In the past year, Virginia Tech students studying property management received extra funds to support their education from the program’s advisory board.

The board, which includes representatives from about 36 real estate and related companies, gave a total of $66,000 in scholarships to 33 students in the major last year. Each student received $2,000 to go toward tuition or travel expenses for conferences they are eligible to attend.

“The hope is that the student awarded the scholarship will realize that we believe in them and in their pursuit of higher education,” said Yaw Opoku-Boakye, a regional property manager at Bonaventure and a board member. “Additionally, I hope that it also instills in them the capacity to pay it forward in the future.”

Students are chosen for the scholarships based on a variety of factors, including participation in the program’s activities and the student club. Students also are matched with a scholarship from the company at which they interned. 

Companies fund the scholarship they provide. Students do not have to intern at one of these companies to receive a scholarship.

The property management program and the advisory board were created in 1984 after several faculty members met with James Kelly, who was director of housing management for the Virginia Housing Development Authority, at a conference in 1980.

“Over the next four years, the housing faculty interacted with Jim as we developed two courses in property management,” said Rosemary Goss, who helped to form the property management program at Virginia Tech. “During this time, the idea for a curriculum focusing on property management emerged.”

In the fall of 1984, the first advisory board meeting took place with Kelly serving as the chair.

“He knew many multifamily owners through his position,” said Goss. “He brought many of those company executives to Virginia Tech to have them talk with faculty about the skills needed by property management professionals and for faculty to share with the companies how they could support the curriculum as we moved forward. This went on to become the advisory board.” 

Since then, the board has given more than $1.3 million in scholarships to property management students. The board, which currently includes 10 alumni, meets biannually to discuss recruitment, curriculum, and job placement for current students. It will host another scholarship dinner this spring, where 16 scholarships will be given out.

The property management program also celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. 

Anna Groff, a senior double majoring in property management and communications, said the scholarships that she has received have “helped tremendously.”

“They have lifted a lot of financial stressors off of me,” Groff said. “They have also allowed me to focus on my studies and prepare to enter the industry after graduation.”

Every fall, right before the fall advisory board meeting, students fill out a scholarship application to be eligible for a scholarship at the dinner. Every spring, students fill out the property management conditional application to be eligible for scholarships at the spring advisory board scholarship dinner.

Sarah Rentschler, corporate trainer for Edward Rose & Sons and a member of the advisory board, said funding scholarships holds significant meaning to her as someone who earned scholarships through her alma mater.

“The financial support helped open so many other doors for me as a student and gave me a professional jump start,” Rentschler said. “It is extremely rewarding to have the opportunity through Edward Rose & Sons and Virginia Tech to pay it forward to the next generation of industry leaders.”

Kelly Avery, associate professor of practice of property management, joined Virginia Tech in the fall of 2018 as an assistant professor of practice. 

“The advisory board is one of the greatest strengths of the program,” said Avery, who in 2019 was named the Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professor in honor of Goss. “Board members help provide an impactful experience for our students outside the classroom.”

Scholarships like these are a key element of the university as part of Virginia Tech Advantage, offering the full educational experience to students with financial need.

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