BLACKSBURG, Va., April 21, 2009 – David Grant of Burke, Va., a senior majoring in religious studies and political science with minors in history and Spanish in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Carla Rood of Charlottesville, Va., a senior majoring in political science with minors in classical studies and leadership studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, are recipients of Virginia Tech's 2009 Undergraduate Man and Woman of the Year Awards.
The awards were presented by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger at the annual student recognition banquet held Saturday, April 18 at The Inn at Virginia Tech.
Undergraduate Man of the Year is David William Grant, who will receive his degrees with honors. Charles Dudley, assistant provost and director of the University Honors Program said Grant “approached college with an intensity rarely found in undergraduates. [He] is a natural leader.”
As recipient of the Class of 1954 University Honors Scholarship which supports significant intellectual and emotional experiences abroad, Grant studied at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, during his junior year. There he pursued intensive study of modern standard Arabic and coursework on Middle Eastern history. While in Cairo, Grant was an intern with the Center for Interfaith Dialogue and Translation, and published a report on the future of Egyptian print media in the Arab-West Report.
Grant was chosen from more than 6,000 applicants for the State Department Critical Language Scholarship for study at the University of Jordan Language Center in Amman, Jordan. He also took part in the 2008 Global Youth Leaders Conference in Amman, where Jordanian and American young people discussed American foreign policy, cultural connections, and Middle Eastern politics. His honors thesis, under the direction of William Ochsenwald, Virginia Tech professor of history, focuses on the American role in the Israeli-Palestine peace process between the first Intifada and the Roadmap to Middle East Peace.
Grant has volunteered with Peace Players International (PPI) in Jerusalem, coaching and refereeing basketball practices and youth events for children in Jaffa and East and West Jerusalem. He also worked through PPI in refugee camps in Ramallah and Tulkarem. As an instructor at the Arab Education Institute (AEI) in Bethlehem, Palestine, Grant taught a journalism course to Palestinian high school students, led weekly discussions for Palestinian adults on topics ranging from suicide bombings to American cinema, and interviewed Palestinian journalists for AEI’s Stories of Palestine.
Grant is editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times, the independent, student-run newspaper that serves Virginia Tech. Under his leadership the organizational structure of the Collegiate Times was reworked and new reporting initiatives were developed. The newspaper has won numerous awards during Grant’s tenure, and he personally received first place awards from the Virginia Associated Press Collegiate Competition in 2007 for news series and in 2006 for general news writing.
A participant in the European Journalism Institute held in Prague and the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University, Grant’s journalism experience includes working as a correspondent for the United Press International and writing a blog through WashingtonPost.com’s “On Faith” website. Grant is also co-founder and managing editor of Philologia, the Virginia Tech undergraduate research journal of the liberal arts.
Grant is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. He was a District IX Rhodes Scholarship finalist and is an inductee into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. His scholarship and grant awards include the InterExchange Foundation Christianson Work Abroad Grant, the Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Dean’s Roundtable Scholarship, the Religious Studies Departmental Scholarship, the Atlantic Coast Conference International Scholar Award, and the German Club’s 2007 Carol M. Newman Sophmore Scholarship.
After graduation, Grant says he will continue his pursuit of a career in journalism as a paid intern with the Associated Press in Detroit, Mich.
Carla Anne Rood is the Undergraduate Woman of the Year. Ioannis Stivachtis, associate professor and director of the international studies program at Virginia Tech and Rood’s advisor, said she “displays an enormous enthusiasm for her courses. She is a very mature, diligent, hard-working, committed, and well-organized student with significant critical powers and analytical skills. Carla has a passion for learning.”
In summer 2008, Rood participated in Eastern Michigan University’s European and Mediterranean study abroad program, during which she spent two and a half months backpacking from London to Athens, visiting nine countries along the way. Her interest in foreign affairs is also evident in her undergraduate research work, which focuses on the relations between and among international organizations including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations. Currently, she is writing a chapter for a textbook on international organizations. The textbook is expected to be published for use in university courses as early as the fall semester of 2009.
Rood’s interest in politics is also reflected in her work experience and activities. During the summer of her sophomore year, she worked as a program assistant for the NATO Staff Officer Orientation Course at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. She has participated in Model NATO for two years as an Ambassador of Norway and as a Delegate of Bulgaria. She also represented Virginia’s 5th District at the Model U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C., and attended the American Democracy Conference hosted by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics in Charlottesville, Va.
She was active in the College Republicans, and took part in the Virgil Goode U.S. House of Representatives campaign, the George Allen U.S. Senate campaign, and the Jerry Kilgore Governor campaign in Southwest Virginia. More recently, she contributed to the grassroots efforts of the Barack Obama presidential campaign.
At Virginia Tech, she served as a Student Government Association senator, and was the College of Liberal Arts representative to the Student Affairs committee in 2007. Her activities outside the of classroom also include participation in the Virginia Tech Student Alumni Associates, Student Activities’ Leadership Tech program, the Residential Leadership Community, intramural soccer and volleyball, and the snowboarding club.
A member of Delta Zeta Sorority, Kappa Theta Chapter, Rood has served the organization in a number of roles, including director of philanthropy, Standards of Greek Excellence chair, public relations chair, by-laws revision committee member, and recruitment committee head for philanthropy. She is currently serving as Relay for Life chair. Through Delta Zeta, Rood has participated in the Painted Turtle Camp philanthropy campaign, the ARK Project seatbelt awareness campaign, and the fundraising and colon cancer awareness Down 4 Dao campaign. In Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, Rood currently holds the position of parliamentarian on the executive board, has been the Alpha Epsilon service chair, and served on the Michael B. Perry 5K committee.
Firmly committed to community service, Rood said that her time at Virginia Tech “wasn’t just about working towards a degree; it was about getting involved and finding out what I was truly passionate about.”
Rood’s extensive service and philanthropy activities include The Big Event at Virginia Tech, Phi Sigma Pi’s monthly Duck Pond cleanup, and fundraising and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network, the New River Valley Women’s Resource Center, Service for Sight, and YouthAID. She has also spent time volunteering at the Community for Creative Non-Violence homeless shelter in Washington D.C. Denise Trudeau, director of Virginia Tech’s Residential Leadership Community and assistant professor of leadership studies, said Rood “is a very capable and approachable individual who has a strong desire to understand and help others.”
Rood is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, among them the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges 2009, the Delta Zeta Senior Scholarship, the Kappa Theta Philanthropic Educator Award 2008, Western Albemarle High School Principal’s Award, and the Emily Couric Leadership Award and Scholarship.
She is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, the Order of Omega Leadership Honor Society, the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Gamma Beta Phi Society, the Golden Key International Honor Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
After graduation, Rood says she will move to New York City to work as an executive assistant to the CEO of the organizational development and leadership consulting firm Benchmark Communications. Hand-picked directly by the company’s founder and CEO, Rood will help to develop and revitalize various aspects of Benchmark’s consulting services. Her projects will include developing and compiling leadership development materials for clients and their employees, helping to write, edit, and do research for the CEO’s book in progress, and working with the two non-profit organizations on which Benchmark’s CEO is a board member. Additionally, Rood was recently selected to participate in Omicron Delta Kappa’s (ODK) Campus Leaders Today, Community Leaders Tomorrow program in Phoenix, Ariz., in June. The program is designed to prepare ODK’s campus leaders for future community leadership positions on non-profit boards of directors.
The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Man and Woman of the Year Awards recognize two graduating students who have achieved overall excellence during their undergraduate careers at the university. They are the most prestigious non-academic undergraduate awards given at Virginia Tech, and are awarded to those students who have exceptional and balanced achievement in academics, leadership, and service.
The recipients exemplify the qualities and values important to a Virginia Tech education and captured in the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). Award recipients are selected by a committee of students, faculty, and administrators from across the colleges and the Division of Student Affairs. The Department of Student Activities, a unit within the Division of Student Affairs, sponsors and administers the annual awards.