Hokie Focus marks historic milestone with 9,000 in attendance
It was a historic weekend for Virginia Tech.
Always known for its signature Hokie hospitality, the university campus community pulled out all the stops to welcome close to 9,000 admitted students and families for the largest Hokie Focus event to date.
This doubles the number of last year’s two-day event, hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
“Hokie Focus give us an opportunity to explain what being a Virginia Tech Hokie really means,” said Juan Espinoza, vice provost for enrollment management and director of Undergraduate Admissions. “We get to showcase our beautiful campus and talk about the importance of research, innovation, and service. Most importantly, we get to host some amazing students and their families and get to witness that moment when they realize that Virginia Tech is going to be their home for the next four years."
During the course of the weekend, 414 students sealed the deal by officially becoming a Hokie. A little more than 60 signed their official acceptance on site during the weekend, while the others accepted off site.
One of these students was Cameron Pociask, who accepted his offer prior to attending Hokie Focus. Though he had been to campus several times with his family (his mom attended Virginia Tech in 1991 and 1992), it was coming on this final trip that crystalized his decision. According to his mother, Jen Pociask, he “found his people” with everyone being so active and soaking in the picture-perfect weather in hammocks on the Drillfield. As of now, Cameron is considering a business major in the Pamplin College of Business, with thoughts of attending law school.
This year’s Hokie Focus also attracted students and families coming from as far away as the Cayman Islands, Taiwan, and Italy, as well as 36 different states, including for the first-time representation from Hawaii, Nebraska, and Montana.
The attendance increase can be attributed to several factors, including, for the second consecutive year and only the second time in history, that more than 30,000 students applied to Virginia Tech. The university intends to enroll 6,600 incoming first-year students, a 400-seat increase from last year’s class.
In addition, the Undergraduate Admissions recruitment team fanned out to more of the western states, as well as to its traditional recruitment areas. While Hokie Focus materials are always included in the offer package, personalized emails were sent to all first-year students offered admissions, including a specific link to register.
“I can say with confidence, based on feedback from our visitors, that our team plans and executes the best program of this kind in the Commonwealth,” noted Espinoza. “They are ready and excited to welcome our guests and showcase Virginia Tech in the best way possible - and they have a lot of fun doing it.”
New this year was the utilization of three major campus venues — starting with arrival and check-in at Bishop-Favrao Hall, followed by welcomes from Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Perillo, among others, at Burruss Hall Auditorium. From there, students attended their college and major information sessions at locations across campus.
The third major venue — Squires Student Center Commonwealth Ballroom — was home to the information fair, with 25 organizational representatives, including Housing and Residential Life, Global Education Office, Summer Academy, and several university-chartered groups. This also served as the location for students to make their deposit and officially be welcomed as a Hokie, complete with a loud gobbler noise.
"The ability for the Hokies Focus program to grow has been the collaborative efforts of the Undergraduate Admissions staff and our campus partners," said Loretta Wilburn, travel and events coordinator for Undergraduate Admissions. "This includes everyone from the Corps of Cadets, Building and Grounds, University Bookstore, our student Hokie Ambassadors, as well as representatives from the colleges and departments."
Nearly 6,000 of the 9,000 students and family members attended on Saturday, so both a morning and afternoon session were held. The afternoon session allowed for more customization of interest areas, or as Wilburn likes to describe it, “an à la carte format.” Options included eating lunch in one of the university’s nationally ranked dining halls, attending the information fair, touring one of the residence halls, or taking a campus tour led by the Hokie Ambassadors.
"Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) is embedded not only in our student body, but also exemplified in the collaborative spirit of all our campus partners," said Katie Seagreaves, assistant director of undergraduate admissions and major events coordinator. "It is truly gratifying to see all the hard work and exchanges with these individuals and groups all year culminate with this incredible touch point with admitted students."
Photos by Liz Taylor and courtesy of Jen Pociask