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´╗┐Ren Harman: I will do a little housekeeping at the top and then we'll get started. Let me write the date down. What's today, the 4th?

Christina Daves: The 3rd.

Ren: Good afternoon. This is Ren Harman, the Project Director for VT Stories. Today is November 3rd, 2017 at about 2:09 PM. We are in the Alumni Library in Holtzman Alumni Center on the campus of Virginia Tech with a very special guest. This is the only time that I will prompt you. If you could just say in a complete sentence my name is, when you were born and where you were born.

Christina: My name is Christina Daves. I was born January 26, 1967 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Ren: What years did you attend Virginia Tech?

Christina: I was here from 1985. I actually had to graduate early, so I finished in '88 but I went through commencement with my class in '89.

Ren: What was your major?

Christina: I was a double major in Political Science and German.

Ren: Very cool. Can you just tell me a little bit about growing up in Fairfax 1:00and a little bit about your early life?

Christina: I actually grew up in Vienna. My parents were divorced, but my father actually had taken some engineering courses from Virginia Tech, so I learned about Virginia Tech early. I had a pretty uneventful life. Because my parents were divorced I was a latch-key kid from third grade on, so I didn't do a lot of extracurricular activities until I could drive, but that's kind of it. I went to high school. I was a baseball manager in high school, because it was all boys, it was a lot of fun.

Ren: Right.

Christina: Actually I'm first generation American, so I really didn't have any guidance with college. My parents had no idea how to advise me on anything. Luckily, I had friends who were going to college, so I kind of followed in their path. It was actually a friend from high school who said, "Hey, let's go to Virginia Tech together and we'll room together," and that's how I picked 2:00Virginia Tech. [Laughs]

Ren: Did you happen to attend Marshall High School?

Christina: I attended Madison High School, the big rival.

Ren: So all of my friends from college are all Marshall grads.

Christina: That's funny.

Ren: I know Madison was the rival. I was just curious when you said Vienna. You said you are first generation American. Where did your parents emigrate from?

Christina: Both my parents are German, and they actually met in Texas, which is kind of crazy and got married there. But I was the first person in my family on either side to graduate from college, so a lot of firsts, first generation American.

Ren: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Christina: I do have a sister, but she did not attend Virginia Tech. She finished up at George Mason.

Ren: Younger, older?

Christina: Younger.

Ren: What was it like growing up with a younger sister? Were you guys close?

Christina: No. Again, I was a latch-key kid, so I was kind of a surrogate mom growing up, but now we're very close, so sometimes you just need that. We never even went to high school together, because when she was a freshman in high school I was a freshman in college, and then we definitely got close after that.


Ren: What kind of things were you interested in in high school? What kind of activities? You said you were a baseball manager, was there anything else you got into?

Christina: Oh my goodness, I'm trying to think. All the girls kind of had a sport that they managed. We had this group of girls, one was a wrestling manager, one was debate, so we just did a lot of that kind of stuff. And it was a different time back then. It was you know, 18 years old was the drinking age. We could go to Georgetown. You know it was much different than high school is today.

Ren: What does your mother and father do?

Christina: My father was an engineer. He passed away in '91. And then my mother worked for the German Agricultural Marketing Board, so she brought German products to the U.S. So if you go through a grocery store and see German products that's what she did.

Ren: My last name is Harmon, so I think there is some German heritage or something there I'm pretty sure of. What role did education play in your home?


Christina: You know, a good thing I was self-motivated and self-taught. Like I said, the European way of life was very different then. It was good that I had friends who had siblings that went to college, but there was never anybody checking my school work. I signed myself up for the SATs, like that kind of stuff, just because my parents didn't know any better. They didn't have that over there. In Germany especially you're kind of assigned to either a trade school or further education, so it was just a lack of knowledge.

Ren: I assume German was spoke primarily in the home?

Christina: Yes.

Ren: Right. So when you started kind of thinking about college and Virginia Tech how did Virginia Tech come into the picture?

Christina: Well, I knew about Tech and then like I said, I had a really good friend who said, "Let's just go together and room together." And I remember when 5:00we came down for orientation I cried. We got to the Drillfield and it was pouring down rain, and you know when it rains here, I mean the Drillfield it was like a river going around, and it was so big. And I thought I can't, what am I doing? Like I didn't know anything about it. And this is before the Internet. It's not like you could research that way. You looked at a little brochure. But then I got here and the first week I was just madly in love with it.

Ren: So that first time you came was for orientation. So you didn't do any campus visits prior to then?

Christina: Again, there was no knowledge that you were supposed to do that.

Ren: When I was talking to Matt yesterday we talked about that, because he was talking about he was wait listed and he was talking about at that time you were literally like waiting each day for the mailman to come to deliver the letter. It wasn't like something you could check online and you would like refresh. What do you remember outside of that being rainy and the river on the Drillfield that first time you stepped on campus?

Christina: It was just enormous. It was so overwhelming. I just thought wow, 6:00what am I doing here? Now in retrospect it was the best decision I ever made in my life.

Ren: Your major, when you came in did you come in as a Political Science and German?

Christina: I did. I loved high school government, loved it. Loved international business. Knew that's what I wanted to study, so I came in, and don't think because I spoke German that it was an easy grade. That's what I tell people, "Well you speak English, did you get straight As in English?" But I actually had a job all lined up and I was going to go to Europe and then my father got really sick.

Ren: You came in as a German major. You spoke German, but it was still not the easiest of your courses?

Christina: No, because you're studying literature. It's not easy. [Chuckles]

Ren: In your majors of Political Science and German there had to be I'm sure influential professors or advisors that you can remember. Are there any that 7:00stick out in your mind?

Christina: Yes, and he's no longer here, but Professor Mellon was my German advisor. The reason I had to get out early I paid my way through college and the government halfway through my senior year said, "Oh, there's no more money for you." So I had to finish up, and that was when Tech was in the transition of quarters to semesters, so it was a crazy numbers thing. I was I think three-quarter hours short, so less than a semester hour short. Professor Mellon did, what are they called now, kind of like a field practicum where we basically spoke German about different topics. But yeah, that definitely stands out, because he helped me get through and get out.

Ren: What about on the Political Science side?

Christina: Isn't that terrible? Now remember, I graduated a long time ago. A lot of my classes were really big. I remember a lot of classes in McBride in McBride 100 we had the 500 people. Even like Political Philosophy had 60-70-80 people in 8:00it. Back then we did Scantron tests. You wrote your social security number down on a piece of paper and then you colored in the circles. But no, honestly that sounds terrible, but I don't remember a Political Science one.

Ren: So you were here in the mid and then late '80s. What kind of subjects and things were being taught in Political Science around that time? I'm just kind of gracious.

Christina: I honestly don't remember. I'm thinking Reagan was President right, back then?

Ren: Yeah.

Christina: I'm trying to think because I remember the Wall came down, the Berlin Wall came down right before my father passed away which was 1991, so that was right around that time. Because for him having grown up in Berlin to see that wall come down, go up and then come down. I'm trying the think, the Russians, there was still a lot of tension, Cold War tension still. You know I totally 9:00changed my track, so I remember exactly.

Ren: Was there anything that was happening in the world or on the national news that you can remember playing out during that time when you were here?

Christina: I remember the movie, and we were probably in high school, so it was a little bit before college, The Day After, you know we had the nuclear threats, so that was something that always, you were always afraid of that, were the Russians going to drop a bomb on you.

Ren: The sirens and getting under the desk.

Christina: Yeah, every Wednesday at elementary school, I remember the sirens would go off and that's exactly what we did.

Ren: Wow. What role did mentorship play when you were here?

Christina: Again, like I said, Professor Mellon was somebody who was there all through that, and the German classes were very small. By the time I got to my senior year [I] would have one or two people in the class, four or five, so he 10:00was definitely a mentor.

Ren: Were you involved in any organizations or anything going on at campus?

Christina: Yep, I was a charter member of Chi Omega, which was a sorority that came in in 1987, and I actually was an officer when we started, and kind of cool. I had set up our whole system on how we did meeting minutes and things like that, and Nationals actually took my system and implemented it across the country.

Ren: Hey.

Christina: That's pretty cool when you're 19 years old.

Ren: Right. What kind of events or things did your sorority do?

Christina: So, we were the typical social sorority, but we did a lot of charity work and we did a lot of work in Christiansburg with underprivileged children. I remember having Christmas parties and making food and bringing presents and having Santa. We did a lot. You do a lot of volunteer work, a lot of service, which I loved.


Ren: Are you still close with your sorority sisters?

Christina: I am. And it's so funny, we were at the game last weekend and all of a sudden I hear my name and I turn around and there's four of them that I hadn't seen in 20 years, which is really fun.

Ren: That's pretty neat.

Christina: There's a good handful of us. Well thank goodness to Facebook we can all reconnect.

Ren: I want to ask you, your favorite memories or experiences when you were here.

Christina: Oh my gosh, I had such a great time. Well it's funny because football wasn't big yet. One of my favorite memories is sleeping out at Castle Coliseum. I was a freshman. I lived in West AJ and you would sleep out for basketball tickets, for Louisville tickets. So we slept out and I don't remember who the basketball coach was at that time, but I remember them delivering Dominos Pizzas to all of us sleeping out for tickets.

Ren: That's pretty cool. What was the incentive to sleep out for tickets? Was it that hard?

Christina: Because it was that hard to get a ticket.

Ren: Because the team was that good?

Christina: Yeah. It was a basketball school back then and Louisville was one of 12:00the top teams to play.

Ren: Was Dell Curry here then?

Christina: Dell Curry was here, so it could have been that era.

Ren: So you lived in AJ? I lived in Pritchard. It's funny because Matt Arden is lived in Pritchard also, so he's the first person I have interviewed for VT Stories that also lived in Pritchard, so we had that in common.

Christina: My son lived there last there, so I'm very familiar with Pritchard, and it hasn't changed much since the '80s. [Chuckles]

Ren: It's co-ed now though.

Christina: Yes, it is co-ed now.

Ren: And they remodeled the bathrooms. I think the year after I moved out into Collegiate Suites Apartment, I think they remodeled the bathrooms at that point.

Christina: Well the rooms didn't look any different.

Ren: They didn't look any different? [Chuckles] My brother that's where he lived too. He's an alumnus and that's where he lived as well, about the time Matt was here in the early 2000s. So, were there any other favorite memories or 13:00experiences that you can remember?

Christina: I just love the feeling here. Everybody was so friendly. But it's interesting, I just remembered something you were saying was there anything I remembered, there were still racial tensions, a lot of racial tensions. And two of my best girlfriends were African American. They lived across the hall, but when we were out on the Drillfield they couldn't say hello. Their group was not allowed to, so it was really, and I forgot about that until just now.

Ren: Wow. How did that make you feel or make them feel?

Christina: Oh, it was terrible. And they tried to explain this is just kind of what we have to do if we want to be part of this organization, but in the dorms we could sit in each other's rooms and chat, but yeah, it was a different time.

Ren: Absolutely. What about any difficult experiences? Kind of the reverse of that previous question. Any hardships?

Christina: I had a horrible experience with a roommate, and this is my best 14:00friend from high school, so yeah, that was not good. We actually just reconnected after 20-something years.

Ren: Wow.

Christina: Yeah.

Ren: Do you want to go into that?

Christina: No, it was just two different people had different ideas on things and if one has a boyfriend and one doesn't. It's typical. Everybody goes through it. My lesson would be don't let it go on for 20-something years. And she actually has breast cancer now so it's like -- no, we just got back together. She's doing really well. And it's funny, our daughters had never met and they ware one day apart and they clicked instantly, so that was kind of fun.

Ren: Wow. That's interesting. If someone simply says the words Virginia Tech what's the first thing you think of?

Christina: Home. I love it here. We never grew up. We have a place here. I live in Northern Virginia, but we have a condo here. We've had season tickets forever. My husband is a Hokie. My son is a Hokie. My daughter just applied 15:00early. And it was interesting reading her essays. She wrote them and gave them to us and her perspective of this feels like home.

Ren: Did you meet your husband while you were here?

Christina: I didn't, no. We met about eight years later. And the funny thing is all of his college friends are my high school friends, so I must have met him. We must have crossed paths. Our wedding was really fun because everybody from high school knew each other, yeah. But no, we didn't meet until many years later.

Ren: So you maintained a residence here in Blacksburg. When your children started thinking about college, because I have two kids and they are 10 and 7, how did you not push Virginia Tech on them?

Christina: Well, it's interesting, because my husband took my son on the southern tour, the SCT tour, and he came home and he applied to Alabama, like that day. I saw the credit card charge come through, I said, "What are you doing?" And they give a lot of money to kids from Northern Virginia with certain 16:00grades, and I think he had 50 or 70% tuition paid for. All we said is, "You grew up with us at the ballgames, at [00:16:15 Macado's], at the condo, would you please take a tour?" That's all we said, just take it. So we set up the tour and we came in and we said, "We're not going to go with you. You go take the tour alone." He came back with eyes like saucers and said, "I'm applying early. This is the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life," and he is so happy here. He loves it here.

Ren: What's his major?

Christina: He is commercial real estate and finance, double major. He loves it.

Ren: So he had been to games and been around the area for so long.

Christina: His whole life.

Ren: And something on the tour just kind of...

Christina: But he had never seen the academic side of it.

Ren: He had just kind of seen Lane Stadium?

Christina: Right. And my daughter was kind of the same way at first. She was like, "Uh, I've done this my whole life. Why would I want to go to school there?" And now she's come to visit him and seen that side of it and knock on wood she applied early and she has not applied anywhere else, so we are keeping 17:00everything crossed, because otherwise she has a two-week window to apply if she doesn't get in.

Ren: What is she interested in majoring?

Christina: Physics.

Ren: Oh wow. Kind of the opposite of the business world, right.

Christina: Completely opposite. I have no idea where that came from, none.

Ren: So once you graduated in 1989, just looking at your resume and reading it and learning about you, can you kind of just give the condensed version between when you graduated and until now?

Christina: Yeah. So I had a job. I was all set. I was going to Germany. Super excited. I had a family I was going to live with until I got on my feet, and then my father was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. And you have to remember, this is before Face Time, this is before cell phones, so if I left I literally might never have seen him again, so I opted not to do that, which kind of led to a life of entrepreneurship. Just opportunities arose. I had some 18:00friends, two guys who were doing event planning company and said, "Hey, do you want to join us? We want some girl power." So I just kind of saw spaces in the marketplace. I did that until I got married because I thought I didn't need to be planning parties while getting married and having kids.

Ren: Where did you learn this seeing these trends in the marketplace? I'm just curious.

Christina: I think it's just knack, like everybody has something. So I kind of see missing things and it's like, "Ooh, let's do that." Good, bad, or indifferent, I don't know. My poor husband and I have had six businesses. [Laughs] At least he doesn't worry anymore. Like he knows we're going to be okay. [Chuckles]

Ren: Right.

Christina: So I did that and then I ended up working for my business partner's father learning land development a little bit, and then I broke off and had my own company. I was the only person who knew how to do kind of feasibility studies for America Online for their datacenters, so that just went, but that was kind of boring. And then where I lived there was no shopping, so my girlfriend said, "Hey, let's open a store." So literally we opened a retail 19:00store right before the economy tanked in 2003. We did it in 2002 in a blighted town. The store is still in business today and it was successful from the day it opened.

Ren: Wow. What was the secret?

Christina: Customer service, without a doubt, and I would say it was my business partner who was brilliant at it, just brilliant. Everybody loved to come to see us and it was like a fun place where women can hang out and shop and buy gifts and buy things for themselves. But then I got burned out, so I sold the business to her. I thought oh, I'm in my mid-40s, time to retire. And then I had a freak accident and broke my foot and was put in a medical boot, which I hated, and I was going to New York. I'm like oh, how do I find something to make it look good? I'm like medical boot fashions, medical boot accessories, and there was nothing on the market. And I did my research and found that there are over 4-million people a year put in boots, so if I could just decorate a fraction of those that would be a really lucrative business. So we went forward, I 20:00manufactured. Then I realized that I had created a new space in the marketplace, so I had to enlighten people that they needed to decorate their medical boots. So I kind of became a DIY PR expert, which launched a whole nother business, because I was really good at it.

Ren: Right.

Christina: But Diana Ross wore the products and I won Steve Harvey's Top Inventor competition, so that kind of put me on the map a little bit and it's been fun.

Ren: How did you break your foot?

Christina: We were on vacation in Canada and it was a freak accident. I was getting ready to jump off the boat onto the dock and a big boat sped by and the wake hit us and I kind of fell off the boat and I hit the metal cleat. Oh yeah, it was very painful. As most mothers would tell you, who I'm sure have been on here, the mothership can't go down.

Ren: Moms don't take a sick day or anything.

Christina: No, so it took me three weeks before, the day before I was going to New York because I realized I couldn't walk through New York.

Ren: It was kind of interesting, when I was preparing for this interview I was watching a TV interview and Hillary Clinton was on there and she's in a boot now.


Christina: Yes. I already tweeted at her. No, no -- I've got Google alerts set.

Ren: I was telling my wife I have to tell this lady I'm interviewing because this is her area, so maybe -- you never know.

Christina: You never know. You see it, and I reached out to Diana Ross's manager. He said, "Send me an email." I sent an email. He forwarded it to her and she said, "I would love to have it." So when she sang for the President she's photographed in my product.

Ren: That's pretty awesome.

Christina: Which is very cool, yeah.

Ren: Very, very cool. Over 250 media appearances. Can you talk a little bit about PR for anyone?

Christina: Yeah. It just kind of accidentally happened. I was having so much success, and this was do or die. Like we took a mortgage on the house, so if I didn't sell my products we were in really big trouble. And I figured out after Steve Harvey it's like ooh, how do I recreate this? When you get your name out there.

Ren: This is all surrounding the medical boot stuff?

Christina: The medical boot, yeah, but the more publicity I got the more people 22:00knew about it and the more I could sell. You know I'm on page 1 of Google because of all this publicity that I got. So, I was actually at an event and it was all about being an expert in your industry. I actually went with a friend just because it was in California. It was nice. I'm like, "Oh, I'll take a couple of days off." But then I started talking to people and they said, "You've got to start a business around this." Like people need to learn how to get publicity. They need to learn how to get visibility for their businesses. Literally we did PR for Everyone, but the URL was taken, but I have gotten it since then. And then PR for Anyone, and I literally bought the URL and then I came home like I can't start a business. Who is going to believe me, just because I've done this? So I put this crazy ask out to the universe and asked ten people all in the media, producer for Rachael Ray, a former Oprah producer, like I sent these emails out and I said can I come interview you? I'm starting this business, but I want you to kind of validate what's working for me. Every single person said yes. Every person said yes and like I can only do it Thursday 23:00at 9. I can only do it Friday at 1, until they all fit into this perfect schedule. So I had all this credibility behind it and then a publisher said, "Hey, I've heard your story. I love this; will you write a book?" So I wrote a book about it. So, it just kind of spiraled. It's just been amazing.

Ren: So it was kind of a mix of talent obviously which you have, and then faith would you say, and luck?

Christina: Oh, I am a big believer in the universe. I'm always open to good things.

Ren: I want to ask you, when you're talking about putting yourself out there and publicizing the things that you do, as someone who is an expert in this field what is the balance between really promoting yourself but not being, what's that word? I don't know.

Christina: I always tell people you have a gift. Everybody has a gift that they offer. It doesn't matter if you're a business coach and there's 10-million of them, there's something you do that's different, if you are a real estate agent 24:00or whatever that is. So if you're providing value and giving information about what you know and what you're good at, then it's okay to say, "Hey look, somebody else thinks I'm good at this too." And if you don't do it, somebody else is. In this world that we live in with social media, if you're not saying you're the expert in that space somebody else is going to get it.

Ren: So learning all this, did you take any other courses or were you reading books, anything?

Christina: I did. I went to the library. Like what's a library? But I read PR for Dummies, every white paper I could do, webinars, anything to learn, and then it was a lot of trial and error. I look back on some of the things I did back then and it was like oh gosh, that was not good. But then you figure out formulas and systems that work and then when they work for you you can help other people. I mean I get emails every day, oh my gosh, I've been quoted in the Wall Street Journal. "Christina you're wonderful." But once you learn how to do 25:00it, and it's not rocket science, you just learn.

Ren: As part of your success and having all these media appearances, when did the marketing industry mentoring board from Pamplin, when that did that kind of all happen?

Christina: I think it's been two years ago. Somebody referred somebody that I know and then she referred me. I just got out of that meeting and it's amazing. We did an event last night. We do it every year called Barracuda Bowl, that we do with Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola puts up a $10,000 prize for a student to implement their idea, their concept. So last year it was two young women who won and they did a thing on the Drillfield; it was a big social media push for Coke. And the young man who won last night blew us away. He was so good. It was a 26:00gaming thing to do with Coke, but he gets to implement this. He gets to go to Coke. He gets to meet the head of gaming for Coca-Cola. I mean that's a feel-good. When you're on a board like that and you can do stuff like that for students, it's like wow.

Ren: Matt talked a little bit about this, but what other kind of things does this mentoring board, and what was the reason behind establishing this board?

Christina: I honestly don't know because I'm relatively new to that, but I think the whole concept was to work with the marketing students. Matt and I have a big grand vision for this that we want to help as many students as we can. And it was funny, he calculated out today, he was like, "What is it, ten hours maybe a quarter?" You know it's one day a quarter that you take 30-minute calls with the kids. But what I have found is they don't have confidence in what they do. And when you work with them and you convince them that they are good at what they do, my biggest success story from one of the students here, but I really pushed her because she was very talented. And when I came back a year ago April she 27:00came like running into my arms and gave me the biggest hug, and she is now the graphic designer for the Florida Panthers. And she is like, "I never would have applied for that job if you didn't tell me I was good at what I do."

Ren: So being on this board you're working directly with students?

Christina: Yes.

Ren: So you're mentoring and advising like a small group of students?

Christina: Whoever wants it. I tell them, "Here's my number. Here's my number if you want help." And it goes on. This one student was actually having problems with the boss and she graduated two years ago. She said, "Can I talk to you? I don't know what to do. I'm not sure." Then she had to see her boss's boss and I walked her through we don't point fingers. This is what you want to do for the company and how can you best do your job. And she now has her boss's job. [Laughs]

Ren: It worked out.

Christina: But just to help. You know the kids now it's this instant gratification and they all feel like I've got to get a job. I've got to take the first job I get. I tell them you are spending your entire life at that job. You 28:00are spending more time there than you are with your family, so you've got to like it.

Ren: What advice do you give to the students and what do you say to them when they come to you with questions?

Christina: It really depends. I've had students who have asked me to look at their portfolios. You know now they all have websites and stuff like that to help them stand out. We've looked at resumes before. I've had people find my connections on LinkedIn, would I be willing to make an introduction. You know, sometimes I did one, somebody I knew was head of recruitment, she was like, "I get 600 resumes. I will put it at the top. If it comes from you I'll look at it." You know there's no guarantee on a job, but sometimes it's all about who you know.

Ren: Being asked to be on this board why did you agree?

Christina: Because I love to help the kids. I do. I wish I had, because I was 29:00very misguided because I didn't have parents who understood the college system, and I basically majored in something that I liked in high school. I just didn't have any... You know it's like my daughter, you can explain to her you can major in something that you like, but there's things you can apply to the personal things you like. Like you like physics, well maybe there's something you can do with physics that you're inventing a new dryer, a fashion something. But nobody ever told me that, that you can work at a job you love.

Ren: What's the phrase, if you have a job you love you never work a day in your life, right?

Christina: I do not work at all. And my kids say that. Like you work all the time but it's not a pressure work, because I love what I'm doing. Like I wish I didn't have to sleep. There's so many things I want to do.

Ren: Right. So a couple of years ago, and really what spurred a lot of the activity with VT Stories was a Gallup survey that talked about Virginia Tech alumni being so engaged, or maybe close to their University, not necessarily 30:00engaged philanthropically in supporting the University, but that they loved their University, and it was so much higher than other universities. Why do you think that is? What would your thoughts be on that?

Christina: You know it's funny. My son and I were talking about this; he's a sophomore now, and there are people who still feel the other university in Virginia is much superior, and he was like, "They don't get it." Until you come here, and you can't explain it, but there is something. And people all think we're crazy and we drank the Kool-Aid, but it doesn't matter where you go. We were in Europe this summer and my son on a Virginia Tech shirt and somebody came over to say hello. We were at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, and it turns out my husband went to college with him. That's Virginia Tech. That's just how it is, Hokies helping Hokies.

Ren: We've heard so many stories of that of people wearing a hat or a shirt in an airport. We were talking about that again yesterday, so that's a story we 31:00hear often. From your time here, and obviously you stayed in the area and connected to the University in various ways, what changes have you kind of seen over time and what do you think about some of these changes?

Christina: It's obviously grown tremendously.

Ren: In the last 20-something years.

Christina: Shh. [Laughs]

Ren: Sorry.

Christina: But it's funny, the feeling is the same. Of course, there's new buildings and some new restaurants, but we were having this conversation last night about what was there? What was there? But you know, other than growing bigger much less parking. [Laughs] You know what, I'm excited for the new administration. I hope, the one thing I don't like about Virginia Tech is that the schools don't work together. And in the kind of society we live in now and business we live in now you've got to collaborate. You've got to know different 32:00aspects. You know, just because you're an engineering major you've got to know business. So I'm hoping, and I know President Sands it's big on his agenda, I really hope he can pull that off, because I see students lacking in that, that they don't know other disciplines.

Ren: Kind of staying away too much.

Christina: Yeah, exactly, and if they could combine that they would be much more successful.

Ren: And that's one of the missions of VT Stories is because there's a lot of inter-disciplinary work that goes on between, because I'm in the English Department, but we work with History and the Library. We do stuff with our website and developing the website, special collections, so we work across a lot of different disciplines and VT Stories is definitely one of those projects where we have people from all walks of life we say.

Christina: Right.

Ren: We've had engineers as our interns and architects as our interns. They're not all English or History or Liberal Arts majors. When you kind of look across 33:00campus and the state of the University what inspires you?

Christina: What inspires me? I don't know. I think there's just like Burruss Hall. It's just always such a focal point, and the chapel and the Drillfields, and I hope that never changes, because all my memories are there. It's just such a comforting place. Does that make sense?

Ren: Yeah, yeah.

Christina: It's something we all identify with. It's always been there and will hopefully always stay there, so when you go across it's just that view that you have.

Ren: You mentioned a little bit about the students not always knowing other subjects besides their own. Is there anything else that kind of concerns you or that worries you at all about the state of the University or where we are going?

Christina: You know, really that's the big thing that stands out. My husband and 34:00I talk about this all the time. He's on the Building & Construction board, and Building & Construction is a little different because they do work with engineering and they do offer those classes. But I think, again, we have a new administration in. I'm excited about it. I've met President Sands a few times. I think he brings some great new light to the University and Ms. Sands or Dr. Sands, so we'll see. Time will tell. But it's fun to see the sports program exploded. I think Justin Fuente is just going to be a great coach for many many years. It's just a fun place to be.

Ren: Yeah, that's what I tell everyone. I came as an undergraduate student and never left, right. What would you like people to know about you? You're a very public person and you're in the easy Google [chuckles] as they say, but what would you like people to know about you that maybe they don't, or what would you 35:00like people to know?

Christina: I hear a lot, "Oh you're so lucky," and I want people to know I've worked my butt off to get where I am. You know there are people who look for a magic pill, and I've gotten what I've gotten because I've worked and I've been beaten down and I've crawled by back, and I think that's the recipe for success. My husband gave me a piece of paper out of a calendar that said 'overnight success takes 15 years', and he's absolutely right. When you do have the success it's everything you did leading up to it. So persistence, passion, those are my rules, my formula for success.

Ren: Right. This is a question that we ask folks and I always enjoy the response.

Christina: Uh-oh. [Laughs]

Ren: It's a simple question, but I always love the response, but what does Virginia Tech mean to you?

Christina: Virginia Tech is the foundation of everything that I am. My husband 36:00went there. We didn't meet here, but it's my family. I mean it's my friends. It's my connections. I meet new people all the time. People will be like, "Oh, do you know so and so? You guys have got to meet," and the business collaboration. I could just work with Hokies [chuckles] for the rest of my life and everything would be good.

Ren: Right.

Christina: But no, it's comfort and it's home. I think comfort is the best word. I always say when I drive up the mountain it's just like ah, I'm home. It's my happy place.

Ren: I find it so fascinating that you and your husband both went to Virginia Tech and now you have two children there, one that's here...

Christina: One, fingers crossed.

Ren: Shouldn't have a problem. Legacy is such a huge part of Virginia Tech and 37:00families that attend this University. You go to football games and you see a perfect example of this. I'm taking my kids to football games and others, trying to get them involved in Virginia Tech as much as possible. So I really appreciate you sitting down with us and taking the time. I know you're crazy busy I'm sure. The last few questions, is there anything that I haven't asked you that you would like to say? It's kind of an open floor for you to add anything that you would like to say.

Christina: Oh my goodness. No, I'm actually honored to be here. I'm honored to share my story. I tell people that. We talk about this a lot, like our friends from other colleges all work for other people or they are in the sales field. But most of our Virginia Tech friends are entrepreneurs, and I don't know what it is here that creates that in us that you're not afraid to fail. You're not 38:00afraid to take an idea and run with it, and we have a lot of really successful Hokie friends. And again, it's a rocky road. You don't leave here and, "Oh, here's my million-dollar business idea." But I think there's a lot of support too from the community, and now I love it. I can come back and I hire students all the time. I just love the whole feeling of Virginia Tech.

Ren: You said you hire students. What do you see in students that come out of Virginia Tech? I'm sure you have hired other people that graduated from other universities. Is there something unique or special about a Virginia Tech student?

Christina: I can't pinpoint it. I was just saying they don't have a lot of confidence, but I think there's just something about it here. Maybe it's the well-rounded education that you get enough of a, or a confidence to put you out in the world. We were just talking about the job rate getting out of Virginia 39:00Tech is astronomical, and the Building & Construction is 100%. That's amazing, so they're doing something right here. [Laughs] I can't pinpoint it, but.

Ren: Outside of the University and how it has changed since you've been here, Virginia Tech is a very different place obviously. Is there any other changes outside of just like the physical nature of the campus that's changed?

Christina: You know it's still that community feel that was there in the 1980s. I hope that when I talked about the racial issues that were there, I mean I had a roommate who was a very southern family, and her parents saw a picture of her with an African American boy in the picture and they came to pull her out of school, and this is the late '80s. So I think that climate, I hope that climate has changed. You know talking to my son and seeing his friends and it's just a 40:00mixing bowl of people and all the kids who come to the tailgate, it doesn't matter what you are. So I think that has probably changed quite a bit and it's more accepting of everybody.

Ren: Right. I really appreciate you sitting down with us and telling your VT Story as we say, so I'll just say thank you so much Christina Daves, Class of 1989. Nice meeting you.

Christina: Nice meeting you too. Thanks.

Ren: Thank you so much.