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Aspire! Awards

Aspire! Award Winners
December 2023 Aspire! Award Winners. Photo credit: Robert Robinson

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 2023-2024 Aspire! Awards.

Student Affairs exists to sustain a culture of learning, reflecting the profound opportunities inherent for students at Virginia Tech. We believe students can develop habits of interpersonal awareness, intentional actions, and self-reflection, which complete and complement academic and professional education. Student Affairs is deliberate in discerning and designing the learning opportunities available in student environments, creating new and innovative practices for student learning, and assessing the extent to which students are able to apply knowledge to solve problems. We challenge students to connect knowledge to the possibilities for improving humanity near and far, creating a legacy now and in the future.

We aspire that our work leads students on a life-long quest to:

Commit to unwavering CURIOSITY

Virginia Tech students will be inspired to lead lives of curiosity, embracing a life-long commitment to intellectual development.

The Virginia Tech student affairs experience seeks to instill the value that learning is the common essential element for intellectual development, discovery, and engagement, instead of a necessary means to a specified end. Virginia Tech believes that all environments of the college experience provide countless opportunities for learning. Student organizations, service projects, classrooms, residence and dining halls, student centers, leader development programs, cultural and recreational events, and many other planned and spontaneous encounters at Virginia Tech, cumulatively represent a vibrant learning laboratory for students.


Virginia Tech students will form a set of affirmative values and develop the self-understanding to integrate these values into their decision-making.

Virginia Tech students will experience, explore, and understand the values and principles of their families, communities, and the many cultures they encounter. As students better understand themselves, their strengths and interests, and align their values with purposeful decision-making they will adopt an integrated set of principles to guide their personal and professional lives.


Virginia Tech students will understand and commit to civility as a way of life in their interactions with others.

Living and learning as individuals who believe in the Principles of Community and Hokies Respect, students will pursue and embrace the value of civility which will be carried throughout life. At the heart of this pursuit is a basic commitment to consideration, respect, and courtesy. Civility is a shared gift that we give and receive in turn. Accordingly, civility expects that: we strive to listen, as well as to speak to each other; we try to understand each other in our commonalities and differences; we give respect due to all members of the university community; we favor courtesy over rudeness and encourage considerate treatment over dismissive behavior; and we combine free speech with reasoned expression so that liberty and peace are both served.

Prepare for a life of COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP

Virginia Tech students will be courageous leaders who serve as change agents and make the world more humane and just.

Virginia Tech students will be courageous leaders who are willing to challenge the status quo in pursuit of a more humane and just world. They will have the fortitude to speak up when they witness an injustice and reach out to those who are vulnerable, marginalized, or in need. Courageous leadership is possible whether or not the individual is in a position of responsibility. Virginia Tech students will inspire others with their actions, changing the world one decision at a time.

Embrace UT PROSIM as a way of life

Virginia Tech students will enrich their lives through service to others.

The university motto, Ut Prosim – That I May Serve, and the Principles of Community will stand as a foundation for the development ofpersonal relationships, physical spaces, and intercultural experiences, which create communities. Within, these communities compel students to understand and develop a value system that will guide their decisions and enable them to offer themselves as responsible citizens of the world.

Aspire! Award Celebrations

  • Friday, October 20, 2023
  • Friday, December 1, 2023
  • Friday, February 23, 2024
  • Friday March 22, 2024
  • Friday, April 26, 2024

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
  • 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.

Rss Feed
  • General Item
    M. Kiani
    Momna Kiani

    Momna Kiani’s nominator said, “Momna has shown an amazing ability to empathize and connect with others. Understanding when her peers are stressed, vulnerable and in need takes a special type of person. Also special is her ability to understand when others need recognition and provide that in a way that is thoughtful and kind.”

    Date: May 26, 2023
  • General Item
    P. Corrigan
    Patrick Corrigan

    A student leader for Residential Well-being, Highty-Tighty executive officer, and 4th Battalion executive officer within the Corps of Cadets, Cadet Patrick Corrigan has straightforward insight on how to lead with civility: Listen. Care for others. Love your people.

    Date: May 19, 2023
  • General Item
    S. Mahmood
    Sania Mahmood

    By cultivating connections with others, Sania Mahmood has developed self-understanding that empowers her to lead others, solve problems, and live out values that make a difference.

    Date: May 12, 2023
  • General Item
    C. Reinhart-Diaz
    Catalina Reinhart-Diaz

    A leader and inspiration for expanding the boundaries of possibility: Cat Reinhart-Diaz, said her nominator, is a vision of “a student exploring and enjoying all aspects of student life, remaining curious about who they are and who they may become.”

    Date: May 05, 2023
  • General Item
    E. Sturgis
    Dr. Ellie Sturgis

    At the end of each day, Dr. Ellie Sturgis asks herself, “How have I been of use to others?” She said, “In serving others, our lives are enriched beyond measure.” That is the mark of a true practitioner of our university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

    Date: Apr 28, 2023
  • General Item
    P. Reeder
    Paul Reeder

    Paul Reeder’s career experience includes being an enlisted paratrooper in the Army, a cybersecurity consultant in the White House, running a division of a systems integrator, helping grow a small business from 15 to 100 people, and several roles at Amazon. He is currently senior manager for Amazon Web Services. But long before all that, Paul was a resident advisor and a head RA at Virginia Tech.

    Date: Apr 28, 2023

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