Dear friendly readers:
My name is Samantha DiBiaso and I am currently a senior at Virginia Tech. In May 2017, I will be graduating with a double major in Public Relations and Religion & Culture, as well a a minor in Leadership and Social Change. In my free time I love running, scrapbooking, and enjoying getting to know others through service. My core strengths are includer, positivity, developer, discipline and achiever. I am most passionate about the importance of community and serving with one another.I never knew how much life as a Hokie would impact who I am today. I remember moving into my residence hall freshman year like it was yesterday, and now graduation is right around the corner. As a Hokie, I have learned to take every opportunity given to me and to truly embrace our motto of Ut Prosim, That I May Serve.
This ePortfolio exemplifies my experience gained through my journey and continual push from the Keystone Experience. Not only has my time here taught me to think critically, it has taught me how to be more reflective as I embrace who I am and what my future holds. Even though this culmination of my experiences at Virginia Tech to showcase my growth and success, my journey simply does not end here. My experience as an undergraduate has instilled values in me that have become a way of life.
The Pit Stops
I know that because Virginia Tech manifests a community of learning and growth, I have been able to live out my Keystone Experience that has helped shape who I am; for that I am forever grateful. My journey began four years ago at my freshman orientation, I stopped by the SERVE table, not knowing what was ahead of me. I remember talking with Matt Grimes at a living-learning table, and he said, “If you don’t join SERVE, you WILL regret it.” And without a doubt he was right. SERVE not only helped me find my home here at Virginia Tech, it cleared a path for me to follow my passions and understand how service connects all of us. SERVE became my safe place, my home away from home, and a place that continues to help me to grow every day.
SERVE then helped me find my place as a VT Engage Student leader, which in turned taught me a lot about social issues in context. VT Engage instilled values in me that are unbreakable, values of service ethics, of community-based needs focus, of breaking down barriers, and thinking critically. VT Engage challenged me in co-leading international immersion trips to Peru and the Dominican Republic.
Around year two, I found myself adding my second major of Religion and Culture, and finding it to be the most intriguing, perplexing and rewarding experience that has truly shaped me. I wanted to learn more about people, about the world. I found that these classes opened me up to a whole new perspective. I never thought I would take classes analyzing post-humanism, or food, or even technological advancements like robots. But these classes have taught me that taking the time to listen and think critically is how we can be progressive. I have truly embraced that learning can never stop.
Along the way, I found my place as a Peer Career Advisor at Career and Professional Development, another home away from home. As a PCA, I have the ability to utilize all of my strengths in the workplace. My job has pushed me to think quickly on my feet, and be adaptable to every situation because every student has different needs. I am able to provide resources to students, so that they can find the right professional path for them. I have grown to love and feel most alive giving presentations to student groups, because I want them to have the tools to strive.
My cohort at the office then introduced me to a mentor and a dear friend who has impacted me more than she will ever know, Ariana Mollers. She convinced me to apply to be an Orientation Leader. This was an experience I never thought I would have, but would not trade it for anything in the world. As an OL, I was able to use my strengths to make new Hokies feel welcomed home, as well as share my Keystone Experience. I’ll never forget my interaction with a student who came to me at the end of a normal day. He was the only student in the group from out of state, and wanted me to know that he was joining SERVE, and that he could not be more grateful that I shared how impactful it was for me. It all came full circle. I was able to witness the start of their journey as mine at Virginia Tech draws to a close, which was beyond exciting, humbling and inspiring.
For the first time in my life, I do not see a clear path ahead of me. I always knew I would finish school, and then attend college, but beyond that I had not really “planned.” It is a freeing feeling, to know that so much lies ahead, but what that looks like is not set in stone. I feel at peace, knowing that I have a foundation of values and beliefs that will continue to shape my path. After graduation, I hope to work for a year immersed in service either abroad or in AmeriCorps. I plan to work specifically advocating on our current immigrant and refugee crisis. Beyond that, I hope to continue to serve others through nonprofit work, fighting for social justice, and advocacy. I am excited for the growth and learning that still lies ahead of me.
Throughout my experience as an Orientation Leader, what I remember the most was the meaningful conversations I had with my students on the Aspirations. I wanted them to feel comforted in that their college experience is theirs, it is their path to choose. Virginia Tech provides the resources and framework to find themselves and their passions. Throughout my application process, I have taken a lot of time to reflect on my growth and experiences over the past four years, and it has been so emotionally provoking. I’ve really recognized and come to peace that no matter where life takes me beyond graduation, the Aspirations will continue to walk along side me.
It would be an honor to be recognized as a Fellow, because of how highly I think about our Aspirations for Student Learning, and how overwhelmingly inspirational they have been in my life. I think becoming a Keystone Fellow, is accepting and committing to value these Aspirations as a way of life. That these values do not end when we leave campus, but that we continue to challenge ourselves to be who we are.
I want to further progress our programs through the Keystone Experience. I am passionate about mentorship, and without it I would not have found my place in discovering the Aspirations. I want to continue to mentor Hokies to find their place in their very own Keystone journey. I want future Hokies to remember that our journey does not simply start and end. Together we ebb and flow, and that we should trust in taking leaps outside our comfort zone. I want others to be constantly reminded that your strengths make you, you, and understanding that is vital in each step you take. I want to be recognized as Keystone Fellow, because I want to share with Hokies that yes my experiences have shaped me, but it does not have to end here. Our journeys will look different, we are all unique in that, but together we can have a foundation of understanding. Be curious. Be courageous. Be understanding. Be of service. Be YOU.