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USF Student Veteran Kiersten Downs Wins National Recognition

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Biking USA

A University of South Florida student veteran has gained national recognition for her work raising funds and increasing awareness of issues concerning fellow veterans on campuses across the country.

Kiersten Downs is an Air Force veteran and anthropology doctoral student who spent her summer biking across America.

During her two-month journey, she did local news interviews, Tweeted almost daily and produced videos that chronicled the trip.

At several locations, fellow student veterans and cycling enthusiasts joined her for a day's ride. And at night, sometimes she would park her support trailer at a local VFW Hall where she would share stories and dine with veterans from other generations.

The idea of the trip was to give other veterans and the general public a better understanding of today's student veterans and to raise money for the non-profit organization.

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Credit SVA
USF Student Veterans Association current president Ray Mollison (right) accepting the national award for Downs who could not attend the ceremony.

Downs was named Student Veteran of the Year by the Student Veterans of America organization at its annual conference in Scottsdale, AZ on Saturday evening.

The National SVA recognized the University of South Florida student veteran Downs, a former president of the USF Student Veterans Association, for her cross-country trip that raised $50,000 for the organization as well as brining attention to the challenges and successes of student veterans.

The current USF SVA President Ray Mollison accepted the award for Downs who was unable to attend the ceremony.