From serving in the military to being president of the Student Government Association, Rodger Pinto has always strived to work and improve the world around him. Recently, that aspiration took him all the way to the halls of Congress when he was invited to participate in the Student Veterans of America (SVA) Leadership Institute, a highly intensive program that cultivates our nation’s leaders of the future.
Boasting 1300 chapters nationwide, The SVA is a non-profit organization that addresses the needs of veterans in higher education. Every year they sponsor the SVA Leadership Institute, a week long leadership program in Washington DC. Invitees participate in Leadership talks with members of congress, networking opportunities, and mentoring discussions with other SVA Alumni mentors.
Only 114 people are chosen after a grueling and intense application process. Because of his presence in the community, Pinto was able to beat out the other applicants and spend a week in Washington. He and the rest of his cohort sat and talked with policy makers about veteran policies, met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Tammy Duckworth in the senate room on Capitol Hill, and were even allowed to give their input on making a potential memorial to the men and women who have lost their lives in the Global War On Terrorism. Pinto was able to expand his knowledge on leadership tactics and skills.
When you talk to Pinto, he will tell you that one of the most important things about leadership and community is a growth mindset. Pinto believes that we as a country need a government that works together instead of being diametrically opposed to one another and that means getting people in a goal-oriented mindset.
“We need people who blur the lines when we need to in order to make the big decisions,” said Pinto.
He tries to apply this idea to the community around South Bend and Elkhart by helping host debates between elected officials. Pinto believes that getting the community involved in healthy dialogue focusing on growth rather than divisiveness will lead to everyone trying to help one another.
Pinto reminds us that Leadership isn’t just about making decisions for people; it’s about constantly trying to improve the systems around you to help make the world function a little easier for everyone else. Pinto exemplifies this idea and is changing the landscape of student leadership at IUSB, whether it’s by improving the way Student Government functions or working with the SVA to have voter registration tables available every year for students.
Pinto hopes to take his leadership even further. After earning his law degree, he has his sites set on working in global diplomacy and hopes one day to work with the United Nations.