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´╗┐Ren Harman: So, this project is just basically documenting the history of Virginia Tech. This project started a couple of years ago. We've interviewed about 100 or so alumni, and this project is also supported by President Sands and like he came to our workspace on Wednesday and we got some really cool pictures with him. You guys, I don't have enough of these cards, but these little postcards has our website and contact information on them. You can probably go on there and see some people that we've interviewed that you graduated with, so it's pretty neat. This is really just about talking about Virginia Tech and your love for this University and how awesome it is that you guys would come back for your 25th Anniversary.

So I guess what we'll do first is I'll do a little spiel here at the beginning and then we'll just go down the line and say your name and where you were born and your class and all that stuff.

For the sake of the recording this is Ren Harman, the project manager for VT Stories. Today is November 11, 2016 at about 4:15 PM, and we are in the 1:00Smithfield room at the Inn here at Virginia Tech, so I'll start with you. So if you could say in a full sentence my name is and then when and where you were born.

Female: When?

Ren: You don't have to do that. [Laughs]

Ginny Driscol: So my name is Ginny Driscol, and I was born in [Pouson], South Korea. I was born on September 5, 1968.

Ren: What years did you attend Virginia Tech?

Ginny: From '87 to '91.

Ren: And your major?

Ginny: Finance.

Ren: The same to you.

Kristen Saunders: Hello, hi. My name is Kristen Saunders. My maiden name when I was here was Kristen Maculgen. I was born in Buffalo, New York on October 21, 1969, also here from 1987 to 1991. And my major is Decision Support Systems, which I think is now Business Information Systems here at Tech in the business group.


Ren: Awesome.

Cecelia Bevarina: My name is Cecelia Bevarina. My maiden name was Wu. I was born in Washington, DC on April 17, 1969. My major was statistics.

Ren: Ooh. Nice.

Angie Ackerman: Hi. My name is Angie Ackerman. My maiden name is Judd. I was born in Hagerstown, Maryland on November 25, 1969, and my major was in finance.

Ren: Awesome. So most of the time I would ask you to talk about your family, but since there's four of us let's just focus on your time here at Virginia Tech. You don't have to go in order or anything now. Just jump in and feel free. This is really conversational, but how did you guys decide to come to Virginia Tech? What was your reasoning to attend Virginia Tech and what was behind that decision? Whoever.

Female: I visited Tech because one of my very close friends was here at Tech, 3:00and when I came to visit the campus I fell in love with the campus. And I really loved the size of the school as well to be part of a bigger community and a larger school, so it was very attractive to me in that perspective.

Female: I agree. When visiting here I guess one of my prerequisites for picking a college was to feel like I was at a school. It felt like we were in our own little kind of city pod while we were here, so it felt like I was really getting a college experience. Everything looked the same. It was altogether as opposed to other schools that are kind of built within towns and other things like that. I definitely liked that aspect.

Ren: Awesome.

Kristen: Coming from the City of New York looked at Virginia Tech from a financial perspective, very attractive, more so than in-state schools. I 4:00accepted coming here to Tech actually before even seeing the school.

Ren: Wow.

Kristen: I was looking at the map. The map was nice too and had a similar layout as far as that small eco system. I was looking for either engineering or business and the school came up front and center for either choice and I ended up going the business route.


Female: And my sister went to Virginia Tech so I came to visit her and had the same experience where I fell in love with the campus. I took a class with her, which was hilarious. She's an engineer and she just gave me her notebook and her pen and decided to take a nap while she said for me to take notes. [Laughs] That was a little bit traumatic, but I really enjoyed just kind of being in the classroom and it was kind of exciting.

Ren: So here's the most obvious question, how do you all know each other?


Ginny: Oh, so gosh, we've known each other forever obviously, but Angie, Kristen and I were roommates and also sorority sisters. And then Cecilia we met her obviously at school, but after school we worked together and obviously became friends, so we've been friends since college up until now. And we've been very blessed actually to have been able to stay so close for so long. We actually have VT dinners.

Ren: That's awesome.

Female: Every other month, Tech dinner club.

Ren: Tech dinner club? Nice.

Ginny: So there's 12 of us in that group and all the women are the Tech grads with the spouse. Actually Cecilia's husband actually graduated from Tech as well, and mine.

Ren: So did yours?

Ginny: Yes. We met at work later. We live in a very tight community and a tight 6:00relationship. I think it's very unusual frankly, so we've been very lucky.

Ren: Yeah. So you guys live close enough where you can have... Northern Virginia?

Ginny: Yes.

Ren: Very cool. That's awesome. So you accepted admission at Virginia Tech before you saw the campus.

Kristen: Yes.

Ren: I find that really interesting. What was kind of your first impressions of the campus? What did it look like, smell like?

Kristen: And it was really taking a leap of faith because I actually did not know anyone at all at the school, but I was blessed and teamed with a roommate just randomly that we're still good friends today. She lives down in Raleigh, North Carolina. So coupled with that and joining a sorority my freshman year created that, that close network of friends that made it feel like home.

Ren: What sorority were you guys in?

Female: Delta Gamma.

Female: We joined the sorority our sophomore year.


Ren: What were some other first impressions of the campus?

Female: I thought it was so beautiful. We were actually talking about it as we were driving in today about the beauty of the school, but also the architecture of the stone, so hokie stone, and just the way the school was laid out. I mean it's just so beautiful, and like we were saying before, sort of the ecosystem. It sort of like just draws you into the campus, and so you just immediately felt like you were kind of home.

Female: Actually being out of state coming in and not knowing folks, everyone stayed here on the weekend. People didn't leave so it was a conducive environment to make longstanding relationships.

Ren: Right. Feel free.

Female: I was trying to think about, we pulled up moving in the first time and I think it was raining.

Female: The first rain.

[Angie:] Right. It was raining heavily, but everyone just seemed very excited 8:00about being here. Like you didn't see any tears on anybody's face at the time, even though you probably, I don't know, like me -- I had this pit in my stomach obviously because you have never been away from home like that, and your parents are driving off. That whole atmosphere of people being excited kind of helped get through some of that I think initially.

Ren: Did you all live in the same dormitory?

Female: We did.

Female: West AJ.

Female: 3010. I remember.

Female: Oh my goodness.

Ren: Wow. I don't remember mine.

Female: I don't remember mine but I was in Lee.

Ren: Lee? Okay.

Female: I was in Johnson.

Ren: Okay. I was in Pritchard.

Female: Oh, you know exactly where Lee is.

Ren: Yes. Yes.

Female: --Vending machines.

Ren: Yes, and it's co-ed now, which is crazy, right? And so is Slusher. The lady we interviewed Slusher Tower is co-ed now, so it's a lot 9:00different. When you talk about your majors were there some notable professors that you guys remember, maybe you had classes together?

Female: Dr. Rubenstein.

Female: Dr. Rubenstein. In every single one of his classes he would show movies. He had an afternoon class over in McBride that no one would miss. No one missed. He would walk the campus and he knew your name.

Female: That's right. Amazing.

Female: I can't remember the name of the professor that was so traumatic, but he taught statistical quality control, [IOR] so industrial engineers and psych majors took it and that class was crazy. It was very intense and I just remember all of us being traumatized. [Chuckles]

Female: We had a bad one too. Well, bad one as in really like kicked our butts. 10:00The finance right, corporate finance.

Female: Well so the husband and wife team, corporate finance the initial class was fine, Diane Dennis, but then her husband, and I don't remember his first name, Dennis, he taught the final class. It was all case study and we were like... That's one I switched. I was in finance, and I liked Diane, but after that I switched too.

Female: And then economics.

Female: Yeah, that was too.

Female: Mr. [?]. This class you would go and take notes and study and think you nailed it and do everything and you go to take the test, it was 50-multiple choice. They graded on a curve. The highest score was 40, and like if you got 25 you were happy.

Female: And the unit of measure was always [?] fish. I saw him in the 11:00supermarket [?] fish. [Laughs]

Ren: That's awesome.

Female: But we had all of each other to commiserate on some of the challenges.

Ren: Right. Did you guys have a lot of lonely nights in the library studying or at your sorority house or together?

Female: We would try to study together.

Female: But you know, I feel like to be honest in the library sometimes you just did more socializing right, going up and down the floors.

Female: You were better off in the dorm with the door shut, or study in the dorm.

Ren: Not a whole lot has changed, right.

Female: They had a social floor at the library that you could go just to walk through, but then if you go higher up...

Ren: Those are the quiet floors, right.

Female: They didn't have a coffee shop like you do now.

Ren: Yeah. So, let's talk about that, because I was telling the last person we interviewed, because we have done all these interviews, over 100, and there's this huge gap between like the 80s and the 90s, especially mid-80s to early 90s. I know just from being kind of local and having family members attend here, but 12:00what was Virginia Tech like in the late 80s or early 90s?

Female: Horrible football team.

Female: We didn't love the food. [?].

Ren: Yeah, it's still here. Yeah.

Female: Okay. It is bad and I can remember the Bacon Bits being like the freeze-dried. I just remember thinking like the salad bar... We always wanted to go to the fried chicken...

Female: Tenders.

Female: The cafeteria that's on the other side.

Female: Like the military.

Female: By the military.

Female: Squires.

Female: No, no, no.

Female: Squires closed our freshman year. We didn't have Squires at all.

Ren: Oh man.

Female: But they had fried chicken and we were always interested in going to that one because they had fried chicken.

Female: It was all about food.

Female: It really was.


Ren: Yeah.

Female: But we never felt like to be honest that we were missing anything.

Ren: Right.

Female: It was just school. It was what we were used to, and everybody said yeah, you know, college food is supposed to be bad, so right. But we had more...I feel like the Greeks were very prevalent at the time, so that was very central to our social life, right, and so we have lots of memories of that. But we really enjoyed Blacksburg. We really enjoyed the town and how it integrated with the campus.

Female: [?] favorite place is [?].

Female: Carol Lee Donuts. It used to be right off campus...whatever that theater.

Ren: Yeah. Lyric.

Female: Lyric, and I had a class in there and I could not make it early in the morning without getting my two doughnuts along the way and taking them [?].

Female: But I feel like back then, and maybe it was just because we were younger 14:00and that's what we knew, I felt like it was more cozier I guess. Now it's so much development right, and across all of the areas of Blacksburg that, I don't know, it just seems...

Female: And a little more commercial.

Female: Yeah. It's much more commercial and I totally agree. Clothing I remember you had to stock up before coming here. I didn't have a car until my senior year, so as far as you had to get it before you came here .

Female: Roses.

Female: Oh yeah, Roses, or at University Mall.

Female: Yes.

Ren: Now known as the Math Emporium I do believe. That's where the Math Emporium is, an old Roses warehouse.

Female: [?] farmhouse, that used to be like the best restaurant.

Ren: In Christiansburg, right?

Female: If your parents were coming to town.

Female: We were so disappointed when we came back and we all. Do you remember?

Female: Now there's much more options now which is great.

Female: Is [?] still?

Ren: Yeah.

Female: [?] if you name every sandwich...

Female: What was your favorite sandwich? [?] [Laughs]


Ren: I'm a Honeymooner fan personally.

Female: I liked the one with the Uncle [?].

Ren: That's awesome. I guess you definitely have some more dining options now than you probably had back then. What else was kind of happening on campus at that time? It was the late 80s or early 90s, historically kind of winding down President Reagan's time in office.

Ginny: Well, what I remember is like when we were graduating the job market was horrible.

Female: Oh yeah.

Female: In '91 it was horrible.

Female: It was so bad.

Female: I went straight to graduate school for two years and then [?] was a lot better.

Ginny: You know it was a big stinker for us to work for four years in school and then when you're graduating for that market to be so bad. So we were all 16:00somewhat very disappointed obviously and concerned, but I mean certainly we got through it, but that was like a huge downer to be honest right, a big challenge for us.

Female: But I'll be honest, it's weird, it's like when you're here it's like the ecosystem we're talking about, you kind of feel like the outside world was outside. Like we really didn't even hear much about what was going on.

Ren: Yeah.

Female: I mean keep in mind we didn't have cell phones. We didn't have email. I had a typewriter for my freshman year. I had an IBM Correcting Selectric which I thought was cool. It went really fast. [Chuckles]

Female: You're really dating us.

Female: But she's right. We didn't have all that distraction or inundation of information at the time too.

Female: I know I found myself totally focusing on studying the material...I 17:00think people are now, but also developing the social skills relationship that I know I have found very productive in working in the work world too. I mean just being able to network and communicate and doing presentations or things that at Tech.

Ren: Yea We have a 9 and a 6-year-old and my wife is always like on them about not being on their IPads so much. My 9-year-old the other day said he had a headache, and I was like, "What have you been doing?" and he had been playing on his IPad for like an hour or two and I was like, "Well that might be why," so I kicked him outside. I'm sure we could spend hours and hours talking about this next question, but some favorite memorable experiences at Virginia Tech, some 18:00you may want to share and some you may not want to share, and remember we can redact, if you say anything you wish you hadn't. You will have transcript approval, so I'll let you guys go and tell whatever stories you want. What are some good favorite experiences and things you guys used to talk about?

Ginny: Well, so there's so many, but I think my fondest memory is being in the sorority. And when I first came to Tech I really had no interest in being in a sorority, and even the first year I wasn't, but I just saw sort of this sisterhood and this comradery of people and just being able to just do things together and just have fun and have a sense of belonging. And so I just said okay, I will try it out, and some of my fondest memories have been with the sorority.

And so I guess you know back then we partied a lot. There's no getting around 19:00that. The last year in college we all lived in the Delta Gamma sorority house.

Female: It was the first year.

Female: Yes, it was beautiful.

Female: We were all very happy.

Ginny: We would typically go out and then come back, and one night Angie and I decided to go out.

Angie: I remember.

Ginny: Well we wanted to go out, and so we went out and we were really hungry and we decided well maybe we'll just go in and freshen up a little bit and then we'll go back out. So Angie parks her car in the handicap and she didn't even park there straight. It was sort of on a curve because she was like, "Oh we're going to be in and out."

Angie: Run in, run back out.

Ginny: So we go into the sorority house and then we get there and we forget that we parked in the handicap and we said, "Well let's go have a pizza. Well let's call for a pizza." So we called for a pizza and the pizza is coming. Kristen comes running in and going, "Angie your car is being towed!" She goes, "Oh my God, I forgot." She runs out and she had to pay, what at that time?


Angie: The guy made me pay some portion to put it down off the tow truck to get it back.

Ginny: But we've had a lot of mishaps, craziness, especially in the last year, but it's often very... I reminisce like oh, the good old days when we were able to just go and do crazy things and not be judged.

Female: Not having enough money to tip the pizza guy and he kept calling us back in our room and yelling at us that we didn't have enough money for the tip.

Ren: [Laughs] That's awesome.

Female: One of my interesting memories too is I did have a blessing to stay here for a summer, for one of the summers as well and it is a very different atmosphere then, but it did enable me to go do the New River, and it was just a 21:00slower pace. They were building College Park at the same time that I was in my apartment, so every morning at 7 o'clock cling cling cling. But I enjoyed, I was able to enjoy some of the more outdoor activities and also take classes as well too, so it wasn't quite as intense when it is during the school year.

Ren: The fall and spring, right.

Female: I was here for a summer and it was great because I cheerleaded one year and so I worked in the Athletic Department as the assistant to the assistant to Dave Breen who was the athletic director and that's when Beamer just came in. And so I felt really excited and I was like I knew when he came in for the interview...this coach coming in and former Tech hokie, so it was just kind of neat that... Yeah.

Female: Oh, well speaking of Beamer, so this was happened on campus, but remember when we went to the Sugar Bowl game down in New Orleans?

Female: Oh, New Orleans?

Female: Yes, and we saw Beamer at one of the restaurants too.


Female: Was it Commander [Salamander]?

Female: Yes. I went to New Orleans twice to Bowl games, to the first one and something else. I went to the Texas Longhorns, that one, also the day that Calvin & Hobbs writers stopped writing cartoons, but that's a different story. [Laughs]

Female: My kids are [?] the whole time because I think my son is Calvin.

Ren: [Laughs] Your son's name is Calvin, is that what you said?

Female: No, but he acts like Calvin.

Ren: Gotcha. That's awesome.

Female: And that reminded me of seeing Beamer too. We love Beamer.

Female: Yes.

Female: Yeah, we do.

Ren:` What was the structure of the campus, buildings, how has it changed?

Female: I'm so like amazed at some of the newer buildings and how modern it is. You know back when we were going some of the buildings were kind of run down on the inside, right, with the type of furniture in the hallways, no air conditioning at times. So now some of the buildings like the engineering 23:00building is amazing in the architecture. But what I've been impressed with is how they've made it integrated into the current architecture in the environment to make it look like it's holistic, versus it being oh here's a brand new building and we're just plopping it in, so they've done a really good job.

Female: I know. We were driving in and I haven't been here for a few years. I'm like I don't remember something being there and then I look at the building name. It was one of those where sometimes I would be like oh that's new, and sometimes I would be like no, that building has always been there. It's hard to kind of...

Ren: Yeah.

Female: I want to take them to the Performing Arts Center. They haven't seen it yet. My husband and I we donated so we could get our nameplates on the seats, because I said, "I definitely want my name on that," so we each have our own little seats. We saw a show there and I was so impressed because I was thinking we're in Blacksburg and this is a pretty good show. It was really fun.


Ren: It's a pretty amazing building for sure. It's really nice.

Female: In the parking lot behind most of the classrooms that was gravel. It was not paved.

Female: And then the cave where we had to keep our cars, remember?

Female: Yes.

Female: That was all gravel.

Female: Still?

Ren: Still. It keeps shrinking in size. The vet school they have a building, a like a dairy science building and it's slowly starting to get smaller and smaller, and then so they built a new building behind Derring which it's called New Classroom Building and that took a lot of parking.

Female: That was creative. [Laughs]

Ren: Yeah.

Female: [?] 19.

Ren: Yeah, exactly. And then the new engineering building took up a lot of parking, so there's a massive parking garage behind like where you guys are 25:00talking about now, yeah. The engineering building is really nice.

Female: Is the parking still difficult? [?] they would come in the class and they would be like, "I saw your car in the front. ...How did that happen?" [Interposing voices] I got lucky. I wouldn't go to the back. I would pull in and they would be like...

Ren: When it snows here and this is probably the same when you guys, and they would pile the snow into like big piles of snow, I have literally seen cars parked this way just because it's a spot, but you're on top of eight foot of snow. It's still tough. Parking is still tough.

They've tried, but this campus as you guys well know keeps growing and growing and getting bigger.

Female: That snow reminds me of something. I was in West AJ and I either didn't know any better or it was bad luck, but our freshman year they were still on the quarter system, so we had three quarters. Three quarters our freshman year and 26:00then they switched us to two semesters our sophomore year, and so whenever you had second quarter we're talking it was like winter [like here, bad]. So I'm at West AJ and I somehow ended up with 7:30, 8 o'clock, whatever that earliest Tuesday Thursday slot is I had class, and it was winter. It like rained and hailed and everything. I remember walking down to West AJ and like after multiple attempts to walk down the sidewalk I thought I was going to kill myself. Like it was going to suck me down. There were no railings, nothing. I just turned back in and went back. I was scared to death. I could not get down the sidewalk.

It was that bad, so I totally remember the weather and the wind chill across the drillfield. I would be crying.

Female: Like Siberia. I sprained my ankle badly and I remember being on crutches traversing across the dang drillfield on those crutches, coming up to McBride 100, and oh my, it was something else is going to break. I'm know...

Ren: Yeah. Crossing the drillfield I think every hokie can probably comment on the difficulties of doing that because it's brutal sometimes. There's something that you guys had mentioned about not really being connected because you didn't have cell phones, computers, internet and all that stuff, so how did you guys stay... Did you just live close together and you stayed...? How did you all stay so close?

Female: You mean while we were on campus?

Ren: Yeah.

Female: Well, I think with classes, but then we would try to sync up during the week and then there's always the phone, right, but then with the sorority...

Female: The regular phone.

Female: The old-fashioned old phone, but we would also obviously being in the sorority helped significantly for us.

Ren: Yeah. So you guys probably had a lot of social events and stuff that you did together.

Female: [?] hanging out or whatever.


Ren: Awesome. I want to come back to this question, but how has your education played out in your life from Virginia Tech? You have four different majors and I'm sure different areas of business and interests and stuff, so how has your education played out in your life?

Ginny: Well that's a tough one. For me personally when I graduated I didn't really do like financial things. I did more accounting contract related things, and then after that I went more into technology, and that's the field I work in versus finance. But I think you know that's what we typically see for a lot of folks, right. What they study isn't necessarily what they do business in. But I think the bigger factor really was that regardless of what your major was that I 29:00think Tech gave us a good foundation of learning. Actually I think this is one of the beauties of Tech is it really forces you to be a well-rounded student, a well-rounded person, and I think we've applied that, all of us frankly. So you know, that factor as a whole I believe personally has made a bigger impact in what I do today versus sort of the major. Because I think it's different like if you are going to be an architect, right. That's a little different, and if you want to be a specific kind of an engineer.

Ren: Right.

Ginny: But like for us who are more of the business or more of the math and statistical you could apply that across a lot of different type of domains. So I personally have found that to be true, right. So I didn't go specifically into personally corporate financing.

Ren: What about you?


Angie: I didn't go into corporate finance either. I went straight into IT consulting, then Anderson Consulting and now it's Accenture, and worked there, and between that and taking some time off to have children and then going back to Accenture. I'm actually now in Human Resources with them. I used the overall business background and had like the experience in my classes and grades to back up what I learned. But a lot of like IT consulting companies are looking for smart people, social well-rounded people, people that have the ability to catch on and learn quickly. So kind of the same thing as Ginny was saying, a business degree, and a little bit more of a technical aspect to finance accounting. It's pretty easy if the market is doing well to walk out of here and get a good job.


Ren: Right.

Female: With my statistics degree, originally, I just went to [defense] contracting where Ginny and I were working at the same company and doing more, not really any statistical work, but more program management and working on just tracking defense systems using life cycle modeling and things like that. But then I actually got to do real statistical work on my next job, but then I quit to stay home with my kids for a bit. And so I kind of have fallen off of that one, so I was trying to figure out how to come back, but I'm hoping that with at least my basic degree and the skills that I have from working professionally for a while and then doing the mom thing I can hopefully figure out what I'm going to do next.

Ren: Right.

Female: So, hoping to come back to figuring out something, but at least it's a good foundation. Like the education part, the well-rounded part, being able 32:00to...the social skills, being able to articulate yourself, being able to be in front of people, so hopefully figure out that actual career path part, but not necessarily tied to the major.

Ren: Okay.

Female: Yeah, and with my degree in decision support systems, so that systems analyst role, I was able to step right into that after a short break working in a restaurant because of the economy, but then joined CACI where I was developing a systems analyst for developing systems for the DOD for Army and directly using a lot of the skills that I used versus systems engineering like [context] diagrams.

I think I did a project on TCBY Yogurt or what have you that I was able to use 33:00right away and work as well too. But then that broad sense as well too, the other aspects. I have worked with developing systems, say an accounting type system or financial type systems that I've been able to draw upon those disciplines learned here at Tech.

Ren: Just doing a little research on you guys and some of you are business owners, and I'm sure you've worked with Tech grads or hired Tech grads, what do you see, do you see something in them that you felt coming out of college in terms of are they ready for certain jobs? What do Tech graduates have maybe that other graduates from other universities may or may not have? And I know you may be a little biased because you went here yourselves, but what do you all see?

Angie: I will say I did a lot of recruiting down here at Tech like for nine years off and on when I was doing by IT consulting work, but that's been a while now. I think Ginny might be a little bit more equipped to answer that, as I'm sure you're involved more and have been closer involved involved in recruiting 34:00than I have been.

Ginny: So, one of the things that I know that right now Tech is very big on is having a T-shaped kind of model for a student, right.

Ren: Right.

Ginny: Being able to go broad but deep as well, and be a much more diverse universal student, so I definitely find that as a business owner for that to be true. I mean I had several Tech students last year or this past summer as interns, and in the past I've also interviewed and hired other students. Even after they've gone to other universities, sort of a new hire. I've had the opportunity to kind of look and work with students with different backgrounds. I find the Tech students to truly be much more diverse in what we like to say with their workers. So you always as a business owner or in corporate America you 35:00want people who are willing to be hungry. You want people who can produce and you really want to see passion in their job. And not to say every Tech has that in everybody, but for the majority we find the students to be extremely versatile. They are willing to learn and they have this can-do attitude, right. Tech brings people who are not the snooty kind of students, right. Their attitude isn't I'm better than you. Their attitude is hey, I want to have a great time, but I want to really work hard and I want to figure out how we can collaborate and work together, right.

Ren: Right.

Ginny: And so I think that's a very big strength of the Tech students. And then you know I've had people who have had Harvard degrees and MIT degrees and they are brilliant people, but just because you have a degree from an ivy league does not mean that you are going to be successful. You need to have people who have 36:00the right foundation from an education perspective, but you want that person who can get along with people, who have good diversity and who has that can-do attitude, and I truly believe that Tech brings that to the table.

Ren: Right. Really good. Awesome. Because I think there's such a lot interdisciplinary work right on college campuses, and this project is an example of that. We have history, English, education, TLOS which is the learning strategies here on campus, so there's really a push-back. So I was just really interested in kind of like what you all have seen in the workplace, whether you worked with other people from Virginia Tech or you've hired.

Ginny: You know Cecilia and I worked together right after school, and it was great because we have the same type of mentality. Obviously the synergy of being from Tech, right, and so that was also good. And then you know, we all sort of had similar backgrounds as well. I mean Angie went into the consulting and 37:00Kristen world and I went to the consulting world as well, so we could all relate, right. That's why I think some of the things that Tech is doing with the APEC Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is fantastic, because we are driving and helping the students to think differently. And to be honest, I think that the students today at Tech are significantly more advanced and will achieve bigger things that what we are used to and what we have been able to do in the past, right. Because I look at where we were when we were in school and these students, I'm like blown away. And I am like wow, what did we do? [Interposing voices] I'm humbled, and then sometimes I feel like okay, well you guys are way better than we were.

Female: [?] these kids, because we went to some of the Virginia Tech Investor Network meetings and there are these Tech students current and alumni that are 38:00coming and pitching their companies. It's phenomenal, just brilliant. I'm so impressed by these kids/adults that they are so innovative. They just think outside of the box. And that same interdisciplinary, because they are talking about engineers working with the business folks. It was great because this engineer he could build it but he couldn't market it.

Ren: Right.

Female: And so you've got the marketing guy from Tech and they put them together and it was a great relationship, and I just love seeing that and just really impressed by the people coming out of here now, what they're learning and doing.

Ren: So, if someone just kind of says the words Virginia Tech what's the first thing that you each think of?

Female: Maroon.

Female: I'm always like oh my God, that was so much fun [?]. Like I literally I 39:00think [interposing voices].

Female: I think pride I think, you know. To be honest, I mean I'm prouder of the Tech now than when we were at school, because the reputation of Tech frankly has significantly increased from when we went to school. And then now I joke and I go, "I'm not sure if I could have gotten into Tech now." [Laughs]

Female: And was like a 3.0 or a 3.2 I guess.

Female: So I'm just really proud personally of where the school is and the reputation, and how frankly there's much more excitement of others outside of our bubble of Tech community and wanted to be part of Tech. So we definitely see 40:00an uplift of that excitement and interest in going to Tech, which obviously makes us even prouder, right.

Female: And the hokie connection is just huge.

Female: It is huge.

Female: And the hokie network is phenomenal. It's just, 'Oh you're a hokie.' 'Yep.' Okay, you have an instant bond and where it takes you you just don't know.

Ren: Right. So being in Northern Virginia there's a lot of hokies, right?

Female: Yeah.

Female: Oh yeah, there's a lot [?] almost every other house. [Laughs]

Female: There's Sheila, my neighbor right next door and then down the street.

Female: Right. But it does have that relationship that when there's ups and downs or what have you as far as from a neighbor perspective what have you and you've got that common bond. That's [?] these days.

Ginny: But you know even as a school, I think this goes for everybody regardless of what school you go to, is the memories you have and how you feel about the school is all based on the relationship you had with people at school, right.

Ren: Yeah.

Ginny: And even we've been fortunate. The four of us have been together for a 41:00long time, and so by the relations we currently have up to what, after 25 years, after we graduated it just really actually even strengthened the memories of Tech even more.

Ren: Let me ask this question, because there was this Gallup survey about Virginia Tech alumni being so engaged, so if you are involved in ways as an alumni in what ways are you involved, and also why do you think so many Virginia Tech alumni get so involved once they kind of graduate?

Female: Well, so I personally was a lame alumni for many many years. I will be the first one to say that, because after I graduated I was so involved in sort of wanting to do something with my career. We were all involved in our own kind of world, right. It really hasn't been until the last couple of years that I have become much more involved.

But I think part of that is also that I wasn't really sure always what is the 42:00best way to get involved, right. I think there needs to be, and we were talking about this, a way that people can better understand how they could, and I think that participation would increase even more. But I think there's lots of people better than what I've done in the past especially in getting involved, and they got in way earlier after they graduated, which I think is great. Like Cecilia and Anthony as an example, and Angie's husband Mike they bleed maroon and orange. And not to say that we don't, but they just go, like they have a passion right, and they've been involved in a lot of different ways.

But you know, I think it's different for everybody and the timing of it, but when an alumni gets involved they typically stay and get involved, right, because they all have such a huge pride factor. And I think the good thing that Tech has done actually that I've noticed is that if you give back to Tech they work really hard to give back to you as well. And so it's not a one-sided giving, and I think the alumni organization and the University really works hard 43:00to make sure that it's a two-way street.

Ren: Have others...bleed maroon and orange?

Female: I just know that we didn't necessarily maybe financially engage early on, but the way I did it is I just made my kids come do soccer camps here constantly. It's a way for, my sister also went here too, so we used it as our go down memory lane, so we would drop off my daughter, her daughter. I would recruit people like, "Who wants to go to Virginia Tech soccer camp?" and bring them all down here, and then we would stay and we would just relive having fun in Blacksburg.

Ren: Right. It's a great place.

Female: Yeah. It's just a great place, exactly. We kind of fostered that love of Virginia Tech and coming down here with my girls. As a matter of fact, we're here now and we're coming back to the Tech UVA games with my girls, so they want to come.

Ren: My wife teaches at the high school in Blacksburg down the street here, and 44:00I told her, I said, "We're not going anywhere. I don't want to move." I want to stay here because I've been here since '06. I don't want to go anywhere. What ways are you involved?

Female: Yeah, I mean the football team is a good center point to get folks together. My husband has a network of friends that cover Pittsburgh and Chicago, but [?] okay we're going to go to Tech games. We'll make sure that that's something that is consistently done in tradition as well too, so that's college games are a very good focal point.

Angie: We do football games, a spring game, came down for a basketball game too, hoping someone in our family may end up playing one of those sports here.

Ren: Right. That was going to be my next question. I don't know if you all have children that are around kind of thinking about college. Is mom and dad pushing 45:00them maybe towards Virginia Tech a little?

Angie: It wouldn't take much to like get the idea in. I have a 9th grader but it didn't take much at all. He watches hokie games and just like he's been here.

Female: Although on the flipside I can definitely attribute to the fact that like Ginny said my husband and I maybe we bleed maroon and orange a little too much, so my girls have no desire to come here.

Ren: They love it, right.

Female: They love coming here with us. They don't want to go to school here. All they say is, "You know it's a great University. We know you loved it there. We need our own place."

Female: Their own identity.

Ren: Right.

Female: They said, "You and dad love Virginia Tech so much we are afraid that you will be down here every weekend." And I had also made threats of maybe buying a house.

Ren: Oh.

Female: That scared them very much so. My older daughter was horrified. Oh my gosh, if you buy a place there that would be the worst thing. I may have ruined 46:00it for my family, but hopefully they will not do the same.

Female: My son is a second grader totally into watching the football games and excited to go. He wears all the VT. I did mention to him, I said, "You know you have to earn a certain grade level to get into any school. You can't just pick your school." So he did take a long [pregnant] pause, kind of [?] you know, kind of motivate him to get some good grades.

Ginny: My daughter is a sophomore just like Cecilia's daughter and she loves Tech as well, but I think for her she's really into being in the city.

So that's a driver for her, but she's definitely talking about Tech as a possibility, but I think her passion is wanting to be more in the city type.

Ren: A more of an urban setting, right. Awesome.

Female: I think she and Jordan are similar. They both love coming here to Tech and they want hokie swag.

Female: They will wear it, yeah.


Female: My daughter is like, "Don't forget to buy me something." They are like, "I'm happy to wear any sweatshirt or whatever you buy me." [Chuckles]

Ren: Right. Pick me up something mom. Yeah, that's what I always talk about with my wife, I was like, "How do we not push..." because there are two boys, like we want them to go to Virginia Tech, but how do we don't push too hard to where, you know, and especially if we in Christiansburg. We've talked a lot. I want to get you guys out of here so you can get to the big dinner and all that stuff and see everyone, but we talked about a lot of good things about Virginia Tech, but there had to be some difficult times that you experienced here. Does anyone want to bring the mood down and talk about any of those?

Female: Room for improvement I guess. You can put it that way.

Ren: Yeah.

Female: You know, I didn't love my freshman year. I loved being in college, but I was still finding my way of getting adjusted to college life, gaining the 15 48:00pounds and trying to figure out where I fit in, into the ecosystem of new people, college, and everything. And then also I was very homesick too, because I was the last one to leave of siblings, and my mother she personally had a very hard time and she was a single parent, so I was very sad for her, and it sort of emotionally was kind of impacting me being here. I felt this tremendous amount of guilt, but I think the first year was really tough for me because like I said, I was trying to find my way and it was not as easy as I thought. But I loved the school, so it wasn't that I wanted to leave the school or go to another school or go home, it was just the adjustment was bigger than I expected.

Ren: Right.

Female: I think the five-hour calculus was a shock to my system. [Chuckles] I thought I was an awesome student and I crushed high school like nothing and then 49:00I got here and thought wow, this class is killing me. And so that was a major shock to my system, and it was a major downer because I had never done that poorly in a class ever. So it was learning to deal with wow, I'm not going to coast through this and this is hard. I'm really going to have to work. I mean I thought I had worked, but obviously I had not, and so that was a big adjustment, and I felt like my high school then didn't necessarily prepare me for how it was going to be here. I don't know if you guys felt that.

Female: Yeah, actually that was a shock too. I felt like I was struggling, yeah. That's a very good point.

Female: So learning to adjust to my academic rigor. I didn't feel smart when I came my first year.

Female: Actually that's an excellent point.

Female: I felt very sad.

Female: And I think maybe that was why I was sad, because I mean in high school I rocked here and like here I felt like a complete dummy.

Female: I felt like [?] bombed out of college.

Female: Away from home, and by the way I'm not doing as well as I thought I would.

Ren: Right. I can remember sitting in McBride 100 in a general chemistry class 50:00and all of my friends from college obviously from Northern Virginia and from Fairfax County and places, and I remember sitting there and just feeling like man I am so lost. And like they had taken AP and IB classes and I hadn't had any of that, I just had basic chemistry and it just being very overwhelming, so a lot of academic stress it sounds like. Any social stresses? Obviously just trying to be an 18-year-old college student.

Female: I cheated a little bit. I brought a friend from home who was a roommate.

Ren: Which that helped probably.

Female: But sadly enough it wasn't a bad ending, but like just kind of did different things after freshman year. You just never know. There's pros and cons, but there was definitely some comfort in coming here with someone you know around. A lot of it I think your immediate friends are people in that hall that you live in.

Female: Right.

Female: It's kind of a roll of the dice to how those people interact and get 51:00along and everything like that. Because I mean I ended up rooming... I lived in Fox Ridge my sophomore and junior year. I can't remember the number. It might have been 7100, but...

[Interposing voices]

Ren: And drive by. [Laughs]

Female: Two girls that just lived...were in the hall but were here and here. Like you know what I mean, like in two different places, so I ended up having roommates from them. But definitely that made it better being away from home and having good people in the hall you know.

Female: And I had my sister, so that was nice.

Female: That's nice, yeah.

Ren: That helped a lot, right. So you were flying solo, right?

Kristen: I came from Brooklyn. I mean I had some kids from my high school here. There was something like 10-12.

Female: Yeah. The biggest blessing was that my roommate she was from Lake [Graddick] and she had friends, so the two of us we hit it off. There was a couple of people challenging on the hall...right, that hall. I still remember 52:00all the people in the hall, but you know fortunately by the time you go to sophomore year you kind of know you can select for the next year and so on and so forth. And then getting into a sorority that freshman year...

Female: I was so out of it my freshman...not out of it, but [everyone is dressed] up going down the hall and they did it like first quarter. By the time it was happening it was already started before I even knew that was going on.

Female: Yeah. If it wasn't for this one girl that really she came... I didn't come to plan to be in it, she was like, "We've got to do this. We've got to do this." So she got my roommate and I to do it. Ironically both my roommate and I we got into different sororities, which was actually a blessing too because we could do that, but then the woman who was pushing it she didn't get into a sorority at all [?]. I think she actually left after freshman year, so that was the biggest thing too. And you folks have definitely improved on the food.

Ren: It's very good.

Female: I think I just had pasta and marinara sauce and salad...chicken tenders and we lined up at 4:30 to get those and that was about it.

Ren: [Laughs] Was it the Corp Dining Hall that you are talking about? They tore 53:00it down.

Female: It was Owens.

Ren: Was it Owens?

Female: Lower Quad. It was the one that had the fried chicken.

Female: That's the one that had good chicken.

Ren: So it was Owens? I was thinking the other one that they tore down to build the Moss Art Center, but I can't think of what it was called now.

Female: Yeah, there is another one over there too.

Ren: I can't remember the name of it. We'll get back to you on that. So a quick question is have you guys stayed as close as you seen to be now throughout these 25 years? Has there ever been times where you've drifted and then came back? I know ya'll have families and children and different careers, but it's so...

Female: No, actually.

Female: Sometimes the dinners don't happen as often as we like because the kids' activities and family stuff.

Female: But we've been together for 25 years.

Ren: This is inspiring me to be better friends with mine, the people that I...


Female: We were lucky.

Female: I think women sometimes work a little harder.

Ren: Yeah.

Female: No offense.

Ren: Yeah.

Female: We plan things, events, and your house...I'm the one that says we're going to get together so and so or whatever.

Female: We've all been to our weddings. We've all been there when our kids were born and major milestones. Some of us have lived together after college and so we've been through it like yeah, for a lot of everything to be honest.

Female: We don't like to talk about 25 years.

Female: Yeah. We've been really blessed for a long time.

Ren: We talked a lot about the changes over at Tech, but the last couple of questions is are there any changes that you guys would like to see at the University small or large scale?

Female: Well there's so much change going on now, right. You know the current push for innovation and entrepreneurship I think is critical and we need to 55:00continue on with that drive, because in order to compete effectively out in the marketplace with all these other universities, and you know, we can be just as good on the technical side, right, and on the innovation side we need to continue to invest in that.

Ren: Right.

Female: And so I hope that the University will do that. I mean I think with Theresa Mayer as the new VP of Innovation and all of that, that will certainly help to put that focus in, but we've got to make sure that we're not lagging behind, and that we're continuing to look at how we can compete with the Stanfords and the MITs of the world, because I think long-term we can.

Ren: Do you guys have thoughts?

Angie: I'm not involved to the detail level as Ginny is you know, to be able to...anything specific that I think is missing.

Ren: What would you like people to know about Virginia Tech?


Female: I think you know, when we went what was it, 25,000 students?

Female: Yeah.

Ren: Yeah, I don't know. At least. If you factor in graduate students, it's probably closer.

Female: My thing would just be to not let that number deter you from coming here. I think that sometimes the size can get a little daunting, but you can always find the niche.

Female: Exactly. There's plenty of opportunities...whether it's like sports or fraternities or sororities.

Female: I know. I did the intramural sports that led me to the sorority.

Female: Yeah, or things like that. There's definitely things to...

Female: I think you know, if we are just talking about Tech or something I would be like if you want in a university that you can get a good education, you can build lasting relationships and you can have a good time then this is the place, 57:00right. So it's based on what you're looking for as an individual, but I would challenge many folks to find a university that allows you to do all three, and I think Tech brings that to the table.

Ren: Very good.

Ashley Stant: Can I jump in real quick?

Ren: Yeah, go ahead.

Ashley: So do you guys remember any like moments like the moment you guys met each other?

Female: Well there's so many moments.

Female: I do remember both of you at Rush outside the house, and also during the Rush period as well too. I remember that moment very well and Ginny.

Female: That's right, because you would have already been in the sorority.

Female: Right, for a year, right.

Ginny: I actually remember Kristen in the halls in some of the business classes, and she always had this perpetual smile on her face, and I thought to myself 58:00that woman is always freaking happy. [Laughs] So happy all the time. But I think we just all clicked when we first met, right, and so we're all very different in various ways, but yet we're all very synced too. I think that's why we've been friends for so long.

Female: It's the two of us that get in trouble.

Female: That's true.

Ren: That's why I've got you guys separated.

Female: I'm the chaperone.

Ren: Yeah.

Female: And it's interesting to see how in the last 25-29 years after we've all evolved, right, you know. Like I said, I think we could all say that we are very grateful for the relationship that we've had, because that is very unusual I think.

Ren: Right. So hopefully you guys won't get into too much trouble this weekend.

Female: I wouldn't say...


Female: Well Cecilia said she brought a dress that has good material in case we puked on her, so. [Laughs]

[Interposing voices]

Cecilia: I'm going to make you take that out.

Female: You just wipe it right off.

Ren: That's awesome and hilarious. Is there anything else you want to add or say about Tech or your experience here or just anything at all? This is free and open.

Female: I think if somebody said to me if you had to do it all over again would you go to Tech, and absolutely. I think just looking at the journey, it's like the people you've met that has led you to different avenues and different paths, kind of all led us to be where we are. And then you look at if we didn't go to Tech we wouldn't be here together. We wouldn't have relationships and all the 60:00things that we've experienced. I think just looking back I am very grateful that we all went to Tech.

Female: Right. It's definitely you look back at that. You don't know it at the time. It is a big deal as to what college you go to at the time.

Female: Right, right.

Female: I can't imagine that I would have gone to James Madison.

Female: Right.

Female: I know.

Female: I mean that's what I was looking at. That's where I wanted to go you know, and now I look back and I'm like...

Female: Yeah. Had I gone there it would have been like...

Female: But like still, that's like where I was. Which one am I going to?

Ren: Right. Which one do you want to go. I think about that, not going to the other university in Virginia, UVA, so I'm glad I came here. Thank you all so much for doing this. This was really fun. I hope I got to pull some stories out of you all that you got to share. So you all graduated in the class of 1991, right? So thank you all so much for doing this. I hope you have an awesome weekend.