Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets recognizes distinguished alumni
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets recognized two corps alumni on April 6 with the Distinguished Alumni of the Corps Award. The award, based on the tenets of the Pylons, recognizes those alumni who have continued to serve the university and the Corps of Cadets in the spirit of the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
This year’s recipients were Col. Richard “Rock” Roszak ’71 and Nicholas D. Street ’53.
Roszak was born in Newark, New Jersey, and was raised in Staunton, Virginia. He enrolled in the corps in 1967 as a member of Squadron S. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1971, he commissioned into the U.S. Air Force and began flight training. His military career took him to duty stations all over the world, including the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the Russian federation.
In 1994, Roszak was stationed at Virginia Tech as the commander of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 875 and professor of aerospace studies. Upon his retirement from the military in 1998, he returned to Virginia Tech again to join the commandant’s staff for the corps as 3rd Battalion deputy commandant. Three years later, he became the first alumni director for the corps, a role he held until his retirement from the university in 2012.
Since his retirement, Roszak has remained an asset to the corps, returning multiple times each year to address cadets and families. He continues to teach corps history to first-year cadets each fall and address parents of new cadets on the first day of New Cadet Week, sharing his experiences as a cadet and offering advice to families.
He also returns at the end of each spring semester to mentor cadets commissioning into the U.S. Air Force, completing a cycle of mentorship for many of them.
In October 2021, Roszak served as the reviewing officer for the Homecoming Pass in Review, a cadet parade on the Drillfield honoring Cornerstone Alumni.
Long dedicated to the corps' growth and sustainment, he has advocated for corps scholarships and construction of the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building, slated to open this fall.
“Rock’s impact on countless generations of Hokies cannot be overstated. His example of selfless service to our country and Virginia Tech inspires the best out of all of us,” said Cmdr. Nate Brown, alumni director for the Corps of Cadets.
Street was a native of Southwest Virginia. Born in 1931 to W.A. and Frankie Mae Street, he spent his childhood in Grundy, Virginia, with his close-knit family which included seven siblings. He was accepted to Virginia Tech in 1949 and joined the corps as a member of November Company.
Street graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and received his commission in the U.S. Air Force. He served on active duty for four years and continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve. His love of flying firmly established, he continued to fly for many years in both personal and corporate roles.
It was his service to the corps that made him stand out as a distinguished alumnus. Combining his passions for education and the arts, Street was heavily engaged in facilitating corps scholarships and sought to impart a love of the arts amongst cadets.
“Because of the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Street, I was able to see one of my favorite authors, Jesmyn Ward, perform at Moss Arts Center last year. I am incredibly grateful that I was given that opportunity by the Streets because appreciation of the arts makes cadets better leaders," said Cadet Grace Shimkus, a junior majoring in English.
Street was also instrumental in the construction of the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building.
An avid philanthropist for many other Virginia Tech communities, including athletics, Pamplin College of Business, and the Moss Arts Center, Street was awarded the Ut Prosim Medal, the university’s highest honor, in May 2022.
Street died at age 91 on Feb. 4 before he could accept the Distinguished Alumni Award. His son, David Street, accepted the award on his behalf.
“You could always tell that Nick had a special place in his heart for the corps and its cadets. That love extends to his wife, Fay; David; and the entire family. His life is an example of what Ut Prosim is all about,” said Maj. Gen. Randy Fullhart, commandant of cadets.