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.

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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.

Don’t Miss the 2017 Alumni Summit

The Corvias Alumni Summit is approaching, July 9, 2017, and I hope to see you there.  This year, the Foundation is taking us to the Connecticut River Valley, the emerald gem of New England.  We will be lodging at The Guest House, known for its hospitality and seventeen acre property.  Attendees of last year’s summit will notice reflections from our trip to Gold Lake, Colorado.  The Guest House boasts miles of walking trails, an impressive deck overlooking a pond, and a labyrinth.

You’ll have to give a nod of appreciation to those who are helping organize this event.  Building on last year’s successful presentation by Corvias’ President and COO, Michael de la Rosa, this year’s main events will include panels on work-life balance, forming connections through storytelling, and money management.  In keeping with the Corvias Alumni’s pledge to enrich communities, I expect some form of service oriented project.  In years past, we have visited volunteer facilities on-site, like when we spent a day at the Greater Chicago Food Depository; but last year was a chance of course.  In the ‘$10 for $10 Challenge,’ the alumni group was charged with spending $10 in their own communities while the Corvias Foundation pledged to match each $10 with their own $10 donation to the charity, Home Base.  We achieved 100% participation in on September 30, 2016, and the foundation donated an additional $1,000.

I encourage all of you to come, new graduates and old.  One of the Corvias Alumni mission statements, after enriching communities, is to help others reach higher.  This annual summit is the Corvias Foundation’s own gesture, to help its alumni reach higher in their own lives, no matter where their lives took them after college.  It is not always easy to accept such generosity, but as we learned from the law of receptivity from The Go Giver, “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.”