Doctoral student Sanam Aksha — who is studying risk and environmental hazards in the college’s geospatial and environmental analysis program — learned in late April that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake had leveled his hometown of Tupche in central Nepal. Aksha’s village of 1,200 people, about an hour’s drive from Kathmandu, was devastated, with homes, the high school, the office of village development, and a public health center all destroyed.

Aksha, president Virginia Tech’s Nepalese Student Association, led a fundraising drive that raised $5,000 for relief efforts. The group, consisting of about 150 students, asked for donations in booths on campus and designated half of the proceeds from its annual, internationally themed Color War event for Hokies for Nepal. The university has earmarked an additional $30,000 to support Virginia Tech student organizations, research projects, and faculty initiatives aiding reconstruction efforts.

With the money raised by the students, Aksha said, “We distributed CGI [corrugated galvanized iron] sheets, which are used as roofing material, for 86 households in Tupche village to construct temporary or transitional shelters.”

Aksha, whose immediate family is safe in Kathmandu, says it will probably take at least 10 years for his village to return to normal. He plans to finish his doctoral program in 2018 and return to Nepal, possibly to teach at the university level or to work for a development or research organization. In the meantime, he plans to continue raising money to rebuild the school in his village.