Anna Isserow of Fairfax, Va., a senior majoring in environmental policy and planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has spent four years searching for ways to make the Virginia Tech community as self-sufficient as possible.

The first semester of her junior year, just before she became Hillel president, Isserow took her first class in Civic Agriculture and Food Systems. The experience was life changing.

“It shaped my personal beliefs, my connection to Virginia Tech and the Blacksburg community, and my career goals, all while providing me with a group of unbelievably supportive friends and faculty mentors,” she said.

The summer following graduation, Isserow will begin a six-month apprenticeship at a diversified vegetable farm in Pennsylvania. While she is learning the business of farming, she will work to create a farm camp, educational programs, and a teacher/farmer training program. Long term, she says she would like to find a job that involves community gardens or farmers markets. 

“I am passionate about food and gardening,” said Isserow. “Food is a vehicle in which all people regardless of demographics can relate. Gardening reaffirms our bond to the earth, which I think is integral to the human spirit. I would like to teach people to feed themselves in a healthy way and how to support their community food system.”

In addition to being a Dean’s List student, Isserow currently volunteers for five different local causes based in food sustainability, environmental awareness, and community relationships.

Her unique strengths have resulted in a leadership style that begins with listening and understanding other people, then putting what she hears into action.

“The highlight of my college experience has been seeing the transfer of knowledge and leadership tools from my mentors, to myself, and then to younger students whom I have been given the opportunity to mentor,” said Isserow. “Learning from incredible mentors and professors has given me a very diverse and strong knowledge base and leadership ability. Passing on those gifts to my peers who will be taking over my leadership positions and place on campus is so rewarding and truly the highlight of my experience here.”

When she graduates in May, she says she will do so knowing that she has become part of many other students’ stories and experiences through her mentoring of them. She has passed on the gift of leadership and learning to enrich our campus, even after she’s gone. 

She will retain her ties to Virginia Tech through her younger brother, who became so inspired and enthusiastic about Virginia Tech through her experience that he applied early admission and is joining the Hokie family in the fall. 

“[It's good] because his entire wardrobe is maroon and orange,” she said.

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.

Written by Drew Knapp.