To Orlando and Back Again: How SVA Chapter Grants Can Impact Student Veterans 
Student Veterans of America | October 26, 2016  
Written by: Stephanie Stavrenos, a U.S. Army Veteran and SVA Chapter Leader at Saint Xavier University. 

When my chapter developed its business plan last year during the SVA Leadership Institute Series, we had no idea that our hard work was about to be recognized on a national level. We had been crossing our fingers that we would be awarded an SVA Chapter Grant, a $2000 check that would send our members to NatCon 2016. Everyone was so excited when we received word from SVA that we secured the grant, but shocked and amazed to also receive an invitation to participate in the National Business Plan Competition at Natcon! At first I didn't understand; I didn't remember entering any contest and we hadn't designed our plan with any thoughts of being competitive. Instead, we designed it around the passion we have to improve the lives of veterans on our campus, and the enthusiasm we feel in being part of such an awesome organization. Now we had been selected for having one of the top six business plans in the country, and we proudly accepted the invitation.

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Stephanie Stavrenos seen here speaking at a 2015 SVA Leadership Summit. 

Now it was one thing to put together an elevator pitch video and put together a document over the course of several weeks, but another to stand before a panel of prestigious judges and deliver the business plan on behalf of our entire chapter. Along with two other members, that is just what I did in Orlando! And to be honest, it was really intimidating and exciting at the same time. The three of us worked together in the days before the competition to ensure we all knew the presentation inside and out, and it was really stressful- even if we were in Disney World. But what I realized the morning of the competition is that all of the other teams were equally as nervous. We were out of our element at the front of the room pitching our goals and strategies, but we tried to let the same passion that got us there show through. It ended up being an incredible experience and even though we didn't take home the prize, we were so proud to represent our chapter.


This year we will approach it in the same way: start with the fire we have inside us to help other student veterans and run with it! We are shooting for that Chapter Grant and if we are selected again to compete we will be bringing our 'A' game to California. A little better organization, some more polishing on the presentation, and a LOT of practice, and we will be golden. Based on last year's competition I know that this is what it's all about. It isn't the size of your chapter or the extent of your budget, the level of fanciness in your events or the reach of your influence. It is about ordinary student veterans stepping up to do extraordinary things for those around them, and epitomizing what it means to be yesterday's warriors, today's scholars, and tomorrow's leaders.


Learn more about SVA Chapter Grants by clicking here


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