After taking a gap year to work with an agricultural leadership organization, Chandler Vaughan arrived at Virginia Tech ready to hit the ground running. Just two years later, Vaughan is prepared to graduate with a degree in agribusiness management and a minor in leadership and social change.

Though his time as a Hokie may seem short, Vaughan started building relationships immediately. He has always found time for friends and for community service projects, making the residents of his Virginia hometown proud. He likes to point out that the entire population of his hometown could fit into Lane Stadium many times over.

Vaughan’s greatest learning moment in college came when he was enrolled in classes totaling 25 credits, serving as officer in three clubs, and engaged in numerous extracurricular activities.

“People always say to get involved in every single thing, take every opportunity, and gain more experience. If you take that advice and do everything, you’ll burn yourself out,” he said. He realized that the activities he chose needed to “align with what I believed in.”

Vaughan did just that when he became involved in an organization recommended by some of his best friends – Habitat for Humanity at Virginia Tech. Since then, he has focused on the service initiatives that most fulfill him.

“Habitat is by far the most purposeful organization that I have been involved with on campus,” Vaughan said.

One of the organization’s initiatives, Shack-A-Thon, focuses on raising money to build a student-led, student-designed, and student-built home in the Blacksburg community. Over the course of seven years, Shack-A-Thon has helped raise more than $50,000. This semester, the team is focused on planning a student-built home that will help families in need.

“People need a source of sustainable housing, a place to grow a family,” said Vaughan. “I came to Virginia Tech looking for something to do and give back. Habitat provided an opportunity to give back outside of what I have known. I can apply business practices I’ve learned to the program, and I believe in their mission.”  

Vaughan will continue to give back to others as he pursues his graduate education at Appalachian State University. There, he plans to earn a master’s degree in public administration with a rural economic development focus.

“Virginia Tech helped me to realize what my community back home needs. I can’t wait to bring opportunities to people where they are,” he said.

- Written by Ashley Yanego ‘21