A generous donation to Virginia Tech has made possible a lasting tribute to a student lost during the tragic events of April 16, 2007. The university has named a student lounge in Litton-Reaves Hall in honor of Emily Jane Hilscher.

Jacques Klempf of Jacksonville, Fla., the owner of Dixie Egg Company, has established the Emily Jane Hilscher Memorial Classroom Renovation Fund to provide funds for renovating educational space in Litton-Reaves Hall, the home of the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Like many around the world, Klempf found inspiration in the spirit and resilience of the Virginia Tech community following the 2007 tragedy and in the story of Hilscher – a freshman animal and poultry sciences major, devoted member of the Virginia Tech Equestrian Team, and aspiring veterinarian.

In addition to new classroom and teaching spaces in Litton-Reaves Hall, Klempf wanted the renovations to include a permanent tribute to Hilscher. Virginia Tech dedicated the highly trafficked, first-floor lounge, naming it the Emily Jane Hilscher Student Lounge. The Klempf family, the Hilscher family, the equestrian team, and representatives from the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences all attended the dedication on Sept. 19. A plaque honoring Hilscher’s “great promise as an intercollegiate rider having a strong work ethic, a positive attitude and a great deal of determination” was unveiled during the ceremony.

The plaque also describes Hilscher’s “passion for people,” which the Klempf family says they try to exemplify every day through random acts of kindness. In an emotional ceremony, Jacques and Shelley Klempf distributed T-shirts to Hilscher’s friends and family that read “A.O.K.” – an acronym for “acts of kindness” – to remind them to continue Hilscher’s dedication to serving others.

The lounge also features a saddle covered in expressions of sympathy and prayers for Hilscher and the other Hokies lost. Members of the equine community donated the saddle at the National Barrel Horse Association show in Glen Allen, Va., in the days following the April 2007 tragedy. Also in the lounge, a print created by artist Jane Blevins honors Hilscher with scenes of Virginia Tech.

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