Class of 2021: National security and foreign affairs major prepared to serve
If you ask him, senior Kennedy Schultz could sum up his undergraduate experience at Virginia Tech in one word.
From jumping to the rush of “Enter Sandman” in Lane Stadium to extending a hand to those in need, Schultz embraced the moment.
He assisted in an array of community service projects. He learned the Russian language. He engaged in Greek life. He promoted the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to prospective students. He gained a deep understanding of how the world functions and proved himself ready to serve the United States.
With a national security and foreign affairs major and Russian minor, Schultz will begin working for the federal government directly after commencement.
Schultz said he feels prepared for a career of service not only because of the skills he gained in the classroom, but also because of his extracurriculars. “Being involved across the university allowed me to build relationships that have positioned me where I am today,” he said.
Serving as a student recruitment ambassador for his college had a positive effect on Schultz as a public speaker. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he spoke in person to dozens of high schoolers and their families about the benefits of enrolling at Virginia Tech and joining the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
“It’s amazing to stand in front of a crowd of prospective students and their families, telling them all the amazing things the college and the university have to offer them,” he said. “I’ve had students email me after being accepted to Virginia Tech, thanking me for helping them make the final decision on where they want to call home. There’s nothing more gratifying than knowing the huge difference you’ve made in someone’s life.”
Schultz has made a difference for many. For three years he volunteered with The Big Event at Virginia Tech, one of the largest student-run community service efforts in the nation. Students, faculty, and staff have completed thousands of service projects since the initiative launched in 2002.
Humility accompanies Schultz’s determination to serve others. He’s quick to thank the people who cared for him and motivated him throughout this journey.
One of those key supporters has been Jennifer Hanratty, his academic advisor.
“Jennifer Hanratty has encouraged me throughout my college career to chase my ambitions with unrelenting force,” Schultz said. “She’s always been there to give me the best advice when I needed it. She has constantly been willing to write recommendations for me, review my resume, and help me through some of the toughest parts of my college experience.”
Schultz cited Aaron Brantly, an assistant professor of political science, as another of those key supporters.
“Dr. Brantly taught my favorite class at Virginia Tech — Intelligence and National Security — and headed the research team that I was a part of. His knowledge of the defense industry is inspirational, and he really encouraged me to follow my dreams past commencement. He pushed me to think about the world in different ways.”
Schultz’s interest in national security and foreign affairs and the Russian language originated when he stumbled on one of his brother’s textbooks.
“My older brother studied homeland security,” said Schultz, “and I happened to flip through one of his books while he was on a break. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is really cool!’ Later I found out that Virginia Tech is one of few schools around that offered a specific program for national security. I applied right away after attending an open house and hearing stories from faculty and students.”
As for Russian, Schultz had studied Spanish for five years before enrolling at Virginia Tech and wanted to challenge himself with a new alphabet.
“My experiences with my major and minor have been transformational,” he said. “I entered Virginia Tech not knowing much about the international system, the security environment, or the Russian language. But now I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge I can apply to so many aspects of both my professional and personal life.”
Schultz also credits family and friends for their support.
“They all push me to become a better person each day and chase what I want in life,” he said. “I’m truly blessed by all the love they have given me.”
Written by Andrew Adkins