Nikki Giovanni reflects on service at Virginia Tech
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University Distinguished Professor Emerita Nikki Giovanni became only the fifth recipient of Virginia Tech's Ut Prosim Scholar Award. Giovanni, a world-renowned author, retired from the university in 2022 after 35 years in the Department of English. She reflects on how she's followed the university's motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
I want the legacy of Virginia to be reflected here at Virginia Tech. It won't happen in the four years that you're here, but some of you will be here six or seven. That'll happen. It's easy to forget that you're doing something. And 20 years later, or 30 years later, somebody comes and says to you, oh, I remember when you read that point in class and I didn't know what it meant. And then you realize, oh, I've done something. Everything is not about an audience. Somethings about the little things that you do every day. I'm happy that I am called upon to do some things, some things you can't do, Sometimes you can't do it. And sometimes, to be honest, you don't want to do it. And you have to know the difference between what you can't do and what you don't want to do. That's the way life goes. But I do try to do what I am asked to do, if I can, if there's any way that I can do it. I know one of the things I'm most proud of is that we had a program here at Virginia Tech that we put Tony Morrison and Maya Angelo stage together. Two of America's greatest writers and people that we were able here at Virginia Tech to present to the community for free. It was a great program. I was very proud to bring the writers here to Virginia Tech. When I first, when I was here earlier, I had a fish fraud because I was teaching Harlem renaissance. Everybody, a fish, right? Nobody's going to come. And I thought, well, all they can say is nobody can. I've heard no before, but that's how I met Frank. Frank Beemer brought his entire football team. I saw them walking across the jail field, and still it brings tears to my eyes that he brought the entire football team over in, and we hadn't known each other, we didn't know each other or anything. I thought I'm at the right place if we get that support for each other. This is home, I want to be a hokie, this is what I want to be.