New cadets of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets' Class of 2026 completed their initial military training in August as they prepared for their first semester in the corps. While that training covered traditional elements such as marching and room inspections, this year, there was a new addition to their schedule: Weeks of Welcome.

In planning for this year’s New Cadet Week, the corps collaborated with the Office of New Student and Family Programs in the Division of Student Affairs to ensure incoming new cadets would experience Weeks of Welcome programming. 

Weeks of Welcome is part of the university’s extended orientation and transition experience which includes Hokies on Track training sessions designed to introduce new students to Hokie Nation, student well-being, healthy relationships, and resources for student success. Ensuring new cadets received this training was an essential step in emphasizing that cadets are students first while also participating in the Corps of Cadets.

“The corps is a military-style program that prides itself on being able to adapt to change. Ensuring our cadets could attend Weeks of Welcome programming was a change that was important to us for their development as both students and cadets,” said Lt. Col. Don Russell, deputy commandant for 2nd Battalion.

To accommodate for Weeks of Welcome events, the start of New Cadet Week shifted two days earlier to allow new cadets to complete their military training and then fully participate in Weeks of Welcome programming. 

Hokies on Track sessions also were incorporated into new cadet training and were facilitated by upperclass cadets and recent corps graduates. New cadets were able to participate in the same activities as other new students, helping them better understand their role as both students and cadets.

“Hokies on Track helped new cadets adapt to campus and student life at Virginia Tech. They were provided with resources that will help them thrive academically as well as mentally while at Tech," said Cadet Dylan Talbott, a sophomore majoring in criminology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Stephen Herrick, an aerospace engineering major in the College of Engineering and corps graduate, agreed. “The Hokies on Track program during New Cadet Week helped acclimate the corps’ first-year cadets to the fast-paced environment they will experience during the first week of classes. It gave them the necessary tools to succeed and focus on all aspects of university life,” said Herrick, who has participated in every New Cadet Week since arriving at Virginia Tech.

“This Hokies on Track program helped new cadets feel more comfortable as students at Virginia Tech. It also helped the new cadets to have questions answered from fellow cadets that they normally could not get answered before the start of the school year," said sophomore and Weeks of Welcome leader Cadet Dylan Bowling, who is majoring in international relations in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

“I think Hokies on Track helped new cadets by giving them a sense of normalcy through a highly stressful time,” said Cadet Kalista Luzanta, who served as a Weeks of Welcome leader for the corps. A junior majoring in psychology in the College of Science, Luzanta said, “It also pointed them to resources on campus that I wish I knew during my freshman year.” 

The New Cadet Parade, which traditionally marks the end of New Cadet Week, was integrated into the Weeks of Welcome schedule, serving as a kick-off for the weekend programming. With New Cadet Week training complete, the first-year cadets were able to participate fully in college orientation sessions, Hokies on Track speaker events, and Hokie spirit events over the weekend alongside their civilian peers.

“The Corps of Cadets is an important foundation to VT,” said Associate Dean of Students and Director of New Student and Family Programs Gabby McCollum, “and seeing the cadets at Weeks of Welcome made the welcome experience complete! I hope that by mingling with the general student population, the cadets were able to experience a sense of comradery, school spirit, and bonds outside the corps.”

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