The college recently named its 2016 Outstanding Seniors who are recognized for their academic achievements, leadership, and experiences beyond traditional course work.
Zachary Horton of Fancy Gap, Virginia
Zachary Horton is obtaining a degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics. He has excelled academically with Dean’s List recognition, and was accepted into the dual bachelor’s/master’s program in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. While at Virginia Tech, he was involved in several College of Agriculture and Life Science groups, including CALS Ambassadors, Ag Econ Club, and Alpha Zeta. As a resident advisor and later senior resident advisor, he helped freshman transition into the Virginia Tech community, and developed programs to assist students in mastering communication, teamwork, and diversity and inclusion. Outside of the university, Horton volunteered his time participating in service projects through Alpha Zeta, the Big Event, and the State Fair of Virginia. Ultimately Horton wants to transfer his passion for working to people into a career as a college professor.
Rebekah Slabach of Alton, Virginia
Rebekah Slabach is obtaining a degree in both agricultural sciences and applied economics management, along with minors in animal science, international agriculture, and leadership and social change. She has been named a Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program Scholar, Scroggs-Raper Scholar, and is the recipient of the Pamplin Leader Award. While at Virginia Tech, Slabach has been involved in many extracurricular activities including Block and Bridle, Alpha Zeta Agricultural Honors Fraternity, and National Agri-Marketing Association. Outside of the university, she volunteered her time through E.A.R.T.H University in Costa Rica, where she implemented Live Fence Posts for Silvopasture Systems to positively impact ecosystem services, quality of life, and help Costa Rica become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. In the future Slabach aspires to live abroad and work for an international development organization based on food insecurity.
Emma Helm of New Castle, Virginia
Emma Helm is obtaining a B.S. in animal and poultry sciences. Helm has excelled academically with Dean’s List recognition, and received numerous scholarships and awards, including the American Sciences Scholarship, Block and Bridle Outstanding Junior Award, and recently became a member of the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society. Helm says her most valuable experiences came from her work in youth livestock extension, where she worked as the youth Extension specialist. This experience gave her the opportunity to work not only with her department and the university, but with youth and parents in the area as well. In addition to her service to the university, Helm has taken advantage of several undergraduate research opportunities including presenting at a collegiate symposium, co-authoring several publications, and receiving a Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. After graduation Helm plans to pursue a Ph.D., and ultimately wants to combine extension with teaching.
Morgan Simpson of Earlysville, Virginia
While working towards a degree in biochemistry and a minor in chemistry, Morgan Simpson has dedicated much of her time to research, which has taught her the importance of dedication, patience, and collaboration. She has presented her research on infectious diseases at the Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Drug Discovery Day Student Poster Session, and co-authored several publications. Her other academic achievements include receiving the William E. Newton Scholarship, the Norrine Bailey Spence Award, and becoming a member of the Gamma Beta Honor Society. Simpson has also become involved in areas outside of the biochemistry department, including her position as a writing coach in the Writing Center, Virginia Science Olympiad, and participant in the English Undergraduate Research Conference. After graduation, Simpson plans to continue conducting research, and ultimately wants to work at the CDC or USAMRIID.
Haley Randolph of Gurley, Alabama
While completing her Environmental Science degree and Spanish minor, Haley Randolph has been involved in many community service and extracurricular activities. Her involvement in the Student Government Association and coordinating Earth Week have taught Randolph how to work with a variety of people, and prepared her for a career in consulting. Outside of the university, Randolph has served her community extensively, volunteering with the Environmental Coalition, Honey Locust, and Partners in the Park. Her experiences in and outside of the university led her to become an Environmental Health & Safety Intern at Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, where she created an energy usage support and created promotional videos and posters for EHS initiatives. After graduation Randolph wants to work as an environmental consultant with a focus on remediation.
Elizabeth Davis of Union Bridge, Maryland
Elizabeth Davis’ experience growing up on a dairy farm in a family of Hokies drew her to Virginia Tech’s dairy science program, where she’s a leader in many organizations, including president of the Dairy Club, creator of the Dairy Science Ambassador Program, and part of the Southeast Quality Milk Initiative project team. Through her involvement in the Virginia Tech Dairy Club service projects, she’s worked with Micah’s Backpack, which helps provide healthy school lunches, and through International Service Learning she traveled to Costa Rica where she helped set up free medical clinics. Davis has received many awards and scholarships, including first place at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest, the Paul M. Reaves Outstanding Senior Award, and the Dairy Foundation of Virginia Scholarship.
She initially planned on becoming pre-med, but her experiences in the classroom led her to focus more on applied science. After graduation she plans on pursuing a biotechnology job as well as a graduate degree.
Diana Woodrum of Sterling, Virginia
Diana Woodrum is graduating with degrees in food science and technology as well as biological sciences. After graduation, Woodrum plans on attending dental school, and feels studying food science has properly prepared her for this next step by enabling her to understand food safety and how the chemical makeup of food can affect people, including their teeth. She has explored food safety in her undergraduate research, where she studied techniques to reduce Salmonella on spices. Woodrum is also a natural leader, having served as a peer mentor, Office of Undergraduate Research Ambassador, and Governor’s School for Agriculture Leader. Outside of the university, she has served her community immensely, volunteering her time as a dental assistant at the Roanoke Rescue Mission Free Clinic as well as the Kentucky Mountain Mission. Woodrum also started a dental branch of Volunteers around the World and traveled to the Dominican Republic to work at local clinics.
Elizabeth Wilson of Axton, Virginia
Elizabeth Wilson is graduating with a degree in Environmental Horticulture and minors in Entomology and Civic Agriculture and Food Systems. Her dedication to horticulture is clear through her involvement in Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Pi Alpha Xi, a National Horticulture Honor Society, as president of the Horticulture Club, and through her recognition as the American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Undergraduate Horticulture Student. She has conducted extensive research in several labs, which includes her work in a tissue culture lab and research in agroecology. Outside of the university, she has interned in micropropagation at Dan River Plants and 4-H extension, as well as implemented a pollinator garden to promote ecosystem services at Hale Y Community Garden. Upon graduation, Wilson will pursue a masters in Career and Technical Education at Virginia Tech with emphasis on Agricultural Education.
Olivia Schwartz of Madison, Virginia
Olivia Schwartz is graduating with a degree in human nutrition, foods, and exercise concentrating in dietetics. She has excelled academically with a near perfect GPA and membership in the Tau Sigma Honor Society and Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society. On campus, Schwartz has served on the Student Advisory Committee for Virginia Tech Dining Services, as Editor for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Cookbook, and as a nutrition counselor at Virginia Tech Nutrition Counseling. She has also given back to the Blacksburg community by participating in nutrition education at Montgomery County Farmers Markets and Food Banks. Her experiences in and out of the classroom, including her experience in the Farmacy Garden and summer internship teaching nutrition at local farmers markets “solidified her love for working with women and their families.” After graduation, Schwartz plans on working in a community-based, data-driven, private practice in the field of nutrition.