The Virginia Tech Graduate School recently recognized 23 students as Citizen Scholars for their work combining scholarship with community service and outreach. Fourteen were members of the Flint Water Crisis Study team. The rest of the scholars’ projects ranged from developing and sharing curricula in nearby high schools to surveying the needs of nontraditional students to evaluating the effectiveness of leadership training programs.

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw and Associate Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development Rosemary Blieszner presented the awards during a reception at the Graduate Life Center.

I’m really pleased we are able to recognize and honor the work our graduate students do related to Citizen Scholars,” DePauw said to students and the audience at the reception. “What you do for society is part of our land grant commitment.”

Blieszner teaches the Graduate School’s Citizen Scholar Engagement course, which focuses on the connection between scholarship and citizenship in contemporary global society, and encourages students to engage in public scholarship in service to the community.

“In this seminar we discuss the role of higher education as a public good, the importance of identifying the impact of research on communities, and ethical issues and sustainability in community engagement projects,” Blieszner said.


The Graduate School honored students as Citizen Scholars

The following students are the 2016 Citizen Scholars:

Sherif Hanie El Meligy Abdelhamid, of Blacksburg, Virginia, a doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science, for his work as a judge for the Virginia Junior Academy of Science symposium.

Robin Atkins, Newport Virginia, executive assistant for the Rice Center for Leadership Development and a master’s degree student in the Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education program, for her work developing supportive programs for nontraditional-aged students, many of whom are Virginia Tech employees.

Brittany Balhouse, of Hickory, North Carolina, a doctoral student in the Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics program, for her outreach project sharing cancer-related research techniques with high school students.

Andrew Katz, of Dallas, Texas, a graduate student in the Engineering Education Department, for developing ethics curricula for undergraduate engineering students.

Lia Kelinsky, of Blacksburg, Cranwell International Center assistant director of intercultural initiatives and a doctoral student in the Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education program, for her work evaluating of Girls Rock! Roanoke, a women’s leadership development training program.

Sarah McKay, of Orange, Virginia, a master’s student in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, for a pilot curriculum on business structures, markets, and risk management, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Tech Graduate Extension Scholars Program.

John David Moore, of Blacksburg, regional coordinator of the Smart Beginnings program and a doctoral student in the Center for Public Administration and Policy program for his New River Valley Early Childhood Education and Development network study.

Renee Pietsch, of Snohomish, Washington, a doctoral student in Biological Sciences, for developing and sharing an interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum with high school students.

Andrew Schultz, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, a master’s student in the Material Sciences and Engineering (MSE) Department, for his work establishing an MSE book club to promote self-directed learning outside the engineering classroom.


Members of the Flint Water Studies Team were named Graduate School Citizen Scholars

The Flint Water Crisis Study Team, all doctoral students from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, for their work on gathering and testing water samples and educating community members about the hazards of lead and pathogens in water:

Christina Devine, of Alexandria, Virginia; Emily Garner, of Swanton, Maryland; Pan Ji, of Xianyang, China; Anurag Mantha, Hyderabad, India; Rebekah Martin, of Midlothian, Virginia; Jake Metch, of Afton, New York; Victoria Nystrom, of Landenberg, Pennsylvania; Colin Richards, of Blacksburg; William Rhoads, of Joplin, Missouri; Siddhartha Roy, of Palanpur, India; Laurel Strom, of Arlington, Washington; Owen Strom, of Blacksburg; Min Tang, of Chongqing, China; Ni “Joyce” Zhu, of Jingzhou, China.

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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