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Austin Michelle Cloyd Social Justice Scholarship

Students working together building something with their hands
Photo by Shawn Poytner


At VT Engage, we believe that a brighter future lies in cultivating tomorrow’s civic leaders through leadership experiences and community service activism to make the world a better place in the service of social justice. VT Engage helps students become courageous leaders who serve as change agents and make the world more humane and just. We inspire students to explore new things and to engage in critical reflection on who they are and what they value so that they can lead and serve the greater good with others in a global community. Through VT Engage, Virginia Tech's center for service learning, leadership education, and civic engagement, students create and initiate unexpected ways to live our university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

The Austin Michelle Cloyd Social Justice Scholarship recognizes the unique role that social justice leaders can play in shaping more equitable and just societies. Scholars are selected based on their commitment to social justice, demonstrated activism and leadership capabilities. Past Cloyd scholars have made strides in serving marginalized communities, expanded their awareness of social issues and strengthening their potential for compassionate leadership.

The Austin Michelle Cloyd Social Justice Scholarship provides financial assistance to exceptional undergraduate and graduate Virginia Tech students to offset the costs of social justice-focused leadership building activities that may not otherwise be accessible for students due to financial limitations. Social justice is interpreted broadly to reflect the spectrum of challenges facing underserved communities and marginalized populations. The range of acceptable activities for scholarship application include, but are not limited to, internships, study abroad programs, alternative breaks, co-ops, apprenticeships, fellowships, service-learning, and undergraduate research.

  • Any current Virginia Tech full or part-time undergraduate and graduate student(s). Applicants must be VT students for the duration of the grant.
  • Applicants must be participating in and use funds to support an experiential learning experience including, but not limited to, study abroad, internships (paid or unpaid), fellowships, undergraduate research, co-ops, and alternative break trips.
  • The experiential learning experience must have a social justice focus. We recognize that social justice is interpreted broadly to reflect the spectrum of challenges facing underserved communities and marginalized communities.
  • Applicants must agree to meet with a member of the VT Engage team at least once during their scholarship duration and for a final share-out of their work after their experience is complete.
  • Applicants must disclose a point person from the experience they are applying for funding for and agree to VT Engage contacting that person for verification.
  • Applicants must agree to meet with a representative from the financial aid office to discuss the ways this scholarship will affect their award package.
  • Applicants must agree to complete a reflection component at the end of their experience including, but not limited to, thank you cards to the donors and short reflection essays.
  • Previous award winners are not eligible to apply.
  • Interested students must complete an application on Scholarship Central. Deadlines listed.
  • All students who apply for this scholarship must agree to meet with a representative from scholarships and financial aid in order to determine how this award might affect existing aid.
  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis but we encourage applicants to submit their application at least one month in advance of the experience they intend to use funding for.
  • Students may apply for this scholarship at any point in advance of the experience they intend on using the funds for. This does not guarantee the application will be reviewed in time for funds to be dispersed for the experience. We recommend applying at least three months in advance of the experience.
  • Students may use this scholarship for experiences taking place outside of their enrolled academic year, provided they will be enrolled for the semester following the experience.
  • Students may use the funds for a variety of experiences with a social justice focus but they must provide VT Engage with contacts for the organizations they will be working with. An example of this is providing the contact information for the faculty leading a study abroad experience.
  • Funds from this scholarship will be dispersed as a refund to the awardee’s financial aid account. This can negatively affect other financial assistance already awarded to the student. For this reason, all students must meet with a financial aid representative before continuing further in the application process.
  • Funds from this scholarship are meant to offset the costs of experiential learning opportunities that may not have otherwise been accessible to students due to financial limitations. VT Engage will prioritize those students with financial limitations during the application process.
  • Award amounts will vary depending on the availability of funding, needs of the applicants, and other factors.

Austin Cloyd

Austin's Legacy

“I think one of the most remarkable things about Austin's legacy is its staying power. The fact that a decade later, students and community members continue to set aside their time every Spring to work on projects across the community speaks volumes about the impact that Austin had while she was with us, the character of the community, and the inspiration drawn from her story. People want to take up the mantle to continue to do the deeds that she would be doing if she were here.”

– Jordan Branham, Organizer, Austin’s Day, a day of service and volunteerism in memory of held annually in Champaign-Urbana, IL.

The Austin Michelle Cloyd Social Justice Scholarship is made possible by generous donations in the memory of Austin Michelle Cloyd whose legacy has left a profound impact in the lives of many. Austin’s community activism as a bright and ambitious young woman continues to inspire others to carry the torch of social justice to this day. Austin was known for "bringing someone along" when she volunteered for community causes, introducing friends to community service, helping them to feel welcome and comfortable serving and encouraging them to make a difference in meaningful ways. It is in this spirit of generosity and creating a better world through social justice activism and leadership that her legacy lives on through the Austin Michelle Cloyd Scholars.

Austin Cloyd Scholarship Guidelines 2022.pdf
Cloyd Scholarship Application Questions 2022.pdf

2019 Reagan Snead

This fellowship empowered me to mobilize and inspire others around me to advocate for refugees and other disenfranchised members of our community.

2018 Dana Mulligan

My experience has just really reinforced my passion for serving others by working on food security and food justice and access to food and culturally appropriate food.

2016 Lea Koehler

After this scholarship, I was thrilled to be able to continue my work by sharing my journey as well as reconnecting with Catholic Charities after college and creating opportunities with my consulting firm to continue providing services.

2015 Travertine Garcia, MPH, RDN

My experience as a Cloyd fellow challenged me to think about complex nutrition issues through a social justice lens, while better understanding the challenges of applying those ideas to real world solutions.

2014 Nneoma Nwankwo

I worked with regional sanitation organizations in Niger and Nigeria to improve menstrual hygiene practices. The fellowship’s impact on me cannot be overstated; I was privileged to contribute towards improving the lives of women and girls in a tangible yet rarely openly discussed way.

2013 Kara Vanscoyoc

This experience inspired me to pursue a career in international development after graduation where I worked closely with small and medium size businesses in the Balkans to help the private sector grow.

2012 Stephanie Lee

The scholarship has had such an impact on my life, and part of it is I feel like I carry this desire to take action, to not sit back and watch injustices happen or let things happen in my community.

2008 Jeni Lamb Rogers

The scholarship launched my career as a food regulatory, labeling, and safety professional and has helped me work all over the world to bring safer foods to consumers.