BLACKSBURG, Va., April 23, 2009 – Cadet Adnan Barqawi of Kuwait City, Kuwait, a senior majoring in management in the Pamplin College of Business was selected as the 2009 Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year.
Coordinated by the Department of Student Activities, this award is one of the University Student Leadership Awards given out by Virginia Tech each year.
During the fall semester Barqawi served as Regimental Commander, the top cadet in the corps. He led the training and daily operations for 700 cadets, while also serving as Head Resident Advisor for the three corps residence halls. He made significant improvements to the residence halls by leading the painting and repairing of depictions of corps heritage.
Barqawi is committed to the Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) spirit; this year he inspired cadets to volunteer 3,600 hours to conduct blood drives, mentor in the public schools, raise $15,000 for the Lauren Smith and Matt La Porte Memorial Scholarships and the National D-Day Memorial, and to complete 10 other community service projects. This spring, Barqawi is serving as the Company Commander for Hotel Company leading 51 cadets ranging from seniors to freshman and again serves as a Resident Advisor.
His fellow cadets best describe the impact of Cadet Barqawi’s leadership. In written assessments prepared for a Virginia Tech course of study, freshman identified Barqawi as the one leader on campus that has made the most positive impact on them. Some examples of their observations include “When we are wrong, he stops us and makes us realize what we are doing; Every time he speaks I seem to gain something; When he speaks, everyone else stops to listen because they know he has something important to say.”
Another example of his direct impact on others came shortly after taking command of Hotel Company. He spoke to his 20 freshmen on the importance of family and expressing gratitude for the sustained support received over the years to arrive at this juncture of life as a student at Virginia Tech. One student wrote the following about his remarks: “You gave my buds and me the most inspiring and motivational speech I have ever heard in person, and truly felt that you were giving it for my own betterment. Your description of the way people act and think, in relation to the way the world tells us to think as opposed to the way we ought to think, is exactly in line with the thoughts I have had myself, but have not found the ability to coherently communicate those thoughts to others the way you did … I called my Mom and thanked her for all she had done raising me but (your remarks) just made me realize how impossible it really is to actually give her the credit due. Thank you again, Cadet Barqawi.”
Barqawi was among just 8 to 10 percent of applicants selected to participate in the Teach for America program and will spend the next two years teaching elementary school in the Mississippi Delta, one of the nation’s most economically depressed areas. His dream of becoming a United States citizen was achieved on Friday, April 17 during his swearing in ceremony at the District Court House in Roanoke, Va. He says he hopes to one day serve as an ambassador for his new country and help teach the world that we are all really the same.
For six consecutive years, the winner of the Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year award has been a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. Below are the five previous award winners.