The only constant is change

Derek Lawrence. Photo credit: Christina Franusich
Derek Lawrence. Photo credit: Christina Franusich

Derek Lawrence found his place at Virginia Tech through trial and error, which is probably something most students can relate to. “I’ve been involved in perhaps a dozen different activities since I arrived, and I’ve been to dozens of other interest meetings,” said Derek. “I was a member of some organizations for over a year before discovering that they didn’t fit me, and I only recently joined some of the things I’m now passionate about. In the same way, the place I’ve found now may not be the place I will be next semester. The only constant is change, and as I grow in my personal self-understanding, my interests change.”

Does anyone else feel as though Derek could be a candidate for several other Aspire! Awards? You’re an incredibly thoughtful sophomore, Derek!

In the last two years, Derek has traveled to New Zealand and Europe and played in the Pep Band at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: a few noteworthy experiences, indeed. However, the highlight of his time at Virginia Tech is something much more common: interacting with residents as a Resident Advisor. “I enjoy helping my residents define their Virginia Tech experience,” said Derek. “When they’re stuck, I can also use my experiences to impart advice, which is something my R.A. did for me when I was a first-year.”

His nominator, one of his West Ambler Johnston residents, noted three specific ways in which Derek practices civility. He wrote: “First, Derek is a great listener. He makes deep eye contact, stays focused, and notices the details. He always asks insightful questions. Second, Derek stays extremely calm under any circumstance. His calmness in body language, facial expression, words, and tones make our hall feel safe and secure. Third, Derek strongly practices respect and individualization. No matter what major they study, how old they are, or what sexual orientation, Derek respects people and their opinions. Derek helps me and friends build strong connections. In fact, I made a best friend through one of Derek’s connections.”

Derek is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering with a minor in German. His plans for the future, he said, are “all about creating a legacy of helping those that come after me, such as being an R.A. and helping to further cement my fraternity’s chapter—Sigma Phi Epsilon--as one which is at the forefront of positive change in Fraternity and Sorority Life.”

This summer, he’ll be doing research at the Technical University of Munich because he wants to broaden his perspective. “I think the Germans are rather unique in that their culture embodies civility in a different manner than American culture,” said Derek. “I also like what Alexander von Humboldt said: ‘The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have never seen the world.’”