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A conversation on access and affordability

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Category: campus experience Video duration: A conversation on access and affordability
President Tim Sands has a conversation on access and affordability with students Amanda Leckner and O'Brian Martin during his State of the University address Jan. 18.
A Virginia Tech education can be life-changing for individuals and for their families. Making this experience more accessible and affordable, especially for those who are underrepresented or underserved, is a foundational part of our land-grant mission. We have two special guests this afternoon to talk about the importance of our access and affordability initiative. Amanda Lackner is a junior majoring in National Security and Foreign Affairs. She's Vice President for mentorship in the mosaic co Living Learning Community. O'brian Martin is a member of the Class of 2026, and he serves in the undergraduate students senate as Vice President for Equity and Inclusion. Amanda and O'Brian, welcome. Amanda is a first-generation student now in your junior year. What is the Virginia Tech experienced meant for you? Yeah. I would like to start with where my journey started. Hi, I'm a Presidential Scholarship Initiative recipient. And when I've received that notice, I knew that Virginia cared about me and my success in the future. And after that, I was like, What do I do next? And I saw that there was hokey is first peer mentors. And I said, I definitely need a first-generation sister or brother. Then I met my first mentor and she changed my college experience completely. She encouraged me to be the leader that she saw me. And she saw that I had a passion for uplifting others. And so after that, I decided to become a rookies first peer mentor. And that's where mentorship became my version of a person. And from there, I saw the first-generation students support office, grow and grow and grow and meet so many different first-generation students and faculty and just so many, and it was just an amazing experience. And I hope that through this new access and affordability initiative, more students can find their way to Virginia Tech and experience what it means to have a person. Thank you. Amanda O'Brian, in your first year, you didn't waste any time engaging with student governance and taking a leadership role and equity and inclusion. What, why was that important for you and for Virginia Tech drew me to this school in particular was it's endless trying to create the next generation of educated changemakers. And thinking of the school and literally interwoven within Virginia Tech's DNA is it will produce some standard division, the thought and the idea that can come to Blacksburg and receive a world-class education and still be called to answer that higher calling of service to others was fascinating to me, is something I could not find anywhere else. And today, in my particular role in the realm of equity and inclusion, the important task of ensuring that each student feels like they belong on this amazing campus. Nothing is more important than a strong sense of belonging. And to feel like you have the tools, the resources, and the support you need to create and to be the best version of yourself. And that's what I love, what I do next. So Brian, Amanda, you also, you talked about being a mentor. What advice do you have for other first-generation students? There's something we say and first-generation students support. We say embrace your first-generation superpower. And at first, when we talked about that, I was like, What does that mean for me? And for me that means being an engaged leader and uplifting others. And that's what I want to tell other students, other first-generation students, you can embrace your first-generation superpower. Now, what does that mean for the school? I couldn't embrace my first-generation superpower without the funding and the support that I received through the Presidential Scholarship Initiative. And so I think that if Virginia Tech can allow students to engage in the community without that financial burden. Because for many, that's something that really stops them from being able to be involved on campus. They can to find their first-generation superpower. I love that. Thank you. Brian, if we can remove the access and affordability barriers, what would the impact be on the Virginia Tech experienced in your view? Well, I feel like we will begin to see as students with a redefined perspective come to Blacksburg and live their truth and with it they haven't been able to before. And that's important because for far too long, these students have been denied opportunities. Because their talent, their potential, or who they are as a character has been tied continuously to their socioeconomic class. Simply because they've been belittled simply because they weren't able to pay the price tag. Now today I'm glad that we're moving in a direction to change the narrative. Now instead of saying you can only come here if you can pay for it. Instead, we're saying you can come here because you deserve to be here. And the traits that you have shown as far as perseverance, your commitment to success and dedication to academic excellence makes you priceless. And we're proud to welcome his Barbara hokey community. And I'm glad that we're leading the way to send that message. Well, thank you O'Brien and Amanda, you are so inspiring you. Every time as a university president, I have to be in meetings and with all sorts of older folks. And when I need to get recharged, all I have to do is sit down with our Virginia Tech students and your great representatives of the best of them. So thank you for spending some time with us today. Thank you for thank you, Amanda.