Kaleb Britton, BS'19

Kaleb Britton, BS’19, knew he wanted to go into the military from a young age.

“My grandpa was a Marine, and I’ve looked up to him my entire life. He’s been a role model for me. After September 11, I knew I wanted to go and serve. It was always a dream of mine,” said Britton. “Before I graduated from high school, I enlisted and went on to serve four years in the infantry.”

Britton was sent on two security missions in the Pacific, conducting training missions with militaries from different countries. After his time in the service, Britton decided he wanted to get his undergraduate degree and has a goal of going to law school.

“Serving in the Marine Corps taught me so much,” he explained. “It really put my future into perspective for me. It made me a better person, and I want to make a difference in the civilian world.”

Britton started his undergraduate degree at Indiana State University, and transferred to IUPUI and the Kelley School of Business in fall of 2016.

He recently was chosen to attend the Leadership Institute for Student Veterans of America in Dallas, Texas. Each year, the highest-performing student veterans in higher education are chosen to travel to the George W. Bush Presidential Center to receive hours of intensive classroom training from business and industry leaders.

Student Veterans of America 2017 Leadership Institute.

“The Leadership Institute for the Student Veterans of America was an absolutely life changing experience,” said Britton. “The primary goal was to get each student to know their ‘why:’ What is the driving factor behind what you want to do in life?”

Britton explained they first spent time volunteering at a non-profit horse ranch, which allows veterans to work with animals to relieve the tensions of PTSD. The group of about 100 student veterans spent the rest of the weekend learning to develop their own leadership skills, including how to implement steps to achieve goals, how to create an action plan for your future, and how to determine how you want to be perceived as a leader.

“We learned many different leadership styles, and along with learning our ‘why,’ they stressed the importance of truly understanding what being a leader means to us, what we are capable of as student veteran leaders, and how big of an impact we can make on the world.

Britton’s advice to other students from his leadership training is – stay open-minded.

“I used to come into situations with a preconceived notion about how it would go, and I think it’s really important to keep those thoughts separate and out of business situations – keep that open mind.”

Reflecting on the weekend, Britton says he came back to campus with a goal – and a plan.

“It was an inspirational event that I believe lifted each of us up to want to achieve great things, and become even more integral parts of our respective communities,” said Britton. “It was the most life-changing experience I’ve had, besides my time serving in the Marine Corps. Coming back to IUPUI, I have a renewed sense of motivation and work ethic. I have an action plan. There’s so much I want to do and that I can improve on as a leader.”

SLIDESHOW: Photos from the 2017 Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute in Texas. Courtesy: Kaleb Britton, BS'19
Britton stops for a photo with Robert McDonald, former VA Secretary, during the 2017 Leadership Institute for Student Veterans.
Britton and former Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson.
Group photo from leadership institute for student veterans.