It’s been more than 30 years since Sheila Broderick Brown and Jeff Brown were students at Virginia Tech, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t seen their fair share of Blacksburg in the years since. Their children inherited the Hokie gene. Two of their sons graduated from Virginia Tech and a third starts his first year this fall.

Blacksburg feels like a second home.

The Browns are active and involved with their alma mater — as alumni, as Hokie parents, and as donors.

“We believe that sharing our time, as well as our resources, is essential to the environment of learning and strength of community,” said Sheila. “There is no place quite like Virginia Tech, as the Hokie Nation can attest, and we enjoy giving back. The spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) is alive and well in our family.”

The Browns previously served on the Division of Student Affairs’ Alumni Advisory Board and currently are members of the Parent Committee. Both groups provide guidance and counsel to the Division of Student Affairs to advance the student experience at Virginia Tech.

“Our members study current issues, offer assistance, and act as liaisons between students, families, alumni, industry, and the university,” said Penny Helms White, chief advancement officer and director of family and alumni relations for the Division of Student Affairs. “These dedicated stakeholders ensure we continue to offer our students an out-of-classroom environment where they can thrive and become their best selves."

The student experience is an area in which the Browns are experts.

Jeff graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in finance, and Sheila graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Sheila was involved in a variety of clubs and organizations on campus. She was nominated as a homecoming queen candidate in 1985, served as a member and in leadership of the Kappa Delta sorority, was a member of the Student Alumni Associates, worked on staff for the Bugle, and much more.

Though Jeff wasn’t quite as involved, he said, “It was my distinct pleasure living on campus in Pritchard Hall for three years, dining in Dietrick Hall (long before its No. 1 rating), playing intramural sports, and attending many a game with my hallmates, all while receiving a top-notch education.”

The Browns met when Jeff was a senior and Sheila a sophomore in the spring of 1984. They had a class together and met at a Virginia Tech Karate Club mixer.

Jeff and Sheila Brown in an older photo from their Virginia Tech days.
Jeff Brown and Sheila Broderick Brown at a holiday party together in Blacksburg in December 1984.

“The Division of Student Affairs allowed us both an opportunity for self-growth as well as for learning and leadership in a wide range of activities on campus,” said Sheila.

Their family currently live in White Stone, Virginia, on the Rappahannock River. Both own their own businesses — Jeff a marine construction firm and Sheila a women’s clothing boutique. In addition, they own a real estate investment company.

Their Hokie Spirit truly is contagious, as all three of their sons have attended or are attending Virginia Tech. Ethan received his associate’s degree in agricultural technology and landscape and turf management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2011. He returned to earn his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management in 2014. While at Virginia Tech, Ethan was a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association and Gamma Sigma Delta, an agricultural honor society. Currently, he works for Ruppert Landscaping in Alexandria, Virginia, as an account manager for 60 commercial properties in Northern Virginia.

Austin received a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He was an officer in the Real Estate Club and earned extra income as the manager of Campus Cookies. After graduating in the spring of 2015, Austin went on to work as an electric power generation service advisor for Carter Machinery in Richmond, Virginia.

Brendan, the youngest of the Brown children, begins his Virginia Tech education this fall. Following in his family’s footsteps, he plans to major in real estate. Outside of the classroom, Brendan hopes to play club or intramural soccer.

“Brendan also plans to attend every home football and basketball game — and any other game he can fit in between his studies,” said Sheila.

In April 2016, Sheila offered her experience and wisdom to Virginia Tech students when she sat on an alumni panel hosted by the Leadership Education Collaborative. The event, entitled “A Leadership Dialogue: Mapping Leadership Experiences to Your Future Career,” presented several alumni who discussed how their leadership experiences during their undergraduate careers gave them the competencies needed to be successful in their professional roles.

“It was a true pleasure to interact with students and have the opportunity to share my journey,” said Sheila.

The Browns have experience entrusting their children to Virginia Tech, which provides them with advice for Hokie families.

“Encourage your students to leave their video consoles at home, open their doors, and get to know their neighbors,” said Sheila. “Work hard and then play hard — together.”

In addition to raising Hokies, the Browns are members of Virginia Tech’s 1872 Society, which recognizes donors who make leadership annual gifts each year. They also generously donate to the Division of Student Affairs and to the Hokie Parents Fund – an annual giving program that enriches the student experience and supports areas such as the Common Book Project, student emergency fund, various clubs and organizations, and family weekend events.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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