Rachel Cotton

Prepare for a life of COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP

Rachel CottonIt took attending one presentation at one conference for Rachel Cotton to decide to take action against gender-based violence.

As a member and leader of the Gamma Phi Beta chapter at Virginia Tech, Rachel attended Gamma Phi Beta's Leadership Academy for chapter presidents earlier this year. There, her eyes were opened to the gender-based and sexual violence that was hitting too close to home. She contacted advisors in Fraternity and Sorority Life who connected her with the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech and Title IX investigators within the Division of Student Affairs.

She immediately began to dialogue and engage in difficult conversations with her peers within her own organization as well as the Greek community as a whole. Rachel described her motivation best when she said, “I was made aware of an issue that has affected the people I care about and decided to do something about it.”

Recognizing that learning doesn’t just occur outside the classroom either, Rachel approached academic faculty about participating in relevant research regarding sexual and gender-based violence. Her project is geared toward men, taking a proactive approach to sexual assault education by working with fraternity members.

Her nominator said, “Finding someone who is so willing to step up to deal with the difficult topics related to sexual violence so boldly does not happen every day. Bringing these subjects up with peers is not something that typically leads to popularity and accolades. In fact – unfortunately, even on a campus like ours – involvement in these conversations can have the opposite effect. I am confident that Rachel is aware of this stigma, and yet that has never once daunted her desire to speak out and work for change. She continues to push her friends, her organization, our community, and this institution to address the topics of violence with courage.”

And, if fighting against sexual violence wasn’t enough, Rachel fights fires, too. Actual fires! Two recruiters came to her high school back in 2010, and her friend who was interested in the volunteer program dragged Rachel along. Rachel was hooked, and her friend ended up doing acapella instead.

Since May of 2010, Rachel has volunteered with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. She began as a hazardous materials operator, transitioned to a role as an EMT, and, since May of 2011, now serves as a firefighter. She has logged over 4,000 hours with the department and says that she found her voice from growing up in the firehouse. She said, “I can’t imagine who I would’ve grown up to be if I hadn’t joined the fire department.”

At Virginia Tech, Rachel serves as Panhellenic Affairs Vice President for Gamma Phi Beta, is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta professional fraternity, and a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars.

This month, Rachel will travel to Vancouver, Canada to present at the National Council on Family Relations conference on the topic of “Eradicating Sexual Violence on College Campuses: Putting Patriarchy in its Place.” A senior, she’s majoring in sociology with minors in leadership and social change and political science.

There’s nothing more courageous than standing up against injustice, Rachel. For your indomitable spirit and unyielding tenacity, we're pleased to present the Aspire! Award for COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP to Rachel Cotton.

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

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

Laurie Fritsch – Curiosity

April 21, 2017 Recipients

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

Hillary KovacsUt Prosim

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

March 17, 2017 Recipients

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

Lt. Tony Haga – Courageous Leadership

February 17, 2017 Recipients

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

Alece Alderson – Civility

November 4, 2016 Recipients

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

Jon Fritsch – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 7, 2016 Recipients

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

Catherine Cotrupi – Curiosity

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

Frances KeeneUt Prosim

John GrahamUt Prosim

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

Susan Anderson – Courageous

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

Anthony Purcell – Civility

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

Gladys Sartin– Self-Understanding
and Integrity

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

Vera Kidd – Curiosity

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

Residence Life Resource Officer John TarterUt Prosim

Robby MoserUt Prosim

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

Captain Jim Snyder – Courageous Leadership

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

Jay Read – Civility

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

Scott Busiel – Self–understanding and Integrity

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

Robin Boucher – Curiosity

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

Tricia SmithUt Prosim

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

Belinda Pauley

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

Kelley Woods-Johnson

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

Lyndsy Manz

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

Meredith Hampton