At the age of five, while visiting Virginia Tech's campus for his uncle's graduation, Michael Azir from Clifton, Virginia, a senior biological sciences major in the College of Science, knew he would return 13 years later to become a Hokie.

“I saw people's excitement as they walked around the beautiful campus and I knew there was something special about Virginia Tech,” Azir said.

After learning of his early-decision admission, he was invited to attend the inaugural Virginia Tech Summer Academy program in 2012. Azir said it was a 'no brainer' to come.

Summer academy is a six-week program that offers first-year and transfer students a chance to gain up to six credits toward graduation during the summer before their first year. Other benefits include smaller classes, individualized instruction, early move-in, and faculty interaction.

Azir credits all these benefits to helping him adjust to college life. “Summer academy teaches students how to handle college without the added pressures of the fall semester. Overall, the whole process makes you a much stronger student entering as a freshman.”

Perhaps the greatest advantage summer academy played in shaping Azir’s undergraduate experience was the opportunity to graduate in three years, with summa cum laude honors. As a student first, and then returning as a summer academy peer mentor the following year, he was able to earn credits over the summer, and acquire additional credit hours during the fall and spring semesters.