2021 Student Veterans of America Honors Award Recipients
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 22, 2021) – Student Veterans of America (SVA) announced its 2020 SVA Honors recipients at its 13th Annual National Conference during the SVA Honors Gala on Feb. 20th.
Partners in Excellence
This award recognizes those who contribute tirelessly outside of their everyday workload and organizational focus, to lift up the mission and members of Student Veterans of America. The successes of SVA would not be possible without these visionary and dedicated teams who prioritize the wellbeing and opportunities of student veterans across the globe.
- The Boeing Company
- Team Rubicon
- Wells Fargo
Daniel J. Edelman Corporate Champion of the Year: Comcast NBCUniversal
Comcast NBCUniversal has been a proud supporter of the mission of SVA for more than 8 years, they have provided over $150,000 dollars in scholarships which we distribute through our NBCUniversal-SVA scholarship program. Comcast’s commitment to hiring veterans has resulted over 21,000 veterans beginning their careers with Comcast and became a founding member of Hiring our Heroes’ program to hire 100,000 military spouses campaign.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Public Service Award: Kayla Williams, Senior Advisor, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, VA
Kayla has a long history of government service dedicated to fostering inclusive, equitable services and benefits at the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Her tireless commitment to being a voice for all veterans is ensuring we are building a VA reflective of the diversity and strength of our modern military force. Kayla is also a former student veteran and served as a 2020 SVA Leadership Institute Mentor.
Sonny Montgomery Student Veteran Champion Award: Senator Jerry Moran & Senator Jon Tester
In the immediate wake of COVID-19 response nearly a year ago, hundreds of thousands of student veterans were left unsure of the security of their GI Bill tuition and housing payments as schools suddenly and unexpectedly converted to online learning. In the months that followed, new challenges unique to GI Bill students in the COVID-19 response emerged. Each time, Senators Tester and Moran, and their staff, did not hesitate to act swiftly to ensure as many concerns as possible were addressed. Congratulations to Senators Tester and Moran.
William Pearson Tolley Champion for Veterans in Higher Education: Dr. Philomena V. Mantella, President of Grand Valley State University
Dr. Mantella was awarded for her tireless work on behalf of student veterans and military-affiliated students, including a first-of-its-kind commitment to guarantee admission to Michigan high school graduates who choose to put their education on hold to first serve their country called the Grand Valley State University Veteran Promise.
Advisor of the Year: Ted Barco, University of Georgia
Charles “Ted” Barco exemplifies the theme of “Leading Forward Together” through his passion of grooming leaders. Multiple members of the leadership of the chapter at UGA reached out to Mr. Barco after gaining acceptance to UGA and were immediately brought into the program with open arms. Chapter leaders personally feel their development and growth of being a leader on campus can be attributed to his countless, indefatigable hours of coaching and mentorship. Mr. Barco has dedicated his time to pushing the next generation of veterans and the SVA leadership team, with his ultimate goal being for them to have successful academic and professional careers. He fosters leadership by providing the tools necessary for individual and organizational growth, to include facilitating financial stability by garnering a plethora of corporate, community, and university partnerships that have provided millions of dollars in scholarships and grants. These partnerships, borne by his efforts, have also led to a multitude of professional networking events. Even after Mr. Barco retires from his service as Chapter Advisor, his legacy of leading forward will be maintained within each of us that he personally shaped.
- Alex Bustin, Princeton University
- Dr. Abbie Frost, Simmons University
- Dr. Jeff Lovelace, University of Virginia
- Bonita Jenkins, Augusta Technical College
Chapter of the Year: Clemson Student Veterans Association at Clemson University
Clemson Student Veterans Association at Clemson University (Matthew Morris, President) was founded in 2008. Over the course of the COVID 19 pandemic, the chapter experienced a large leadership transition. The team took on the challenge without hesitation and hit the ground running. Even with the limited amount of programming the chapter has been able to safely carry out, they have held very valuable events. The leadership team works closely with the campus career services office to promote and organize virtual career fairs and professional development courses. Additionally, they partner with other veteran organizations in the community to conduct valuable functions. Because of the unbridled success of the chapter, the chapter president was awarded Clemson University’s Outstanding Student Veteran Award for Fall 2020. Since then, the chapter has been able to hold a successful Military Appreciation Day Football game, where 85 tickets were donated in order for student veterans to attend the game at no cost. At the same game, numerous veterans and ROTC cadets were honored for their prior and future service. The chapter also partnered with their rival school to host a virtual Veteran’s Day 5k and held a Q&A with the director of the film “Outpost”. In the next coming weeks, the chapter will do the same for their Military Appreciation Day Basketball and Baseball games as well. While the pandemic and lockdown has caused the chapter to change many of its plans as far as in person events are concerned, the Clemson Student Veterans Association has stayed strong as an SVA chapter and continued to engage the student veterans at Clemson University.
- California State University, Northridge
- Lakeland Community College
- Syracuse University
- University of Washington Tacoma
Student Veteran of the Year: Andrew Ho, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Andrew Ho (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) is a first-generation college student veteran. In 2010, he joined the United States Air Force, and proudly served as a cook for the majority of his military career, which helped him develop leadership qualities that he hopes to carry to the healthcare profession. Throughout his career, he gained experience and confidence that would shape his decision to pursue a degree in occupational therapy. After serving 7 years, Andrew separated from the armed forces, and made the decision to continue his education at UNLV. Initially, he developed imposter syndrome. He discovered that other student veterans also struggled with imposter syndrome, and so strives to engage with student veterans and families through the PAVE team and Rebel Vets chapter of SVA. Since 2018, he also served as a “Big” with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Andrew’s military experience, campus involvement, and community service helped him enjoy his academic environment. He aspires to become an occupational therapist with a special interest in helping veterans and hopes to inspire other veterans to pursue higher education.
- Emma Cassidy, Fordham University
- Erika Lee, University of Maryland Global Campus
- Kenneth Mack, Augusta Technical College
- Manuel Matias, University of Arizona
- Hudson Miller, Harvard University
- Jessica Payne, Southern New Hampshire University
- Ann Stalcup, Our Lady of the Lake University
- Savanna Turner, University of Florida
- Cameron Zbikowski, Grand Valley State University
About Student Veterans of America
With a focused mission on empowering student veterans, Student Veterans of America (SVA) is committed to providing an educational experience that goes beyond the classroom. Through a dedicated network of nearly 1,600 on-campus chapters in all 50 states and 4 countries representing more than 750,000 student veterans, SVA aims to inspire yesterday’s warriors by connecting student veterans with a community of like-minded chapter leaders. Every day these passionate leaders work to provide the necessary resources, network support, and advocacy to ensure student veterans can effectively connect, expand their skills, and ultimately achieve their greatest potential. For more information, visit us at www.studentveterans.org.