The workload can be intense. The rewards can be spectacular. This year’s student representatives to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors recently took time to reflect on their service.

Ashley Francis of Blacksburg, is a master’s degree student in public health in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She also serves as the graduate student representative to the board, the governing authority of the university.

“This experience has been invaluable. I have gained translational skills and cultivated strengths that I didn’t even know I had,” said Francis.  “It has been empowering to serve my peers among such distinguished leaders.” 

She and undergraduate student representative Austin Larrowe function as liaisons between the student body and the board of visitors in a non-voting capacity. Halfway through their 12-month terms, both are now encouraging other students to consider applying for next year’s graduate and undergraduate positions on the board.

The deadline for submitting an application is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. 

Francis says she has found board members extremely helpful as she works to represent the concerns of graduate students. “I have also been impressed with how readily available members of the board are. Whenever I have a question they are responsive and open to dialogue. If I present a member with an issue, they are inquisitive and work hard to problem solve. They are very engaged in maximizing the student experience.”

Larrowe of Woodlawn, Virginia, is a fourth year University Honors student majoring in applied economic management and agricultural sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He says time devoted to serving on the board has created opportunities to connect and grow. 

“I knew that it would allow me to serve my fellow Hokies in a meaningful way. So far it has been a lot of work, but it has also been spectacularly rewarding,” said Larrowe. “I would highly encourage any enthusiastic and energetic fellow student who loves our community to apply for the position when you are eligible.”

Among the highlights of Larrowe’s time on the board was the opportunity to be directly involved with the installation of Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands. 

“President Sands has been supportive of me as an individual and as a student leader, and has shown time and time again that he is dedicated to continuing to improve the entire Virginia Tech experience for students in every possible way.”

Student representatives are appointed to one-year terms. They serve as ex-officio members on the Commission of Student Affairs and sit on a committee of the governing board. These non-voting representatives are required to maintain contact with university faculty, administrators, and Virginia Tech students.

New student representatives will be selected at the March meeting of the board of visitors. For Francis and Larrowe, their terms end June 30, 2015. 

As Ashley Francis ponders her future beyond Virginia Tech, she’s convinced of the far reaching impact of her time of service.

“Serving on the board has been an incredibly meaningful and rewarding experience. Meeting students from diverse academic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds has enabled me to be a more effective voice for the graduate student body and has personally been very rewarding.”

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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