Two Virginia Western students recently attended the 16th annual Student Veterans of America National Conference, known as SVA NatCon, which was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 4-6, 2024.
Last semester, Michael Taylor was secretary and Tyler Johnson was treasurer of the Armed Forces Student Association, a club that meets at the Military Student Center and is a chapter of the Student Veterans of America organization. They had the opportunity to attend SVA NatCon because of their involvement in the association. “This is the largest yearly gathering of student veterans, dependents, and families in the nation,” Taylor said. “The event allowed us to network with other veterans, attend interprofessional development workshops, best practices seminars, and network with future employers (corporate, government, and nonprofit).”
Johnson agreed. “It was an incredible experience, with a large variety of speakers and topics throughout the week. The topics ranged from entrepreneurship workshops, to informative self-improvement, time management, and resume building events, to name a few.”
The SVA notes that NatCon is the largest gathering of student veterans in the world. The organization includes chapters at nearly 1,600 campuses across the United States and in several other countries.
NatCon’s setting offered many benefits to the student veterans as well. “We had the opportunity to stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, which when we were not in sessions, offered an indoor tropical atrium with a river initially created from waters from all around the world, to include from some of Virginia’s rivers, like our very own Roanoke River,” Taylor said.
“The resort itself was its own mini city, with water parks, shops and restaurants, and I was able to explore downtown Nashville in the evenings, which was only a short 15 minutes away,” Johnson said.
Both attendees said they would look forward to the next convention, and they encouraged others to seek a similar experience. “This is a tremendous opportunity,” Taylor said, and invited student veterans to join the Armed Forces Student Association at Virginia Western Community College.
To learn more about opportunities offered through the Military Student Center, contact VERITAS Veteran Liaison Brandon Snead at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 857-6680.