Governor's Award nominee Leisa Osborne recognized for outstanding community service and volunteerism
Leisa Osborne has enjoyed a long successful career at Virginia Tech, all the while volunteering in her community, and making a difference in the lives of hundreds of undergraduate students. In addition to her responsibilities as the office service specialist in the Department of Philosophy, Osborne serves in an adviser capacity for students with a declared minor in philosophy.
While there is no “typical day” in her job, Osborne is the department’s self-proclaimed problem solver when it comes to equipment and supplies as well as record keeping, registration, and class scheduling. On campus, Osborne is also involved with the Virginia Tech chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. She was inducted into the society as an undergraduate student and has served as treasurer of the Virginia Tech chapter since 2006.
About four years ago, Osborne joined forces with several other Virginia Tech employees and community members to form the Campus Police Support Group, a nonprofit organization established to support logistical needs to the Virginia Tech Police Department during crisis and emergency situations. The group of about 10 works to provide food, drinks, and other support to the police department around the clock when needed. They also help with the police department’s annual spring cookout fundraiser, which supports the Special Olympics.
Osborne works with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association on various community service projects each year, including an American Red Cross Blood Drive and collection of donated goods for New River Community Action.
“Leisa goes above and beyond both in her job at Virginia Tech and her outreach to the community. I’m always amazed by how much Leisa takes on – and then does so well,” said Ashley Shew Heflin, assistant professor, Department of Science and Technology in Society.
“She is totally devoted to making life at Virginia Tech better for our undergraduates. She takes a personal interest in each of our majors and the word is out that if you need help registering for classes, ask Leisa,” said Joseph C. Pitt, professor of philosophy. “Ms. Osborne represents the best qualities of a caring Virginia Tech family member and certainly exemplifies the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” said Joseph Pitt. “She makes Virginia Tech a better place for everyone.”
She’s also working to make the community a better place. In 2001, when Osborne learned that about 11.5 percent of adults in the New River Valley are functionally illiterate, she says she knew immediately that she wanted to do something to help.
A short time later, after taking the training courses, Osborne began tutoring her first student through the Literacy Volunteers of the New River Valley.
During the course of 2 1/2 years, Osborne dedicated one to two hours a week, every week, to tutoring two different students – both men. Her primary goal was to identify what life skills they needed, and what they couldn’t do that they wanted to be able to do. She admits that it was rarely, if ever, a glamorous job. Initial lessons usually included learning to read a prescription bottle or write a check.
When the second student progressed out of the program, Osborne took the opportunity to transition into a volunteer position with the organization that put her front and center in planning the group’s annual Book Sale at the New River Valley Mall. And, from 2008 to 2010, Osborne also served on the LVNRV board of directors. Now, 10 years later, she still plays an integral role in the annual Book Sale.
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.