July 21, 2012

SVA Leadership Institute informs student service members and veterans

More than 45 student service members and veterans gathered in Mountain View, Calif., last weekend (July 20-21) to strengthen their leadership skills using curriculum provided by the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI).

The students attended the 2012 Leadership Institute, hosted by Student Veterans of America (SVA). To create the event, SVA partnered with MFRI and Google, which provided resources at its Mountain View headquarters. The company graciously supplied meeting space, programming and other logistical support for the event, while MFRI provided curriculum and unveiled a new manual designed to help student veteran leaders develop and strengthen their individual student veterans' organizations (SVOs).

"When SVA asked us to partner with them in their leadership institute, we were quick to agree," said Stacie Hitt, director of Operation Diploma, MFRI's post-secondary education initiative."SVA is a premiere national organization, and we are proud of our joint collaboration."

The curriculum presented at the Leadership Institute aimed to arm SVA leaders with "promising veteran-friendly practices, collected from select college campuses nationwide, that may be implemented on their respective campuses," according to SVA's website. Presentations focused on building successful SVOs and are based on Operation Diploma's newly-released student veterans' manual,  Success in 3D: How to Design, Develop and Deliver a Thriving SVO.

One of Operation Diploma's specific efforts is in the area of providing hands-on assistance to SVOs as they are established, grow and evolve. This includes engaging them to develop their skills in entrepreneurship and other organizational functions and creating opportunities for them to network and share promising practices with other organizations throughout the country. The initiative also works with post-secondary educational institutions.

"Operation Diploma builds relationships and raises awareness about student service members and veterans on campus," said Hitt. "By helping to make campuses more accommodating to veterans, we are able to assist them in their pursuit of their academic goals."

Google employees Sean Washington, a former US Marine, and Harry Wingo, a former US Navy SEAL, also participated in the institute on behalf of the search engine giant. In addition to acting as logistical liaisons between SVA and Google, they offered encouraging words to the student service members and veterans in attendance.

Washington, who is works with Google's global diversity programs' veterans and disabilities outreach, reminded the veterans that the leadership they demonstrated today would pay dividends for future student veterans.

Wingo, a program manager who focuses on diversity and veterans issues, expanded upon that theme.

"You are all leaders at your individual chapters,” he said. "But you are all leaders on a bigger scale. Google is very proud to partner with you and with the Military Family Research Institute … and we want to say ‘thank you’ for letting us be part of this."