As a member of the spring commencement committee for her college, Erin Helbling of Warfield, Va., a senior majoring in marketing management in the Pamplin College of Business, is steeped in preparations for graduation.

Her undergraduate time at Virginia has been filled with life-shaping experiences. This is the second year she has spent winter break on a service trip to Belize with other Hokies, where they taught computer literacy skills to teachers and helped rebuild a community playground.

“It was moving because we were able to help change these teachers’ lives,” said Helbling. “We have so many opportunities and tools that just don’t exist in this small developing country. It opens your eyes to a whole new world and makes you appreciate everything we have. The 15 Virginia Tech students who went there are not the same 15 who came back.”

Helbling was a transfer orientation guide leader and a Hokie Camp counselor, grounding new students in a sense of community and Virginia Tech traditions. She was a group exercise instructor with Recreational Sports. She was also involved with the VTHON dance marathon at Virginia Tech, which helps raise funds for children who have life-threatening diseases.

One of her experiences was valuable because it taught her what she didn’t want to do. She spent last summer in an internship in Prague, Czech Republic. “I enjoyed meeting other students studying abroad and traveling to different European cities, but I found out a career in marketing is not for me,” she said.

It was one year ago when Helbling nominated her family for Virginia Tech Family of the Year. “I’m not usually vocal about my feelings, but I knew my family was outstanding,” she said. “My family is the foundation for everything I do. I couldn’t do it without their help.”

To her and her family’s surprise, they were chosen 2013 Family of the Year and recognized before a cheering crowd of thousands at Virginia Tech’s spring game. “My family had never been to a Virginia Tech game before and my brothers ate up the football experience,” said Helbling.”The way my family was treated felt like they were very appreciated and welcomed into the Hokie community.”

“Every Hokie family is special. There is no better way to recognize what your family does for you than to nominate them for the Family of the Year award,” said Helbling.

Helbling will continue her education this fall at Clemson University, where she will pursue graduate studies in the field of higher education. She will be graduate assistant for a new campus recreation initiative that will include all aspects of wellness – mental, emotional, and physical.

“I will miss the community of people I built here,” she said. “It’s all about the people you surround yourself with.”



Written by Sandy Broughton.

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