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Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Virginia Beach, VA with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Majors: Business Management and Public Relations double major
Extracurricular Activities: I am part of the Virginia Tech Union (VTU), which is our campus programming board. I’m part of an organization called Spark, which is a talent management agency for people on campus. We manage people who are good at singing or good painters and want to grow that skill professionally.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
They both definitely have. Especially at Virginia Tech, your college experience is so defined by how you get involved and whether or not you choose to get involved. Even for students who don’t get involved, Virginia Tech is a great school, but if you choose to get involved and take advantage of what’s offered here in whatever interests you may have, it just heightens the experience.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
For Public Relations, it’s a lot of writing and a lot of case studies. Now that I’m a junior, it’s a lot more case study work because I’m in the upper-division courses. For Business Management, it’s a lot of online assignments through different textbook websites. There are a lot of Excel and Access assignments that you work on, but not a lot of math-heavy assignments. They teach you a lot of technical computer skills that are very practical.
Is there anything you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
The strength of the Business Management department is the weakness of the Public Relations department. Pamplin [College of Business] does a great job of finding students career opportunities and making those widely available. They hold career fairs often and have employers come and speak, so there are a lot of opportunities to network with employers and get your foot in the door before you interview. Public Relations is a much smaller department and those job opportunities aren’t as well-publicized.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
In the business classes, it can be competitive, but just because the students can be competitive with each other about which internships or which companies they’re meeting with. Within the business school, there are a lot of students applying to a set number of positions at a select number of companies, so there is competition there. As far as Public Relations, it’s a lot more collaborative because you’re not fighting for internship and job spots in the same way as the business school. You may be the only person in the department looking into a certain company for a job.
How accessible are your professors?
They are much more accessible than I expected, especially considering how large classes can be. For Public Relations, I don’t think I’ve ever had a class with more than 40 people in it. For Business Management, I’ve had 600-person classes but the professors in the business school have always been very accessible over email and through office hours. Whether it’s Public Relations or Business Management, getting a chance to see the professor during office hours has always been pretty easy. Personally, I usually go to the professor instead of the teaching assistant when I have a question, but I am cognizant that the professors are busy and will go to the T.A. sometimes.
Why did you pick your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I originally came in as a Finance major, but I realized that was not the major for me. I then switched my major to Business Management and eventually added on Public Relations because I figured out that want to work in the entertainment industry. I chose Business Management because I want to understand the financials and management aspect of managing celebrities and clients, but I wanted to have the Public Relations major because everything in that industry is around reputation because you’re not selling a product, you’re selling a person and everything that comes with that.
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Pritchard Hall with one roommate. I had a double but because of the student population increase there were some people who had triples.
Sophomore & Junior: Off-campus in a townhouse.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Virginia Beach to Blacksburg, VA in terms of location?
I think it was easy for me because I’ve traveled a lot and I didn’t really miss home. I’m also a very big outdoors person, and Blacksburg is suited to people who like hiking, mountains, and being in a rural setting. I love the beach, and I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds because I can go home to the beach and I can come here for the mountains.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt unsafe around campus. I don’t know of any friends, male or female, that have felt unsafe either. We’re in such a rural area and there is a rural culture here where people look out for each other. There is the blue light system, but I’ve never needed to use it. The safety here is spectacular.
Pros and cons of being located in Blacksburg, VA?
1) If you’re an outdoors person, Blacksburg has everything that you could wish for. I go on hikes every weekend and I like to go camping.
2) If you go to school here, you will learn the Blacksburg area very quickly. Tech’s campus is very centralized.
3) It’s very affordable to live off-campus here.
1) The weather can change very quickly. It will be very nice one day and then snow the next day. Some people come here without winter clothes and don’t realize how it can be here.
2) The town is very rural, so there are some people who are shocked by that.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
There are a lot of apartment parties. There are about five or six really popular bars and everybody loves our downtown area, so that’s an option too. Friday and Saturday nights are popular, and Wednesday night is popular because there is an event at a bar that people like to go to. Apartment parties happen during the weekend and people go to bars then, but apartment parties don’t really happen on Wednesdays.
What is the impact of Greek life on the weekend options at Virginia Tech?
Greek life is definitely known, but it is not over-prevalent. Like, it doesn’t feel like most of the campus is involved in Greek life. For guys, all fraternity parties are listed, meaning you have to be put on the list to get in. A lot of guys their freshman year get frustrated by that because they feel like they can’t go anywhere because they’re too young for the bars, don’t know people who live in the apartments yet, and they can’t get into the fraternity parties. Overall, I think it’s a healthy amount of Greek life. I used to be in a fraternity but I am not anymore, and I don’t think it had a huge impact. I have my scene with apartment parties, so it doesn’t affect me at all. [About 19% of the undergraduate population is involved in Greek life.]
If at all, how has identifying as LGBTQ+ impacted your weekend options? Is there much of an LGBTQ+ nightlife scene on campus?
There is not particularly a big LGBT+ scene. There is an LGBT+ scene in Roanoke, which is the nearest city. I’m not the best person to ask about this just because I’m not as big of a part of the community as some people are. For people who have a strong affiliation with that community, I think they might feel like there’s not a lot here for that. The LGBT community here is very small and we all know each other, so it’s kind of cliquey and small for what people would want.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Virginia Tech? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
I wouldn’t change anything, I love it. The one thing I would say is that if you don’t get involved, you’re going to have a hard time finding apartment parties because they’re functions thrown by people who are in one of the organizations you’re in or somebody in your organization knows somebody who’s hosting something. If you’re a homebody and just go to class and that’s it, it’s going to be harder for you to find things because your circle will be smaller.
How did you meet your closest friends?
A lot of them I met through organizations. There are a lot of people that you meet freshman year because they live in your hall and some you stay close with and some you don’t. Freshman year on your hall is going to be the best way to meet people, but I also think getting involved in something is really important. During my first year of college I didn’t get super involved in anything, and I noticed that it was harder to meet people because everybody’s on their own path.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s very social and people are very friendly and outgoing. People here look out for each other and take care of people. This is the kind of place where if you are broken down on the side of the road, somebody will stop and help you.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I don’t necessarily know. Off the top of my head, I have some friends who are minorities and they have expressed concerns about the fact that Tech’s student population is only 4% Black. You do notice that people who are African-American will tend to mingle with other African-Americans and Whites will mix with Whites and so forth. It’s not like people don’t talk to each other, people will mix and talk to whoever, but I think that’s just part of life. The campus is not super diverse, which is part of the issue. [In Fall 2019, the student population was about 64% White, 10% Asian, 4% Black, 7% Hispanic, and 7% international.]
How would you describe the LGBTQ+ community? How strong is it?
Again, I’m not that strongly affiliated with it. There’s not a lot of people in it and the people I do know who are LGBT+ through the organizations that I’ve been part of. People here are not known for being LGBT and being part of that community, they’re known for being in other organizations and the other things they’re passionate about.
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
There’s more separation there. When I was in my fraternity, I noticed that the people in my fraternity mixed with each other. It’s not like they were exclusive to others, it was just that like 98% of their friends were in the fraternity with them, so they weren’t looking to make new friends since they already had their circle.
How do you like the size of Virginia Tech in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How was transitioning to a school with [about 29,500 students]?
I like it a lot. I always get taken back that we have about 30,000 students because our campus is not physically that big. At the same time, I’ve never walked around and felt like it is crowded. I always seem to have enough space, which I really like.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
For me, because I’m trying to go into the entertainment industry and that is not really based out of Blacksburg, the alumni network hasn’t been super helpful. That’s more because what I’m trying to do is super niche.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve used the career office quite a bit. I have a career advisor who I meet with every week on Friday, which is unusual. I specifically requested weekly meetings because my career path is out of the ordinary. They’ve been really helpful in giving me advice of how to go about getting a career.
Have you learned any computer languages or software that will be helpful to you professionally?
In my Business Management major, we’ve learned a lot about Microsoft Excel and Access. We’ve learned about VBA too. Our core business courses have taught me quite a bit about that, which I didn’t expect to learn.
Have you used any mental health or counseling resources? If so, how easy are they to work with?
I’ve used the Cook Counseling Center on campus. I haven’t needed to it in the sense of I had a mental health emergency, I just wanted to learn some new things about myself and understand my thought pattern. For people who are not in crisis situations, it’s helpful. But, for most people I know, they’ve had trouble scheduling appointments with them in the short-term.
What is something you wish you knew about Virginia Tech before entering as a freshman?
Something I tell people is that if you get involved, no matter what it is, your life becomes ten times easier because you have a network. Go out and have fun and dip your feet in everything because I know a lot of people who are juniors and seniors and are now kicking themselves because they’re trying to do things now but it’s too late. The second would be to understand the meal plan because it’s poorly worded and not well described on the website.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They would miss seeing a dorm room. I got to see a friend’s dorm when I was a prospective student, which was lucky. The other things you would miss would be the cool places around Blacksburg. For example, there is a donut shop here called Carol Lee that everybody goes to.
Reasons to attend Virginia Tech:
1) If you’re a social person and are outgoing, you will always find something to do here. People here like to get out of the house and go do things. There’s a ton going on here that you may not see as a prospective student because they aren’t that well-advertised, but once you’re here, you’ll see that there are a million things going on.
2) If you’re an outdoorsy person and enjoy nature, Tech is a great place to be for that.
3) If you love sports, football, and gameday, this is the place for that.
Reasons to not attend Virginia Tech:
1) If you’re not into sports or maybe have a distaste for the sports culture, you won’t like Tech because it’s very sports focused.
2) If you want to be in a city, don’t come to Tech.
3) Because it’s a technical institute, Tech doesn’t have every major. Make sure you know that Tech has your major or interest before coming.