Blacksburg, Va., April 8 — Students give back: The Big Event is held each April, giving students an opportunity to say “thanks” to the Blacksburg community. Photo: McKenzie Pavacich
by McKenzie Pavacich-
The Big Event is held each year in April, serving as an opportunity for Virginia Tech students to live out Ut Prosim. The Virginia Tech motto, translating to “that I may serve,” is brought to life on an enormous scale each year, as students trade in their textbooks for tools to give back to the community.
According to the Big Event’s website, over 8,200 student volunteers completed nearly 1,200 projects across the Blacksburg community.
Although the Big Event is fueled by students, what makes this event truly special is the town of Blacksburg’s perspective and appreciation for the tradition.
“When I was a student I think it was probably the first or second year… It felt really nice to give back to the community,” said Virginia Tech alumna Erin Stenger. “Being on the other side, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate having all of these extra hands to do big projects that would take a whole weekend, done in a few hours.”
The Stengers, both graduates of Virginia Tech who participated in the early years of the Big Event, requested help with basic landscaping tasks. A project that would’ve taken weeks for the couple took just three hours with the help of eight extra hands.
The experience goes well beyond yard work. The Big Event gives students a chance to make connections with members of the Blacksburg community, further strengthening the relationship between the town and university. Often community members will take their volunteers to lunch after the culmination of a project, just to learn more about the students themselves.
Blacksburg embraces many of Virginia Tech’s rich traditions, regardless of the impact it can have on the community at times. The Big Event, however, is a tradition that every member of the Blacksburg community can get behind.
“I think it’s fantastic that it’s still going on, and that it’s gotten bigger. It’s amazing that there’s so many people who are willing to just go and help the community. It’s neat to meet other people and see the culture and service still being cultivated within the university,” Stenger said.
The student-run event has successfully kept the tradition of Ut Prosim alive and relevant in the Blacksburg community for sixteen years, with no signs of slowing down.