Minoka Gunesekera

Pursue SELF-UNDERSTANDING and INTEGRITY


Minoka GunesekeraIn her ongoing efforts to answer the tough questions about what she believes and why, Minoka Gunesekera of Blacksburg, Va., a junior majoring in urban affairs and planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, asks herself often: Who am I and what do I value? How will what I value shape who I become? Through her pursuit of self-understanding and integrity, Gunesekera has discovered her passion in the place where her faith intersects with the world’s needs, particularly in the area of social justice. "I have a passion for serving," she said. "I love helping others and giving of my time and abilities to empower young people to love life."

Last summer, she interned at the non-profit Faith and Politics Institute in Washington, D.C., fulfilling the organization’s mission to bridge racial, religious, and political divisions while promoting reflective and ethical leadership. She would like to continue her work in community development. "I have a desire to travel to Africa and give the women and children of that continent a real fighting chance at success."

Noted for her intentional and affirmative engagement with people, Gunesekera was recognized with an Aspire! Award for pursuing and demonstrating her own genuine identity and values. "As a transfer student I learned to find my place at Virginia Tech by going back to what I loved the most," she said. "Instead of trying to join every club and be a part of everything, I decided to focus my time on organizations that meant a lot to me and where I could use my leadership skills." Gunesekera serves as vice president of the Virginia Tech Wesley Foundation, as Bible study co-leader for the Blacksburg United Methodist Church, as a mentor for local high school students, and as a valued student worker in the Division of Student Affairs’ Housing and Residence Life office.

"I love learning and soaking up anything – both in and out of the classroom – that college has to offer me," Gunesekera said. She attributes her upbeat attitude to the ability to remember the little things. "Sometimes we live such busy lives that we forget to savor the little moments and each day affirm our loved ones as treasures in our lives."


2017-2018 Aspirations Breakfasts*

December 1, 2017
Owens Banquet Room, 8-10 a.m.

*Registration is required to attend the Breakfast.


Aspire! Awards History


Past Recipients

October 27, 2017 Recipients

Students
Jordan Kuhn - Curiosity
Joseph Walker - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Harley Curran - Civility
Fahad Ashraf - Courageous Leadership
Julia Monroe - Ut Prosim

Faculty/Staff
Laurie Fritsch – Curiosity

April 21, 2017 Recipients

Students
Bobby Hollingsworth - Curiosity
Annemarie Bresson - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Christopher Bardo - Civility
Nala Chehade - Courageous Leadership
Elizabeth Galbreath - Ut Prosim

Faculty/Staff
Hillary KovacsUt Prosim

Alumni
Robert and Kara JuliusUt Prosim
Jerry Colyer [posthumous award] – Ut Prosim

March 17, 2017 Recipients

Students
Mitch Clements - Curiosity
Samantha Nichole DiBiaso - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Maria Jernigan - Civility
Manjot Kaur - Courageous Leadership
Stephen Pistoia, Jr. - Ut Prosim

Faculty/Staff
Lt. Tony Haga – Courageous Leadership

February 17, 2017 Recipients

Students
Danielle Jeffers - Curiosity
Colleen McGovern - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Min Kyung “Julie” Sim - Civility
Lamont “Gucci” Livingston - Courageous Leadership
Jacob Long - Ut Prosim

Faculty/Staff
Alece Alderson – Civility

November 4, 2016 Recipients

Students
Rhiannon Hasenauer - Ut Prosim
Zack Sever - Civility
David Gardner - Courageous Leadership
Zachary Hoopes - Curiosity
Bridger Johnson - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Faculty/Staff
Jon Fritsch – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 7, 2016 Recipients

Students
Zachariah Ewen - Ut Prosim
Jordan Evans - Civility
Megan Lee Myklegard - Courageous Leadership
Alex Hamilton - Curiosity
Bryan Faulkner - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Faculty/Staff
Catherine Cotrupi – Curiosity

April 22, 2016 Recipients
Students
Samantha Hall - Ut Prosim
Charelle Berry - Civility
Audrey Semel - Courageous
Leadership
Jess King - Curiosity
Mike Schoka - Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Faculty/Staff
Frances KeeneUt Prosim

Alumni
John GrahamUt Prosim

March 18, 2016 Recipients
Students
Joe Frazier – Civility
Nina Miller – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Jacob Rosenthal – Curiosity
Haley BurgessUt Prosim
Tanushri Shankar – Courageous
Leadership

Faculty/Staff
Susan Anderson – Courageous
Leadership

February 19, 2016 Recipients
Students
Javier González-Rocha – Self-Understanding and Integrity
Obaid Rehman – Civility
Claire Kelling – Courageous
Leadership
Meghan McLoughlinUt Prosim
Erica Nagotko – Curiosity

Faculty/Staff
Anthony Purcell – Civility

November 13, 2015 Recipients
Students
Kelsi Faley – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Nivedha Balan – Civility
Rachel Cotton – Courageous
Leadership
Ryan HopkinsUt Prosim
Caroline Amodeo – Curiosity

Faculty/Staff
Gladys Sartin– Self-Understanding
and Integrity

October 2, 2015 Recipients
Students
Walter Gonsiewski – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Seyi Olusina – Civility
Skyler Mueller – Courageous
Leadership
Anastasia MatusiewiczUt Prosim
Natasha Laramie – Curiosity

Faculty/Staff
Vera Kidd – Curiosity

April, 2015 Recipients
Students
Ankit Saigal – Curiosity
Baker Martin – Courageous
Leadership
Nicole Selz
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Brett MontagueUt Prosim
Conor Cosgrove – Civility

Faculty/Staff
Residence Life Resource Officer John TarterUt Prosim

Alumni
Robby MoserUt Prosim

March, 2015 Recipients
Students
Juan de la Rosa Diaz – Courageous
Leadership
Jamaica Sykes – Curiosity
Luke Birch
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jake VoorheesUt Prosim
Turki Saad Al-Zahrani – Civility

Faculty/Staff
Captain Jim Snyder – Courageous Leadership

February, 2015 Recipients
Students
Catherine Goggins – Courageous
Leadership
Allison Laclede – Curiosity
Samuel Aguilar Chavez
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Larissa PeraraUt Prosim
Lauren Cashman – Civility

Faculty/Staff
Jay Read – Civility

November 14, 2014 Recipients
Students
Andrew George – – Courageous
Leadership
Esther Moon – Curiosity
Kaleigh Leal – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Stephen Bennett Ut Prosim
Philip Norman – Civility

Faculty/Staff
Scott Busiel – Self–understanding and Integrity

October 3, 2014 Recipients
Students
Patrick AckerUt Prosim
Ethan Poole – Civility
Danielle Smalls – Courageous
Leadership
Emily Neer – Curiosity
Austin Dickey – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Faculty/Staff
Robin Boucher – Curiosity

April 25, 2014 Recipients
Students
Brent AshleyUt Prosim
Anna Isserow – Civility
Daniel Evans – Courageous
Leadership
Jacalyn Polis – Curiosity
Neal Moriconi – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Faculty/Staff
Tricia SmithUt Prosim

March 21, 2014 Recipients
Students
Meredith Cahill
Natasha Chadha
Wes Williams
Emma Cohen
Emily Blair

Faculty/Staff
Belinda Pauley

February 21, 2014 Recipients
Students
Meghan Gilliam
Steven Gethard
Kylie Gilbert
Ashley Taylor
Emily Brown

Faculty/Staff
Kelley Woods-Johnson

November 8, 2013 Recipients
Students
Jordan Disney
Kelly Berry
Daniel Pierce-Parra
Anusha Rizvi
Camryn Sorg

Faculty/Staff
Lyndsy Manz

October 11, 2013 Recipients
Students
Rob Grimm
John Turbyfill
Brendan Craig
Thomas Friss
Chris Atkins

Faculty/Staff
Meredith Hampton