Vince Vasudevan read the words and his mom started jumping.

“She had told me not to worry if I got rejected. We’ll move on to the next option,’” said Vasudevan. “When I told her I got accepted, she just jumped and said, ‘Oh my gosh, you got into Virginia Tech!’”

Vasudevan smiles when recounting the day. He remembers seeing the joy on the faces of his niece and nephew, the “most diehard Hokie fans” he knows. He remembers thinking, “I got into the school I wanted.”

Vince Vasudevan shortly after learning he’d been accepted to Virginia Tech as a Beyond Boundaries Scholar recipient. Vasudevan stands in front of a white board offering congratulations while holding a congratulatory card and standing next to a family member.
Vince Vasudevan celebrates with his family after learning he’d been accepted to Virginia Tech as a Beyond Boundaries Scholar recipient. Photo courtesy of Vince Vasudevan.

Virginia Tech offered everything Vasudevan desired: challenging classes, a stunning campus, stalwart faculty. The university also presented Vasudevan with the support he needed to succeed.

Vasudevan is a proud member of the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program. The initiative doubles the impact of qualifying scholarship gifts that help underrepresented and high-achieving students. Each gift is matched dollar for dollar by the university.

Now a senior at Virginia Tech, Vasudevan is poised to graduate with a transdisciplinary education. He’s majoring in history with two minors, one in physics and the other in national security and foreign affairs.

He credits the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program for helping him make lifelong connections at Virginia Tech.

He points to one of his earliest — and fondest — memories of the program as an example: a banquet for all Beyond Boundaries scholars. The experience brought him out of his shell when he recognized a fellow student from class.

“We both kind of looked at each other, like, what are you doing here? And a friendship blossomed from there,” he said. “The Beyond Boundaries Scholars program gives you so many connections to other Virginia Tech students. Being able to link up with other people who are passionate about learning and passionate about subjects you’re interested in is just a great experience.”

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Vasudevan also values the connections he’s made with faculty. The educators he’s met have demonstrated an authentic desire to understand his interests and help him craft a plan for his career.

Richard Hirsh, a professor in the Department of History, has served as a key mentor.

History majors don’t often pursue a minor in physics. Initially, Vasudevan only wanted to pursue the science degree. “Then midway through my sophomore year, I realized I missed writing,” he said. “And I thought, Okay, how can I combine my love of writing and history with physics? And is there a path for integrating national security?”

Vasudevan has taken two classes taught by Hirsh, including one focusing on the history of technology.

Through conversations with his professor, Vasudevan learned Hirsh holds a master’s degree in physics along with a doctorate in the history of science.

“When I told him I was minoring in physics, he said, ‘You’re getting the best of both worlds,’” Vasudevan said.

Vasudevan has pursued opportunities to sharpen his broad set of skills. He completed two projects for the Diplomacy Lab, a public-private partnership that allows the U.S. Department of State to harness the efforts of students and faculty experts at universities across the nation.

Vince Vasudevan stands behind the podium of his classroom where he served as a teaching assistant. Photo by Mary Crawford for Virginia Tech.
Vince Vasudevan behind the podium of his classroom where he served as a teaching assistant. Photo by Mary Crawford for Virginia Tech.

He also serves as a department assistant and an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Department of Political Science, working with another mentor, Collegiate Assistant Professor Courtney Thomas.

Vasudevan has a strong interest in the intelligence field. He’s director of outreach for the Strategic Intelligence Organization at Virginia Tech, which helps students interested in national security prepare for jobs in the intelligence community.

Outside of the classroom, Vasudevan continues to challenge himself. He’s a member of the Obstacle Course Racing Club at Virginia Tech and competes in races.

“About midway through my first big race, I thought I wasn’t in the best shape to do it. But I didn’t want to give up, and I told myself the only way forward was through the finish line,” he said. “I’ll never forget that wave of euphoria crossing the finish line.”

Vince Vasudevan competes in an obstacle course race. Photo shows Vasudevan competing in the climbing portion of the race with the United States of America flag in the backgroud.
Vince Vasudevan competes in an obstacle course race. Photo courtesy of Vince Vasudevan.

As for the future, Vasudevan said he’s interested in pursuing a career in government. 

“I like working toward a fulfilling purpose, whether it be impacting people in positive ways or preventing bad people from doing bad things,” he said. “I’m just grateful for the experiences I’ve had at Virginia Tech and all of the faculty who have helped me along the way.”

The Virginia Tech community can help students like Vasudevan pursue education and fulfilling careers in many ways, including the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program.

Written by Andrew Adkins