On a Thursday night last spring, Virginia Tech's Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo shared a meal with students at Turner Place. It was her monthly Student Forum, and Perillo was coming to the students to seek out their opinions on Division of Student Affairs initiatives.

Robbie Ashton of Ashburn, Virginia, a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Nizar Taifour of Ashburn, Virginia, a senior majoring in marketing in the Pamplin College of Business, attended and introduced the idea of revamping GobblerConnect, a web-based platform that serves as the central operating system of clubs and organizations at Virginia Tech.

“I want to hear directly from students about their experiences, because it is important to me and my colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs and across the university,” said Perillo. “Virginia Tech has bright, capable, and innovative students — students who value the communities they live in and wish to make them even better! I want to harness that energy and enthusiasm for good. I want students to be partners and co-creators in this learning process. I want them to define and shape the student experience, so we will always be connecting.”

Perillo not only listened to their ideas. She arranged a meeting with several administrators involved with GobblerConnect, Ashton and Taifour, and five other students passionate about the revamp. Soon after, Ashton and Taifour were hired for summer positions focused on implementing changes to make GobblerConnect improvements a reality.

“Situations like this happen more than people think because the university sees value in what students have to say,” said Taifour. “All we had to do is provide some constructive criticism with a possible solution, and things started moving after that.”

Ashton and Taifour worked full time over the summer, attending meetings, creating mock-up templates, presenting to leadership in the university, and fine-tuning a new and improved GobblerConnect.

The most obvious change to the platform is the overall look. The former interface received a facelift with fresh images, user-friendly navigation, and new resources to enhance the student experience.

In addition, students can now enter their interests and hobbies, and GobblerConnect will suggest organizations and events that line up with those preferences. With nearly 850 student organizations on campus, this tool will help students navigate and find their place at Virginia Tech.

“My Involvement Transcript” automatically tracks a user’s participation in an organization, as well as leadership roles they have or events they attend. Through this tool, a student will graduate from Virginia Tech with not only a diploma, but also a compilation of all extracurricular activities to add to their resume.

As GobblerConnect underwent a makeover this summer, the Keystone Experience will be launched this fall and will use the online platform for tracking the progress and exploration of Keystone Happenings. GobblerConnect and Keystone will work together to create meaning and purpose of experiences both in and out of the classroom.

Browsing clubs and organizations doesn’t just happen on GobblerConnect, though. On September 4, the Drillfield will be transformed into Gobblerfest, an annual festival intended to engage students in campus activities and connect with the surrounding community, while inspiring curiosity, civility, and self-understanding.

Gobblerfest takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. and will include food, games, free giveaways, performances, and information regarding clubs and organizations at booths around the Drillfield. Don’t miss the GobblerConnect and Keystone Experience lounge, where students can explore more about these initiatives.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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