A University of South Florida student has been named Student Veteran of the Year for raising money and attention to veterans' issues during a 3,800-mile cross-country bike from San Francisco to Washington.
Kiersten Downs raised more than $50,000 in pledges during her two-month ride last year. She blogged, tweeted and met up with veterans who rode with her along stretches of the route. She got a mention on MTV and several other national media outlets.
The Tampa Tribune reports Student Veterans of America recently honored Downs' efforts. The 31-year-old served seven years in the Air Force and Air National Guard, with three deployments to Iraq.
Downs, a doctoral candidate in anthropology, is working on a federal research project on youth suicide prevention focusing on military suicide and sexual trauma.