Victor Mukora hasn’t started classes at Virginia Tech yet, but he’s already been embraced as a full-fledged member of the Hokie family.

“I think it’s awesome because I haven’t even really been there yet other than to tour some,” said the incoming first-year student while mingling with members of the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association last month.

“It’s amazing to already be able to interact with the community and see how passionate they are and how many opportunities they have available,” Mukora said.

Mukora was one of more than 20 incoming first-year Hokies the chapter celebrated as a part of its annual student send-off at Robious Landing Park in Midlothian, Virginia. He is also one of hundreds of incoming Hokies who will be welcomed in similar fashion by alumni chapters across the country, this summer. The Richmond Chapter is one of 40 Virginia Tech alumni chapters hosting student send-offs across the country this summer.

“There’s nothing our alumni are more passionate about than embracing fellow Hokies,” said Matthew M. Winston Jr., senior associate vice president for alumni relations at Virginia Tech. “And our student send-offs allow us to do just that, jumpstarting that love and support for our newest family members at this wonderful and challenging point in their lives.”

New students pose with alumni.

For the past four years, Eugene Pogue has been the chair of the committee that organizes and oversees the Richmond Chapter’s send-off, which they’ve branded, the New Hokie Celebration.

“I love the day of it,” Pogue said. “The kids are awesome, and it’s full of people who are highly engaged and interested in getting to know people and other Hokies on a higher level.”

This year’s event not only included a combination of new and veteran Hokies engaging over hotdogs and hamburgers, but also brief presentations about the Hokie Club and the Richmond Career Expo, as well as a question and answer session with current students.

Each year, the Richmond Chapter also uses their event to recognize its scholarship recipients for the upcoming school year. This year, that included Mukora and first-year student Allison Tieman, two of 10 recipients who will received $2,500 each.

“It's amazing, honestly,” said Tieman of her selection. “From my school alone, I want to say the majority of people going to college are going to Tech just because Tech is such an amazing school and you really can't beat it.”

The Richmond chapter logo with people in the background.

For the 2018-19 school year, 150 Virginia Tech students were supported by 51 alumni chapters across the country for a total of more than $184,000. Since 2004, the Richmond Chapter alone has given out a total of about $200,000.

Lauren Knowles ’07, co-chair of the Richmond Chapter’s scholarship committee, said the majority of the chapter’s scholarship funds are generated through hosting the RVA Career Expo. Held twice a year, the expo routinely makes more than 100 companies and businesses availabile to potential employees and recent and upcoming graduates.

Knowles said it was exciting to help the younger members of the Hokie family get off to a good start, but the best part was getting to read each of the more than 100 scholarship applications each year.

“It’s so heartwarming. Everyone seems to care so much about making a difference in the world and they seem so committed to doing it,” Knowles said. “It makes you feel so good about the next generation.”

— Written by Travis Williams