Rial Tombes
Ut Prosim


Rial Tombes There are many famous quotes about that almost mystical connection between food and community.

  • American chef James Beard said, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience."
  • Writer George Bernard Shaw opined, "There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
  • And tenor Luciano Pavarotti said, "One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."

With characteristic candor, Rial Tombes puts it more succinctly. When asked what her passion is, she replied, "Playing in the dirt and then cooking a delicious meal for friends and family." Her commitment to bringing her community access to healthy foods, to sustainability, and to raising awareness of food issues on campus, take civic engagement to a new level.

Tombes is a senior majoring in environmental policy and planning, with a minor in civic agriculture and food systems. She is a visionary thinker who is well respected by her peers, faculty and community. As a sophomore, Tombes started the On Campus Farmers Market, a project to connect students with local vendors and the Blacksburg Farmers Market. She organizes community meals with local faith-based organizations, promoting access to healthy food, and creating opportunities for dialogue between faculty, students, and community members. She is active in the Sustainable Food Corps, the Environmental Coalition, and is a student liaison for Virginia Tech's award-winning dining services and the Kentland Farms dining services garden. She devoted her spring breaks to service through Heifer International. And she worked to establish the 15-acre Hale YMCA Community Garden, which provides space for organic gardening, exploration of environmentally-based community projects, and environmental education through shared work, shared conversation, and shared learning.

Tombes' advice is simple. "Be confident in yourself first," she said. "You can accomplish anything."

This has been a busy year for Tombes, and one that represents the capstone to her long record of service. She organized Food Day at Virginia Tech last fall. And this spring she spearheaded the first ever Student Foodshed Summit. Both of these events enhanced the visibility of local food efforts and the role that students at Virginia Tech can play in supporting local, healthy food systems.

Her nominator wrote, "Rial's creative leadership ability and unassuming persona have resulted in a ripple effect with students when it comes to cultivating civic engagement around community food systems. Rial is a unique and multidimensional individual who challenges all of us to live more responsibly and with integrity. When Rial graduates this May, her volunteerism legacy will inspire others to serve."

For her dedication to the well-being of her peers, her campus, and her community; for her focus and energy; and for the strong work ethic that drives her to get the job done, the Aspire! Award for Ut Prosim is presented to Rial Tombes.


2015-2016 Aspirations Breakfasts*
February 19, 2016
March 18, 2016
April 22, 2016
Owens Banquet Room, 8-10 a.m.

*Registration is required to attend the Breakfast.


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

Glady Sartin – Self-Understanding
      and Integrity

Past Recipients


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