This I Believe…

I believe I did not deserve to get into Virginia Tech.

It’s true. I didn’t. I looked up the statistics, and I had the lowest GPA of any student that was accepted to Tech out of my high school. I wasn’t involved in any impressive organizations either. I believed going into my freshman year that the only reason I got in was because I was a legacy. Over the next four years, I would have to prove that I belonged.

Curiosity

Freshman year was intimidating. While Virginia Tech was a family school, I still felt out of place. As many other freshmen do, I explored the variety of organizations on campus and ultimately decided to join a fraternity my first semester. But I wanted it to be more than a group of friends — I wanted to be involved. I started off as pledge class treasurer, which ended up being the beginning of a multitude of leadership opportunities that my fraternity would offer me. I was busier than most freshmen, and my older friends assured me I was going along the right path. However, I still felt I didn’t belong.

Self-Understanding & Integrity

Sophomore year, I spent my time focusing on academics. My first year was busier than I anticipated, and my grades suffered accordingly. I devoted myself to a new regiment of studying, and I spent a lot more time alone at the Empo working on accounting homework than I did with friends. It was hard for me at times, but as a natural introvert, I enjoyed the quiet time I had to myself. It also allowed me to reflect a lot on the experiences I had in college up to that point. I feel that I matured a lot that semester, and my hard work paid off. I got straight A’s that year. However, I still felt I didn’t belong.

Civility

Junior year was the year I devoted myself to my career. Like most college students, I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. I needed to learn how to transform myself from a college student into a professional. I was in the bubble of Blacksburg and in two years’ time I would be in a far more diverse environment. I spent a lot of time that Fall networking with companies — learning from professionals how people with diverse backgrounds connect and work together in large firms. Fast forward to the Spring, I signed on to intern with EY. I felt a strong sense of pride from such an achievement. However, I still felt I didn’t belong.

Courageous Leadership

Senior year has been different than the others. I signed a full time job offer in August, so there was no longer the immense pressure to succeed in the classroom. Instead, I spent my time looking to my younger residents in my residential advisor role. I devoted myself to their personal growth by sharing my experiences and the lessons I had learned along the way. In the recent months, there have been plenty of bumps, but even with my most troubled residents, I have seen them mature in ways I didn’t think possible. After seeing the positive impact I had on those young Hokies, I finally felt I belonged.

Ut Prosim

I went three years with that subtle feeling that I didn’t deserve to be at Virginia Tech, but through living out the Aspirations of Student Learning, that eventually changed. Virginia Tech not only made me a part of its community, but it has also inspired me to be more and do more for those around me.

 

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Who is Brendan Cafferky?

My Story

My name is Brendan Cafferky and I am prepared for a life of courageous leadership. The reason I say ‘prepared’ instead of ‘preparing’ is because, as a graduating senior, I genuinely believe I am ready to take the next step. I have been fortunate to have all the opportunities that I did here at Tech — each one preparing me for life after college in unique ways that I did not expect.

Inside the classroom, I am finance major with specialization in corporate finance. I chose this path because it combined the logic of calculus and algebra with the intense problem solving of economics. With the knowledge I have gained, I hope to go into business strategy consulting — helping companies raise capital and position themselves in the right markets so they can be successful. I will be doing similar work on a lower level at EY next year as a Business Advisor Associate. In the later stages of my career, I hope to transition into education, possibly teaching high school courses on algebra or financial literacy. I have always loved mathematics, but I am very passionate about equipping younger generations with the knowledge of personal finance.

Outside the classroom, I am many things. I am a fraternity man, a community builder, a confidant, a voice of reason, and a role model. Most of these roles I picked up on accident. Coming into college, I knew I was going to join Pi Kappa Phi. My brother, Nick, had been in the chapter as an undergraduate, and seeing how an organization was able to provide such a stable support system for him as a quadriplegic really inspired me. I knew joining would help me have a fun college experience, but I had no idea what other opportunities I was going to be provided.

During my time in Pi Kappa Phi, I have served in many positions. I was the standards chair, who ensured our members’ actions were aligning with our values; I was also the risk management chair, who helped our fraternity followed the guidelines of our school and national organization to secure the longevity of the chapter. However, the position that I made the greatest impact in, and the one that had the greatest impact on me, was being the house supervisor. On the ground level, my position was centered around maintaining a safe, healthy, and fun environment for my chapter brothers to enjoy as they pursued academic excellence and personal self-growth. However, it became much more than that. Through working with FSL and HRL, my mindset went from “how can I better my fraternity?” to “how can I better the entire Greek community?”. Since that point I have been devoting my efforts to turning Oak Lane from an 18-organization neighborhood into a community that is inclusive of all organizations across all councils.

Now that my time is coming to an end, it is easier for me to see the personal growth I have achieved here at Virginia Tech. The friends, professors, and mentors that this school has provided me have made me into a more mature, empathetic, and well-rounded individual. I am ready to graduate.

My Strengths

            Looking back on my four years at Virginia Tech it is easier to see how my strengths have shaped my experiences. Of my five top strengths: analytical, deliberative, relator, responsibility, and harmony—two really stand out amongst the others.

Analytical

My top strength has been apparent in many instances, but none more so than my career path. I find enjoyment in being challenged with a tough problem — one that doesn’t have an obvious answer and requires a new way of thinking. Possessing this trait enables me to excel in such situations, and only affirms my choice to go into business consulting.

Responsibility

Responsibility is more than a strength for me. It is also something I value highly. It was my passion for educating people on responsibility that led me to take on the positions in the chapter that I did. Those leadership roles certainly didn’t make me the most popular, but as they were positions I truly cared about, and I knew I was the best man for the job.

There are plenty of examples of how my other strengths have played into my experiences over the past four years, but those were only evident after-the-fact. Looking forward, it is understanding the weaknesses of those same traits that will help me be successful. As an analytical person, I get caught up in the details. As a relator, I am sometimes blind to things that I can’t connect to myself. As a deliberative person, I sometimes take too long to make decisions. As a responsible person, I am hesitant to take risks. As a person who seeks out harmony, I struggle with conflict. The first step in overcoming all of these pitfalls is knowing what they are.

Why Keystone

            I want to be a Keystone Fellow for two reasons. First and foremost, it is a symbol for the thing I value most: intentional personal growth. The Aspirations of Student Learning are just the categories for which self-growth is broken down into, and I believe I have successfully embraced all five of the aspirations. Secondly, I want to help expand the Keystone Experience to the Greek community. One of the important parts of Keystone is the idea of an out of the classroom curriculum — learning centered around experiences rather than books. FSL is already trying similar programs such as Fraternal Leaders Institute that challenge members of our community to explore their own personal identity through value based learning. I know I have personally benefited from those lessons, and I believe applying the Keystone Experience will enable others to better reflect and learn from their experiences too.