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October 30, 2017
Contact: Barrett Y. Bogue
Vice President 
Public Relations and Chapter Engagement
(202) 223-4710

Student Veterans of America Announces the Graduating Class of 2017 for the Leadership Institute

Expected to be the leaders of tomorrow, graduates completed intensive leadership training over three days with access to distinguished leaders including President George W. Bush.
Washington, D.C. — Student Veterans of America (SVA) ended the 2017 Leadership Institute on October 22, 2017, successfully graduating a class of 93 student veterans and empowering them to be the leaders of tomorrow. Identified as the highest-performing student veterans in higher education, the Class of 2017 traveled to the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, TX to receive nearly fifteen hours of intensive classroom training from business and industry leaders. 

This premier training for emerging leaders in post-secondary education focused on teaching a personal leadership ethos and how to apply it. Upon graduating, the Class of 2017 had a significantly increased understanding of how their personal values directly supported and reinforced their leadership philosophy. Graduates defined their personal leadership vision and developed an action plan to implement said vision in chapters, colleges, and communities across America.

President George W. Bush (centered front row) pictured with the Leadership Institute Class of 2017, mentors, and staff.
The 2017 Leadership Institute was hosted by the George W. Bush Presidential Center providing both a venue and opportunity unmatched in America. President Bush spent time with the cohort speaking to and answering questions about leadership in a time of crisis and leaders he admires, "A true leader is someone who is optimistic and tries to figure out how to achieve a common objective that is good for everyone," President Bush said. "Great leaders weigh our national interest with our moral interest. In my administration, we sent aid to the AIDS pandemic in North Africa saving 11 million people," he offered as an example. "Every veteran should return to civilian life with the confidence that he or she has the ability and skills to be a great leader. You are a leader. Do not let anyone tell you that you're not," President Bush said in closing. 

2017 Leadership Institute mentors pictured from left to right: Barrett Y. Bogue, Sloan D. Gibson, Tom Allin, William Hubbard, Carrie Laureno, Robert A. McDonald, Jared S. Lyon, and James Schmeling

The Class of 2017 were taught by business and industry leaders with significant private, public, and non-profit experience. Serving as mentors, these eight individuals taught student veterans the importance of leadership, branding, and more. Such visionaries included Robert A. McDonald, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and CEO of Proctor and Gamble, Sloan D. Gibson, former Deputy Secretary of VA and CEO of the USO, Tom Allin, former Chief Experience Officer at VA and CEO of McDonald's Europe, and Carrie Laureno, Director of Veterans and Disabilities Initiatives at Apple, Inc. 

Travel, lodging, and meals were covered for all attendees thanks to the generous support by Prudential. The Class of 2017, listed below by name and school, are destined to lead America in the 21st century. The Leadership Institute is inspired by SVA's mission to support student veterans to, through, and beyond higher education. 


 Leadership Institute Class of 2017 

Aaron Slatton
Indiana Institute of Technology 
Albert Gayle University of Maryland University College 
Alex Wulpi Indiana University - Purdue University 
Alisen Outlaw Bellingham Technical College
Amanda Bass Utah Valley University
Angel Williams Texas Tech University 
Anthony Nathal Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Aziz Sadat Diablo Valley College
Billy Wrights Frostburg State University
Camden Ege University of Southern Maine
Carol Ruiz University of North Texas At Dallas
Chaze Patrick University of Southern Indiana
Chris Rolph Queens University of Charlotte
Christian Enciso Florida State University 
Christopher Burd University of Washington 
Christopher Davis State College of Florida 
Christopher Golden California State University 
Conor Abbamonte Montclair State University
Cynthia  Meraz Hawaii Pacific University
Dan Reif Texas State University 
Daniel Coffey University of Dubuque
Darian Blanks Sr Lewis University 
David Botello Skyline College 
David Keener Southern Crescent Technical College
David Sturges Crafton Hills College
Dean Zinetti Capitol Technology University
Denny Cosmo Bryant University
Donald Follett Western Oregon University
EJ Delpero George Mason University 
Ernesto Camacho Georgetown University
Francheska Salazar Ann Arundel Community College
Fredy Mendez Palm Beach State College 
Gretchen Klingler Ohio State University 
Jason Lester Lackawanna College
Jeff Detrick University of Nevada Las Vegas
Jeniffer Seavey Wright State University
Jennifer Hosley University of Arkansas
Jennifer Stauth Estrella Mountain Community College
Jessica Houghton American University - AU
Jessica Kirksey Our Lady of The Lake University
Jessica Nelson Smith College
Jonathan F. Robbins CUNY Hunter College
Joseph Ryan II Surry Community College
Kaleb Britton Indiana University - Purdue University
Kate Tillotson University of Tulsa
Katherine Simpson UT Arlington
Kathleen Clyde University of Nebraska At Omaha
Katie Howser University of Nebraska
Kenneth Blume Community College of Philadelphia
Kenneth Greene University of Michigan
Kierston Whaley Syracuse University
Kirsten Battocchio Manhattan College
Kyle Venable Auburn University
Lenysia Guenette SUNY College Technology At Canton
Lorena Manzanares Wake Technical Community College
Luke Opyd Cornell University
Margarita SotoSolimine Collin County Community College District
Mario Lujano The University of Texas
Matthew Dezelan College of Central Florida
Michael Cook Bowie State University
Michael Del Ponte University of California
Miguel Pica Hopkinsville Community College
Mike Carroll Ohio State University - Mansfield Campus 
Moises Fonseca Marshalltown Community College
Omar Andrews University of Southern Maine
Paul Bridle Boise State University 
Peter Kalenik Loyola University 
Pierre Casco University of Maryland 
Rachael Arthur Watters Southern Oregon University
Randall Dexter University of Nevada Las Vegas
Randall OShea New York Institute of Technology
Rene Jimenez Mt San Antonio College
Rey Marinas Pima Community College
River Tene Saint Louis University
Ryan Rackley Texas Christian University
Samantha Fergus Linn-Benton Community College
Samantha Rose Grand Valley State University
Santiago Martinez Southern Methodist University
Scott Askew Michigan State University
Scott Neff University of Colorado
Stephanie Hopper Troy University
Tammy Barlet George Washgington University
Tammy Pack Yuba College
Thomas Di Giorgio Tacoma Community College
Tiffany James South University
Timothy Leiser Washington University In St Louis
Timothy Little University of Colorado
Tom Buning Southern Methodist University
Trace Tidwell Palm Beach State College
Tyler Mobra University of Tulsa
Zachary Meade University of Nebraska At Omaha
Zachary Trout Miami-Dade College
Jeremy Bulluss Western Oregon University
About Student Veterans of America
SVA is the country’s premier organization for student veterans. SVA supports all veterans through their transition from the military, educational advancement, and career growth. SVA represents a network of nearly 1,500 chapters on campuses in all 50 states and four countries representing over 600,000 student veterans at those colleges and universities. For more information, visit us at
1012 14th Street NW
12th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005

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