Virginia Tech Magazine, winter 2016-17

Spring 2017

Volume 39 No. 3 Contents »

On the cover:  Ten years later, Hokies around the world paused to reflect on the tragic events of April 16, 2007. Photo by Logan Wallace.

From left: Professor Laura Sands, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, Dori McAuliffe, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and university President Emeritus Charles W. Steger at the April 16 Memorial

President's Message

President's Message

daughter of Nicholas P. Behrman '03 and Christine E. Jennison '03

Class Notes

Class Notes

Hokie Nation checks in
Virginia Tech students, 1997-98


Virginia Tech alumni, 2017

June 2017

As a new student, I was particularly worried about making friends. I had never been very good at it, and my shy, quiet nature made it even more challenging. I still remember that slightly panicked feeling as I watched my parents drive away after settling me in at West Ambler Johnston my freshman year.

The residence hall was still in chaos, and I was alone. From somewhere deep inside, I summoned the courage to step across the hall and start a conversation. "Do you want to play Go Fish?" I asked, holding a deck of cards. How could I know that, in that moment, I was meeting the person who would become my future roommate, a bridesmaid in my wedding, a friend for life?

By September, there were seven of us who ate dinner together every night; and, as the year progressed, our little group grew to number nine. Despite our varied interests and majors (engineering, biology, math, animal science, wildlife science, and business), we remained fast friends, and we were a continued source of support for one another as the years passed on campus.

We had become a Hokie family. We made a pact to stay connected, regardless of where life took us. That was nearly two decades ago.

Today, some of us are career professionals, and others are stay-at-home moms. Our homes span the country from California to Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Among the nine of us, we have earned two Ph.D.s, one M.D., one D.V.M., and two master's degrees. We also have 21 children! We have attended weddings and baby showers, and we have leaned on one another through difficult times — including crying together on April 16, 2007.

I used to tell people that Virginia Tech added something to the water to make all the students love the university so much. While I am fairly certain this is not true, the bond forged with those you come of age with, in a setting so magical, with a spirit that is undaunted, well, it stands the test of time!

I often think about the random room-assignment program and the stars that must have aligned to bring us together on the seventh floor of West AJ.

I'm curious about other Hokies' experiences with lifelong connections that began at Virginia Tech.


Stephanie Gerke George (engineering science and mechanics '02)

Fall 2017 stories

Virginia Tech Alumni Association
Chapter Officers Forum brings dedicated ambassadors to campus

The Alumni Association is engaging alumni chapters to expose underrepresented communities to what Virginia Tech offers.

What about those annoying digital bugs?

Like washing our hands helps prevent the flu, good digital habits protect our devices and our information, says cybersecurity expert Eric Jardine, an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech.

Be an inspiration to just about anyone

Leadership coach Kristi Hedges (communications '92), who has written two books, "The Power of Presence" and "The Inspiration Code," lays out five practices that contribute to becoming an inspiring leader.

Spring 2017 stories

Aspiring to a collection that would be embraced by the university community, families of the victims, and researchers, Virginia Tech Special Collections was assisted by a Library of Congress advisory group to catalog and archive items received in the wake of the April 16, 2007, tragedy on campus.

Around the Drillfield
Large-scale success

Three departments within the College of Science — Physics, Chemistry, and Biological Sciences — received 2016 Exemplary Department Awards, which recognized "effective large-class instruction."

Corps of Cadets
Canine ambassador

Growley II (call sign "Tank") has become a symbol of selfless service for the corps' more than 1,000 cadets — and a new way to share experiences with the larger campus community.

What's In It?
Get buggy with it

Paul Marek, an assistant professor of entomology whose lab studies the evolution of coloration and taxonomy, unfurls the structure and purpose of the emerald swallowtail's captivating colors.

Alumni profiles and news
Making Tech proud

A third-generation Hokie fufills a legacy; an alumna author shares tidbits about 18th-century pirates learned while she was writing a book; a ridge on Mars has been named for an alumnus; and more.

Alumni travel
Seals and whales and Hokies, oh, my!

A dozen "Traveling Hokies" are hard-pressed to pick a favorite memory of Antarctica following their February expedition cruise offered through the Alumni Association.

Value-added activities

Promoting some 840 registered student organizations, the Office of Student Engagement and Campus Life strives to help students make connections and get involved.

Beyond Boundaries
Advancing higher education

As chair of the Beyond Boundaries Advisory Group, Rosemary Blieszner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development, is "proud of the progress and the long-term vision that the university [is setting] for its next generation."

Still Life
Still Life

On an alternative spring break trip coordinated through VT Engage, a student-led group partnered with Hurley Community Development Inc., a nonprofit organization working to revitalize Hurley, Virginia, to provide services to low-income families in the area.


by Kim Bassler '12, University Libraries communications coordinator. Images courtesy of libraries' Special Collections; more can be found at

20 years ago,

20 years ago,

20 years ago,

Virginia Tech celebrated its 125th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the university commissioned an aerial photograph of students, faculty, and staff forming the numeral 125 on the Drillfield.
Virginia Tech's 125th anniversary

20 years ago,

20 years ago,

20 years ago,

Adrian "Ace" Custis (marketing management '97) became the third Virginia Tech men's basketball player to have his jersey retired.
Adrian "Ace" Custis '97

Adrian "Ace" Custis '97

22 years ago,

22 years ago,

22 years ago,

Beverly Sgro, who holds master's and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech, delivered the spring commencement address. Sgro was the first female dean of students at Virginia Tech, a position she held until she was tapped to serve as the secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sgro later served as a member of the university's Board of Visitors.
Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, 2002-03

Beverly Sgro (front, left) with the 2002-03 Board of Visitors.

140 years ago,

140 years ago,

140 years ago,

the First Academic and Second Academic buildings — which housed the university's library, a mess hall, a printing plant, and administrative offices — were occupied for the first time. Razed in 1957 to make way for Rasche and Brodie halls, the buildings were located on the Upper Quad in an area currently being redeveloped to include two new residence halls for the Corps of Cadets, as well as the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building.
First and Second Academic buildings and Barracks No. 2, circa 1894

First and Second Academic buildings, c. 1894