Letters from Alumni

Easan Venkat – 2017

Dear American Legion,

I am writing to you today to attest that the Legion’s description of their program as “weeks to shape a lifetime” could not be more true. I have always had an affinity for government and politics, but to be perfectly honest I had no idea what was the American Legion. However, throughout Hoosier Boys State and Boys Nation I have met numerous Legionnaires that have all made an impact on my life. If you like your government class, politics or want to be a leader, this program is for you.

I wasn’t sure about giving up a week of my summer to go to a government camp, but believe me it’s worth it. It was not only about the hands-on experience learning about government, but also the connections and friendships made that will last a lifetime. It was dumbfounding to meet so many different types of people from across the same state. Additionally, Hoosier Boys State brought in outstanding local leaders who shared their experience and advice that will guide you in the future.

After Boys State, Boys Nation was an extraordinary week. Full of senate sessions, meeting delegates from around the nation and events like meeting the President. The American Legion youth activities have made a significant impact on my life and many others. The time was well spent and the experience, as almost everyone that attended HBS remarked, was rewarding.

Easan Venkat

Breedslove Scholarship Award Winner

Jordan Soderling – 2017

Highlights for me include winning the Samsung scholarship and performing in the band and talent show. I enjoyed running for offices and helping in my county and city after the elections as well as being a tour guide for the tour of the county. I was excited about being in the law special school because I learned new things about my desired profession, and I enjoyed the many guest speakers who attended the lobbyist activities. It was great to meet lots of new people and make new friends while having fun doing activities with others in the county.

Nate Kaffenberger – 2017

I enjoyed playing in the marching band and talent show. It helped me to learn and better understand the ins and outs of government. It was the best camp I’ve ever attended, and the campus experience and opportunity to meet new friends was great! I wish it would have been a little longer so we could have a little more time to establish and govern cities.

Mason Utt – 2017

I enjoyed marching from place to place in a military fashion, making lifelong friends, and building a swimming pool with my roommates out of a tarp.

Brandon Wu – 2016:

I wanted to personally thank you for the amazing opportunity I had to attend this year’s Hoosier Boy’s State. Not only do I need to take this opportunity to thank you for the chance to attend, but also I need to thank you for allowing me to be slightly tardy. I understood how necessary it was to be on time, and I am very appreciative in both you [Mr. Oeth] and Mr. Honaker for allowing me to have extra time to finish my tennis tournament. You understood how important tennis was to me as well as the necessity of attending the program.

I am so honored to have attended and gained such a great wealth of knowledge about our government’s policies as well as specializing in military based actions. I plan on taking the leadership skills I have acquired and applying them to my last year in high school as well as in my future years in college. Not many individuals will ever receive a chance such as the one I was given, and for this chance I am extremely fortunate.

No matter the college I choose whether it be through the military or a traditional route, I know I will be set with what I have learned from this experience. Thank you again for the amazing experience I have received, and I know I will keep in close contact with you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Brandon Wu

Alex Flores – 2016:

Hoosier Boys State truly was a week to shape a lifetime, it has taught me and all of my fellow delegates about government from the city level to the state level. It has also taught us about the election process as well as showing me the power of unity; when you get people who don’t know each other together, give them a mission, you will see magic happen as we have all seen there. Being with the other 400 plus delegates it was very interesting, learned a lot about myself and others through the mentorship of the counselors. In conclusion, it is an honor to be able to represent all of the State of Indiana at Boys Nation with Kenyth Cooper.

Bailey Hunt – 2016:

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend Hoosier Boys’ State. The tagline: “A week to shape a lifetime” seemed almost humorous to me at first, but by the end of the week it rang absolutely true. I had an amazing experience at Hoosier Boys’ State and learned many valuable skills. These skills included: learning how to adapt

I had an amazing experience at Hoosier Boys’ State and learned many valuable skills. These skills included: learning how to adapt in a foreign environment, learning how to build relationships quickly, and how to be an educated American citizen. These skills I will take with me throughout my life. However, these skills aren’t the only thing I will take with me, I will always have great memories. I will always remember running for different offices, being a member of the election board, attending our party debate and rally, and carry many more memories with me. I will also never forget the friends I made. I can see myself being friends with these guys for many years to come, maybe even having them in my wedding! In short Hoosier Boys’ State was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to share my experience with future delegates from Oak Hill! Thank you!

I will also never forget the friends I made. I can see myself being friends with these guys for many years to come, maybe even having them in my wedding! In short, Hoosier Boys’ State was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to share my experience with future delegates from Oak Hill! Thank you!

Sincerely yours,

Bailey Hunt

Joe Cummings – 2015:

Joe Cummings here. I had the great opportunity to attend Hoosier Boys State 2015 and serve as Governor. I just wanted to give you a brief update on what I’ve been doing since then all because of the impact HBS has had on me.

I’ve paid close attention to the Presidential debates/campaigns over the last six months, and after doing some research, chose a candidate I wanted to support. I worked as the lead contact for the Fifth Congressional District in Indiana. My primary job was to collect signatures from the district so that this candidate could be added to the ballot here in Indiana. Each district needs 500 signatures for this to happen. We secured the signatures, but he has since suspended his campaign. I enjoyed learning about grassroots operations and their importance to the campaign. I also learned that some store managers don’t like people soliciting signatures on or near their properties. I did make some great contacts while securing signatures out in the cold, and now I am signed up as a delegate for the state convention this summer.

I also have recently received Congressional nominations to the United States Military Academy, The United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy. I have been appointed to West Point and am still waiting to hear back from the others.

In short, Hoosier Boys State has greatly impacted my life. The saying “A Week to Shape a Lifetime” may be a little cheesy, but I cannot deny its truth.

Thanks again for all you do in helping run such an amazing organization.

Joe Cummings

Hoosier Boys State Alum, 2015

William DeBoer – 2009:

My name is William DeBoer, and three years ago I took your Media in Politics Special School during my week at Hoosier Boys State. I remember it well; much like its slogan, HBS was a “week to shape a lifetime,” as it has certainly shaped mine. Thanks to that week at Trine in June 2009, I am doing work I love in a place I belong surrounded by an upstanding and supportive community. I wanted to take a moment to let you know what is happening in my life now and to thank you and Hoosier Boys State for what you did to bring me here.

I am currently a sophomore at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, right on the coast of Lake Michigan (and an MIAA school like Trine), double majoring in Communication and Political Science. Two of my most important activities on campus are media related. First, I am an executive board member at WTHS Holland 89.9 FM, “The Commercial-Free Voice of Hope College.” I have held positions as Production and News Director since the beginning of the academic year. I have also been a DJ on that station since early in my freshman year: my show, Freeze Frame with Will DeBoer, airs Tuesday nights at 9:00 and plays “ALL the best hits of the ’80s, ’90s, and NOW!” I have had an amazing time on the radio, and good things have come through my work at the station: next weekend I will help represent WTHS at the annual Intercollegiate Broadcasting System International College Radio & Webcasting Conference in New York City.

This semester I have also been involved in a project in the Communication department to start up an Internet television station devoted to streaming basketball games, other sporting events, and maybe even some original programming. Through this project I have been able to pick up experience doing play-by-play basketball commentary, and I have also gained behind-the-scenes experience, learning the NewTek Tricaster system and how to direct a broadcast. This program has been extremely valuable to me, as it has given me practice toward my ambition of becoming a professional sportscaster. My dream job at this point would be the play-by-play position for New York Mets games on SNY, the cable sports channel that telecasts all Mets games. So baseball would be my favorite sport to broadcast, but I will my options open and learn other sports as well. I still remember your advice to me: there aren’t many people who can do the uncommon sports (hockey, soccer, even horse racing); learn one of those and you’ll have a leg up on the competition.

I’ve been reflecting on my time at Hope recently and it amazes me how much I owe to that one week in Angola three summers ago. Before HBS, I had my heart set on attending a big university, maybe one in a big city. I hadn’t even considered the possibilities of a small, liberal arts college. But spending time on Trine’s small campus opened me to the possibility that this was something I would enjoy, which in turn led me to go to the HBS College Fair in the middle of the week. There were many small colleges with booths at that fair, and I was impressed enough by a handful of them. But when I arrived at Hope’s booth, I had no idea how blown away I would be. That encounter sent me to Holland for a visit, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s remarkable how much of who I am today comes from Hoosier Boys State and my limited time with you. I am flourishing academically at a top-notch liberal arts college, I’m gaining significant experience in the field I wish to join after graduating, and I have met so many wonderful, caring people and have grown into a faith I never knew I had. I think back on that time and how different my life would be if I had not gone to HBS, or even simply decided to skip that College Fair in the middle of the week. But God had a plan for me, and thankfully with His blessing I was able to follow it.

That week in Angola was a major turning point in my life, one for which I will be forever thankful. And so, from the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank you, Trine University, and Hoosier Boys State for helping to make me the man I am today. If you ever need someone to attest to this program as “A Week to Shape a Lifetime,” you will always be able to count on me.

Most sincerely,

William DeBoer
Hope College Class of 2014
Hoosier Boys State Alum, 2009

Kevin Schultz – 1979:

To the Honorable Steve Bowman, Director Hoosier Boys State:

I thought I would drop you a note.  Several weeks ago a neighbor youth of mine attended Colorado Boys State in Pueblo and inquired prior to his departure to what it was and what it is about.  He had heard that I attended this event many years ago (1979, Hoosier Boys State) and wanted to maximize his experience.

My response to him was something along these lines:

“I remember that attending this event was my first exposure to the American Legion and to how Government really operates.  I came from a very small school (Van Buren High School with an enrollment of around 300 students). I remember attending the General Sessions and Party Conventions.  I remember staying in the dorm room adjacent to a young African-American from Lafayette named John Brown who was the first African-American youth I ever had extensive discussions with.  I came away very impressed with him and that impression forever lingered in my mind (he would later be elected Governor of HBS).  I remember running for office and making it to the final cut in the convention for State Auditor.  I remember living in Brennan City. I remember the regiment and marching discipline. I recall meeting peers from all over the state and how excited and interesting that was.”

In thinking about that June, 1979 week in Terre Haute, I realized how that was the pre-emptive strike in a career that would span the globe, take me to places a country boy from Center Point, IN would never imagine.  Until he asked me the question, I never realized the profound impact that event had on my life.  It exposed me to the outside world, developed friendships, taught me the ways of government, instilled personal discipline, and fostered my break from the small cornfields from which I was raised unto a much bigger stage.

Just to give you some idea of where I went from there:

Attended Indiana University 1980-1984
Attended Indiana University Graduate School 1984-1985
Served as in a variety of roles with the Department of Defense 1985-1989
Served on President George H.W. Bush White House Staff 1989-1992
Served as DOD BRAC Program Manager 1992-1998
Became Global Director/VP of Services for Storage Technology Corp 1998-2004
Founded and continue to serve as MultiTek Corp President and CEO 2004 to present.

I just wanted to send you a note so you could realize how your one week can change the course of young men’s lives.  How they may not understand at the time what the opportunity means but over time they will come to realize, as I have, that it might be one for the best 4-5 days they will ever spend in their life.

Thank you to people like yourself that continue to perpetuate this program and the opportunity it presents to our youth!


Kevin Schultz
MultiTek Corp

Cindy Bantista

Jordan just returned home today from Boys State and I was so impressed with everything he was telling me about his week. To see such enthusiasm and excitement from a 17-year-old is quite refreshing!  I truly believe, based on what Jordan told me, this experience will be a defining moment in his life.

Jordan told me that it gave him hope for our future and for our future government leaders based on the young men he met this past week. To hear such a profound statement, brought tears to my eyes. Jordan told me that this past week reinforced his belief in seeking a career in law and possibly seeking government office. He said it was refreshing to share a week with people that had similar beliefs and shared a common hope for our country and our future government leaders.

Wow! We went into this experience very ignorant since we knew very little about Boys State. But it has been a wonderful experience for Jordan and we are grateful to the American Legion for giving him that opportunity. Jordan said he is interested in joining the Sons of the Legion, also. I suggested Jordan contact you and maybe he could talk to the Franklin American Legion about his experience and what it meant to him.

Thank you and your members for allowing our young men and women to experience Hoosier Boys and Girls State. It truly is changing lives.


Cindy Bantista