Her high school experience was filled with “supposed-to’s.” She was supposed to take half-a-dozen AP classes and get a 4.0 in each. She was supposed to join a handful of clubs and be president of them all to beef up her college application.

“I ended up focusing my time on things that didn’t inspire me," said Kylie Gilbert of Woodbridge, Va., a junior double-majoring in accounting and information systems and finance in the Pamplin College of Business. "I entered Virginia Tech with this mindset and hit a wall almost immediately. New opportunities that interested me didn’t fit into the mold of something that I was supposed to do to get the coveted ‘dream job.’ So I took a risk and abandoned the ‘supposed-to’s’ in favor of pursuing new interests and finding my passion.

"Devoting my time to serving others and doing the things that truly excite me," Gilbert added, "has shifted my goals from achieving the ‘dream job’ to building a fulfilling life and finding ways to impact the lives of others.”

Jennifer Bannon, assistant director for student development in Housing and Residence Life, put it this way: “She’s found herself miles away from the plan she started with―but it’s exactly where she needs to be.”

It was Gilbert's involvement in the Residential Leadership Community that got things going for her. Opportunities within the program would be the catalyst for her to explore herself, her values, her career aspirations, and what it really means to be a part of the university community.

Now, as president of Virginia Tech's Residence Hall Federation, Gilbert oversees programming, advocacy, and governance for 9,400 on-campus residents; facilitates leadership development among 100 hall council members; and develops relationships with student organizations and university administrators. She is chair of the Commission for Student Affairs and dedicates most of her time outside of coursework to advocating and facilitating leadership development for students.

“A student’s success in college is greatly influenced by the existence of a positive environment and support system from the very beginning," said Gilbert. "That is one of the main reasons why I am so passionate about building community in the residence halls. Sometimes it takes as little as a meaningful conversation at an ice cream social to make a student feel welcome and give them the confidence to be open to new ideas and take risks.”

Gilbert is a University Honors student and recipient of the Clifford A. Cutchins Scholarship as well as the R.B. Pamplin Scholarship. Her honors also include the Safe Zone award for her commitment to providing a more inclusive and accepting environment for all.                                                                            

She is a recent recipient of an Aspire! Award for Courageous Leadership. The awards honor students who exemplify Virginia Tech’s Aspirations for Student Learning

In March, she is attending the ACPA-College Student Educators International Next Gen conference to learn about careers in higher education. 

And she is pursuing a Certified Public Accountant designation. Regardless of the field she ultimately selects, Gilbert wants to be a mentor and provide women and girls with the support and skills that will help them achieve their goals.

Written by Sandy Broughton