FLEX is a yearlong, transitional program for first-year students at Virginia Tech that is designed to foster their growth as both individuals and leaders alongside a community of peers and mentors in a diverse and inclusive setting!
○ Identify and reflect upon one’s own strengths, passions, and leadership style
○ Recognize and value the strengths, passions, and leadership styles of others
○ Foster meaningful relationships with peers and develop a support system
○ Develop an understanding of student governance at Virginia Tech
○ Learn ways to effectively work together as a team and accomplish group goals
○ Be challenged to think critically about traditional notions of leaders and leadership
○ Practice civility and develop a broader world view by engaging in dialogue across differences
○ Identify on-campus resources and opportunities
○ Grow personally and professionally
○ Apply the skills gained from the program in a capstone project (more details to follow)
If selected for FLEX, you’ll be exposed to fantastic opportunities for involvement that will help you form connections and get plugged in around the University. Over the years, FLEXers have taken what they’ve learned through the program and assumed leadership roles in organizations on every corner of campus. What are FLEX alumni currently involved in? Take a peek below.
- Orientation Leaders and Assistants
- Relay for Life Executive and Committee Members
- Residence Hall Advisers
- Residence Hall Federation Executive Members
- Registered Student Organization (RSO) Budget Board & Members
- Ring Dance, Ring Design Chair & Committee Members
- Student Alumni Associates Members
- Student Conduct Committee Members
- Student Endowment for Educational Development Members
- Undergraduate Representatives for the Board of Visitors
- University Honors Students
Coming into freshman year, I knew I wanted to get involved quickly and meet people who were excited about making an impact on campus. For me, FLEX was the perfect solution! Through FLEX I was able to grow in my own leadership abilities while also learning more about ways to get involved on campus. We got to participate in some of the biggest events on campus such as Shackathon, Relay for Life, and The Big Event! FLEX connected me with leaders in various organizations on campus and allowed me to discover and pursue my own passions. With what I learned from FLEX, I was able to get involved in organizations I am truly passionate about like Student Alumni Associates and Hokie Ambassadors! I am eternally grateful for this program and the ways that it has strengthened me as a leader and equipped me with the tools necessary to accomplish all that I set my mind to! I strongly recommend applying, even if it seems out of your comfort zone! FLEX is for anyone who wants to grow as a leader and make the most of their time here on campus! The people you will meet are eager to help you in anyway possible and they are friends that will last a lifetime! FLEX truly made Virginia Tech home for me and made my first year better than I could’ve ever imagined!
Caitlin Winner. FLEX Class of 2022
Applying for FLEX is one of the best decisions I have made in my college career!! FLEX taught me valuable, tangible leadership skills, such as active communication, emotional intelligence, and how to follow-up and follow through, and the program helped me find and develop a leadership style that works best for me. FLEX provided me with peer and university connections that I continue to use to this day, and the people I went through FLEX with have become a stronger support system than I could ever have imagined having. I will forever be grateful to the program for helping me discover my passions, for introducing me to some of the best people this university has to offer, and for giving me the tools and confidence to accomplish any goal I set my mind to. I strongly encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in leadership and building themself as a person (which should be everyone!) to apply for FLEX. The program is an incredibly rewarding experience, and it will provide you with knowledge and skills that you will continuously use throughout your time at Virginia Tech and out in the world!!
Matt Schmidheiser. FLEX Class 2020
Coming to Tech, I didn’t know what I had in mind to do during my years as a Hokie.
During high school, I did a lot of student government related activities. As much as I LOVED those experiences, I really wanted to try something new. Honestly, Chocolate Milk Monday Club was the first thing on my mind as well as trying the well reputable food on campus!
But then, I was talking to one of my RAs one night, and she said that one of her favorite experiences at Tech was joining FLEX. Since it was a one year commitment, I figured I’d attend the info session. One of the things that sold me was the fact that you’re surrounded by some of the most ambitious and involved individuals on campus. There was a wide array of knowledge and mentorship from the people who came before me. Plus, they mentioned how this was a great way to make a lot of friends! This really interested me because you are your 5 closest friends. I figured it would make my freshman year a wonderful experience. Perhaps FLEX and the people in it could help shape me into the person I aspire to be.
Fast forward to after the last interview, I was beyond excited to find out that I got into FLEX! The meetings were always fun because it would always be something different. Perhaps, it was a retreat, Christmas/Halloween party, a lesson on vulnerability as a leader, or even exploring annual VT events, such as Ring Premiere! It was also always a great feeling to see the people who are as excited or happy to see you. Beyond the typical meetings, FLEX introduced us to so many opportunities that other current freshman don’t know about! This was really cool because it gives you a slight advantage of how to plan your time here at Tech and gain a greater appreciation for the things that go around campus. There’s a lot to do outside of the meetings too. We’d sometimes see each other after class and grab lunch, play bowling, host a movie night, and so on!
Now, let’s talk about my takeaways from FLEX…
First, like many others will say, I was able to find 29 of my closest friends from this program. Not to say that these people will be your only best friends, but they are people that I cherish and admire a lot. The people you’ll meet in FLEX will constantly AMAZE, INSPIRE, and BE THERE for you. I remembered I had a difficult Spring semester during freshman year since I would constantly fall behind in my classes. Two of my FLEXers ended up helping me catch back up, whether it was helping with a project or teaching me material that was hard for myself to understand. I was so appreciative of such acts because they both didn’t owe me anything, AND I honestly wasn’t the closest to either of them at that time. At the end of the day, they put their commitments aside, whether it was to talk to a long distance significant other or study for another exam, just for me. These are just some of the people you will find in this program. Also, the 30 FLEXers that are chosen are very diverse. You will learn a lot about each other…the different paths everyone took to get here and what you all aspire to be.
Next, I learned a lot about myself and servant leadership that I still utilize today. For example, you realize that a leader on campus, or anywhere, can be anyone. We have FLEXers who did everything in high school to FLEXers who were just great friends / students. That really doesn’t matter at the end of the day because FLEX ends up guiding you to be an impactful leader on campus. The people in it help raise each other up to higher standards. Leadership is raw talent. FLEX provides you with the potential to unlock it.
Finally, FLEX introduces you to a lot of great opportunities and networking. You participate in the biggest events, such as Relay for Life or Shackathon. The best part is that you’re not trying these things alone, but you get to experience it together with your peers. Because of FLEX, I was motivated to run for Class Office, be a part of the Student Alumni Associates, help plan Ring Dance, design products for my class, and various other things!
As cheesy as this sounds, my FLEX class’s takeaway was that FLEX is a Forever Life EXperience. It really is at the end of the day because the people you meet will be the closest to your heart. You’ll take away the things you learned with you wherever you go. Finally, you found a family and home that you’ll always be able to come back to.
I highly encourage you to apply for FLEX, no matter how much leadership experience you have or prior knowledge of this program. It’s literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it will make your 4 or so years here at Tech a wonderful experience. Go Hokies!
Gordan Quach, FLEX Class 2019
Let me start by saying this: being chosen to partake in the First-Year Leadership Experience is among the most significant moments in my life, and is the most important thing I have done in college, but my journey in Blacksburg to where I am today has not always been that smooth. I know what it’s like to be a lost freshman, I know how it feels. We spend four years climbing to the top rung of the high school hierarchy-ladder only to have to start all over again––only this time with a taller ladder. College is such a complex place to begin a new chapter in life, as the sheer number of different opportunities and activities can be incredibly overwhelming. In the sea of options, I found FLEX, or rather, it found me. Over the course of the 30 weeks or so that followed, this program changed the course of my life. Sure, even at the beginning I possessed some characteristics that would serve me well as a leader, but FLEX gave me a supportive environment to refine those skills, and it presented opportunities to apply what I learned. These discoveries were not limited to me as an individual, as our group of 30 contained curious, driven individuals, who were just as eager to learn and grow as I was. With each meeting and every interaction––whether it be with each other, our mentors, or our dedicated directors––we were presented with diverse perspectives that expanded our worldview and partook in conversation filled with life, character, and care.
In my private moments, I reflect on the impact that FLEX has had in my life and what it would be without it. To be frank, it’s no comparison. I don’t know you, reader, but I did not really know the person who got me to apply for FLEX, before I joined. Despite that, I had blind faith in him, and I have never been more thankful to anyone for any other single piece of advice. The First-Year Leadership Experience has made all the difference in my life and in the lives of so many others. This is evident in the diverse organizations past members go on to serve, such as Student Government Association, Class Office, Student Alumni Associates, Relay for Life, Hokie Ambassadors, and Greek Life, among countless others. All that I am on this campus is because of my time in FLEX. Everything ranging from the organizations I have joined after Freshman Year, the deepening in my sense of purpose, and a fundamental understanding of my strengths and weaknesses all came from my time in FLEX. I would not have come to those realizations as early in life had it not been for this organization. So much of what I hold dearest in life––my closest friends, my fondest memories, many thought-provoking conversations and unforgettable experiences––are a direct result of my time in this unparalleled program. There is no organization on Tech’s campus quite like FLEX. It is safe to say that I would not be the man I am today without this irreplaceable part of my first year at Virginia Tech. I implore each and every one of you reading this to give applying for the First-Year Leadership Experience serious thought.
Darrel Mansah, FLEX Class 2019
In high school, I served as the President of SGA where my passion for the organization culminated. When I visited Virginia Tech my senior year of high school, I made it a point to visit the SGA office to see how I could get involved as a first-year student. Everyone in the office was excited to share with me a program called, “FLEX.” I knew I would apply for FLEX if I went to Virginia Tech. When I got to campus in August 2017, I was immediately homesick and wanted to transfer to be closer to home. Coming from a small town outside of Pittsburgh, I was eager to step outside of my comfort zone and begin a new journey. I left my family, friends, and the people closest to me. Yet, I quickly felt as if I was forcing myself to fit into a place I did not identify with. I felt lonely, nervous, and very unsure of myself. I could not understand why the people surrounding me were so in love with Virginia Tech. Simply, I did not recognize the power of the Hokie spirit. In turn, I faced a constant battle to transfer schools or not.
When I applied for FLEX, it gave me hope. I sought a support system that would instill the confidence in me to discover my purpose at Virginia Tech. When I found out I was accepted into the program I was ecstatic! I had no idea the journey that was about to begin from that moment forward. FLEX completely transformed my life and has shaped my entire experience at VT thus far. I owe it to FLEX for shaping me into the leader, mentor, and friend that I am today.
Hands down, my first semester at Virginia Tech was one of the most difficult times in my life. FLEX gave me the opportunity to discover my potential through challenging me to explore leadership concepts, learn from mentors, and build lasting friendships. The other FLEXers in my class have been the greatest support system for me at Virginia Tech. From studying at Newman Library to grabbing Sunday brunch at Gillies, I know I can count on my friends to be by my side. From crying at Deets to participating in Relay for Life, FLEX has been the greatest experience of my college career.
Applying for FLEX was the best decision that I could have made as an unsure first-year student. FLEX is a unique lifelong experience that goes beyond just your first year. I have been able to use my experiences to give back to the program through being a mentor. Each of us has a unique journey, but we are all bound by the common Hokie thread. As a FLEX mentor, I have been able to influence students to embrace their own journey. When I see my mentees on campus, I light up when I see them chasing their goals and achieving great things. I love Virginia Tech and I am proud to be a Hokie. FLEX was just the right foundation that I needed as a first-year student. It could be yours too!
Lots of love,
Jules Jones, FLEX Class 2021