come to work and fight for veterans who have chosen higher education as their next step after service. Though I get to see the impact for many students I meet on campuses, I am most proud of the path that we’re paving for the millions of student veterans to come.


HE&IT: Where would you like to see your organizations in the next 5-10 years?


Robinson: Over the coming years, SVA will continue to rise on the veteran’s scene, and will also be known as an expert in the higher education space. Issues that impact all students often take center stage when student veterans speak out about them. We will transform the paths and opportunities for all non-traditional students in a variety of fields including those who wish to pursue careers in fields like science, technology, engineering, and math.


For more information on Student Veterans of America, visit www.studentveterans.org


HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | Fall 2014 31


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