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Hokie Ambassadors share the scoop on being Virginia Tech's tour guides

The Hokie Ambassadors often serve as the first impression of Virginia Tech for prospective students and their families. Around 130 students are part of the organization, volunteering their time to give campus tours – and leave guests with a sense of what the Hokie Nation really is all about.

Below, some Hokie Ambassadors from the 2012-13 cohort share some of their embarrassing tour moments as well as what they love most about Virginia Tech.

Name: John Albonetti
Year: Junior
Major: Civil engineering
College: College of Engineering
Hometown: Garden City, N.Y.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “The second tour I ever gave by myself happened to be on a very windy day. Before we walked up the stairs that go under the bridge that connects Pamplin Hall and Robeson Hall, I jokingly said, ‘This is one of the wind tunnels on campus and someone might get blown over.’ As we were walking up the stairs, a wind gust actually did manage to knock a woman over. Fortunately she was unharmed, but everyone on that tour probably thinks it is a regular occurrence under that bridge now.”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “Getting to live in a beautiful mountain town for eight months of the year is a great change from the suburbs of New York City that I've lived in all my life. Couple that with the incredibly tight-knit community that somehow has developed out of a school with 30,000 people and the limitless opportunities available, I've got a place that I'm proud to call my second home. It offers so much more than ‘just an education,’ giving everyone a chance to expand their boundaries into things that they would never have become involved in otherwise.”

Name: Danielle Amin
Year: Junior
Major: Human development
College: College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Hometown: Herndon, Va.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “I'm a new guide this year, so I haven't had much of an opportunity for embarrassing things to happen to me while on a tour. This isn't all that embarrassing, but I thought it was hilarious. One of my first tours, a prospective student and his dad hung back to ask me a few questions at the end of the tour. His dad had standard parent questions about academics, student life, and safety. After answering the questions, the dad began to wander back to the bus, but the son hung back to ask me one more question. He wanted to know if the girls at Virginia Tech were attractive. He said he was picking between here and another school up I-81 that was notorious for having a, uh, thriving female population. I was really taken aback by this question, being a girl myself, and just couldn't help slightly chuckling. I told him that he would probably be able to find the girl of his dreams wherever he went to school, and he should focus on the school itself to see if that was the right fit for him. He smiled and agreed with me, but told me that he and his dad would probably take a more extended tour that afternoon around the residential side of campus so he could start his dream girl search early.”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “I try to convey this on every single tour I give, but the thing that I love most about Virginia Tech is that it is so much more than a university. Virginia Tech is an interconnected community, and, as Hokies, we are family to one another. The summer before my freshman year, before I had spent one day on Blacksburg's campus as a student, I was on a family trip on a cruise to Alaska. I had my Virginia Tech sweatshirt on as I was roaming around the ship. A man who had been at Virginia Tech in the 1970’s stopped me. He was so excited for me to start my journey as a Hokie, sharing his own Hokie experiences with me, completely across the country from Blacksburg, which we both had come to consider home. I love Virginia Tech for many reasons, but the Hokie Nation makes us all family. No matter if we're in Blacksburg collectively losing our voices in Lane Stadium or if we're on a cruise to Alaska, maroon and orange runs in our veins.”

Name: Tommy Bond
Year: Senior
Major: Biological sciences
College: College of Science
Hometown: Windsor, Va.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “It was my first tour that I was giving all by myself since becoming a Hokie Ambassador, and in my intro I always tell the group to let me know if I'm about to run into anything. Needless to say, my group was not very vocal. I ended up running into a pole in between a set of doors and the entire group just laughed. I thanked them for looking out for me and successfully played it off like my head wasn't throbbing for the rest of the tour.”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “I absolutely love the sense of Hokie Spirit embedded in every student here. It definitely goes much deeper than just wearing our school colors and cheering on our football team, because I know for a fact that here at Virginia Tech we are a family and we are always looking out for others.”

Name: Shoma Ghosh
Year: Senior
Major: Economics
College: College of Science
Hometown: Glen Allen, Va.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “I once had a tour with a very energetic five year old, probably the younger sibling of a prospective student. He was adorable, and more interest in Virginia Tech than anyone else in the group. When I started describing a Hokie Passport, he asked to see mine. I took it out and when he saw it he said, ‘I think you might have accidentally taken your brother's card instead of yours.’ I don't show my Hokie passport to my groups anymore.”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “The sense of community.”

Name: Michael Graham
Year: Sophomore
Major: Biological sciences
College: College of Science
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “On my first solo tour, I ran into a table in McComas Hall and tripped at the bottom of the stairs near Williams. I also almost ran into a truck that was parked on the Drillfield sidewalk. Walking backwards can be extremely difficult sometimes.”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “The Hokie Nation and community. Enough said.”

Name: Anthony Malizia
Year: Senior
Major: Finance
College: Pamplin College of Business
Hometown: State College, Penn.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “During a tour, I was strolling backwards when a friend shouted hi to me, then went on to say, ‘Hey Anthony, you should shower.’ My group had a mix of laughter and disgust on their face. I told them he was joking. Then five minutes later another friend saw me and screamed, ‘Hey Anthony, did you shower?’ By the end of the tour, I had about four friends scream to me about how I should shower. I was pretty embarrassed and began to think I really did smell. My group of parents and students really did not know what to think of my hygiene, but I think they laughed about it at the end. Now at the beginning of every tour I tell my group I showered and brushed my teeth this morning just in case my friends plan to prank me again.”

Name: Reggie Pinder
Year: Senior
Major: Human nutrition, foods, and exercise
College: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Hometown: Fredericksburg, Va.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “During my very first solo tour, I nailed my intro, and everything started to flow really well. At this point, I was really confident, until I found myself standing in front of the LOCKED model-room door we show all the guests. I had practiced my material over and over but at no point looked at the code that opens the door. I stood there and stared at the four combination buttons hoping it would click in my head and we could continue, but that didn’t happen. Luckily for me, another tour was coming in behind me a few minutes later and that guide opened the door for me. The second my tour finished, I got a sharpie and wrote the code on my nametag so I wouldn’t forget it.”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “My favorite thing to highlight each tour is how strong the Hokie Nation is. Whether it is an alumnus giving an extra football ticket to a student or one Hokie helping another find a job, the Hokie Nation is huge and is always there to help.”

Name: Ellis Anne Sahhar
Year: Junior
Major: Human development
College: College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Most embarrassing tour moment: “One time, I was leading a special tour with about 20 people from Saudi Arabia. About halfway through the tour they found out that I am half Lebanese and kept asking me if I knew how to speak any Arabic. I told them I only knew a few words and they got me to say ‘Grandmother and grandfather’ in Arabic. With my southern accent, I definitely butchered it. For the rest of the tour they kept laughing about it and making fun of me!”
What you love most about Virginia Tech: “The sense of community and family with all the other Hokies world wide. Hands down.”


News Contact

Alison Matthiessen
Communications Manager
Email: amatthiessen@vt.edu
Phone: 540-231-5682