As the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors gathers this weekend for its fall meeting, Seyi Olusina and Brett Netto, the undergraduate and graduate student representatives to the Board of Visitors, respectively, will take their seats among the board for the first time.
The two student representatives are appointed to one-year terms. They serve as ex-officio members on the Commission of Student Affairs and sit on a committee of the governing board. These non-voting members are required to maintain contact with university faculty, administrators, and Virginia Tech students.
Undergraduate Student Representative
Seyi Olusina of Beaverdam, Virginia, is a senior studying human nutrition, food, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
As a first-year student, Olusina organized “Let’s Talk About Racial Diversity,” a renegade seminar in the Honors Residential Commons. Olusina brought in a panel of students from a variety of backgrounds to facilitate elevating dialogue regarding race. Olusina plans to continue conversations on diversity and inclusion in his role as student representative to the Board of Visitors.
A member of Virginia Tech’s Student Life Council and the sole student representative to the O’Shaughnessy Building Committee, Olusina has embraced opportunities to provide student insight for the betterment of the university community.
“I learned how to take a wide range of thoughts, concerns, and emotions and compile them in a way that best represents everyone,” said Olusina.
Part of that wide range of representation comes from Olusina’s commitment to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadet student experience. On Saturday, Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Virginia Tech will host Corps Day, organized in part by Olusina. Corps Day invites the community to participate in corps obstacle courses, drills, and marches, along with other outreach events to unite the Corps of Cadets with the greater Virginia Tech community.
“As a student representative to the Board of Visitors, I hope to offer transparency between the administration and leadership of the university and students,” said Olusina. “I believe that we grow and progress the most when we openly and honestly communicate the things that are important to us, and why.”
Graduate Student Representative
Brett Netto of New Orleans, Louisiana, is a doctoral candidate in his final year of the planning, governance, and globalization program in the School of Public and International Affairs.
After three semesters on his undergraduate studies, Netto left school and worked in law enforcement for 10 years. He credits his expanded world-view to this experience.
“The injustices I witnessed made me depend upon my own belief system, reinforced my personal code of ethics and professionalism in service, and become a voice for the voiceless,” said Netto. “This code is what still drives me today and has pushed me beyond my comfort zone to something larger than myself.”
Netto’s experience in law enforcement led him back to finish his undergraduate degree, and he received his bachelor’s in international studies from the University of New Orleans. He completed his master’s in public and international affairs at Virginia Tech in 2015.
Netto serves as both a panelist and facilitator for the Graduate Honor System at Virginia Tech, and he serves as advisor for the Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society and Kappa Alpha Order fraternity.
Netto also served as the vice president of the Graduate Student Assembly for the 2016-17 academic year. In this role, he worked alongside the graduate school community regarding the issue of academic bullying. Stemming from that advocacy, he hopes to continue discussions on mental health awareness and the stigma of mental health on campus as part of his role as student representative to the Board of Visitors.
“Hokies should look out for each other, and oftentimes we do not see outside of our own personal bubbles that our fellow students — graduate and undergraduates — are experiencing their own struggles,” said Netto. “There are not just one or two areas of mental health that affect students; the entire spectrum of problems can affect us because of the stress we endure while working to complete our degrees.”
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors is the governing body of the university. It is composed of 14 members, 13 of which are appointed by the governor and the 14th member is the president of the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services who serves ex-officio. The term of office for each member is four years.
Written by Holly Paulette.