The Inaugural Speech

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

SGA4you teamToday marks the beginning of a new era of student government at Virginia Tech. Yet, before we embark upon this journey together, we must pause to recognize the individuals who forged the solid framework which has shaped our experience until now. I will begin by thanking past president, Emily Mashack, for her sound leadership over this past year; in addition, I would like to recognize the tireless efforts of the entire student government association as they worked to better our university; a special thank-you to Chief Justice Dana Gilmore and Associate Justice Erica Swanson for their dedication to the election process and this event; and finally, I would like to acknowledge the United SGA team for all that they have accomplished and we look forward to working with them in the future as work to reinvent Virginia Tech.

Before I begin tonight, I would like to thank each member of our internal team – those members who will not be sworn in with me, but have worked hard enough to earn these positions. First, I want to thank Taris Mullins, our Chief campaign strategist. Simply put, we would not have won this campaign had it not been for Taris’ structure, commitment to our vision, and unequivocal words. Bo Hart, our campaign manager, helped us reach thousands of students with the tactical execution. Harry Rosenbaum, our graphic designer, who redefined those off-yellow and off-blue colors, by making them the colors of passion, change, and commitment to you, the student. Ryan King, our web designer, who became one of the most dependable, selfless people that I know. John Kurlak, our web developer, who spent countless hours helping thousands of you interact on our site. I have played lacrosse and football, helped a start-up company get off of the ground, consulted for the government, but I have never seen a team like this campaign team.

I stand before you today humbled by the trust you have bestowed upon me and my team. As we look towards our future, we envision a student government which understands its role in your lives. Yes, we have our goals, we have our missions, and we have our values, but we recognize that for our vision to be successful, each of you must work with us. We are heralding a new era at Virginia Tech, grounded in the voice of you, the students. As we lead this Hokie community, we intend on making it stronger and more cohesive based upon a collective appreciation of unity through difference.

Virginia Tech has over six hundred organizations focused on different activities and varied ideals and yet only a select few are truly being heard. We hope to defy expectations by moving beyond the conventional bonds and inspiring less vocal organizations to know that we want to hear their opinions as well. Our goal is to reach out to create these lasting partnerships which will continue our progress towards making Virginia Tech a more inclusive community.

One of our commitments for this upcoming year is sustainability. We congratulate the various sustainability-focused groups on campus who remain keenly aware of how much work is still unfinished. However for the general student, we consider these green initiatives something more than a fleeting fancy, but rather a mindset which each Hokie must embrace. A Native American proverb sums this commitment best: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; rather we borrow it from our children.” This embodies our understanding, influences our focus, and will inspire our goals.

I would now like to invite your treasurer Joey Zakutney to offer a few thoughts

Joey ZakutneyThroughout my freshman year and into the beginning of my sophomore year I felt invisible. I was like many of you and arrived at Virginia Tech, excited about the possibility which college held for me. However, after months of classes and D2 dinners, I was still unsure about my place at Virginia Tech. Everything seemed to move around me at a whirlwind pace, and it was as if I was merely a spectator to the circus of life. I realized that I was unhappy here and began to question whether or not I was meant to attend this university.

As I considered my options, I made a discovery. I could leave Virginia Tech and enroll at some other institution, or, I could take hold of my experience and fashion it into what I wanted it to be. So I made a list of the pros and cons and as I stared down at the paper, it dawned on me. My voice was not being heard. My voice, the singular thing which allowed me to establish my individuality and impact those around me was silent. It was in that moment as I sat in my room that I concluded leaving Virginia Tech was not an option. I determined that my voice, and the voice of the goalie on my intramural soccer team, and that of the girl sitting next to me in chemistry class, they all needed to be heard.

So, today we pledge our commitment to not just hearing your voice, but amplifying it. We want to hear each of you and will listen to your thoughts, opinions, and ideas so that they can influence our vision to reinvent Virginia Tech. We know that in our community there are those who feel underrepresented, unaccounted for, and overlooked, but our hope is to reach out to you and bring every viewpoint into our discussion to make our student government an organization which universally serves you, the students.

I would now like to invite your secretary Morgan Bradley to offer a few thoughts

Morgan BradleyThe saying goes that college will be the best four years of our lives. And yet we are spending hours waiting in line at West End, evenings searching for answers about advising, and afternoons wondering whether or not we can find a group to fit in with. We recognize that your experiences at Virginia Tech will be far more memorable than any class taken in McBryde 100 and we want to have a direct effect on this. We feel that your lifestyle could be enhanced in many ways, by helping you cultivate faculty relationships, or connecting you with people who share your interests, or maybe, just minimizing the time you spend waiting in line for a smoothie. We believe that it is the task of student government to make these differences and we know that we will.

To consider your lifestyle a solely individual experience is limiting your potential. We envision a Hokie community which embraces and embodies our university motto of “Ut Prosim.” Not just in form or fashion, but in daily action and impact. Service to others and the growth which it creates will undoubtedly alter your experience and memory of Virginia Tech. We believe that this is the responsibility of every Hokie. To be more than just a passionate football fan, or a straight-A student, or the weekend socialite, but rather we want to challenge ourselves and our community to actively serve others to better our collective experience.

Finally, we affirm the legacy which the Principles of Community seek to define and hope to embody their virtues in our daily actions. These tenets will serve as the guides for our future and will provide the blueprint for our vision in the months to come.

I would now like to invite your vice-president Shane McCarty to offer a few thoughts

Shane McCartyThis evening you have heard remarks from my teammates about our plans for next year. However, I would like to focus on you and your role in this leadership process. The four of us are privileged right now and stand here as the elected leaders for this school, and yet we disagree. Yes, we are leaders in title, but the true leaders of this great university are among you today. Leading the student body is not solely our role as, the Student Government Association, but rather the role of every individual student here at Virginia Tech. Over the course of our campaign, we spoke with countless students and the insights which they shared have shaped our goals and plans for the upcoming year.

Our vision was based on one fundamental idea: All of the students at Virginia Tech are leaders. And, we promised, that together, we would work to bring out the best in all of us – the leadership in all of us – to make Virginia Tech the best it can be.

The world has seen our Hokie community as one which has certainly been tested. But we know our potential is far from its full realization, and this is the challenge that we will meet. At the completion of our term, we are certain that new legislation, impactful ideas, and enduring relationships, will occur because of you.

But, more importantly, we want Virginia Tech to become synonymous with an actively caring culture. We envision a landmark institution where Hokies help other Hokies, not for recognition or status, but simply because we care. To make Virginia Tech the best it can be, all of us will need to lead like we know we can. This is our school. These are our friends and mentors. And this is the rich and lasting legacy we can leave if we work together.

I would now like to invite your President Brandon Carroll to offer some final remarks

Brandon CarrollThe time has come to begin reinventing Virginia Tech. We told you during our campaign that no team would work harder for you than us, and that begins now. We can not promise that our vision will be achieved instantly, or in one week, or even in one semester, but we can promise that our vision will based upon you, the students.

We are the Student Government Association of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and our name declares our focus, the student. We will ask for your feedback, your insights, and your ideas, and we will reward your active participation by working together to improve our university. The student is our focus, the student is who we are working for, and at our core we dedicate this year to being all about you, the student.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to what this year holds. Have a wonderful evening.

~ by shanemccarty on April 14, 2009.

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