Members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets recently participated in the annual Shadow Day and raised  $8,271.95 in support of a Virginia Tech scholarship.

Shadow Day takes actually takes place over two days. First-year cadets bid to shadow various higher-ranking cadets throughout the regiment and the top bidders shadow the upperclassman on the first day to learn about the leadership position they hold. 

On the second day, the first-year cadets take over those leadership positions and rank and lead the Corps of Cadets for the day.

Cadet Donald Luchau of Virginia Beach, Va., a first-year cadet majoring in university studies, a member of Naval ROTC, and a recipient of an Emerging Leader Scholarship, shadowed regimental commander Cadet Col. Andrew George of Pittsfield, Mass., a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences who is pursuing minors in leadership studies from the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Rice Center for Leader Development and statistics from the College of Science. George is a member of Army ROTC and a recipient of an Emerging Leader Scholarship.

“I learned many things about the way the Corps of Cadets functions and about the ways in which Cadet Colonel George leads the Regiment," said Luchau. "It has brought to my attention many aspects of leadership and has given me an opportunity to decide how I want to lead in the future. I was able to work with great people throughout the Regiment and I don’t think I would have gotten that opportunity this year without Shadow Day.”

In addition to being a fun training event for the first-year class, Shadow Day also raises money for local charities and scholarships. This year, auction profits benefited the Joshua L. Lilliston Memorial Scholarship.  

Cadet Lilliston, a member of the regimental band the Highty-Tighties, lost his battle with a rare eye cancer in 2011. His scholarship is awarded annually to an upper-class member of the Highty-Tighties and preference is given to a Citizen-Leader Track cadet who has been disqualified from ROTC participation for medical reasons.

Shadow Day is a Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets tradition dating back more than 50 years. Originally called Turnabout Day, the event helped ease the stress of the first year in the Corps of Cadets.

In 1995 the tradition was refocused to become the leader development event it is today. The regimental commander at that time, Jason Sawyer, Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Class of 1996 who earned a degree in finance from the Pamplin College of Business, developed the idea to make Turnabout Day a more educational event. 

His goal was to give the first-year cadets a preview of what it is like to be in a leadership position, something they will not experience for themselves until their sophomore year. He got the idea from an experience he had while shadowing a junior officer from the U.S. Air Force during a summer training period. Sawyer believed it was a positive experience and thus instituted Shadow Day.