Common Book Project

The Virginia Tech Common Book Project Presents the
2016-17 Essay Winners

My Virginia Tech Values: An Essay Event


What does it mean to you to live a life of service and how do you make life choices that embody this value?


New students come to Virginia Tech to build academic strengths, and they are sometimes surprised that they also question, test, and confirm personal identities, values, and strengths. They consider Virginia Tech values and the school motto of Ut Prosim, and they read the Virginia Tech common book. 

The following three authors were selected as finalist in the 2016 - 17 common book essay event.


Andrea Tardif


Andrea is a freshman at Virginian Tech, majoring in Business Information Technology.  She is from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and graduated from Tabor Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts where she served as a proctor in her dormitory.  In high school, she played soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, and received the coaches’ award and most improved award for both soccer and lacrosse.  She also served as a co-leader of the Special Olympics Club, which allows a safe space for children with mental disabilities to play and develop social skills; and as a head peer tutor and peer educator.  Here at Virginia Tech, she is a member of Collegiate 4-H and Circle K, and she works as a waitress at Preston’s at the Inn at Virginia Tech.

Essay Title:  Nothing is Unnoticed



Kyle VanDerVelden


Kyle is a freshman at Virginia Tech, majoring in Building Construction.  He is from Wayne, New Jersey, and it was in his hometown that he turned an idea into reality: Right-to-Write is a nonprofit organization he began supporting in 10th grade.  He holds pencil drives at elementary schools across the state of New Jersey, and then packages and ships collected writing utensils to African schools, Colombian orphanages, and many other third world countries where educational supplies are not affordable.  In Spring 2016, he went on a trip to visit the orphanages in the Philippines where he has been sending writing supplies.  Thus far, he has put over 168,000 pencils in the hands of children worldwide.


Essay Title:  The Potential of Ut Prosim




Christian Walkup


Christian Walkup is a Freshman at Virginia Tech, where he recently transferred into the Criminology program after spending a semester in the Pamplin College of Business.  Christian is from Chesapeake, Virginia, and attended Deep Creek High School. He was highly involved in high school, holding officer positions in Student Council Association, class office, and the National Honors Society, as well as serving as the school’s Key Club president and Varsity golf captain.  Christian is a former American Legion Boys State Attendee and placed on the dean’s list during his first semester at Tech.  After college, he hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement. 


Essay Title:  Ut Proism – The Virtues Virginia Tech Instills