The Aspire! Awards recognize students, faculty, and staff who exemplify Student Affairs' Aspirations for Student Learning. Five students, one representing each Aspiration, and one faculty/staff member will be honored at each celebration in the months of October, December, February, March, and April. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022-2023 Aspire! Awards.
Aspire! Award Celebrations
- Friday, February 24, 2022, 8-10 a.m. - Practice Civility
- Friday, March 24, 2022, 8-10 a.m. - Prepare for a Life of Courageous Leadership
- Thursday, April 27, 2022, 8-10 a.m. - Embrace Ut Prosim as a Way of Life
The Aspire! Award Celebrations will be hosted in person at the Inn at Virginia Tech, unless announced otherwise.
The Aspire! Awards were established by Student Affairs in 2011 as a way to recognize and celebrate the Virginia Tech students who embody the Aspirations for Student Learning.
Five times a year, five students who live the Aspirations for Student Learning are honored as recipients of Aspire! Awards. The Aspire! Awards are open to students of all majors and levels of study.
In 2013, the Aspire! Awards were expanded to include university employees who live and teach the Aspirations in their work. At each of the five Aspire! Awards celebrations throughout the academic year, one employee who has made outstanding contributions to student learning is recognized.
In 2015, the Aspire! Awards were further broadened to include the Alumni Ut Prosim Aspire! Award. Presented once each year in April, the Alumni Ut Prosim Aspire! Award goes to a Virginia Tech alumnus who represents our hopes for all students – that they live lives of curiosity, integrity, innovation, leadership, success, fulfillment, and that they continue to embody the university’s motto, Ut Prosim, as a way of life.
Aspire! Awards recipients are honored at breakfast gatherings in the months of October, November, February, March, and April. During the awards presentation, each recipient’s story is told and later featured online. The Aspire! Awards breakfasts have become an inspirational and integral part of the Student Affairs’ culture, with university, community, and family guests frequently participating in the recognition event.
Aspire! Award nominations can be made by anyone who believes an individual merits recognition for living the Aspirations for Student Learning in their daily lives. Nominations are submitted through an online form at the Aspirations website, and should include an essay of up to 750 words focusing on why the nominee fits the spirit of a specific Aspiration. Once a nomination is received, Student Affairs’ five Aspirations committees review each submission and choose the individuals they believe best represent the essence of the Aspirations. Over the years, hundreds of nominations have been received and, as of summer 2017, 174 Aspire! Awards have been presented.
Student Affairs’ Aspirations for Student Learning represent the pinnacle of Virginia Tech’s aspirations for and expectations of students. They are:
- Commit to unwavering CURIOSITY
- Pursue SELF-UNDERSTANDING and INTEGRITY
- Practice CIVILITY
- Prepare for a life of COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP
- Embrace UT PROSIM as a way of life.
The Aspirations for Student Learning were developed and adopted to:
- Complement and complete students’ academic and professional education
- Challenge students to develop habits of interpersonal awareness, intentional actions, and self-reflection
- Connect knowledge to the possibilities for improving humanity near and far
- Guide them in creating a positive legacy now and in the future.
In discussing how and why the Aspirations for Student Learning were developed, Frank Shushok, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs, points to a passage in the Student Affairs mission statement, specifically, the desire to “… promote student learning, life skills, and personal growth through a strong focus on holistic student development.”
“To accomplish such a worthy goal,” Shushok said, “we had to have clarity about what we wanted for our students. The Aspirations are the result of our earnest efforts to discern what we aspired to for students and their education. It’s why the process of writing them took a year full of conversation, multiple drafts, and collective insight. By the time we ended the process, we had clarity of purpose for what we wanted to do together for our students.”
Shushok continued, “In a time when college is often associated with jobs and careers, we wanted also to accentuate the importance of character development in students. Technical skills without character and virtue, we believe, are hollow pursuits. The Aspirations are indicative of Virginia Tech’s desire for developing technical expertise in students, as well as nurturing in them a care for humanity, justice, and improving world conditions for all, in the spirit of Ut Prosim.
“We want our students to find a career, but we also want them to find a life full of meaning and purpose. That’s the biggest gift an education can provide,” Shushok said.
General ItemScott Bailey
Scott Bailey loves space. As professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Bradley Senior Faculty Fellow, Scott is Director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Space Science and Engineering Research – otherwise known as Space@VT.Date: Mar 24, 2023
General ItemEric Thomas
Eric Thomas knows what moves him. “My passion is to celebrate the experience of being alive with others,” he said. Understanding his passion and living it with integrity move him to create connections and build communities.Date: Mar 24, 2023
General ItemShawn Abad
“Residents, student leaders, and even a VTPD officer have taken notice of the difference I’ve made in Pritchard Hall, my home away from home. To me, civility means behavior that expresses a sense of good manners. Whether it’s actions, words, around people or unseen, there is never a wrong time to practice civility.”Date: Mar 17, 2023
General ItemMaha Shoaib
With a heartfelt fire to improve the lives of refugees, Maha Shoaib is well-prepared for a life of courageous leadership.Date: Mar 10, 2023
General ItemNatalie Kasmarek
Natalie Kasmarek’s nominators – and there were four of them – wrote, “We have been incredibly impressed by Natalie’s extraordinary passion to make a difference in the world through her work, her energetic presence, and her numerous volunteer activities.Date: Mar 03, 2023
General ItemJes Davis
It’s hard to think of VT Engage or Virginia Tech without thinking of Jes Davis.Date: Feb 24, 2023
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