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Keystone Fellow ends her Virginia Tech student experience serving others just starting their own

July 25, 2016

Ariana Mollers stands on stage at orientation beside a fellow leader holding a "Let's Go" sign
Ariana Mollers (left) is welcomed to the orientation stage by Gwen Coleman (right). Both Mollers and Coleman serve as student orientation coordinators for first-year orientation, mentoring orientation leaders as they welcome new Hokies to Virginia Tech.

“This recent grad’s got Georgia on her mind, but Virginia Tech is never far behind. From Chantilly, Virginia, it’s Ariana Mollers!”

This glowing introduction prompts Mollers to run across the stage in her orange-and-maroon each morning of first-year orientation. She and the rest of the student orientation coordinators round out the 35-person introductions by leading the crowd in everyone’s favorite “Old Hokie” cheer. For the rest of the team, it’s a cheer they’ll anticipate yelling over and over throughout the next few years, but for Mollers, her time chanting “Hokie Hokie Hokie Hi” — at least on stage — is coming to a close.

Mollers graduated in the spring with a degree in public relations and minors in Spanish and professional technical writing. She’s spending her summer guiding orientation leaders as they welcome new students, but, in just a few short weeks, she’ll head south to complete her graduate studies in college student affairs administration at the University of Georgia.

Mollers’ role in orientation is a perfect end to her time as a student at Virginia Tech. Serving across multiple areas within the Division of Student Affairs, including Career and Professional Development, Student Government Association, Hokie Camp, and orientation, Mollers crafted her Virginia Tech student experience to be one marked by serving her fellow Hokies.

“I’ve had the opportunity to experience many different types of relationships — meeting a student at orientation, developing a student at the Career Center, and seeing the impact of students in my work with administration,” said Mollers. “I get to see the bookends of a student’s education, whether it’s a student coming in and feeling nervous about making friends, or it’s a student during their senior year who is freaking out about not having a job yet. I love change and transition.”

When asked the dreaded interview question, “Tell me about yourself,” Mollers responds, “I am a writer, a learner, and a fixer.”

Mollers is a writer—in particular, poetry, posting words and images to an Instagram account as an outlet to process both the world around her and her personal life.

She’s a learner — it’s one of her top five strengths — and she seeks out knowledge and wisdom from academics, mentors, and each person she meets.

And she’s a fixer. So much so, in fact, that her roommates nicknamed her “the fixer” in their apartment.

“I approach every problem and situation with a solution, or at least, a method to get the solution,” said Mollers. “Most likely stemming from my strategic strength, I am always trying to apply this trait to situations beyond just my apartment, but also in my organizations and leadership roles.”

In April, Mollers, along with 14 other students, was recognized as a member of the inaugural cohort of Keystone Fellows.

“I saw all that the Division of Student Affairs had given to me as a student, and I wanted to acknowledge that as a Keystone Fellow,” said Mollers.

A student’s Keystone Experience embraces the idea that students don’t stop learning once they leave the classroom. Every organization, event, and activity a student pursues helps them create their own unique Keystone Experience, as they discover who they are and what they value. Along the way, students will develop a deep understanding of the Aspirations for Student Learning by utilizing their strengths to map out, develop, and maximize their time at Virginia Tech.

“The cool thing about the Keystone Experience is that it’s given me a framework to look back on my four years and interpret them—almost like it gave me a vocabulary and structure to understand my experience as a Virginia Tech student,” said Mollers.

Mollers shared that her Keystone Experience began with curiosity. As a first year student, Mollers did not have much background as to what a conventional experience in higher education looked like. Her mother, from South America, and her father, who received his degree through the Army, supported Mollers completely, but the idea of student engagement at a large university was a new concept to her family.

“Like every first-year student, I had many existential crises,” said Mollers. “I wondered what I was doing here, if I was in the right major, and how I could find my place.”

Instead of becoming overwhelmed with the magnitude of her questions, she decided to get involved, and, in the summer before her senior year, after much urging from her friends, Mollers served as both an orientation leader and a Hokie Camp counselor. She said that summer changed her life.

“When I came back, one of my friends said, ‘You’re noticeably different. You seem so much more you without holding you back,’” said Mollers. “It wasn’t that I was suddenly more extroverted or anything — I just was allowing myself the freedom to be myself. The summer revealed a passion inside of me for helping students in times of transitions.”

She then became intentional about her Keystone Experience. She discovered more about herself and her values, she sought out leadership opportunities, and now, though it was never her dream prior to coming to Blacksburg, she hopes to one day work in a university setting, continuing to serve students as they navigate their own college experiences.

“Everybody tells you to step outside your comfort zone while at Virginia Tech,” said Mollers. “And that’s true — but there’s another step. Once you get past your comfort zone, stop and pause and ask yourself, ‘What did I just do? Why did I do it? And why am I still OK — even though it was out of my comfort zone?’ Ask yourself those things because growing isn’t just jumping out, but it’s understanding and reflecting on why you jumped out in the first place.”

Written by Holly Paulette.

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