Brent Ashley's experience at Virginia Tech can be summed up in one word -- service.

Ashley, of Felton, Del., will graduate later this month with a bachelor's degrees in animal and poultry sciences and in dairy science from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, along with a minor in political science. But his accomplishments extend far beyond his academic coursework.

For example, he was an active member of the Interfraternity Council; was a founding member of the Farm House fraternity; worked closely with the Virginia Tech Police Department, supported Relay For Life, the annual fundraiser that has become the largest collegiate-level relay event in the world; and held the title of Delaware's Grand Champion Showman for Dairy Cattle. 

And that's just for starters.

This past academic year, Ashley was president of the Student Government Association -- the voice of more than 20,000 undergraduate students at Virginia Tech -- a decision he says might have influenced his plans for the future. 

Following commencement, Ashley plans to pursue law school and government work as a way to serve his community in an official capacity.

Ashley also points to time he spent in Senegal as a major inspiration. There, he worked with other Virginia Tech students from a variety of disciplines to help establish sustainable practices. 

“It was an eye opening experience and helped me realize that service defines who I am," said Ashley. "It and the other experiences I have had here have broadened my view of what life has to offer and helped me grow into who I am.”

Ashley said he could have ended up at an Ivy League university, but a visit to Virginia Tech convinced him that he wanted to attend a university that has a strong service ethos. 

Once he enrolled, he made a promise to himself to not sit idly in his residence hall room and let life pass him by. Now, on the cusp of graduation, he aspires to carry this outlook into his life after college.

“You’ve got to grow and find yourself,” he said. “School was an opportunity to take action. I saw it as a way to explore myself in leadership roles. To see what kind of difference I could make on campus.”

Earlier this year, Ashley addressed a group of younger students, hoping to leave behind some of the wisdom he'd gained in school. "Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)," he said. "It is the fire that burns inside every Hokie’s heart. All things considered, my first piece of advice is to get involved."

Written by Drew Knapp.