Having lived through Snowmageddon 2015, a massive winter storm that socked New England, freshman Jacob Bukow is majoring in meteorology so he can help predict killer storms and help save life, limb, and property. “I wanted to attend Virginia Tech’s top-ranked program, even though there are a lot of miles between my home and here,” said Bukow of Whitman, Massachusetts. The Beyond Boundaries Scholars program helped him cover those additional costs.

Bukow is among 130 members of Virginia Tech’s Class of 2021 to benefit from the new scholarships designed to reduce cost as a barrier to enrollment for underrepresented and high-achieving students. For many of the recipients, including the five pursuing their career goals in the college, the Beyond Boundaries scholarships were pivotal to their decision to attend Virginia Tech.

Celeste Rogers of Centreville, Virginia, who looked to stay in state, sought out the college’s meteorology and geospatial information science programs. “I wouldn’t be here without the Beyond Boundaries scholarship. Now I’m able to pursue a degree in a subject I find incredibly important to both myself and the world.”

Virginia Tech would have been out of reach for George Wenn III, a first-generation college student from Newport News, Virginia. “The scholarship allows me to go to this amazing school, further my education, and pursue my outdoor interests,” said Wenn, an outdoor enthusiast majoring in wildlife conservation.

USA Today College Edition’s ranking of Virginia Tech as having the nation’s No. 1 natural resources and conservation program attracts the attention of many prospective students, among them Patrick Wicklein of Towson, Maryland. “I knew if I could find an additional way to afford it, I would come here,” said Wicklein, a fish conservation major.

Wildlife conservation major Caroline Ilse of Gastonia, North Carolina, said, “I was over the moon when I received this scholarship, because it meant that I could go here. This scholarship is what ultimately made the decision for me. It relieves a lot of the stress of paying so much for out-of- state tuition.”

College alumni Mike Melo (’79 B.S.) and John Harrison (’67 B.S.) are among the dozens of donors who funded Beyond Boundaries scholarships. Through the program, Virginia Tech matched up to 165 qualifying gifts made through at least the end of 2017, doubling their impact.

“My wife and I firmly believe in the value of education, and as we looked at the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program we realized it gives students an opportunity to attend Virginia Tech who otherwise might not have one,” said Melo, who along with his spouse, Kathryn Melo, runs the defense contracting business ITA International.

“The critical thinking that I learned at Virginia Tech has been a key element in my success as a Navy officer and as a business owner. We just want these young men and women to have the same educational opportunity that I did at Virginia Tech,” he added.

John Harrison explained, “My wife and I had talked about doing something for the college. Why? Because I look back and I look forward. I look back on my education at Virginia Tech. I felt I got a good education in forestry and had a career I enjoyed and was successful at it. I look forward with the understanding that there are some academically qualified individuals who could use financial support to achieve their career goals.”

“For me, the matching aspect made it a win-win situation. It doubles the contribution, and that is what sold us on it,” Harrison continued. “I encourage people to consider making their donations through the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program. It doubles the effect of what you give, which is a tremendous aspect of it. Then continue donating to it in 2018 and beyond.”

Read more about the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program here.