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Aspire! Award Profiles

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 accepted for the 2020-2021 Aspire! Awards.

Aspire! Award Celebrations

  • October 8, 2021
  • December 3. 2021
  • February 25, 2022
  • March 25, 2022
  • April 29, 2022

The Aspire! Award Celebrations will be hosted in person at the Inn at Virginia Tech, unless announced otherwise.

The Aspire! Awards were established by the 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, the 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.

The 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.


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    Mark Tambe
    Mark Tambe

    Mark Tambe, a Mechanical Engineering major from Dubai, said, “I like to describe courageous leadership as a combination of initiative and responsibility. Initiative can be something as big as arranging an event for your entire club or as small as 10 seconds of insane boldness in being the first person to say “Hi!”

    Date: Feb 26, 2021
  • General Item
    Adyan Atiq
    Adyan Atiq

    Growing up in Bangladesh, Adyan Atiq had an Ut Prosim mindset. He simply didn’t know to call it such—or that the phrase would soon draw him to a university more than 8,000 miles away.

    Date: Feb 25, 2021
  • General Item
    Michelle Morris
    Michelle Morris

    Michelle Morris said, “After waiting too long for someone to reach out to me during my freshman year, I found my place by becoming that person who reaches out to others.”

    Date: Feb 23, 2021
  • General Item
    Delaney Tifft
    Delaney Tifft

    When community, kindness, and empathy are some of your core values, what do you do during a global pandemic and uncertain end to college? If you are Delaney Tifft, you look for new ways to connect and help. You see an opportunity to become more empathetic. You consider your values when making decisions about how to spend your time.

    Date: Feb 22, 2021
  • General Item
    Ricardo Ramon Rangel
    Ricardo Ramon Rangel

    Ricardo Ramón Rangel González is a senior from Caracas, Venezuela, majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering, with a minor in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. That combination of academic pursuits tells you something about his curiosity.

    Date: Feb 21, 2021
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    Brandon Hendricks
    Brandon Hendricks

    Brandon Christopher Hendricks, Associate Director of Dining Services, says that nothing is more vital in our human experience than eating. Brandon proved just how true this is, and just how much food can affect our lives, during his service to this university last fall.

    Date: Feb 20, 2021

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