As a first-generation college student, Ryan Hopkins of Martinsville, Virginia, a senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science, didn’t know what to expect when he arrived in Blacksburg for first-year orientation. He admits that he didn’t have a great attitude about going to college, but it didn’t take long for everything to change, thanks to an unforgettable orientation experience.

“Since day one — I didn’t want to say it to anyone — but I knew, ‘I’ve got to do this,’ ” said Hopkins. “I would hate for another student like me to come and slip through the cracks. I wanted to pay it forward, and now I love seeing people fall in love with Virginia Tech.”

Hopkins now not only serves with orientation, but also as a resident advisor, Hokie ambassador, Freshman Leadership Experience mentor, Hokie Camp counselor, Class of 2016 Ring Dance chair, SGA director of alumni relations, Student Alumni Associates director of marketing, and peer mentor for University Studies. Hopkins refuses to let any Virginia Tech student go unnoticed.

“Every little experience those first few months at Virginia Tech added up and meant the world to me,” said Hopkins. “What really made me fall in love with this university was seeing the passions of all those who were here welcoming me.”

After serving as an orientation leader last summer, Hopkins returned this year as an orientation assistant. He is passionate about the student experience, both in the summer and into the academic year.

“Some of the best interactions I’ve had with students are in the fall,” said Hopkins. “One of my students seemed nervous and didn’t talk much at orientation, but, at Hokie Hi, I remember seeing her come through the tunnel with a huge smile on her face. She told me how excited she was to be there.

“Seeing those transitions — whether they happened an hour into orientation or at the end of the fall semester — was really rewarding. That’s not my doing. That’s Virginia Tech’s doing. I’m just lucky to be a part of it.”

Hopkins plans to graduate this spring with a bachelor's degree in psychology and hopes to attend graduate school to study higher education and student affairs.

“I would like to end up working at Virginia Tech one day, but that could be at any point between the day I graduate and the day I retire,” said Hopkins. “I’m not sure when, but I do know that I will end up back at Virginia Tech at some point.”

Written by Holly Paulette.