The college recently named its 2018 Outstanding Seniors who are recognized for their academic achievements, leadership, and experiences beyond traditional coursework.
Meghan McLoughlin of Roswell, Georgia
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
Meghan McLoughlin is obtaining a degree in applied economic management, as well as minors in crop and soil environmental sciences, statistics, and French. She has excelled academically with dean's list recognition and is a member of Alpha Zeta, an agricultural honors fraternity. While at Virginia Tech, she was a senior analyst in Commodity Investing by Students, a student-run commodities trading group. She has also served as a CALS ambassador and student mentor for the Governor's School for Agriculture. In addition to her accomplishments on campus, Meghan led a “200 Can Campaign” to collect canned goods for the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry. Due to her dedication and determination, more than 300 cans were collected. The following year, the goal was increased to 400 cans, resulting in donations of almost 800 cans. Meghan's dedication to serving others has resulted in several awards, including a University Student Leadership Award: Outstanding Community Service Program of the Year, and she is also an Aspire! Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) scholarship recipient. After graduation, Meghan plans to pursue a career in commodity merchandising and risk management.
Meghan Garrity of Newport News, Virginia
Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education
Meghan Garrity is obtaining a degree in agricultural sciences with minors in civic agriculture and food systems, international agriculture and life sciences, and leadership and social change. While at Virginia Tech, Meghan has been involved in many extracurricular activities, including the SERVE Living Learning Community, VT Engage, and Kindergarten 2 College, where she led educational agricultural lessons for elementary school students. As a Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H intern, Meghan aided in 4-H camp organization and youth development programs. Since her first year at Virginia Tech, Meghan has been involved with the Hale YMCA Community Garden, which enabled her to learn the importance and value of community, volunteering, and how to directly apply in-class knowledge. Her involvement with the community garden enabled her to lead volunteer groups, serve on the Hale YMCA Community Garden Counsel, and to learn more about where our food comes from. These experiences inspired Meghan to envision a future nonprofit, urban community garden learning center where underprivileged youth and adults learn to grow their own food.
Riki Farmer of Hillsville, Virginia
Agricultural Technology Program
Riki Farmer is obtaining her landscaping and turfgrass management degree from the Agricultural Technology Program. The experiences she has had at Virginia Tech, including the support she received from professors, have aided her in reaching her goals, helped her gain practical career skills, and strengthened her passion for horticulture. In addition to maintaining a near-perfect GPA with dean's list recognition each semester, Riki has excelled outside of the classroom as an Ag Tech Ambassador and a member of the Carroll County Virginia Young Farmers, where she educates young people about various agriculture issues. Her service to the community includes participation in The Big Event and contributing a landscape design for the Pulaski Community Youth Center. After graduation, Riki plans to pursue a career in the green industry where her goal is to establish a greenhouse production or landscape business.
Cassie Bienert of Freeland, Maryland
Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
Cassie Bienert is obtaining a degree in animal and poultry sciences. She has excelled academically with dean's list recognition, is a University Honors member, and was named an American Society of Animal Science Undergraduate Scholar, an honor given to students who are in the top 10 percent of their class in animal and poultry sciences. In addition to her academic achievements, Cassie has been involved in several service opportunities, including animal and poultry sciences ambassador, first-year experience mentor, and University Relations coordinator for the Campus Kitchen at Virginia Tech, which combats food insecurity in the community. Within the Blacksburg community, Cassie volunteered at LewisGale Montgomery Hospital, where she assisted nurses with the daily care of patients. One of the most meaningful experiences Cassie has had while at Virginia Tech was her internship at the Center for Image Guided Animal Therapy at Johns Hopkins University, where veterinarians and physicians collaborated to diagnose and treat patients. Upon graduation, Cassie plans to pursue a dual Ph.D./M.D. degree and, as Cassie puts it, "involve [herself] in translational research designed to improve the health of all species."
Caitlin Swecker of Monterey, Virginia
Department of Biochemistry
Caitlin Swecker is obtaining a degree in biochemistry, with minors in chemistry and animal and poultry sciences. She has excelled academically with dean’s list recognition, is the recipient of the Gamma Sigma Delta Junior Award of Merit, and was a member of the Virginia Tech Honors Residential College. Along with her stellar academic achievements, Caitlin has also excelled outside of the classroom as an animal care technician at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and through an internship at SRI International, where she completed research to discern optimal peptide characteristics for cancer cell targeting. Caitlin has taken on leadership roles in several faith-based organizations, including Cru campus ministry, and has led youth at Northstar Church in Blacksburg. She has continued her dedication to service through the Appalachian Service Project, where she participated in home repairs. All of these experiences have led Caitlin to choose a life of service. Ultimately, Caitlin plans on practicing veterinary medicine in an underserved area, in addition to conducting research on food and animal care in these underserved areas.
Izzy Ahwee-Marrah of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Izzy Ahwee-Marrah is obtaining a degree in environmental science. While at Virginia Tech, Izzy has taken advantage of a multitude of opportunities, including undergraduate research, internships, and service. She has worked for three years as a laboratory assistant in the Virginia Tech Plant Disease Clinic, where she helped to diagnose diseases on crops and ornamentals for commercial businesses and Virginia residents. Izzy has also assisted students during their transition to college through her positions as a transfer orientation leader, Hokie Camp leader, and peer mentor for the CALS First-Year Seminar. In addition to these extracurricular activities, Izzy was an undergraduate fellow in the Sustainability Institute, where she advocated for the development of compostable and reusable materials in dining facilities, additional recycling bins, and bottle-filling stations. Her experiences in Honors Service Learning enabled her to give back to the surrounding community and led her to start Sort It Out, a campus club whose students collect and recycle broken crayons and empty glue bottles. The club then donates money made from the recycled materials to teachers for new school supplies. Her experiences at Virginia Tech increased her passion for environmental justice; and after graduation, Isabel plans to pursue an environmental law degree.
Nicole Hardy of Perkasie, Pennsylvania
Department of Dairy Science
Nicole Hardy is obtaining a degree in dairy science with a minor in animal and poultry sciences. Nicole, who has been on the dean's list each semester at Virginia Tech, is the recipient of a variety of scholarships, including an RP-Animal and Poultry Science STEM Scholarship and the Paul M. Reaves Outstanding Senior Scholarship. In addition to her impressive academic achievements, Nicole has held leadership roles as Sigma Alpha sorority president, Virginia Tech Dairy Club showcase sale chair, and Southern American Dairy Science Association student affiliate division officer at large. Through her experiences with Virginia Tech's Dairy Club, Nicole became involved in Micah's Backpack, which increased her awareness of food insecurity and reinforced her commitment to agriculture. Nicole's experiences both inside and outside the classroom also strengthened her passion for dairy cows and nutrition, including her time at the John Lee Pratt Summer Research Institute, her assistant herdsman internship at Janney Holsteins, and her work with the American Dairy Science Association. During her internship at Janney Holsteins, Casey had the opportunity to diagnose and treat sick calves, administer vaccinations to newborn calves, and halter-break cows. After graduation, Nicole will begin interning with Cargill as a calf research intern.
Megan Beatty of Blacksburg, Virginia
Department of Food Science and Technology
Megan Beatty is obtaining a degree in food science and technology, along with a minor in psychology. A recipient of the Department of Food Science and Technology Scholarship and the CALS Robert Noell Scholarship, she has excelled academically with dean's list recognition each semester and is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, an honor society for agriculture students. Since beginning her career at Virginia Tech, Megan's dedication to service has been centered in the academic, leadership, and extracurricular activities in which she has participated. This commitment led Megan to be a CALS ambassador, as well as a CALS college representative for Virginia Tech's Student Government Association, where she serves as an advocate for other CALS students. Outside of her CALS commitments, Megan served as a member and mentor for the Da Vinci Living Learning Community, where she developed and led STEM-related activities for Kid’s Tech University to encourage interest in STEM fields. Outside of the university, Megan's dedication to service continued through her involvement with Project Youth Extension Service, where she facilitated activities with military families and incorporated lessons for children, including resilience and how to handle the absence of family members. Megan is currently fielding several job offers and hopes to choose a position that enables her to combine food science with her passion for helping students reach their highest potential.
Casey Hoff of Falls Church, Virginia
Department of Horticulture
Casey Hoff is obtaining a degree in environmental horticulture with minors in civic agriculture and food systems and international agriculture. Casey, who has excelled academically with dean's list recognition, is the recipient of several scholarships, including the Cyrus H. McCormick Scholarship, the Martha E. Bowman Scholarship, and the Northern Virginia Landscape Association Scholarship. Since arriving at Virginia Tech, Casey has taken advantage of several service opportunities within the horticulture department and beyond. On campus, she served as a sustainable dining intern for Virginia Tech Dining Services, where she helped to promote environmentally minded food choices. As a member of the Horticulture Club, Casey helped to maintain Virginia Tech gardens and volunteered for educational events at schools in the Blacksburg area. She designed a capstone community-action project in partnership with the Hale YMCA garden and Mine, Me, & Us Montessori school, in which part of the garden was transformed into an educational workspace for children. After graduation, Casey will begin working at the New Morning Farm in Pennsylvania.
Julia Workowski of Fincastle, Virginia
Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
Julia Workowski is obtaining a degree in human nutrition, foods, and exercise, as well as a minor in music. On campus, Julia serves as a Virginia Tech group-exercise instructor and student nutrition counselor and helped carry out an ongoing study on athletes and hydration through undergraduate research. As president of Sigma Alpha Lambda, a service, honors, and leadership organization, Julia played an integral part in gathering funds for Botetourt County to purchase new warming containers for their "Grab & Go" breakfast. The internships she has taken part in also speak to her dedication to service and nutrition. Julia has served as a student nutrition intern at the Salem Virginia Medical Center, a teaching assistant for Floyd High School's nutrition and wellness class, and an assistant nutrition educator for the Norfolk City Public Schools' Department of School Nutrition. Julia initially set a career goal of becoming a dietitian in a wellness facility, as it combined her passion for nutrition services and group-exercise instruction. However, after experiencing nutrition opportunities in local schools, Julia realized the need for improved school nutrition. Following graduation, Julia plans on completing a dietetic internship as part of her goal to become a registered dietitian in school nutrition.