At a university where the motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), it’s not surprising that employees often step forward to help their colleagues.

One way this generous spirit is on display each year is through the Virginia Tech’s Employees’ Spouse and Dependent Scholarship fund. Supported largely by faculty and staff, it provides assistance toward a Virginia Tech education for family members of university employees. Thanks to the generosity of Virginia Tech employees and other donors, eight first-year students received awards from the fund in fall 2020.

With the university’s Giving Day nearly here, employees have a chance to help their fellow Hokies while participating in the university-wide tradition of seeing just how many people can step forward to make gifts over 24 hours. To ensure they count toward Giving Day, donations to the Employees’ Spouse and Dependent Scholarship should be made online or by phone, between noon on Wednesday, Feb. 24, and noon on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Pascha Gerni, Virginia Tech Class of ’92 and chief finance and administration officer of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has donated to the scholarship fund for the past five years. Gerni said she enjoys giving back through the scholarship fund because the cause hits close to home.

“Knowing that I am donating to a cause that could help one of my co-workers’ family members succeed compels me to support the scholarship fund each year,” said Gerni.

The students receiving the scholarship appreciate the support tremendously. Olivia Stacy, a sophomore sociology major, said the financial support of this scholarship helped ease her family’s stress over sending two students to college at the same time. She wants donors to know how much the scholarship truly means.

“This scholarship really helped excite me for my first year of college,” said Stacy. “I'd like potential donors to know that the students receiving this scholarship are not only helped financially, they gain a feeling of support and comfort from their new school. It's a feeling that will stay with them throughout their years at Virginia Tech.”

Robin McCoy, executive director of finance and operations for the Division of Human Resources, served as the Human Resources representative on the Employees’ Spouse and Dependent Scholarship Committee before being elected chair in fall 2019. McCoy said the scholarship is critical because it attracts dependents of employees to attend Virginia Tech and engage with the community, and gives them the assistance necessary to do so.

“This scholarship helps employees’ families and students with some of the burden of tuition,” said McCoy. “Beyond that, I believe employees feel appreciated for the work they do in a public higher education institution by other employees giving back to support their community of colleagues.”

McCoy also hopes the program gains more visibility among the Virginia Tech community and encourages anyone who is considering donating to do so.

Since 2000, when the scholarship was established, more than 245 incoming students have received assistance. Every year, the scholarship amount and number of recipients differs based on the amount of funds that is available and the number of applicants. Donations to the scholarship come mainly from Virginia Tech employees, but anyone is welcome to give.

Vice President for Human Resources Bryan Garey said, “Since joining Virginia Tech in 2018, I have witnessed the Hokie Nation exemplify our Ut Prosim motto. Hokies help other Hokies. With that special bond, I have confidence that on this upcoming Giving Day our campus and community will join together and support this scholarship program for employees and their family members.”