A Corvias Scholar in 2018

Dear fellow readers,

It is an important time to be a Corvias Scholar.  There is a certain energy in the atmosphere, across the United States, across the globe — from the globe.  Have things always been so happening, or are they happening more often these days?  While each of us gets along from day-to-day, I’m sure we all know somebody who is afraid, or uncertain, and angry to top it off.  And then there’s all these things that come between us at work, at home, and online.  It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, we’re all feeling it.


Corvias is a different energy; Corvias is a coming together.  It is a community, conceived just ten years ago by John Picerne.  It is a reinvestment in a community, and it has raised up the lives of 131 scholars from student debt.  In a decade it has grown, and it is now a network for personal and professional connections.  Corvias has come to represent opportunity, hard work, and compassion.  All year round, Maria, Melissa, and Erin keep lit a flame, inspiring us to use our hands for local volunteerism, to reinvest into our own communities.


I am sometimes embarrassed writing about Corvias, because I so often find myself talking around changing the world — with good reason, that’s not light reading and that’s definitely not rEaLiStIc.  But it is with good reason the subject always comes back to saving the world — Corvias was founded with the very intent to incite passion.  John Picerne was one man with the means and the wherewithal to start something, a scholarship foundation for military brats.  He set an example for me, of the kind of person that makes an impact, of the kinds of actions that make a person great.


The world needs example-setters, participants of a healthy community.  Corvias is a coming together, and sometimes that means a setting aside.  We’ve all got something in common, an opportunity we’ve shared.  The community that has since emerged is a testament to the power of giving back.  It should make any scholar proud to reflect upon.  The world is looking for leaders with compassionate hearts and hands ready to work.  It is an important time to be a Corvias Scholar.


PS.  Dear readers, you won’t believe how hard I tried to fit this fact into the post, but alas.  I love it too dearly: Corvias is a mash-up of two Latin words: corvia meaning ‘heart’, and vias meaning way.

What Can The Corvias Network Do For You?

There are now 131 Corvias Scholars.  Some of us are currently in school, winding down the spring semester.  The other 70 or so of us are making our way through graduate programs, forging careers, growing families, and living as adults day-to-day.  There are now ten years of experience within the alumni family, ten rings in the tree, spanning all walks of life, all manners of studies and expertise.  All this potential at our fingertips.  But how do we do anything with it?

I estimate that I’ve met and spent time with about 50 alumni, to varying degrees of intimacy.  I have known some of you since elementary school — this is common within the Corvias Foundation, there are only so many schools at each base.  Other alumni know each other through siblings, through babysitting, or grade school soccer programs.  But many of us have yet to meet.

I have gotten to know most of you over the years at Alumni Summits.  At these last two summits, I have felt the connective tissue between scholars solidify.  I have heard such stories from you all: like one scholar who reached out for help with a book drive and received hundreds of books.  I have heard of scholars following job leads that came to them from the Corvias network, of them moving across the country and starting new lives.  I have spoken with business owners, doctors, scientists, and musicians — and while some may scoff that I could have done this anywhere, there’s nothing quite like the caliber of a Corvias scholarship recipient.  Recently, Melissa facilitated a connection between myself and a seasoned mentor in my own field, arts and entertainment.

I am truly excited about all of this because I think that something is happening.  I think that something really cool is starting.  We, the Corvias scholars, have evolved.  The Corvias Foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary.  The first scholars have entered a phase of their lives well beyond what a freshmen undergraduate is living through, and that distance between the first class and the most recent class will always be growing.  For every question you have, every problem you’ve gotten stuck on, there is now a professional to turn to.  After all this time, the Corvias network has matured and can now tend to itself.

Ask yourself:  Where do you want to be going in your life?  How can the Corvias network help you get there?  Even if it’s silly, even if it’s the longest shot of your life, is it worth asking for?  Probably.

We All Played With Swords

Fayetteville, North Carolina is home to the largest military instillation in the world, and a place that many in the Army and Air Force communities call home.  I would like to share with you a special part of Fayetteville, the All American Fencing Academy.  Today, I shine the spotlight on a community that I believe exemplifies the Corvias Alumni values: Imagine, Empower, Reach Higher.  If any of you Corvias kids are in North Carolina, then you ought to drop by and see for yourself.

The All American Fencing Academy is located just off Hay St. on the second floor of what used to be a ballet studio.  You can take month long beginners classes with equipment provided for only $80, or you can stop in any fourth Friday of the month for a $10 walk-in class.  They have opportunities for anybody interested in recreational fencing or competitive, for children as young as seven and adults of all ages.

This entire business and community is the life work of one man, Gerhard Guevarra.  Gerhard graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Physical Education, Exercise, and Sports Science.   He joined the Carolina Varsity Fencing team and learned from scratch under Fencing Master Dr. Ron Miller.  Gerhard founded his own fencing school shortly after college as an after school program at a rec center.  His classes ballooned with students from all over central North Carolina, and he moved his fledgling school onto Fort Bragg, founding a stronger relationship with the military community.

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I began attending fencing classes with Gerhard when in 2002, when I was twelve, and found myself consumed by both mental and physical elements of the sport.  At sixteen, Gerhard offered me a job as assistant coach and manager, and he began to teach me leadership skills and financial responsibility.  I was one of Gerhard’s first competitive students, traveling as far as Atlanta to participate in North Atlantic Cups and Junior Olympic Qualifiers.  The early All American squad was made up predominately of Army brats like me.  Gerhard would eventually recommend me to his Dr. Miller, and I competed for three years with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Varsity men’s epee team.

You should check out fencing.  It’s a really fun way to exercise and challenge yourself. Gerhard likes to remind his students that the second fastest moving object in the Olympic Games is the tip of a fencer’s weapon (second only to a marksmen’s bullet) – but you shouldn’t feel intimidated.  Fencing is a safe sport even with swords: you’re wearing protective gear and in the presence of trained professionals.  Fencing is as much a mental sport as it is physical, everyone has the ability to succeed.  If you’ve ever been interested in fencing and you’re near Fayetteville, you must visit.  Tell them Paul sent you.