Living and learning through service
Launched in 2009, SERVE’s mission is to create a nurturing residential community that fosters personal growth and civic responsibility. We embrace VT’s motto ‘Ut Prosim’ (That I May Serve) through community engagement.
All students new to our community live together in Pritchard Hall, creating a tight-knit community within VT’s largest residence hall. Currently, there are 28 first-year students in SERVE. Living with service-oriented peers, mentors, and designated Resident Advisors allows our students to build relationships with one another outside class.
Through service, working with community partners, studying, and socializing, we help our students make the most of their time in Blacksburg and the New River Valley. Throughout the evolution of the program, SERVE students have been key in taking leadership roles and creating deeper opportunities for Virginia Tech students to be involved in service.
Faculty from the VT Engage office coordinate the program, but it is a partnership between the Division of Student Affairs Department of Housing and Residence Life, ePortfolio Initiatives, and the Department of Agricultural Extension Education. Download our brochure to learn more!
What makes SERVE special?
Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and majors, united by their passion for service and interest in social issues. They form tight bonds by living, taking introductory SERVE courses, serving in the community, and having fun - together. Here are some of the ways they’ve helped make SERVE home:
Learning principles of community engagement
- In our interactive, discussion-based classes, SERVErs learn to critically reflect on and explore leadership, service, and social change.
- Engaging thought-provoking activities like “BUILT”, a board game where teams design communities, making decisions that impact the community.
- Students build strong servant leadership and facilitation skills in class that make them more effective at working with communities.
Service & reflection: putting ideas into action
- Service trips and reflection sessions are planned each semester by SERVE students, for SERVE students.
- SERVErs have ample opportunities to explore the social issues they care about through a variety of experiences.
- SERVErs are challenged to examine preconceived ideas about issues they encounter, motivations for service, and privilege.
Weekly & monthly community traditions
- Tuesday dinners in D2 include current residents and upperclass SERVErs who no longer live on the hall.
- On Thursdays, SERVErs come together to play Wallyball. It’s a favorite SERVE tradition for new and old SERVErs.
- Each month SERVE students prepare and cook dinner for the entire community.
Bookending the year with bonding & celebration
- At the annual SERVE fall retreat, new residents meet one another and SERVE upperclass members.
- Family day each spring invites SERVErs and their families to serve in the community and celebrate the year.
In fall 2012, SERVE received two prestigious national awards. The Bronze Certificate from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), is an excellence award based on whether the applicant program demonstrates having a positive influence on student education.
Other credentials for the award are whether the program exhibits creativity and originality, supports the university’s mission, works with other departments, and shows sustainability.
In addition to NASPA’s excellence award, SERVE received the Best Practices Award from the Dalton Institute. The Best Practices Award is given to a program that best develops student values, integrity-based learning, and civic education.