An advocate for student veterans, senior communication major interning at Student Veterans of America
Senior communication student Kenedey Ward is working in an internship this summer to jump start a career of working with student veterans before she graduates in August. However, instead of being in Washington, D.C., like she planned, she’s working as a marketing intern from home with her two sons. She’s interning at the Student Veterans of America (SVA) National Headquarters, which supports all veterans through their transition from the military to educational advancement and career growth. SVA has more than 1,500 chapters representing 750,000 student veterans. We caught up with her to learn more about her internship, and what inspired her to apply for it.
Q: What are your internship duties?
As a marketing intern, I collaborate with the Vice President of Communications and SVA partners to implement SVA’s marketing strategy and produce digital content. I participate in regular planning meetings and present new ideas for content, as well as help produce web pages, emails, social media posts, printed materials, and other assets. I monitor their social media channels and engage with feedback from our audiences, and I assist with in-person event marketing initiatives. I also copy edit and do research for various pieces of collateral.
Q: Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for this internship because I have been huge advocate for student veterans at Clemson since I arrived in 2018. Student veterans have such a unique experience and insight with life outside of the classroom that traditional students can benefit from. They tend to hold a GPA much higher than average student population and have work ethic like no other. This is sometimes overlooked on campuses across the nation. So, I decided working with SVAHQ would be the best way to learn more about how to help student veterans succeed in college as well as jump start my career working with veteran service organizations doing communication and social media. I have worked with Student Veterans of America National Headquarters on multiple occasions as a student leader for the Clemson University chapter as well as a graduate of the 2019 Leadership Institute. I love this organization and I knew there was so much to learn from them.
Q: What has inspired you to work with student veterans?
My ex-husband/father of my kids was a U.S. Marine and when he transitioned out of the military into the civilian world, I noticed there was a large gap in veteran resources for appropriately adapting and relearning the civilian life. Ultimately his rough transition led to the end of our marriage, so when I was in school, I decided to work with student veterans and military-connected students as much as possible to help bridge that gap. I got involved with the Clemson Student Veterans Association before I even got to campus and served as the first Social Media Coordinator from 2018-2019. I was a work-study student for the Clemson University Office of Military and Veteran Engagement and actually just presented a 19-page research paper in the form of a presentation to all of Student Affairs on the reasons why they should expand the student veterans center, increase staff (there is currently only one), and what the return on investment would be and how to do it. It was easily the highlight of my career at Clemson and much of my literature review came from what I’ve learned here at SVA for my internship!
Q: What are you learning from your internship?
I’m learning just how much work goes into supporting student veterans in higher education. I am learning about the valuable resources that are available and how hard-working student veteran leaders are on their campuses to tell their story and fight for their right to appropriate support and resources. All student veterans and military-connected students have a story to tell. With my perspective and thinking pattern of a civilian and combined with the education and military, veteran and community engagement experiences I have had, I believe I have the unique opportunity to tell those stories in a way that is understood by both populations.
Q: What your career plans?
My career plan after graduation is to work with a nonprofit veteran service organization doing social media and communication work. I recently accepted a job as a contract Multimedia Designer with the United States Marine Corps in Quanitco.