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 2021-2022 Aspire! Awards.
Aspire! Award Celebrations
Dates for the '22-'23 Aspire! Awards will be listed here as they become available.
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 ItemBrendan Santschi
To say that Brendan Santschi is curious is a vast understatement. With Connectedness, Input, and Intellection among his top five strengths, Brendan has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and how it all fits together to make up an utterly fascinating world.Date: May 06, 2022
General ItemAmanda Leckner
Amanda Leckner serves many roles at Virginia Tech.Date: May 05, 2022
General ItemMaya Mahdi
According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, Virginia Tech's voting rate has increased 15.1% since 2016 to 73%. With a voter registration rate of 90.7%, it is clear that Virginia Tech students care about voting and civic engagement.Date: May 04, 2022
General ItemEleanor Verburg
Two days ago, you may have noticed a distinct difference in the attire worn by members of the Corps of Cadets. For the first time, cadets were seen around campus in nice denim jeans and their VTCC T-shirts as their uniform of the day. It was to show support for Denim Day, an international day of awareness of sexual violence and support for survivors of sexual assault.Date: May 03, 2022
General ItemGabby Taylor
Within New Student and Family Programs and Student Engagement and Campus Life, Gabby Taylor has held several key student leadership positions, including Orientation team member, marketing assistant, and project manager. She is also a writing Intern for VT Magazine.Date: May 02, 2022
General ItemDr. Frank Shushok
If you’ve spent much time with Frank Shushok, you’ve heard his call to remember the “why,” or purpose, of our work -- beyond the daily tasks and obligations. Frank’s “why” is clear: to serve humanity as an educator. In 2018, he wrote: “When a single student finds a calling, becomes compelled by the cause of justice, learns to care for humanity, discovers a talent, hones a skill, or finds the courage to speak up for a value, the world stretches…I cannot think of a better way to spend a life.”Date: Apr 29, 2022
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