Mix a double major in microbiology and history, membership in the Honors College, and a passion for LGBTQ advocacy, and you have the makings of a British Marshall Scholar. And Andrew Pregnall should know. Just before graduating in December 2019, the Undergraduate Student of the Year learned he was the first Virginia Tech recipient of the prestigious scholarship in 15 years.

“I’m studying microbiology and history to understand both the biological and social contexts of medicine,” Pregnall says. “You need both to effect change in individuals and in public health.”

Pregnall completed two internships toward this goal: one at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC, and one with the Vanderbilt Program for LGBTQ Health in Nashville, where he educated medical students on LGBTQ cultural competency and health disparities.

“Andrew exemplifies the best of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences,” says Laura Belmonte, dean of the college. “His brilliant, transdisciplinary work and fierce commitment to helping others are the quintessence of what makes Virginia Tech one of the most innovative and unique institutions of higher education in the United States.”

As a Marshall Scholar, Pregnall will study health data analytics at the University of Leeds. Afterward, he plans to attend medical school.

Written and photographed by Leslie King