Late nights, long hours, and working under pressure can be common for more than just investment brokers and business executives–it can be a reality for students, too.

Especially if you’re a college ambassador, part of a student-led investing group, and the chief of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad.

Chris Eyestone, a senior majoring in agribusiness, has had all these experiences as chief of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad and chief executive officer of the Commodity Investing by Students (COINS) group.

But he wouldn’t change a thing.

Eyestone, who was recently named the 2017 Outstanding Senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is the college’s embodiment of servant leadership, academic achievement, and community dedication.

Eyestone hails from Blacksburg, Virginia, and considers himself a lifelong Hokie, committed to the university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) and eager to maintain ties with his soon-to-be alma mater.

“I will leave Virginia Tech with a well-trained mind and a full heart,” said Eyestone, who will graduate this May with a degree in agribusiness and a minor in Spanish. “It’s humbling to remember the countless opportunities, challenges, and, most importantly, people that shaped my experience at Virginia Tech.”

As a Blacksburg native with a green thumb and entrepreneurial bent – he operated his own landscaping business as a high school student–Eyestone had his eyes on Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics long before he enrolled as an undergraduate.

Meeting with the department’s academic advisor and other professors while in high school, Eyestone laid the foundation for a productive undergraduate experience early on.

“The department felt special right from the start,” he said. “My advisor knew my name, my story, my strengths, my weaknesses. I was able to share my passion for agriculture with my professors and found a uniquely supportive learning environment at Virginia Tech.”

Eyestone joined COINS, the investment group housed in his department, as a first-semester freshman–a rare occurrence for the rigorous investment group. But Eyestone would be involved in COINS for the remainder of his time on campus, earning his way up from junior analyst to sector head, and, ultimately, to CEO.

Eyestone’s term as CEO in 2016 was marked by strong leadership, service, and practical implementation of the group’s mission – to educate students in commodity markets through hands-on learning, providing them with unique experiences that enhance their educational endeavors.  

As COINS’ CEO, Eyestone focused on enhancing the group’s organizational structure and increasing its external exposure, which contributed to a doubling of COINS’ membership.

“Chris’ enthusiasm and passion was tremendous for COINS,” said Associate Professor Olga Isengildina-Massa, COINS’ faculty advisor. “He led by example, motivating members to get involved on all levels of the organization, from administration to training to making informed and effective trades.”

In addition to leadership and service within his college as COINS’ CEO and a student ambassador, Eyestone is being recognized for his visionary leadership as chief of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad. Through the squad, he put in more than 5,000 hours of service to the university community.

For two consecutive terms as chief of the rescue squad, Eyestone worked tirelessly to support and advance emergency medical services for the Hokie Nation, remaining on campus during holidays and putting in long hours to ensure patients were given the best care possible.

Under Eyestone’s leadership, the squad improved medical resources and care while garnering national recognition. The squad now holds several national awards for collegiate emergency medical services and was recently granted approval from Virginia Tech’s Executive Building Committee for a new station facility.  

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with Chris over the past few years,” said Kevin Foust, chief of the Virginia Tech Police Department. “Chris brought a true sense of dedication, hard work, and a deep love for the rescue squad. Virginia Tech has benefitted greatly from Chris’ willingness to serve, to lead, and to lay a foundation for the continued growth and success of the squad.”

On top of enhancing the squad’s resources and care, Eyestone’s background in agriculture and his love of all things green and growing inspired him to look for ways to reduce the squad’s carbon footprint, conducting an energy audit for the squad’s equipment and operations.

Eyestone later secured funding to purchase solar panels for one of the squad’s ambulances, an upgrade that could reduce the squad’s carbon footprint by up to 10 percent according to Environmental Protection Agency and emergency services data predictions.

Eyestone will take his love of agriculture and desire to serve to Washington, D.C., next fall to work as a legislative aide.

“Things happen in D.C.,” Eyestone said. “I learned that during my multiple internships with members of Congress, leading agricultural firms, and industry associations. I want to be a part of large-scale, positive change, and I can’t think of a better place to do so than on Capitol Hill.”

Eyestone as proven himself to be a natural leader with passion, charisma, and a force for constructive change at Virginia Tech. No doubt he will carry those traits with him to D.C. and throughout his professional career–late nights or not.

Written by Jillian Broadwell

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