Civility, human kindness, and respect are simple concepts. But when immersed on a campus thousands of students strong, all rapidly heading in different directions, finding ways to not only practice civility but also be widely recognized for doing so, is an accomplishment.

For Anthony Shafron, receiving an Aspire! Award for Civility connects back to the very reason he chose Virginia Tech.

"The sense of community on campus is unmatched by any other university. Virginia Tech also had so many different ways of getting involved and has deep roots in service, which is something I've always felt was important," he said.

Shafron said his experience in his high school's Mini-THON Club was an early inspiration for a journey exemplifying civility. Every year, the club put on a small-scale version of the renowned Penn State THON, a 46-hour dance marathon and the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. During his senior year, Shafron helped raise more than $80,000 for pediatric cancer research and patient treatment.

"It was amazing knowing that what we were doing was making a difference in the lives of people we never met and probably will never meet," said Shafron, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ School of Animal Sciences.

The Aspire! awards occur five months a year and highlight students, faculty, and staff who exceptionally personify Student Affairs' five Aspirations for Student Learning: curiosity, self-understanding and integrity, civility, courageous leadership, and Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

"Upon learning that I was nominated I was shocked. It was hard for me to believe that out of the nearly 36,000 people on campus, someone nominated me for this award. It made me think about everyone's lives I have touched and how a simple interaction can mean the world to someone," said Shafron, who is from Roxbury, New Jersey.  

With an interest in animals from a young age, Shafron initially thought he would become a veterinarian. However, after his first semester, he was drawn specifically to the science element and plans to target a career involving research instead.

Outside of academics, he is a member of the FarmHouse Fraternity, a social organization with a foundation in agriculture. He has served twice as president and once as the director of membership education for the Interfraternity Council, assisting in the transition of nearly 600 men into both collegiate and Greek life.

In his free time, Shafron loves taking his dog, Chico, on local hikes and attending Virginia Tech athletic events, specifically football, basketball, and baseball.

He believes his Aspire! Award nomination stems from his role as lead front desk student assistant at Virginia Tech's Smith Career Center. At the center, he helps numerous students daily, assuring each one is treated politely and respectfully and has their inquiries or concerns met promptly.  

"To me, civility means showing people that you genuinely care about them, their thoughts, and their emotions. By practicing civility, you ensure individuals are getting treated in a way that makes them feel cared for."

After graduation this spring, he hopes to attend graduate school in animal science at Virginia Tech. His long-term plan includes a Ph.D. followed by a career in the animal nutrition industry, conducting research and development for a feed company.  

"Everyone has their own life with situations happening, so meeting people with civility is a best practice," Shafron said.

His grounded perspective on what it means to emanate kindness began by dancing 24 hours nonstop to benefit families he never had the joy of meeting. From that moment on, he cherished every opportunity to encounter people with a heart of civility, to change their lives for the better, and to approach his days one person at a time.

Written by Nancy Moseley

Share this story