Enhanced services give attention to students' needs in Northern Virginia
From dedicated counseling services to help in the housing hunt, Virginia Tech continues to roll out resources for its more than 1,000 graduate students in Northern Virginia.
The services include enhanced counseling, a liaison for the university’s Dean of Students Office; a new website to help students find apartments in the greater Washington, D.C., area; and career and professional development resources. The coronavirus pandemic has made many of these offerings easily accessible remotely.
These resources lay the foundation for Virginia Tech’s expansion in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area. The new Innovation Campus launched its inaugural graduate program last fall, with plans to open its physical location in Alexandria in 2024. Also, through the state’s Tech Talent Investment Program, accelerated master’s students from partner universities have the opportunity to enroll in Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus programs. Other students include corporate cohorts, military and veterans, and Virginia residents enrolled full and part time.
“I am thrilled that we have been able to respond to current student voices by providing services based on their priorities,” said Robin Jones, who is assistant vice president for Innovation Campus student services. “Our colleagues have really been student-centered and enthusiastic about making this happen.”
The following new resources are available to graduate students:
- Counseling services are available to Hokies through Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, sessions are offered virtually. The university is in the process of hiring an embedded counselor who will be based in Falls Church. Counseling that addresses school, work, and life balance is a particular need for the graduate student population. “We want graduate school to be challenging, but we don't want it to break people,” said Kenneth Wong, who is associate dean of the Graduate School and director of the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church. “We want to make sure that students in this region receive the care and attention that allows them to thrive. The new counselor will also be a great resource for promoting mental health and wellness.”
- The Dean of Students Office has designated Tara Frank, assistant dean of students, to work directly with students, faculty, and staff in Northern Virginia. Frank can assist with everything from academic support and advocacy to student conduct, wellness programming, emergency funding, and more. For now, she is available remotely, but once university travel resumes, Frank will be available at various times for in-person consultations. “The Dean of Students Office is a place to start for all needs – personal, academic, or social,” said Byron Hughes, dean of students at Virginia Tech. “Dean Frank is deeply committed to care and support that helps students thrive, flourish, and succeed in their Virginia Tech experience.”
- A new website allows users to search for apartments and other housing across Northern Virginia, based on location and proximity to Virginia Tech’s campuses. It also features a roommate search function. The university’s on-campus housing options are limited in Northern Virginia, therefore “housing in particular is a big issue for students in this region,” Wong said. “It’s very important to have some options tailored toward Virginia Tech students.” The site will continue to grow in listings over the next few months and will continuously update and improve based on student feedback.
- Workshops, job fairs, and other career resources offered by Virginia Tech Career and Professional Development are available to Northern Virginia Hokies through a variety of virtual and online avenues. Students also can make individual appointments with Virginia Tech career representatives. Professional service needs often are unique to graduate students, with some seeking mid-career changes or improvements in their job situations, while others who are straight out of undergraduate are beginning their career journey, Wong said.
Details about these resources and contact information can be found at D.C. Area Hokie One Stop, which is an online version of a future physical office that will be located at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church.
By Jenny Kincaid Boone