Chris Strock's classroom extends well beyond Virginia Tech. He is the student organizer of the Poverty Awareness Coalition for Equality (PACE) at the university, and in doing so, has helped to champion service projects and fundraising activities to generate support for various health and hygiene initiatives in Belize.

In addition, Strock volunteers his engineering expertise for a hospital in Nigeria, Partners in Health (PIH) in Haiti, and with Peacework, also in Belize.

Strock, of Blacksburg, Va., was the recipient of the university’s Graduate Student Service Award for 2008 for his exceptional work as a member of the newly created Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. He already holds a Myers-Lawson Fellowship and a Vecellio Fellowship for his academic prowess.

"In my 17 years as a university faculty member and adviser to many students, I have never had the honor to work with someone as committed and dedicated to helping others as Chris Strock," wrote his faculty adviser Anthony Songer when compiling the award nomination. "His actions speak volumes to his unparalleled commitment to the betterment of the global community," Songer, an associate professor of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and a member of the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, added.

Among Strock’s accomplishments in the past year, he has conducted drinking water assessments and developed distribution system construction plans for multiple schools and hospitals throughout Nigeria for the Nigeria Baptist Convention as a volunteer with Nigeria Faithful Works. He took his third trip to Nigeria in 2007.

He also designed a public latrine and waste treatment system for L’Hopital Sacre Coeur in Milot, Haiti as a volunteer with the Center for the Rural Development Foundation (CRUDEM) of Milot (in Haiti) which has the operating responsibility for Hôpital Sacré Coeur Foundation. The latrine is currently under construction and will serve up to 500 people per day. He continues to work with the board as an advisor for the hospital’s future expansion.

He and his colleagues from the school of construction are working with industry leaders to raise $250,000 for a bridge he designed that will serve a rural village in the Central Plateau of Haiti and to provide people with access to free health care, schools, and markets. This work is a continuation of a relationship with Partners in Health and Zanmi Lasante. This year’s University Common Book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, details the story of Partners in Health’s beginnings.

Most recently, Strock was among the 17 Virginia Tech students, and seven faculty, staff, and alumni who worked side by side on a variety of school improvement projects for the Our Lady of Bella Vista primary school in Bella Vista, Belize. The school serves over 1,000 kindergarten through eighth grade students.

Songer, also the director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction’s Center for Leadership and Christine Fiori, assistant director of Undergraduate Programs, Industry Relations, and Outreach for the School of Construction, led the group to southern Belize to accomplish four significant projects at Our Lady of Buena Vista.

Projects, designed by student groups, included placing over 500 feet of water pipe to connect the village water tank to the school, constructing three water storage units to provide access to water throughout the day, hand washing station, three trash collection receptacles around the school grounds, and 600 feet of foot paths.

In addition to his participation in the spring, 2008 trip to Belize, Strock devoted the better part of last year to the design of water filtration/rain water collection systems at three rural schools. "In collaboration with Peacework, he identified critical areas of need. He then volunteered to supervise a group of Rhodes College students in the construction and implementation of the collection/filtration system at three Belizean primary schools over the summer of 2007," Songer said.

Peacework’s Executive Director Stephen Darr added, Stock’s "skills and passion for service to humanity is exemplary of the university’s motto and the mission of this institution of higher education in the global society."