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UNCP student veterans attend national leadership institute

UNCP student veterans Romel Obcena (left) and Ericsson Cuthrell sit in front of the White House. Contributed photo

UNC Pembroke’s Ericsson Cuthrell and Romel Obcena joined 100 veteran leaders from across the country at the 2022 Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute.

The SVA Leadership Institute is the premier foundational leadership experience for the country’s top chapter leaders. Cuthrell and Obcena earned an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for networking and leadership training weekend.

Cuthrell and Obcena, both U.S. Army veterans, met with institute mentors, attended educational sessions and panels, networked with other student veteran leaders and high-ranking government officials, and toured the White House.

“I was blessed and humbled to represent UNCP and the veteran community,” Obcena said. “Being chosen as a leadership fellow among student veterans across the nation is a true honor.”


Cuthrell agreed, saying, “as a student, a servant leader, and an MBA candidate, it is essential to lead by example. This example demonstrates that higher education is pivotal in the veteran community. Student veterans alike can bring awareness to higher education and use learned skillsets from the armed services to the civilian world.”

Obcena has served in the military for 13 years, including a deployment to Afghanistan. Cuthrell has served six years of active duty and completed an Atlantic Resolve rotation to Poland.

Cuthrell and Obcena serve as president and vice president, respectively, of the SVA chapter at UNCP. They are both enrolled in the MBA program and are assigned to Campbell Battalion, 4th Brigade, U.S. Army Cadet Command. The pair is taking advantage of the Army Green to Gold program, which allows enlisted soldiers to pursue a commission as an officer.

They are set to graduate and become commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 2023.

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