A question that has been lingering on my mind since last week is, how great of an influence do our networks have on our personal identities? Although I have not come to a definitive conclusion, it seems that my networks have a stronger impact my identity than I initially envisioned. The influence of my networks is also magnified by the internet and social media.
At this point in my life, the network that shapes my identity the most is the Hokie Nation. Most of the significant figures in my life are Hokies. My sister is a Hokie. My younger brother is waiting to be a Hokie. And by default, my parents are Hokies. Then, there is my boyfriend, many of my close friends from high school and college, and the professors who have significantly impacted my life. We are all Hokies and we are all a part of Hokie Nation.
Since coming to orientation freshman year, I have been trained to respond to the question, “What is a Hokie?” with “I am!” Even then, I mostly associated this identity with football and extreme school pride. It wasn’t until my experience with networking through LinkedIn that I really understood the magnitude of the connections and solidarity within this community.
As a freshman composition instructor, I recognized the value in my students understanding the importance and necessity for strong writing and communication skills. For a major assignment, I assigned them to interview professionals in their fields to discover the significance of writing and communication in professions they were interested in. Feeling partially responsible for helping them find people to interview, I posted a request on a few of the Virginia Tech Alumni groups on LinkedIn seeking volunteers to be interviewed. To my surprise, sixteen more-than-willing alumni messaged me within the next few days. The amount of support and feedback I received and everyone’s willingness to take time out of their busy lives to help in any way the could was so inspirational as a young alum.
Just through this one network, I was able to connect with people across all age groups and disciplines. This network provides us with the opportunity to share our experiences for my freshmen as they learn from the experiences of their elders. Through this experience, I witnessed first hand that the significance of brotherhood and Ut Prosim, principle ideas within our network and community, lasts a lifetime and that traditions and legacies are enough to overcome the limits of physical space.