Cornerstone Moment: Alumnus Bill Lewis reflects on being Virginia Tech's first Rhodes Scholar
Category: culture Video duration: Cornerstone Moment: Alumnus Bill Lewis reflects on being Virginia Tech's first Rhodes Scholar
Virginia Tech alumnus Bill Lewis '63 reflects on the leaders who encouraged him to pursue the Rhodes scholarship. Bill was Virginia Tech's first Rhodes Scholar.
So it was not totally cut off, but it was really beyond what many people in the eastern part of the state considered the end of the road. Blacksburg was beyond the end of the road. I would go to the Virginia Tech bookstore, while I was in high school, and I found these, these books written by a physicist George Gamow who was, who was actually then a professor at George Washington. And they, they explained what the atom was, how the sun worked, why did the sun burn and why did it create energy? All that was just very fascinating to me. And so, so I guess my first ambition about, about learning was that I really wanted to find out what we knew about the universe. Dean Burke Johnston came to Virginia Tech from the University of Alabama probably in my junior year. He would talk about that maybe I ought to consider applying for a Rhodes scholarship the next year, my senior year. And Marshall Hahn joined in that discussion and encouraged me to do that. Of course, I still had not ever met a Rhodes scholar. There were no Rhodes scholars on the Virginia Tech faculty then, none came through Blacksburg that I associated with, both Marshall and Dean Johnston, of course, had met Rhodes Scholars and they knew about the Rhodes Scholarship. I sort of trusted their judgment that this would be something that would be not only just a good idea, but that I would also be competitive. About over 50 years later, I remember almost every minute of that interview process. Interestingly e