Written by: Jessie Rogers
During my time as an intern with VT Stories I heard and read transcripts of interviews from dozens of Hokie alumni and faculty. An ever-changing picture of Virginia Tech was presented to me through the stories of others, illustrating the experiences of members of the Class of 1937 all the way through the Class of 2015. Despite all of the incredible changes that I witnessed taking place as I read and listened to these interviews, there was a constant that I began to notice within nearly every interview. Each person had unique stories and experiences, frequently positive, sometimes shocking or humorous, and occasionally negative as well, but the same sentiment that I noticed in the vast majority of the stories was that Virginia Tech just has something about it, some indescribable quality, just something in the air, that made it home. Consistently, people of different backgrounds and ages and genders and ethnicities referred to Virginia Tech as home, speaking of the sense of community and friendship that they felt in the atmosphere. Even during times of national or global conflict, and even within groups that were underrepresented at the university, the people of Virginia Tech found a community that often remained a part of their life after graduation.
I was struck by how universal this sense of home and companionship seemed to be among interviewees who had so many differences in their Virginia Tech stories and so much diversity in their backgrounds. I began to think about my own experiences here and how they related to the experiences I had spent a year reading about, and I found that I had the same sentimental feeling towards Virginia Tech that so many others did.
I thought about the first time I came to Virginia Tech, when I was still in high school trying to choose which colleges to apply to. Admittedly, Virginia Tech was not on the list of universities I was interested in, but after one day on campus it secured a spot near the top of my application list. I walked around campus with my family, and people that I didn’t know and would probably never see again approached me and spoke to me like I was already a member of the community. Maybe this doesn’t seem very significant to people who are fine having conversations with strangers, but to a shy introvert this friendliness was immensely encouraging, and it was not something that I felt at any of the other universities I visited.
As a freshman I often felt homesick and tried to visit home every chance that I had. Now, as a senior, I’ve come to see Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech, as my home. This is where I realized I want to teach future students the importance of literature and other liberal arts within a STEM-centered world, where I’ve heard the perspectives of those different from me, where I’ve made lifelong friends, where I got to take a class on Harry Potter, where I’ve witnessed love and community and the education and growth of a promising generation of students. This is where I’ve grown into the person I am. So to me, and to so many others, this is home, and even when I leave it is still a place that I will refer to as home. Reading through the VT Stories interviews, I saw generation after generation of students describe how they came to see Virginia Tech as their home, and the realization that I shared this feeling with students who graduated decades before me not only helps me feel a greater bond with the university, but also gives me hope for future students to feel the same way.