Aaron Rouse '07
Currently: Virginia Beach City Council
Class year: 2007
On Ut Prosim: Rouse, a former Virginia Tech football player who played four seasons in the NFL, founded Rouse’s House, a nonprofit organization devoted to establishing education as the foundation for success. Originally, Rouse returned to his hometown of Virginia Beach and partnered with community leaders and local businesses to distribute school supplies to needy children. He refused to involve his NFL teammates.
“I tried to stay away from those guys, particularly because the kids see us athletes and celebrities and that's what they want it to be,” Rouse said. “I wanted to show them that there were other ways of being successful, and the ways that people really were instrumental in the way our city was run and the way our society operates.”
Today, Rouse’s House has expanded to meet food and clothing needs, to help pay for college application fees, and to provide resources to parents looking to transition into a different career.
As a member of the Virginia Beach City Council, Rouse, who grew up in a public housing complex, led efforts to build a playground and basketball court in one of the city’s historically Black neighborhoods.
“I can tell you, ever since the first day it's opened, the kids have been using it nonstop, and the community just loves it,” Rouse said. “It goes to the heart of mental health. It goes to health and fitness. It goes to community teamwork and instilling a sense of pride in these young kids and where they come from.”
On how Virginia Tech impacted him: “It's educators back in Virginia Beach who helped me get to Virginia Tech and educators at Virginia Tech who helped me be successful there, graduate, and helped me develop into who I am today. That's why I always wanted to give back and made it a point to show the community and other young men and women that, ‘Hey, this is what it's all about. It’s about educating yourself, being successful and giving back to the community, helping the next person or the next generation to thrive as well.’”
On the importance of service for Virginia Tech’s future: “I'm so proud of my university and President [Tim] Sands and the board [Board of Visitors] for looking forward to those next 150 years and how we can be more inclusive and how we can create an environment where everyone feels welcome, one that is diverse and not just talking about it but putting action toward policies. As an elected member of a governing body, I feel putting action toward words is so important because, at the end of the day, rhetoric only gets you so far.”