It was never a question which college Jordan Spraker would attend — Virginia Tech was always her number one choice. The questions came later as she delved into her chosen major.

She started out studying engineering but wasn’t getting the best grades. She changed her major four times before hitting her stride, and now, Spraker, of Covington, Virginia, is graduating with a degree in hospitality and tourism management from the Pamplin College of Business, a minor in psychology from the College of Science, and enough practical experience to make her a contender in a competitive professional industry.

It is the combination of academic studies and hands-on learning that makes Spraker a stand-out graduate. For two years, Spraker worked at West End Market dining center, working up to her current position as student manager and assisting with hiring nearly 150 student employees this semester.

“Being a student manager at West End has taught me a lot by being held accountable and responsible for leading and developing our team, as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations. I have learned how to be an effective and efficient leader, and I have made so many wonderful friends. I feel I will always be managing for the rest of my career, so to be able to have this experience has helped me tremendously for my future.”

Spraker is also founding president of Omega Phi Alpha, a national service sorority. “It helped shape me into the leader I am, while making friends, giving back to our community, and living up to Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” she said.

Spraker’s personal journey and choices inform her advice to current students. “Enjoy what you do,” she said. “If you don’t like the classes you are currently in, find something you enjoy and switch to that. I kept fighting to graduate with a biological systems engineering degree; however, I then completed the Disney College Program and realized I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. I also took some psychology classes for fun, and before I knew it, I only needed a few more classes for a minor. So, if you think you may like doing something else better than what you are doing now, you may end up being a lot happier, even if it means graduating a semester behind.”

Post-graduation, Spraker will be working for White Lodging Hotel Property Management Company as front desk manager at the Downtown Marriott location in Louisville, Kentucky. “I am excited to start a new journey, learn new things, make new friends, and explore a new area,” she said. “I am also really excited to be in Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby! It’s kind of scary to move to a new place by myself, but I am definitely more excited than scared to start this new adventure. I plan to live in many different states as I develop in my career, just to experience new cultures and to explore.” 

Spraker said that she eventually wants to go back to school for an MBA, but may also get a master’s in finance. “My ultimate goal is to end up in the corporate offices for the Walt Disney Company, so I will definitely need to continue to learn and develop my leadership skills,” she said.

“I have learned how to be independent and have grown as a leader. I have had such a wonderful experience at Virginia Tech, and it is very rewarding and exciting to see all my hard work playing out. I am excited to start working in the ‘real world.’”

Written by Sandy Broughton.