Paolo Fermin and Phil Miskovic have a variety of leadership experiences they both believe will help them serve others in their new roles with the university.

“My role as an R.A. (resident advisor) has allowed me to learn a lot skills you don’t always learn in the classroom,” said Fermin, who will represent undergraduate students on Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors during the 2021-22 academic year. “Dealing with different perspectives, handling conflicts, and, especially this year, thinking creatively to build community and keep people engaged. Those will all help me do this job.”

Miskovic, who will represent graduate students during the same period, said the listening and problem-solving skills he’s cultivated during his more than a decade of work with state and local governments allows him to develop action plans for solutions.

“Quality of life, cost of living, cost of attendance, affordable housing… Strategically tackling those kinds of big issues is something I love doing, and something I have experience in,” said Miskovic, who is working towards a doctorate in philosophy in public administration and policy, and is also currently the mayor of Crewe, Virginia. “The Board of Visitors rep position will allow me to do that; to work to hear the concerns of graduate students and to find strategic solutions to our greatest challenges.”

Both students begin their terms on July 1 and will also be ex-officio members of the Commission of Student Affairs and University Council.

Fermin, a raising senior studying computer engineering, said he’d been fascinated with representing the undergraduate population since attending an info session about the university master plan during his freshman year. His interest was bolstered by his work as an R.A. and by being on Student Affairs’ Student Life Council.

“It was really interested to me even as a freshmen when I didn’t really know anything about the university,” Fermin said. “So, it’s always been in the back of my mind and then while being on the Student Life Council for the past two years, Dr. [Frank] Shushok pointed it out again to me and said, hey you might be a good fit for this.”

Miskovic, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Hampden-Sydney College and a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, said he was driven to the apply by his love of all things Virginia Tech and his passion for helping others.

“I didn’t go here for undergrad, but I spent many weekends here with friends during those four years… I fell in love with the Hokie community,” Miskovic said. “Related to that is my desire to help others. When I join a community, I don’t just want to be a part of it, I want to do everything I can to help it grow and become better.”

Fermin said one of his top priorities would be serving as a liaison between the board and the students, especially students who’ve entered the university during the pandemic.

“They haven’t really gotten to experience the university fully open yet, so they have a lot of great ideas about how things ought to be that aren’t influenced by the ways they’ve always been,” he said. “Hopefully I can synthetize some of the old traditions with some of these new ideas to create something even better than the ways things were.”

Similarly, Miskovic hopes to draw from the large student population to not only plan for the future, but to also help to create an infrastructure for future planning.

“One of my first priorities is to work with student leaders from each of our campuses and create not only a strategic plan for the next year but a strategic planning process that can be replicated from year-to-year to ensure continued success,” Miskovic said.

Written by Travis Williams

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