Self-understanding and Integrity
"Constantly seek out ways to make yourself and others around you better." That is the simple philosophy Amanda McGrath from Springfield, Vt., a senior majoring in history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Studies, employs in her daily life as a student, scholar, and member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.
When she was selected to participate in the 2011 Olmsted Foundation’s undergraduate overseas travel and cultural immersion program, McGrath had never been outside the United States. The Olmsted program allows future officers to acquire an in-depth understanding of foreign cultures, further equipping them to serve in positions of responsibility as leaders in the Armed Forces. As an international traveler for the first time, McGrath embarked on a two week trip to Panama in May 2011. It was a learning experience she says changed her life. "It highlighted important skills and knowledge needed to be a well-rounded military officer in our current global environment," she said.
As McGrath and her fellow travelers absorbed Panamanian culture, language, and history, they got a behind-the-scenes look at the American embassy and toured the Panama Canal. "We got a sense of past US presence and how proud the Panamanians are that they have full sovereignty of their country and control over their country’s most valuable landmark."
A service trip to a children’s mission in Colon on the Caribbean Sea coast gave McGrath what she called the most humbling experience of her life. "The children there taught me more Spanish than I had ever learned in a classroom. Working at the mission really made me stop and think about how much we take for granted and how far a little bit of work can go," she said.
A well–recognized and decorated cadet, McGrath commands a battalion of more than 300 cadets this semester. "It is challenging, leading your peers, but extremely rewarding and an excellent opportunity to learn about and practice my leadership."
For her willingness to experience, explore, and understand the values and principles her community and the many cultures she will encounter as an Air Force officer, McGrath was recognized with an Aspire! Award for pursuing Self–understanding and Integrity.
Tricia Smith – Ut Prosim