Aspire! Award Profiles

April 2019 Aspire! Award Recipients (From left to right) Dr. John Ferris, Carl Yao, Gabby Bomberg, Anna Bondy, Mackenzie Lewis, Derek Lawrence. (Not pictured) Paula Robichaud. Photo Credit: Christina Franusich
April 2019 Aspire! Award Recipients (From left to right) Dr. John Ferris, Carl Yao, Gabby Bomberg, Anna Bondy, Mackenzie Lewis, Derek Lawrence. (Not pictured) Paula Robichaud. Photo Credit: Christina Franusich

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 representing the featured Aspiration will be honored at each breakfast in the months of October, December, February, March, and May. Nominations are now accepted for the 2019-2020 Aspire! Awards.

Time: 8 - 10 a.m.

Location: Owens Banquet Room

October 11, 2019 – Curiosity
December 6, 2019 – Self-Understanding and Integrity
February 21, 2020 – Civility
March 27, 2020 – Courageous Leadership
May 1, 2020Ut Prosim

*Registration is required to attend Breakfasts.

April 2019 Recipients

Students

Faculty/Staff

Alumni

March 2019 Recipients

Students

Faculty/Staff

February 2019 Recipients

Students

Faculty/Staff

November 2018 Recipients

Students

Faculty/Staff

October 2018 Recipients

Students

Faculty/Staff

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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      • Christine Faunce, Photo credit: Christina Franusich
      • Mar 14, 2019 Undergraduate research helped this Hokie find her place

        “My first year at Tech was anything but ideal,” said Christine Faunce, a junior honors student double majoring in experimental neuroscience and chemistry in the College of Science. “In fact, I had printed out university withdrawal forms during my first semester. Getting involved in undergraduate research was pivotal for me as a freshman who was truly struggling to find her niche on such a large campus.”

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        Erin Coiley came to Virginia Tech in 2015 as a graduate student in the Higher Education Program and immediately identified with the feel of the campus community. She said, “I knew that I could be challenged, but also successful. It felt like it would be a place where I could learn while also making contributions to this field. Four years later, I still feel a sense of community. Though our work can be tough at times, I enjoy working with our students and I am continuing to learn and be shaped by those around me, both professionally and personally.”

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