You’ve seen the T-shirts. You’ve scrolled through GobblerConnect. You may have even received a little orange booklet in your residence hall. But what is the Keystone Experience, and what’s in it for you as a student?

With the Aspirations for Student Learning as the foundation, the Division of Student Affairs has developed a co-curricular experience for getting involved that complements what occurs in the classroom. Called the Keystone Experience, the initiative recognizes that everything you pursue outside of the classroom will help define who you are and who you will become.

“The hope is that students will leave Virginia Tech with an understanding of why and how they became the person they are at graduation, and more so who they wish to continue striving to become,” said Patricia A. Perillo, vice president for student affairs. “Every opportunity, every club, every event — each instance in which they go deeper and invest in Virginia Tech outside of the classroom — will shape their Keystone Experience and will help define who they are.”

The first phase of the Keystone Experience is “Explore,” which calls students to do just that. First, you’re encouraged to “Get Started.”

If you attended Gobblerfest, you’ve already begun your Keystone Experience. Next, create a profile in GobblerConnect, and clubs and organizations that align with your interests will be recommended, along with a listing of Keystone Happenings that fit the activities that you indicate you enjoy.

Keystone Happenings are opportunities that exist outside of the classroom that you can participate in to enhance your time at Virginia Tech. These range from workshops and guest speakers to serving the community with VT Engage, and each Happening is linked to an aspiration.

You’ll sign into these events through GobblerConnect, and GobblerConnect will compile a record of all the happenings you’ve participated in, known as your involvement transcript.

Make sure to download the mobile Keystone app, available for both Android and Apple devices. It features an interactive map of campus that displays every Keystone Happening in real time. This newly developed app is integrated with GobblerConnect, and it allows you to locate buildings on campus, search for events, add Happenings to calendars, and share everything to social media.

Next, “Choose Your Adventure.” To complete the first stage of the Keystone Experience, you’ll need to attend two happenings per aspiration. Explore "Happenings" on GobblerConnect, and start adventuring.

Make sure you discover your strengths. Virginia Tech is all about celebrating your gifts and talents, and the Keystone Experience will show you how to put those strengths to work. Visit the "Strengths" page to take the assessment. Don’t stop there, though — be sure you talk about it or attend a Happening that discusses strengths.

On-campus residents will receive a Keystone Field Guide through their resident advisors. Students who live off campus can download the field guide from the Keystone website, and hard copies can be requested at keystone@vt.edu. This orange booklet can be used to set goals and reflect on your strengths and the Happenings you attend.

Once the “Explore” phase is complete, you’ll start to “Practice” the Keystone Experience. More information on the second phase will be available on the website in the coming months.

Taking part in the Keystone Experience isn’t just a way to get involved. You’ll gain a community of other students who also want to make the most of their time at Virginia Tech. Opportunities to celebrate your success throughout the Keystone Experience will abound, and your career and profession-of-choice will benefit from your involvement.

For more information, contact the Keystone Advisory Group at keystone@vt.edu.

Written by Holly Paulette.