‘It was like a gold mine’: Military student leaders return from summit with renewed focus

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Tristan Lacey, left, and Claud Bugheni attended the SVA Regional Summit from June 17-19 in Atlanta.

Upon returning from the Student Veterans of America’s regional summit earlier this month in Atlanta, third-year Medical College of Georgia student Claud Bugheni says he is more determined than ever to help ensure student service members have the resources they need, as he knows what it’s like to not have necessities.

As a young boy in Cameron, West Africa, Bugheni says his family was “so poor” they resorted sneaking out of hospitals to avoid medical bills. He vowed when he got older, he would work to ensure others would never experience that.

He decided to become a doctor — but he didn’t know how. He learned about the United States Army’s pathway to American citizenship, enlisted, became a combat medic and exited after four years with fervor as he headed to medical school. It was at Augusta University where he continued serving, as president of AU’s chapter of Student Veterans of America. He’s eager to incorporate here on campus what he learned at the regional summit.

“It was like a gold mine. Likeminded leaders going through the same struggles with their chapter at their colleges. It was amazing to exchange ideas on how to be a better leader and better service members,” he said. “We have really struggled with fundraising, recruitment, engagement. This summit helped us find our why.”

The summit is one of five taking place this summer. Each weekend session focuses on six key steps for chapter leaders to “supercharge” their chapter, including defining the chapter, enhancing the chapter, engaging the chapter, elevating chapter leadership, connecting and empowering chapter leaders and executing summit lessons.

Bugheni and his vice president Tristan Lacey, who also attended the conference, are at the helm at a critical time for the local chapter, which essentially disbanded amid the pandemic. They say the the tools, tactics and techniques they learned are essential to rebuild.

“The summit taught me a lot about how things work behind the scenes of events and general participation. I’ve learned how much a simple elevator pitch can go a mile long. With all that I have discussed and learned, I truly believe that we have the tools needed to more engage our chapter with our campus and our community,” said Lacey, a psychology major in the College of Science and Mathematics who also plans to go to medical school.

Bugheni wants to be an emergency medicine physician who treats patients in rural areas often facing abject poverty. His aim is to provide for them what he did not have as a child. In the meantime, though, he plans to devote more time and energy to developing AUSVA into a successful and sustainable resource.

“We want students to know we are here to help them. Little things will make a big difference in the long run.”

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Written by
Monique Williams

Monique Williams is the communications strategist for the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs at Augusta University. Have a student-focused story idea? Email her at mwilliams51@augusta.edu.

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woman smiling Written by Monique Williams

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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