Since she was 8 years old, Bekah Liberatore knew she wanted to be a Hokie. She made the decision when she came for her cousin’s graduation. “I just remember the community being very strong and everyone was wearing Hokie colors. I just fell in love,” Liberatore said.
The love solidified after a campus visit her senior year of high school when she met with faculty in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and College of Science who encouraged her that a double major in fine arts and psychology was a reasonable aspiration. “Tech was the only school I applied to,” she said.
Althought Liberatore had no issue getting into school, coming here, while exciting, was a challenge. “I’m from a really small county in addition to being a first generation student, so coming to a school this big was kind of a shock at first. It’s what I wanted but it was definitely hard,” the Barboursville, Virginia native said.
She believes balancing both academics and social events smoothed the transition. “I surrounded myself with great people, who could help me figure out what I wanted to do and what direction to go into as a person,” she said.
One way she met great people was by getting involved with clubs, activities, and organizations on campus and in the community, such as the Best Buddies Program, TOMS Campus Club, the Thrive Living-Learning Community, and the Hokie Ambassadors, who provide campus tours to prospective students and their families.
“I never considered myself outgoing. I was scared to do Hokie Ambassadors, but I’m so passionate about Virginia Tech that I applied with a friend and fell in love,” Liberatore said.
Liberatore also enhanced her academic experience by participating in undergraduate research projects related to her psychology major, working in campus and community art galleries, and studying abroad in Italy last summer.
“It was the first time I was ever out of the country. It was incredible. We went to Naples, Rome, Venice, and Cortona. I took a day trip to Florence. I took three classes – ceramics, jewelry making, and print-making class,” Liberatore said. “Two of those classes are not offered at Virginia Tech, which is what I was really looking forward to with a study abroad experience. It was just phenomenal. I don’t think I’d mentally be where I am without that experience.”
A recipient of the President Campus Enrichment Grant, Liberatore also explored other cultures right on campus, attending diversity and inclusion events on campus through the scholarship program. “I feel like it’s opened my eyes and made me more culturally competent and aware. It’s also connected a lot with my psychology studies, so I’ve enjoyed making connections between my academics and the scholarship.”
Following graduation, Liberatore will put a focus on her art background, pursuing a job in exhibition design or as a curator in a larger city, using her experience in the XYZ Gallery and Armory Gallery on campus.
"One of my first focused ah-ha moments with Bekah was when I learned she fixes clocks. It fascinates me and it turns out that it’s the perfect metaphor for what I know and love about Bekah,” said Deb Sims, curator of the Armory Gallery and instructor in the School of Visual Arts. “She can be precise, systematic, and relentless in her passioned pursuits, and at the same time run counter to the flow, make her own rules and follow the improbable path. As one of the Gallery Girls, she has brought her light to shine in the Armory, and I am grateful."
After a few years in the “real world,” Liberatore said she might return to school and pursue a graduate degree that would bring her two current majors together. “I’ve had an interest in trauma therapy,” Liberatore said. “When I started college, I wanted to go into art therapy. Tactile art like ceramics and clay, which is what my focus is in art, have shown to help people who have things like PTSD, which is really interesting.”