Transfer student says her key to success is staying involved on campus

Like many of Virginia Tech’s ambitious achievers, Rachel Gallimore enters her senior year in fall 2011 with an impressive portfolio: a dual major; undergraduate research; a completed internship; a study-abroad experience; and a penchant for service.

What sets Gallimore apart, however, is the fact that she is a transfer student.

“You have less time to make a mark,” she said. That’s why she advises fellow transfers and freshmen in the First-Year Experience program in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to “get involved.” 

   

Rachel Gallimore, a senior from Blacksburg, Va., majoring in communication and Spanish, works as an intern at CBS-affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, Va., with staff supervisor Mike Pettit. Meteorologist Robin Reed is in the background. Rachel Gallimore, a senior from Blacksburg, Va., majoring in communication and Spanish, works as an intern at CBS-affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, Va., with staff supervisor Mike Pettit. Meteorologist Robin Reed is in the background.

“Rachel is a highly motivated student who is concerned not only about her own educational experience but invested in making others' experiences better as well,” said Diana Ridgwell, the college’s director of student development.

The First-Year Experience program prepares students for college life and encourages them to start thinking about becoming undergraduate researchers. During the 2010-11 school year, Gallimore assisted with the pilot course Intro to a Research University. She helped prepare classes, graded assignments, and kept the online Scholar site flowing with information. “Rachel provided great insights as we created a separate track geared specifically toward transfer students,” Ridgwell said.

As a research leader for the course, Gallimore assessed student feedback and presented her findings at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy, an annual two-day event at The Inn at Virginia Tech that attracts several hundred participants.

Time for internships and study abroad

While Gallimore said she appreciates the academic perspective and research opportunities, her passions are reflected in her majors: communication and Spanish. She interned at WDBJ in Roanoke, Va., in summer 2011, where “they cross-train everyone,” she said. While her main job was creating graphics, she also learned aspects of television production such as running the audio board and working the cameras. She has experience in front of the camera, too, as anchor for Tech Tonight, the campus student station in spring 2011. 

In the future, Gallimore said she wants to continue her work in television, preferably behind the scenes. She has learned and thrived on the production side of the news industry and loves the fact that “it’s not a normal 9-to-5 desk job.”

   

Rachel Gallimore visited a cathedral, a synagogue, and a monastery in Toledo, Spain, a town known for its mix of cultures. Rachel Gallimore visited a cathedral, a synagogue, and a monastery in Toledo, Spain, a town known for its mix of cultures. “They have been making metal and weaponry in Toledo since Roman times. I actually bought a dagger there that was locally made,” she says.

During summer 2010, Gallimore spent six weeks in Spain as part of a study-abroad experience coordinated by Moses Panford, an associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. “I loved learning more about the language and culture,” Gallimore said, noting that the classes were taught in Spanish. Plus, she earned nine credits and experienced life with a Spanish family. “Spanish is something I started in the eighth grade and just didn’t want to give up.”

Service to her community

Ironically, Gallimore had to leave Blacksburg, Va., to understand how much she truly loved Virginia Tech. The Blacksburg native grew up going to Hokies’ football, soccer, wrestling, and volleyball games with her father. Like most aspiring college students, however, she wanted to go away to continue her education. She enjoyed her freshman year at a school in North Carolina. But “I missed the look of this campus,” she said. “Having grown up here, I expected college to be just like this.”

So Gallimore transferred to Virginia Tech as a sophomore, bringing with her a deep desire to give back to her hometown community. In doing so, she personifies Virginia Tech’s motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

   

Rachel Gallimore (at bottom right), along with sisters from Chi Delta Alpha, helped with this Habitat for Humanity build in Chatham, N.C., over winter break 2010. Rachel Gallimore (at bottom right), along with sisters from Chi Delta Alpha, helped with this Habitat for Humanity build in Chatham, N.C., over winter break 2010.

She serves as an ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and plays an active role on the recruitment team for prospective students. She has helped in local elementary schools, assisted in food and clothing drives, and worked on the Pilot Street Project, which provides support for refugee and immigrant families in Roanoke. During the 2010 winter break, she spent five days working on a Habitat for Humanity building project in freezing temperatures to attach siding, cut laminate, lay flooring, and paint. In her role as president of Chi Delta Alpha, Gallimore has shifted her energy to getting others involved. In 2010-11, the organization logged 3,000 hours of community service on 70 projects, and Gallimore said she wants to improve that record.

Volunteering, she said, is an excellent way for a transfer to meet people and feel like a key player in a university environment.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Jean Elliott at 540-231-5915.

Video: A public service announcement

    Rachel Gallimore created a public service announcement for the Virginia State Police.

Student Rachel Gallimore worked with a team of communication majors to produce a public service announcement for the Virginia State Police campaign entitled “Stop Gangs Now.” Gallimore’s team shot nine hours of video (for two, 30-second spots), some in a steady rain “which actually added to the effect,” and included a mock drug bust acted out by students from Virginia Tech’s Department of Theatre and Cinema.  

According to Sgt. Tom Foster, this PSA was recently approved for use by the Secretary of Public Safety and is making its debut here.

Help for incoming students

The Office of First Year Experiences was set up in July 2009 to help improve the first-year experiences for Virginia Tech’s freshmen and transfer students.

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