Service is the bond that unites the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. In fact, during each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, cadets donated more than 12,000 hours of service.
Each cadet company, made up of about 80 cadets, organizes and performs at least one company service project each semester. The projects fill needs on campus and in the local community while providing cadets the opportunity to learn to organize and lead a major project that fosters team building within their unit.
"Whether it is cleaning up the Cascades [Recreation Area], building signs for the International Street Fair, or setting up tents and booths for various other events, I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling associated with helping others who could not have completed their missions and greater service projects without our help," said Cadet Regimental Commander Jordan Disney of Owings Mills, Md., a senior majoring in psychology. "The thanks and praise are among the most gratifying awards we cadets cherish."
Over the years, cadet companies have developed long-term relationships with their campus and community partners. Those relationships have allowed a one-day event to grow into efforts that span years and entire cadet careers.
“I know I joined the Corps of Cadets to serve others, and I personally feel a connection with that thought after every completed service project I participate in," Disney said.
In fall 2011, retired U.S. Army Col. Denny Cochrane, who serves as the university’s sustainability program manager, asked if cadets would help with the trash and recycling efforts at Gobblerfest, the annual fall festival showcasing campus and community activities.
Golf Company stepped up as the primary volunteers to collect trash and recycling. In 2013, two more companies, Hotel and India, joined the effort to provide setup and teardown support for the event.
Justin Camputaro, director of Student Centers and Activities, said cadets play an integral role in Gobblerfest. “In the past, we had to pull volunteers from all over campus and often were still stretching to accomplish all of the tasks necessary for an event of this magnitude. The cadets made this year  so smooth that often the staff were taken back by the lack of work we had to do, seeing the cadets already had things under control. It was incredible to see with just a little direction, how much they completely took the lead. ”
White Ribbon International bills itself as the world's largest movement of men working to end gender-based violence. Echo Company has led the effort for the university since spring 2010 with support from the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech.
The White Ribbon Campaign at Virginia Tech is an opportunity for men to take a stand. By wearing a white ribbon, men pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. Cadets of Echo Company set up tables around campus to share information and offer white ribbons to those who take the pledge. In addition, cadets deliver letters and ribbons to many faculty and staff members around campus to encourage their support.
"Echo Company's leadership to the White Ribbon Campaign makes a tremendous impact within our community. To have such a well-known, predominantly male group be so vocal in this cause encourages other men to use their voice to end gender-based violence,” said Jen Underwood, outreach coordinator at the Women’s Center.
Since 2010, Bravo Company has worked at the Hale YMCA Community Garden in Blacksburg, Va., doing projects to improve the facility. In fact, after working in the garden in spring 2013, one cadet started a plot at the garden that he maintained that spring and summer. Sean Dixon graduated in 2013 with a degree in fisheries science and is now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Jenny Schwanke, community garden coordinator, wrote in an email to the corps that “Bravo Company consistently arrives at the gardens with a positive and respectful attitude and then proceeds to work productively to improve the grounds. Their help is invaluable to us. If these cadets represent the leadership of our future then I believe we are in good hands.”
Cadet Evan Faughnan of Newtown, Pa., a senior majoring in history, said he is proud of the company’s work in the garden since 2010. “I have watched the area transform. Every semester the cadets of Bravo Company put in hours of hard manual labor to assists the local community,” he said. “The project also serves as a fantastic bonding opportunity for the company. From freshmen to seniors, everyone works hard to get the job done.”
In addition to the company projects, the entire regiment supports events such as the Kindergarten to College program, which brings fifth-graders to campus.
The Citizen-Leader Track, also known as VPI Battalion, organizes and hosts two, three-day blood drives each semester in partnership with Virginia Blood Services. These drives are routinely the highest-producing on campus. In 2013-14, the corps collected more than 1,080 units, breaking the 2012-13 record by more than 250 units.
Units such as the Highty-Tighties and the Color Guard regularly serve the local and campus community by performing at events from football games to swing dance fundraisers, they are both in high demand.
During the 2013-14 academic year, three cadets earned an Aspire! Award for service. The awards recognize students and faculty/staff who exemplify the Division of Student Affairs’ Aspirations for Student Learning.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ first-year cadets traveled to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., on Sept. 14, 2013.
Alumnae of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets return to campus each year to serve, to remember, and to mentor new female cadets.