On Sunday, May 14, the Virginia Tech held a commencement ceremony for its graduate students in D.C.-area programs. Among the 149 graduates were 85 Innovation Campus Master of Engineering students who received degrees in either computer science or computer engineering. This is the largest number of graduates the Innovation Campus has had to date.

Five Boeing Scholars – Adrian Ruvalcaba, Brandon Pearl, Daffney Myers, Diego Espinoza, and Rachel Litscher – were among the weekend’s graduates. Daffney Myers, Master of Engineering in computer science graduate, was a full-time student who completed her master’s degree in one year through the Tech Talent Pipeline Partnership Program. She completed her undergraduate cybersecurity degree at the University of Mary Washington, a partner university, in 2021.

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Myers realized early on the support and community for which Virginia Tech is known. “Knowing I was coming into a community with a support system that would go above and beyond for me took a weight off my shoulders,” she said. “It made my master’s program experience less daunting.”

The formal commencement ceremony included a keynote speech from Deputy Secretary General of NATO Mircea Geoană, who rose to this position in October 2019. He raised a challenge to his graduating audience.

“We need your talent. We need your bright minds to drive innovation forward, faster, and to stay ahead of the competition,” Geoană said. “And to do so in a way that protects and enhances our rights and our freedoms and does not restrict or undermine them… The clever use of technology is key to protecting our society, outsmarting even our most formidable adversaries, and solving some of the greatest problems for humankind.”

Graduates have already begun to tackle this challenge. Some students have job offers from large tech companies like LinkedIn, Raytheon, and Fannie Mae and will start right away to make a difference. Others, like Myers, are making waves in their fields in other ways.

"I have a conditional job offer from the Department of Defense, but while I'm waiting for my background check to clear, I hope to work at a coding summer camp for girls,” she said. “I really want to be the visual for these students so they can say, 'she looks like me. I can do it, too'. I didn't have that example when I was younger and I think it's really important."

The Innovation Campus is a bold, new vision for graduate education. It is both a place and a culture that unlocks the power of diverse people and ideas to solve the world’s most pressing problems through technology. The first academic building for the campus opens in fall 2024.

Daffney Myers in regalia
Daffney Myers
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