Jackson Ribler and his parents
The Ribler Family

VIRGINIA TECH SENIOR JACKSON Ribler wanted to take a painful experience and use it to create something beautiful.

In 2015, his mother, Rebecca Ribler, died after battling cancer for the third time. She was an attorney by profession, but loved to paint and hosted several art exhibitions over the years.

Ribler made a gift to the School of Visual Arts (SOVA) earlier this year to honor his mother and her legacy.

“My mother had a huge heart and was a stranger to nobody,” Ribler said. “In spite of everything, she saw beauty in the world and shared it with us through her artwork.”

Ribler’s gift will fund a SOVA-specific Beyond Boundaries scholarship. The scholarships support efforts to increase the number of underrepresented minorities, enroll more students from underserved populations, and reduce the number of high-achieving students who choose competing schools that can offer more generous financial aid.

“Beyond Boundaries scholarships go toward nontraditional college students, and I think oftentimes it’s the most unexpected people who create the most unique and inspiring art,” Ribler said.

Ribler thinks giving to Virginia Tech in any amount is important and makes an impact on the community. He encourages fellow students to recognize that the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) doesn’t have to wait until one’s graduation.

“Any amount you give makes a big difference, and it’s a part of the legacy you build as a Hokie,” he said. “I feel really connected to Virginia Tech in a new way, having planted something here for the incoming generation of students to harvest.”

Ribler is currently taking a painting for nonmajors class and recommends it to anyone with time in their schedules.

“I do not share my mother’s talent for painting,” he said with a laugh, “but it does teach me to look at the world in different ways.

“I didn’t understand it then, but today I realize what she was doing with her brush and canvas. My mother took a tremendous amount of pain from her extremely complicated life, and she converted it into painting the things that made her life worth living,” he said. “I think in a way I’m doing something similar. I’m taking my experiences and my memory of my mother and transforming that into something positive for somebody else to enjoy.”

Share this story