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Affinity Groups

Cultural Achievement Ceremony on May 4, 2023

The Washington, DC area extended campuses hosted the inaugural Affinity Groups Cultural Achievement Ceremony on May 4 from 2 pm to 4 pm at the VTRC-Arlington to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating Master’s and Ph.D. students who identify with the following communities: Veterans, Latinx, Black, First-Generation, GRAD Parents, and Women in TECH. Participants received a commemorative stole or cord to be worn with their academic regalia during university commencement ceremonies.

What are the Affinity Groups?

The graduate school has established six affinity groups for the extended campuses in the Washington, DC area to foster environments of support and assist with degree completion and professional development outcomes.   The overarching goal is to build an enhanced sense of community and provide a forum for an exchange of ideas on issues of common interest for students who identify with these communities.  The affinity groups host meetings, workshops, and events during the academic year to provide members with important resources, updates, and opportunities to thrive while in graduate school.    

Although the affinity groups are graduate student-focused, all students, faculty, and staff are invited to join.  Graduate students who identify with these groups are encouraged to join.

The motto for the affinity groups is “Let’s Stay the Course in Graduate School Together.

If you have suggestions for the existing Affinity Groups or would be interested in creating a new group, please contact Dr. Chontrese Hayes,

The mission of the Black Affinity Group is to provide advocacy for the graduate students who identify with the Black community in their roles as students, researchers, and instructors.   We strive to promote an awareness of issues relevant to members in collaboration with diverse populations and in partnership with Black graduate student associations at universities in the Washington, DC area.

The Black Affinity Group works closely with other organizations such as the Black Graduate Student Organization and the Black Caucus at Virginia Tech.

The First-Generation Affinity Group recognizes students who are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree and pursue a graduate degree. We aspire to connect members with resources designed to support first-gen graduate student success.  Students who are the first in their family to attend graduate school may lack access to information about navigating graduate studies.   An important goal for this group is providing socialization through peer mentoring, as well as exchanging best practices for thriving in graduate school.

Read about some of our first-generation students here.

Being a parent and a graduate student can be challenging.   The GRAD Parents Affinity Group was established to find opportunities to connect graduate student parents while also spending quality time with their children.   As a result, this group prioritizes weekend playdates at off campus venues designed to engage their children while graduate student parents relax and build community.

The purpose of the Latinx Affinity Group is to expand student success and provide enhanced representation opportunities for graduate students who identify with the Latinx community.

Moreover, we aim to create an environment of cultural enrichment to engage and advise graduate students, faculty, and staff about the Latinx community through academic and social events.

The Latinx Affinity Group is connected with El Centro, the Hispanic and Latinx Community Center located in Blacksburg.

The goal of the Veterans Affinity Group is to promote an enhanced awareness of veterans, military-connected, and their families who are pursuing graduate degrees.   The Veterans Affinity Group collaborates with students, faculty, and staff to advocate for successful degree completion and career outcomes through partnerships serving to facilitate the inclusion of those who identify with the veterans community.

The Veterans Affinity Group works closely with the Office of Veteran Services at Virginia Tech.

You can read about some of our student veterans on our spotlight page.

The Women in TECH Affinity Group was established during Women’s History Month 2023 for the purpose of heightening the awareness of gender-specific nuances that often exist in science and technology fields.  The goal of the Women in TECH Affinity Group is to encourage opportunities that address gender-specific biases for graduate students pursuing science and technology degrees.   Additionally, the group aims to strengthen mentoring and industry partnerships for graduate students who identify with this community.