Fall 2017 Corps Review    |    Back

Cadets Hannah Elford ‘20 and Greg House ‘19 teach first-year cadets about health and wellness during a VPI Battalion lab.

Cadets Hannah Elford ‘20, at left, and Greg House ‘19
Cadets Hannah Elford ‘20 and Greg House ‘19 teach first-year cadets about health and wellness during a VPI Battalion lab.

VPI Battalion Column
By Deputy Commandant of Cadets Lt. Col. Don Russell, U.S. Air Force (retired)

A few years ago, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets established its vision of Global Ethical Leaders … Now More Than Ever. Developing ethical leaders has been the foundation of this institution since 1872. We need our graduates now more than ever because the range and complexity of challenges leaders face grow daily. 

Often, these challenges result from ethical failings of current leaders. Likewise, our graduates must have a global perspective, because political, military, economic, environmental, social, and cyber challenges that demand ethical leadership are interwoven and transcend international boundaries and cultures.

Cadets embrace this vision, including those in the Citizen-Leader Track. It is why they are here. Cadet Greg House ’19 embodies what we mean by a future global, ethical leader.

House is a junior in the Citizen-Leader Track. From Doylestown, Pennsylvania, he majors in civil engineering, is in the university’s Honors College, and is on the dean’s list with academic distinction. 

He grew up wanting to be a Marine and came to Virginia Tech for that purpose. Asthma soon disqualified him, though House is as fit as any cadet. He’s a marathon runner who can max out his physical fitness assessment. 

Hotel Company’s training cadre, including Greg House, second from left, lead first-year cadets into their first formation during New Cadet Week.

Hotel Company’s training cadre, including Greg House, second from left, lead first-year cadets into their first formation.
Hotel Company’s training cadre, including Greg House, second from left, lead first-year cadets into their first formation during New Cadet Week.

Undeterred, House pressed ahead with his overarching drive in life to serve those less fortunate. His particular interests lie in the availability of safe drinking water for impoverished populations in Africa, because water is a catalyst for economic development and survival.

A year ago, as I came to understand House’s path, I connected him to Kristine Mapili ’16, who has very similar career aspirations and who was working with Civil Engineering Professor Marc Edwards’ Flint, Michigan, water study team. This networked House into research efforts with the department’s Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program, ranging from working on the Roanoke, Virginia, watershed master plan to water safety projects for areas of Texas and Florida affected by recent hurricanes and flooding. 

Beyond his calling as a scholar, humanitarian, and leader of character, House is highly engaged in other ways at Virginia Tech. Last year, as a sophomore, he served as the VPI Battalion physical training instructor, a position traditionally held by a forward-leaning junior cadet. He was competitively selected to represent the Corps at a national affairs conference at Texas A&M University. This year, he organized the first VPI team ever to run in the Army 10-Miler in Washington, D.C., and served as a Hotel Company cadre sergeant, training first-year cadets. He is a leader in faith-based student groups and the recipient of several scholarships and performance awards.

Earlier this fall, House was selected to teach a block of instruction to first-year VPI cadets on overall wellness, tapping into his passion for positive health and fitness habits.  

Later this year, House will begin applying for graduate school programs while pursuing study abroad opportunities this summer. 

Despite House’s impressive dossier, you will not find a more humble person. Virginia Tech President Tim Sands singled him out specifically in the fall State of the University address as personification of the great students we have at the university. This recognition, and the fact that he is the subject of this article, make House slightly uneasy. He realizes it is not all about him. He is just doing what comes naturally as a globally aware, ethics-based, servant leader.

Just as I point current cadets to Mapili, I now point to House as the type of cadet, scholar, and leader they should emulate. Ut Prosim!