Picture a school where your child’s potential flourishes, where they receive an education and gain the tools and character to succeed in life. That place is Culver Academies, located on the picturesque north shore of Indiana’s Lake Maxinkuckee. Culver offers a unique, co-educational, residential experience for students in grades nine to 12. And it’s much more than just another boarding school; a Culver education is a transformative journey that prepares students to become exceptional members of society.
At Culver, the focus is on developing character, values, and leadership skills. From a young age, students cultivate self-discipline, honour, respect, and accountability. They are encouraged to think critically and act positively. And at Culver’s “leadership laboratories” they get to put leadership concepts into practice, with military-based and prefect-based systems for boys and girls, respectively.
The result? Young people of imagination, integrity, and vision.
Dionte Obertein discovered Culver in his seventh grade while attending a cross-country competition by invite. He was instantly drawn to the school’s emphasis on leadership and discipline. “I really liked these qualities,” he says.
Through classes like Thinking and Teaming and Living, Learning, and Leading, he discovered his inner leader. “When learning in these classes, I learned it to truly learn it,” says Obertein. “I did not learn it just to pass a test and pad my GPA.”
In addition, Obertein has taken advantage of the onsite business school, a rarity among secondary schools in the US. Through the Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur, he participated in the Culver IMPACT competition, aligning his entrepreneurship class with a nonprofit Culver Youth Club (CYC) to tackle marketing and branding challenges. “Every group presented feasible ideas that the CYC will use to their benefit. My partner, Roberto Ponce, and I were fortunate to win the competition,” Obertein says. “This helped benefit my business interests because, in the business world, I will be faced with similar issues that the CYC faced. Being able to solve problems such as theirs proves that I will be able to do so in the future.”
Vlad Lovin’s journey at Culver Academies is a testament to resilience, growth and an unwavering commitment to service. His parents are from Romania and Lovin is a first-generation American. With no relatives in the US, they started everything from scratch. Lovin saw it wasn’t easy for his parents and felt inspired by everything they had achieved so far. He’s compelled to surpass their achievements. “Culver Military Academy turned out to be a perfect fit for my aspirations,” he says. “It wasn’t easy and I got challenged at every step of the way. But that’s how I honed my capabilities and extended my limits.”
Lovin graduated this year and is now a cadet at the US Air Force Academy. Joining the force is the “perfect continuation of everything” he had achieved at Culver. “My Advanced Algebra teacher was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army with over 23 years of service and three deployments. My AP Calculus teacher was a Naval Academy graduate. My counsellor was a US Army veteran with 22 years of service,” he says.
The greatest lesson he learned at Culver was a true leader listens first, learns and serves, and then empowers and leads by example. “A true leader never forces anyone to act but inspires people into action. At Culver, I learned that leadership is really grounded in humility and service to others,” Lovin says. “I did that when I was on the Steering Committee of Culver’s Community Service Club. I felt humbled when I was given the opportunity to hand a bowl of hot soup to the homeless in the shelters, play with children with special needs, or raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.”
Anna Haldewang’s path to entrepreneurship began with an award-winning concept for a pollinating drone created during a class project at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). This journey came with many challenges.
However, Haldewang emphasises that Culver instilled in her the foundations and skillsets to navigate unexpected setbacks. “Culver teaches you the foundations and skillsets to overcome those hurdles and approach life head-on,” she says. “Especially as an entrepreneur, there’s a new challenge every day. Value examples I exercise daily are integrity, courage, and humility.”
Haldewang recalls the classes at Culver being fun and enjoyable, especially a biology course during her freshman year. The immersive nature of classes, often conducted outdoors in the beautiful campus surroundings, added a real-world application aspect that contributed to shaping her mindset.
To Haldewang, Culver’s emphasis on leadership was important. “An entrepreneur must be a leader. The role is to carve a new path in society for the betterment of humanity. Culver teaches every student to embrace their own leadership skillsets and how to leverage that in their own career paths and community service.”
Haldewang also how vital effective communication and perseverance were. “I was on the speech team my freshman year and that taught me the art of storytelling and presenting with confidence. It’s very useful when selling a project or presenting to a client in my career,” she says. “Overall, one of the most important pieces that Culver taught me was work ethic. School did not come easy for me. I worked very hard and met with teachers after hours. At the time, I would have thought that this was a burden but now I’m very thankful to have the gift of grit. It’s taken me far.”