svo awards
(Left to right) Jared Lyon, chief executive officer of Student Veterans of America, presents Jennifer Hosley and James Brown with the first place award in the business plan competition at the annual SVA conference.

When the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith chapter of the Student Veterans Organization placed third in the business plan competition at the annual Student Veterans of America national conference last year, they vowed to do better at the 2018 conference.


They made good on that promise by placing first in the competition this year, in addition to being named finalists for Chapter of the Year and having a member as a finalist for Student Veteran of the Year.


UAFS beat out more than 1,300 chapters across the country at the annual conference, which was held in San Antonio, Texas. For winning the business plan competition, the chapter won a $4,000 monetary award to assist in implementing their business plan.


The competition pitted them against six other finalist schools, where each school had to pitch their business plan to Fortune 500 business executives in a Shark Tank-style environment.  


“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” said James Brown of Alma, former vice president of the group who co-presented the business plan. “You’re standing five feet from these really successful people who are grilling you about your plan.”


After pitching their plan, the SVO chapter was named as one of two finalists to present to the entire conference the following day. After receiving feedback from executives on how to improve their plan and presentation, the group redid their presentation and gave it the next day.


Brown cited the plan’s comprehensive approach to veterans as a major reason for placing first.


“Our plan talked about career development of SVO members and introducing them to business executives in our region. We also wanted to step up partnerships and sponsorships of veteran and local organizations,” Brown said. “We set ourselves apart and didn’t think about just what we could do on campus for ourselves, it was more about what we could do to reach out to everyone around us to help them.”


 Additionally, Jennifer Hosley of Greenwood was named a finalist for Student Veteran of the Year. Hosley previously served as the president of SVO for two years, during which the organization won a NUMA Award from the university for New Student Organization of the Year, Community Service Organization of the Year, and overall Organization of the Year. Hosley was also named the university’s Non-Traditional Student Leader of the Year in 2016.


Additionally, Hosley grew SVO membership by nearly 400 percent during her time as president and developed the Student Veteran of the Year program at UAFS as an incentive for participation.


“I feel truly honored and humbled to be in such an elite class of passionate veterans working hard to better their campuses and communities,” Hosley said of the recognition.


Founded in 2014, the SVO chapter at UAFS boasts more than 150 members and has become a pillar in the community for veterans. For more information about the organization, contact Carrie Mize, chapter president, at


The Student Veterans Organization would like to thank American Legion Post 31, CleaResult, Atlas, and Randall Ford for sponsoring travel expenses to this year’s national conference.  Because of their support, thirteen members were able to gain leadership training and experience which will ensure further success of the UAFS Student Veterans Organization.


About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Small class sizes, dedicated faculty and staff, affordable tuition rates, and a diverse on-campus culture allow UAFS students to fully explore their areas of interest in ways that prepare them for post-graduate success academically, professionally, and personally. To find out what makes UAFS just right for you, go to


Article by John Post, Director of Public Information
Date Posted: 
Thursday, January 18, 2018
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