The Hokie Nation pays it forward through the sale of Virginia Tech license plates that support student scholarships.

Virginia Tech is No. 1 – as well as Nos. 2 and 3 – for college license plate sales in the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. In fact, more Virginia Tech plates are sold in the Commonwealth of Virginia than the next seven college plates combined.

“It is gratifying there is so much Hokie pride,” said Wanda Dean, vice provost for enrollment management. “By displaying their proud membership in the Hokie Nation and demonstrating the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), former and current students are expanding access for future students by contributing to funding of scholarships.”  

Out of the $25 fee, Virginia Tech receives $15 – and it all goes to undergraduate student scholarships. Over the past five years, Virginia Tech budgeted an average of $330,000 to distribute as scholarship awards.

The license plate scholarship funds support many various scholarship programs, including the Presidential Campus Enrichment Grant program which seeks to attract students from diverse backgrounds who are committed to principles of inclusion. Selected students participate in activities that enhance campus climate and contribute to the community discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recipients receive $4,800 per year for four years (five years for architecture students), as long as students meet academic, engagement, and diversity reflections requirements. The university's Student Success Center coordinates the program.

“My multicultural views have broadened and expanded past defining diversity as being a different race,” said Taylor Allen of Atlanta, Ga., a sophomore majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Diversity means so much more to me now -- from differing morals, values, religious views, ethnicities, interests, involvement, and passions – diversity is a medley of individual expression that is to be embraced and appreciated.”

Alasia Washington of Virginia Beach, Va., a junior double majoring in sociology and human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, expressed a similar sentiment.

“The grant has given me the opportunity to communicate with people outside my usual ‘culture group.’ Before I didn’t communicate with them because I was naïve. I wasn’t aware of certain aspects of their culture. I never asked questions,” Washington said. “The program gives you the platform to ask questions. It allows you to put yourself out there and delve into other cultures, something that I personally think I would’ve never had the opportunity to do if I had not been a recipient.”

Some alumni are adopting the diversity views learned through the program into their careers.

"The Presidential Campus Enrichment Grant helped me understand how diverse of a world we live in, and most importantly, where I fit into it. It instilled in me a passion to explore the world and discover its diverse cultures,” said Jack DuFour, who received his degree in mechanical engineering in 2012 and is a co-founder of Taaluma Totes.

“After graduating, I pursued this passion by starting a backpack company that connects cultures,” DuFour said. “Taaluma Totes are backpacks that are paired with a country. Each backpack is made of fabric from that country, and funds a microloan for a person in that country. Without the opportunities afforded through the program, I would not have developed this same appreciation.”

Being a grant recipient prompted Allen to push her boundaries as well and pursue a minor in 21st century studies. “Through this minor, I will be able to study abroad in Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Morocco. I’ll conduct research of my choice while in these countries and be immersed in astounding multiculturalism,” said Allen.

Washington attributes her organizational involvement and leadership positions in part to the program. “Being a recipient of the grant allowed me to come out of my shell that I had been so stuck in throughout my years of high school. It pushed me to go after things that I never would’ve gone after before and is partially the reason I can say that I am apart of different organizations on campus and have some of the leadership roles I have today.”

With the money going to support scholarships, the Internal Revenue Service considers the $15 of the annual plate cost that goes to the university as a charitable contribution for tax purposes.

To learn more about purchasing a Virginia Tech plate, visit the Virginia Tech Tags homepage.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.