Members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets participated in the annual Shadow Day event on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and raised $9,270 for scholarships.

The Shadow Day event takes place over two days, after first-year cadets have had the opportunity to bid to shadow various higher-ranking cadets throughout the regiment. 

On the first day, the top bidders shadow their upperclassman to learn about the leadership position they hold. On the second day, the first-year cadets take over the upperclassmen positions and rank and lead the Corps of Cadets for the day.

In addition to being a fun training event for the freshmen class, Shadow Day also raises money for local charities and scholarships. 

This year the profits of the auction went to the Joshua Lilliston '14 Memorial Scholarship and the Capt. D. Seth Mitchell ’01 Memorial Scholarship.  Lilliston, a member of the regimental band the Highty-Tighties, lost his battle with a rare eye cancer in 2011 and Mitchell, a U.S. Marine AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter gunship pilot, was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.

The current Regimental Commander Cadet Col. Peter Nettekoven of Hershey, Pa., a senior majoring in history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences who is pursuing a minor in leadership studies from the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Rice Center for Leader Development commented, “Shadow Day is an excellent opportunity for mentorship and it reinforces retention of first-year cadets by allowing them to experience first hand the opportunities ahead of them.”

Cadet Nickolas England of Gambrills, Md., a first-year cadet majoring in general engineering in the College of Engineering shared his thoughts on Shadow Day, “I thought it would be a good source of information on my future years in the Corps of Cadets and I enjoyed getting to wear civilian clothes!”

The Shadow Day event is a Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets tradition dating back over 50 years. Originally called Turnabout Day, the event was a way to ease the stress of freshmen year in the Corps of Cadets.

Assistant Director of Admission, retired Army Lt. Col. Gary Jackson, who graduated from the Corps of Cadets in 1978 and was a member of the Highty-Tighties, recently shared with cadets his story of serving as the regimental commander during Turnabout Day his freshman year. “The whole day and experience is something we looked forward to as it gave us a chance to be ‘in charge’. The other special thing for us was that it was the only day we got to wear the black belt until we were turned.” He also explained how the event was less professional than it is today, but that they also donated the proceeds to a charitable cause.

In fact, in 1995 this tradition was refocused to become the leader development event it is today. The regimental commander at that time, Jason Sawyer, Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Class of 1996 who earned a degree in finance from the Pamplin College of Business, developed the idea to make Turnabout Day a more educational event. 

His goal was to give the freshmen a preview of what it is like to be in a leadership position, something they will not experience for themselves until their sophomore year. He got the idea from an experience he had while shadowing a junior officer from the U.S. Air Force during a summer training period. Sawyer believed it was a positive experience and thus instituted Shadow Day.