I am thrilled to introduce you to our first edition of the SPIA alumni newsletter! This project, in partnership with the College of Architecture & Urban Studies’ communications team, is an effort to engage and connect our alumni community with each other, our faculty, and all the exciting activities and ventures that we will embark on together.
In this first edition, you will read about all the accomplishments and initiatives happening at SPIA as well as the opportunity to hear from one of your own alumni peers. You will read about Justin Redman ’19 and his personal and professional journey after his time at Virginia Tech, you will learn about the newly formed SPIA Undergraduate Student Society from its own student leaders and their hopes for this group, you will hear from our own Dr. Todd Schenk regarding the exciting new STEP program, and finally, you will learn about our four Urban Affairs & Planning faculty members that received grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2020: Dr. Shalini Misra, Dr. Todd Schenk, Dr. Kris Wernstedt, and Dr. Steve Hankey.
These stories are moments in time that demonstrate the strength of our programs, our community, and our commitment to improving SPIA and the communities we serve. They are merely highlights of the plethora of activities that happen within our community and we hope to bring these to light for you, our alumni community.
This past year has been one of the most difficult moments in world history and we have clearly seen the importance of community engagement. We all came together to help one another through this tough time. Our faculty received grants and shared their expertise about the pandemic in academic journals as well as by educating local government officials dealing with the financial aspects of the pandemic. We managed to provide small grants to international students last summer who could not go back to their home countries or find jobs to defray their expenses. Our students adjusted to the modality of online learning with great patience and tact while our alumni supported us with their financial contributions and networking help.
We hope this newsletter will also inspire you to share and engage with us whether it be via social media, or perhaps being featured in our next edition!
Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Director