Fighting poverty on the front lines

Greg House, Photo credit: Christina Franusich
Greg House, Photo credit: Christina Franusich

Cadet Greg House was drawn to the Marines and Virginia Tech because of their tradition of service. After he was medically discharged from the ROTC program, he found a new way to apply his desire to serve. This time, through water research. As a cadet in the corps’ citizen-leader track, Greg said he wants to live a life of service in the most humble way possible -- fighting poverty on the front lines. Greg chose water as his way to help.

“Everyone needs water to survive,” he said. “And if you give people water, they can use it to grow their resources.”

An honors student majoring in civil engineering, Greg devoted time for a year to weekly meetings with an interdisciplinary team to help plan an Engineers without Borders project to design and build a sewage system in a remote school in Guatemala.

Then Greg got the opportunity of a lifetime: doing research with Dr. Marc Edwards and Dr. Amy Pruden, examining the effects of particulates on corrosion in metal alloys.

Since then, Greg has done research with the Roanoke City Water Project. He has been a research assistant in Texas and Florida in areas impacted by flooding. And he spent last summer in Puerto Rico, where he wrote a protocol for a slow sand filter that could be used by researchers and community members.

“Meeting great people around me through research, the corps, academics, and attending conferences has been the highlight of my college experience,” Greg said. “There are countless people who have inspired me to continue on the path that I am on. Listening and learning from each person has truly benefitted me as a student and a person.”

He pays that forward in his leadership roles in the Corps of Cadets, where he is Battalion Commander, directing 190 cadets towards career, academic, and physical success.

Greg said, “Many freshmen in the corps enter college wide-eyed and lacking skills for success as cadets and students. I am proud I was able to make a positive impact on some of the freshmen in my company when I was their cadre sergeant. I learned that people have so much more potential than they think. Having someone believe in themselves and be honest and open allows them to grow rapidly. People often think they cannot achieve a high goal and never truly give it a shot. Only when someone goes all in will they know whether they can achieve that goal. Many people today are scared of going all in.”

Clearly, Greg is not. “My passion,” he said, “is to make a positive impact in others’ lives through selfless service. My belief is that everyone is here for a reason and we have a moral obligation to be the best people that we can be. I try to be a positive role model and encourage others to strive for greatness in everything that they do.”

Greg plans to go into international development related to water concerns after graduate school.