Christa C. Thomas of Blacksburg, the recently retired graduate program coordinator for the Department of Physics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has received the university’s 2014 Staff Career Achievement award.

Thomas retired from the university in 2013 after 38 years of service. In 2009, she received the President's Award for Excellence.

Created in 2011 to recognize retiring staff members, the Staff Career Achievement Award is presented annually to as many as five individuals who have distinguished themselves through exemplary performance and service during their university career. Nominees must have served a minimum of 10 years at Virginia Tech. Each recipient is awarded a $1,000 cash prize.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1975, Thomas served employees, students, and community members in many different ways. She began her career as a clerk typist, and after six years she became an accountant in 1981.

Serving as an accountant for nine years, she was then promoted to executive secretary in 1990 and program support technician in 1995. 

With her broad scope of experience in all aspects of the department, Thomas became graduate program coordinator for the Department of Physics in 1997. 

Thomas was involved in many university committees including the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, the Commission on Outreach and International Affairs, and the Intellectual Property Committee. She also co-hosted a weekly event for the International Club, providing a way for international students to connect with one another and share their personal stories.

During her time at Virginia Tech, Thomas’ contributions to the Department of Physics positively impacted the lives of all who have had the pleasure of knowing her. Her efforts span the tenures of eight department heads and chairs, and have helped the graduate careers of many students. She was known by her colleagues as the “soul” of the department.

In addition to her own professional success, Thomas inspired others. She was known for her personal investment in the well-being of her students and demonstrated unwavering compassion toward those who needed her most. For instance, when a student in the graduate program became ill, she became treasurer of a committee whose goal was to raise funds for the student’s expensive treatment. Her personal interest in the lives of every individual has motivated others to continue her legacy, and she continues to serve as a role model to all who were lucky enough to know her.

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.