Fourth-generation grad adds to Ecuadorian family's Hokie legacy
If you’re a firstborn son in the Andrade family, you likely go by two titles — Carlos and Virginia Tech graduate.
Carlos Andrade Coello proved the latter true by accepting his degree in industrial systems engineering this May in front of his father, Carlos Andrade Moscoso '94, and grandfather, Carlos Andrade González '72.
“It’s kind of like in the Olympics, when runners pass the torch,” said Carlos Andrade Coello, who spent most of his life in Guayaquil, Ecuador. “This tradition’s big in my family, and now it’s my time to go out and make a name for myself.”
At commencement, he became the fourth generation of the Ecuadorian family to graduate from Virginia Tech, a streak that dates back to his great-grandfather Carlos Andrade Ribas earning a chemistry degree in 1944.
“It feels amazing,” his father, Carlos Andrade Moscoso, said. “Dude, when he got into the engineering program, we were jumping up and down back at the house. It was great. So this is a very proud moment.”
According to the family, Carlos Andrade Ribas, who died in 2002, was drawn to Virginia Tech, then named Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, by the strength of the university’s chemistry program.
“My grandfather’s father always wanted his kids to study in the states,” said Carlos Andrade Moscoso, who traveled from Ecuador for graduation. “He was the vice president of the Rotary Club worldwide [Rotary International] and was living in New York. So when it came time for my grandfather to go to school, he said he wanted to study chemistry because that’s what the family business was. They did some research and found our Virginia Tech had a really good chemistry department.”
With a degree in hand, Carlos Andrade Ribas returned to Ecuador to work in the family’s pharmacal business. When it came time for his son, Carlos Andrade González, to attend a university, the father’s good experience with Virginia Tech was influential.
“He mentioned it and I saw the albums [yearbooks] he had,” Carlos Andrade González said. “I had good references [for the university], not only from family, but I also inquired a little bit about it, I read about it, so it was a good choice.”
Though not a U.S. citizen, Carlos Andrade González joined the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets when he came to campus, which he very much enjoyed.
“I made good friends, and I really liked it. Even though the pace was hectic, I didn’t mind it,” he said.
Carlos Andrade González originally planned to study chemistry, but said he quickly realized he preferred chemical engineering. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the subject in 3 1/2 years and credits his expedited studies to the university never holding him back.
“I could do as much as I wanted to. Nobody ever told me, ‘You can’t take that many classes,’” said Carlos Andrade González, who also lives in Ecuador. “The dean of engineering told me after [his coursework was complete], I have reviewed this and you probably shouldn’t have done this this way.”
While earning two degrees, Carlos Andrade González had a son. Carlos Andrade Moscoso was born in Roanoke, which made Virginia Tech a part of his life from birth.
“I never really thought about going anywhere else,” Carlos Andrade Moscoso said. “I applied, I got accepted, and I thought, well, cool.”
Carlos Andrade Moscoso also followed his father’s footsteps by joining the corps and, despite having no experience playing music, joining the Highty-Tighties as a snare drummer.
“I came here for orientation … and somebody from the Highty-Tighties was there. I heard what they had to say and I really liked it, so I went into the band,” he said. “I didn’t even read music. They said, ‘Just do like this,’ and I did.”
Being a part of the regimental band afforded Carlos Andrade Moscoso not only a front row seat at Virginia Tech football games, but also the opportunity to march in several high-profile parades, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“The whole experience was just really cool. Campus living — Hokie Grill was brand new back then — the whole thing was great,” he said.
Carlos Andrade Coello said he grew up well aware of his father’s fondness for Virginia Tech, the friends he made there, and Hokie football.
“Growing up, he always watched college football whenever he could, and he would just talk about his time here" in Blacksburg, said Carlos Andrade Coello. “He’d be texting his old roommate during games. So every time football is on, you’ll see him giggling with his phone.”
Carlos Andrade Coello said he hoped baseball would provide him a path to Virginia Tech, but his grandfather convinced him to pick up a different sport.
“He said if you’re going to the states, golf is a huge sport there. Sometimes even work meetings happen on the golf course,” Carlos Andrade Coello said. “He incentivized me to take some golf classes, and I just fell in love with the sport.”
With the Hokies’ golf roster full, Carlos Andrade Coello ended up getting a scholarship to play about 100 miles away at Emory and Henry College. He was named first-team All-ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) during the 2016-17 season before transferring to Virginia Tech in fall 2019.
“Honestly, I was kind of glad I didn’t go to Tech in the beginning because I liked the idea of being the guy who broke tradition,” he said. “But the more I grew up and matured, the more I love the idea of coming here. It’s been a real bonding experience and any time I tell my grandfather or father, 'oh I did this and this,' they’re like, ‘oh I remember this time when I was there.’”
Carlos Andrade Coello said he was awestruck by the significance of his family’s connection to Virginia Tech when his father joined him on campus for the 25th reunion of the Class of 1994 during the 2019 homecoming weekend.
“That’s when it really hit me that I’m so glad it ended up this way. I got to do my own thing, and now I’m also able to share this experience with them. It is an amazing feeling,” Carlos Andrade Coello said.
Just prior to Carlos Andrade Coello receiving his degree, he and his family reminisced over the shared Virginia Tech experiences of the four generations of first-born sons named Carlos.
“Even the winter here is something to remember,” Carlos Andrade Moscoso said.
“Yeah, that’s the first thing my grandfather me too when I got in” to Virginia Tech, Carlos Andrade Coello said. “He said, ‘You think you’ve experienced winter in Virginia, but when you get to campus, it’s something different,’”
They also talked of the shared values the institution helped instill in them — most notably a sense of self-discipline and the value of friendship. They share an adoration for one another’s journey in their family’s legacy at Virginia Tech and count themselves fortunate, not only to have each attended the university, but to have each enjoyed his time there and left with lifelong friends.
“In the end, it’s the people,” said Carlos Andrade González. “What’s really interesting is that the experience has been so good for all of us in the family. Part of that has to be luck.”
And another part, they said, has be that Virginia Tech is simply a special place.
“It truly is. I definitely think that,” Carlos Andrade Moscoso said.
“Definitely,” Carlos Andrade Coello said.