As an offensive lineman for Virginia Tech in the late 1990s, Dwight Vick cleared the way for running backs. These days, he’s clearing the way for young people to go to college.

Vick, who graduated in 1999 with degrees in sociology, and family and child development from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is especially adept at working with students society considers “at risk.”

“People say this young man is ‘at risk’ because he’s on probation or this young woman is ‘at risk’ because she’s a pregnant teen,” Vick says. “You’re only at risk if you don’t have a plan.”

Since 2007, Vick has been helping students and their families develop such a plan. He is the director of student development at College Prep World, a Manassas, Va.-based company that specializes in academic and athletic preparation for students who want to go to college. He advises students and their families on college eligibility requirements, career development, goal-setting, and life skills.

Vick will return to campus on Sept. 11, to promote the kickoff of Virginia Tech’s Remember Serve Learn initiative. A program of VT Engage: The Community Learning Collaborative, Remember Serve Learn promotes the National Day of Service on Sept. 11, and the Virginia Tech Day of Remembrance on April 16. To honor these dates, the group mobilizes volunteers to pledge and serve 20 hours of work with organizations that provide either emergency assistance or help for at-risk youth.

Vick will focus on how his life after football became a journey of “giving back.” He says he draws on his experience being coached by Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer.

“Beamer preached you had to be accountable for your actions,” Vick says. “Treat everybody with kindness and respect. Make your teammates better. You understand that you can’t waste time.”

Vick helps young people figure out what they want to do in life. He counsels them, and together they work on goals. “I live with a purpose,” he says.

Vick sees his calling as an academic and athletic advisor to young people as part of his effort to serve others. “I’ve received hundreds of letters from kids who’ve said I changed their lives.”

Service, he says, ought to be habitual. “You don’t think about it,” he says. “Start with something small. Think about how great it feels to feed people or send someone a care package. It’s an unspeakable joy.”

National Day of Service

The Sept. 11 Remember Serve Learn kickoff events, which are free and open to the public, will feature

  • A recruitment fair for students and community members from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Owens Hall at 150 Kent St.;
  • Vick’s keynote at 2 p.m. in Brush Mountain Room A at Squires Student Center at 290 College Ave.;
  • A screening at 6:30 p.m. at Blacksburg's Lyric Theatre of “Project Rebirth,” a film that uses time-lapse photography to document the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in New York. Tickets are free but limited in quantity. To get tickets, visit VT Engage at 113 Burruss Hall or call 540-231-6964. Tickets remaining on the show date will be available at the box office.

Remember Serve Learn, a grant-funded project through the Corporation for National and Community Service, works with student and community volunteers who sign up to work as tutors and mentors for at-risk youth or with emergency response teams. Last year, Remember Serve Learn volunteers completed 32,000 hours of service.

Written by Jill Elswick.