Two Virginia Tech students recently received the prestigious Cabell Brand Center scholarships, honoring their work in public service. 

Rachel Atkins of Harrisonburg, Va., a freshmen majoring in university studies, and Emily Baer of Woodbridge, Va., a freshmen majoring in crop and soil environmental science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences each received the scholarship.

The Cabell Brand Center for Global Poverty and Resource Sustainability Studies scholarship program challenges young people to work toward eliminating poverty, promoting environmental sustainability, and working to advance peace and justice in the world.

Over the last 25 years the center, a non-profit organization established in 1987, has awarded fellowships and scholarships to college students with the purpose of encouraging them to seriously consider public service by learning from the experiences of Cabell Brand, Hap Fisher, Shirley Brand, and the other scholarship honorees. The scholarship asks students to write an essay that explains their public service activities and goals, including plans to enroll in college courses related to poverty studies, peace and conflict resolution and environmental studies – courses that reflect the goals of the Cabell Brand Center. Students were asked to emphasize what they planned to do with their studies and life to support “the common good.”

Baer's winning essay focused on her plans to use her education and involvement at Virginia Tech to reach out to others about the importance of sustainability and community. Baer, who recently completed her freshmen year at Virginia Tech, is a participant in the student organization the Sustainable Food Corps, and says she hopes to be more involved with the student garden at the Smithfield Plantation.  

Atkins, a member of the SERVE living-learning community at Virginia Tech, plans to pursue a degree in public and urban affairs and a dual-minor in leadership and social change and environmental policy and planning.  Atkins' essay focused on her diverse volunteering experiences, including local service at a nursing home and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, mission trips to Baja, Calif., and Mexico, and her experiences as a member of the SERVE living-learning community. Atkins says she believes SERVE has provided her many opportunities to get connected and involved in the Blacksburg community. Her service experiences helped to sculpt her views on issues prevalent in today’s society and have molded her long-term goals to continue investing in service and the community.

“Helping college students financially through such scholarships not only gives them some individual support, but also conveys to them a sense that we’re all in this world together,” said Cabell Brand, the chairman of the Cabell Brand Center. “That’s the essence of democracy. By encouraging them to study our common problems and challenges, we can help them to understand that only through our shared endeavors can we achieve our common aspirations.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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