This award goes to a Virginia Tech alumnus who represents our hopes for all our students – that they live lives of curiosity, integrity, innovation, leadership, success, fulfillment, and that they continue to embody the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), as a way of life.
Our 2019 Alumni Aspire! Award recipient is Paula Robichaud, Virginia Tech class of 1977.
Paula is a great supporter of Virginia Tech. She established the Robichaud Family Scholarships and endowed a generous fund in support of the Presidential Scholarship Initiative. Through her philanthropy, she has helped many students realize their dream of going to college.
This year Paula went a step further and made a significant gift to Student Affairs’ First-Generation Initiative. We want to provide access and support for the success to all students, including those who are the first in their families to go to college. Paula’s backing will make it possible to add a first-generation program director to the Student Affairs team. Her gift is timely and essential, as the university broadens its commitment to underserved populations.
A first-generation college student herself, Paula knows that education opens doors. As a student, Paula worked in the dining centers and refereed intermural sports to earn money to pay her tuition. She learned that she could thrive in different situations because she developed resiliency.
Paula graduated in 1977 with a degree in Health and Physical Education and took a job as a waitress. She worked hard and rose through the ranks. Then she tried something new and was hired by T. Rowe Price, a global asset management firm. Again, she worked her way up and became very successful on Wall Street. Then she tried something new again – earning a degree in marriage and family counselling.
She said, “I want to give back to the university that helped me find my place in the world. I want to pay it forward by supporting Virginia Tech students who, in turn, will make opportunities possible for those who follow them. Everybody should have a chance at a good education, to see what they can do with it,” she said. “Isn’t that the American dream? We are all in this together. It’s as simple as that.”
That is what this award is all about – embracing Ut Prosim as a way of life and making it possible for other Hokies to do the same for their communities.
Through her support, Paula encourages students to dream, imagine, try. Her advice is, “Cultivate curiosity. Do something every day that scares you. Try something new or uncomfortable. Talk to strangers. Have an open mind. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
We celebrate Paula Robichaud for all she has done to further our work, and for letting our students see that leadership and service continue long after graduation. We look forward to our continued work together to benefit the students of Virginia Tech.
It is an honor to present the Alumni Aspire! Award for embracing UT PROSIM as a way of life to Student Affairs’ partner and champion, Paula Robichaud.
Paula could not be with us to accept this award in person, but did record her thoughts from her home in California.