Sometimes, great philanthropy starts with small habits. Embracing the spirit of giving and doing so consistently — regardless of the dollar amount — can create the foundation for a lifetime of generosity.

That’s the message Renae Pearson, a 1990 graduate, wants the Virginia Tech community to contemplate for Giving Day 2023. The event begins at noon on Feb. 15 and ends at noon on Feb. 16. The 24-hour celebration is an opportunity for Hokies around the world to make a difference in the lives of Virginia Tech students and faculty members.

Pearson earned her bachelor’s in family and child development in what is now the Department of Human Development and Family Science, and serves on the Virginia Tech Foundation Board and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Dean’s Roundtable. Pearson, along with her husband, J., who earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural and applied economics in 1987, are highly-engaged alumni who give back to the university in numerous ways.

“Everything has to start somewhere, and that’s why it's important for people who are just graduating, and even those who are still in college, to just donate what they can.” Pearson said. “Every little bit helps. Even if it’s $10, in a few years you may be able to donate $100. It builds upon itself, and it becomes a habit that you naturally do.”

This year, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences is introducing the Dean’s Roundtable Challenge. Sponsored by members of the roundtable, which is the dean’s advisory board, the challenge is worth $100,000, and will be unlocked when the college reaches 1,350 donors. Giving Day success is measured in the number of people who give to Virginia Tech, not necessarily the dollar amount.

Tracey Beck, a 1987 alumnus who majored in political science and economics, is also a member of the Dean’s Roundtable, and established the Beck Family Endowed Scholarship in 2021 to provide educational opportunities for underrepresented students in the college.

“I’ve had the good fortune for a number of years now to serve on the Dean’s Roundtable for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and through that experience can personally attest to the passion and dedication of the college toward providing a quality education and positive experience for each student, while at the same time tackling societal challenges that benefit the greater community,” Beck said.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences is composed of 10 academic departments, three schools, and three ROTC programs.

Using the humanities as a guide, students are taught to achieve meaningful solutions to complex human problems, like climate change’s impact on communities and the importance of prison education programs.

“Virginia Tech is not just a tech and engineering school, it’s also a liberal arts school,” said Mason Mulrooney, a senior in the Department of Political Science and vice president of the Class of 2023. “When I first got to Tech, there was this strong sense of community that you could just feel. It was a place to build yourself and be surrounded by people with different opinions, values, and beliefs. And in our college, the programs are very specialized. For example, my major, national security and foreign affairs. Any form of giving and donating can help us specialize even more.”

From mental healthcare access for the LGBTQ+ community, untold stories of U.S. veterans, and the ways technology and the humanities intersect — faculty member’s countless areas of research have a tangible impact on the world.

Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, said she loves Giving Day because it is both a “tremendous opportunity to engage the Hokie Nation,” and an “incredibly fun competition” across the university.

“The fact that it’s not only the amount of money raised but also the number of people who participate that determines the winners is vital,” Belmonte said. “We know how much people love Virginia Tech and we want them to show that however they can. Giving Day provides a variety of ways to demonstrate how much Virginia Tech matters to you.”

For more information about how to give, visit the college’s Giving Day webpage.

Written by Kelsey Bartlett