Inspired. Enlightened. Hopeful.  These words were left behind on note cards by a few of the nearly 100 attendees to describe the first-ever Virginia Tech "Everyone Matters Day" event at the Holtzman Alumni Center April 2.

Everyone Matters is a global inclusiveness campaign leading organizations with a collective message to see and embrace the humanity in everyone.   

Through her remarks and poem “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea (We’re Going to Mars),” University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni provided a historical perspective of the human transition from oppression to community.      

VT Expressions students Jordan Holmes of Upper Marlboro, Md., a senior majoring in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering and Tom Bryant of Virginia Beach, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences also moved attendees through original spoken word performances. 

Other highlights of the event included remarks by Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee, a short film by Louie Schwartzberg titled “Gratitude” and a group sing along of “This Little Light of Mine,” followed by a candlelight ceremony and reception. 

The event was the final in a series of four monthly events planned by the Department of Human Resources and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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.

Samantha Lambert contributed to this story.