Whitney Stevenson embraces true meaning of Ut Prosim

BLACKSBURG – The motto of Virginia Tech is Ut Prosim, which translates to “That I May Serve.” Whitney Stevenson knows that motto quite well, and it played a large role in bringing her to Virginia Tech and the women’s golf team.

To say that service is a major part of Stevenson’s life would be quite the understatement. She participates in many projects on top of the demands her studies and athletics career, but she takes pride in her service to the university and the community. Her eyes light up when she talk about her service projects, and one can tell that these take on a role of utmost importance to her.

Active in local food banks and in the campus chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Stevenson uses the platforms to help the community and improve the lives of those around her.

“I’ve always been very drawn to the extracurricular,” Stevenson said. “Here, I’ve worked at the on-campus food bank and a food bank in Christiansburg. I do FCA Huddle [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] on Monday nights, which is so much fun. I’m doing research for school and volunteering to do data entry.

“FCA, to me, embodies my role as a student-athlete here at Virginia Tech. It allows you to be part of a family that is there for the reason to encounter the love of God. Just being there for one another.”

Her commitment to service stems from being simply engrained in her DNA and also because of her faith, which drives her in so many ways. Stevenson comes across as somewhat shy and reserved, but when speaking about her faith, the eyes once again begin to sparkle, and one begins to learn what makes her tick.

“I am on the leadership team and the worship team, so being able to sing and get out of my own comfort zone for the benefit of bringing praises to God is good,” Stevenson said. “Being able to lead one another … I take it and learn from it and apply it to golf. I apply it to any situation where I’m nervous, and I’m not sure I’m good enough, but I know that I can trust wholly, and I always turn out okay.”

When she arrived at Tech, she joined a women’s golf program in its infancy. So much so that the team had yet to play its first competitive round. Being in on the beginning of the program meant a lot to her. She continues to take pride in her role as part of the foundation of the program.

“It’s been a total blessing,” she said. “I was put here for a reason. There is a reason that Coach found me, and there is a reason that everyone else on this team is here. I have been completely blessed by all my other teammates and the entire athletics staff. Women’s golf has the best staff behind us.”

Stevenson stands as the “elder stateswoman” on this very young team. She embraces that role and uses her faith to help lead this program.

“As a young program, we don’t have much to build on, so when you do things differently, you kind of shake things up a little bit,” she said. “Instead of doing a routine, you start to see things that happen differently. Being a leader in FCA has made me think more about what my girls need, what my team is lacking, and instead of just sitting there quietly, how can I step up and how can I say something to fill that silence to motivate our team.”

This has not been lost on her coach, Carol Robertson. As the head coach of a program in its second year of competition, Robertson knows the importance of a student-athlete with the qualities possessed by Stevenson.

“With 18-22 year olds, there's always a lot of distractions pulling them in different directions,” Robertson said. “"It takes discipline and maturity for priorities to take the lead on a daily basis. Whitney has a fantastic handle on her priorities. Every day you can count on Whitney to be the same steady person who is hardworking, grateful and selfless in everything she does. Whitney and her family are as genuine as they come. She is a rock and we will forever remember the legacy she is leaving behind on this growing program."

Along with being a member of the starting lineup and being involved in the community, Stevenson also excels in the classroom. The total balance as a person serves herself and the team well.

“She’s extremely bright,” Robertson said. “She’s barely off of a 4.0 [grade-point average]. It’s either going to be an A or an A- every time she steps into the classroom. The teachers know that as well. It doesn’t take long for them to take notice what a good, engaged kid she really is. She wants to stay around for grad school, which is really awesome, because she only got to spend two years of undergrad here. It’s a win-win for both Whitney and Virginia Tech, that we get to keep her longer.”

Stevenson obviously is focused on her academics and what she wants her future to be. Staying involved in sports remains her goal.

“I’m in the dietetics track,” Stevenson said. “I was inspired by a sports dietician at Daytona State [a junior college in Florida from which she transferred]. My dream has been to stay in sports and work with athletes as a dietician. We have a very good program here. Next year, I’m doing graduate school, but after that, maybe I can apply for an internship here.”

Stevenson takes great happiness from all aspects of her life, but certain special times stick in her mind. More often than not, those are not the on-course moments, but rather the service moments that mean so much to her.

“There is one day that I remember working at the food bank,” Stevenson said. “It’s late November, cold and rainy. There’s a woman who I had just met and was helping her carry out food to her car. Her name is Joy, and I remember her having the biggest smile, but asking for prayer. She revealed things that strangers don’t normally reveal. Being able to pray for her and just see the healing as she’s walking away – and walking away myself with more joy. An aptly named person.”

The sense of community and the family that she has found here bring a smile to her face. She truly embraces all that being a “Hokie” means and relishes that identification.

“When I was looking at this school, I remember my mother explaining to me about Ut Prosim,” she said. “She explained to me that it means, “That I May Serve.” I fell in love with that from the moment she told me.

“When I first visited, I wanted to be an engineer. I heard about some of the engineers that had gone to Nicaragua on the Big Event [a student-run, service event at Virginia Tech] and built a bridge for school children to get to school without having to swim. I said, ‘Those are the type of people I want to surround myself with.’

“When I came here on my visit, I walked around campus. Coach took me on a tour of the athletics facilities, through the dining halls, and I really hadn’t seen much of Blacksburg, but I fell in love with the campus itself. It’s such a home environment. I really truly felt drawn.”

Luckily, she found out on her first day on campus what a special place Virginia Tech is – a small thing, but something very meaningful to her.

“The very first day I moved here, I went for a run down my street,” she said. “I remember some student coming by and giving me the biggest high five as I was running by. I remember it making me so happy that this stranger would welcome me here on the first day. He has no idea, probably, how much I remember that. It’s just such a community.”

Stevenson will complete her playing career in mid-April at the ACC Championship. But, as most are quickly learning, her impact on this campus and in this department may continue for quite some time.

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