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CENI Newsletter — September 2022

September 1, 2022

September 2022

CENI is off to a great start this fall semester! We started off welcoming our new Montgomery County Public School Liaison Amy Guerin into the CENI Educator Liaison Network. All of the liaisons gathered at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center and Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke, Virginia for a liaison retreat to start planning for the upcoming year. After touring the Thinkabit Lab, we visited the museum, including nine Virginia Tech affiliated exhibits, such as Ling Li’s NSF CAREER funded virtual reality starfish exhibit. We have also started onboarding our new student employee and intern workforce, some of whom are introduced below. For those of you seeking to share your work with children, please consider exhibiting at one of our Wednesday morning Hokie for a Day fifth grade field trips this fall. Best wishes for an energizing semester!

Chelsea and Phyllis

Kim Keith in the Parakeet Garden at the Science Museum of Western Virginia.
Kim Keith in the Parakeet Garden at the Science Museum of Western Virginia.
CENI and CENI Liaisons. Front row left to right: Danielle Murray, Phyllis Newbill, Ashley Sloan. Back row: Don Pizzullo, Kim Keith, Amy Guerin, Jamie Little, Chelsea Haines, Lisa McNair.
CENI and CENI Liaisons. Front row left to right: Danielle Murray, Phyllis Newbill, Ashley Sloan. Back row: Don Pizzullo, Kim Keith, Amy Guerin, Jamie Little, Chelsea Haines, Lisa McNair.

Call for 2022 Hokie for A Day Exhibitors!

CENI invites Virginia Tech faculty, students, and student organizations to participate in a Hokie for a Day Expo. Hokie for a Day offers fifth-grade students a unique opportunity to experience college life. The visit includes a discussion of college majors, a conversation about how to get to college, an expo with hands-on academic experiences from Virginia Tech faculty and students, lunch at an on-campus dining hall, and a chat with a student-athlete. CLICK HERE (and scroll down to Hokie for a Day Exhibitor info) for more information about when and how to participate. 

Photo credit: Kalilah Kroll
Photo credit: Kalilah Kroll

Meet the Campus Engagement Network

The Campus Engagement Network is made up of PreK-12 educational outreach leaders who meet monthly to share successes, collaborate on initiatives, and address issues. This month’s featured member is Ron Poff, Assistant Professor of Practice.

Ron is a visionary leader, entrepreneur, and educator. He has almost 30 years of field experience in international business, product development, marketing, operations management, and entrepreneurship. Ron shares his knowledge, skills, and wisdom with aspiring students in his management courses. Additionally, he was on the leadership council for Innovate Living Learning Community, an engagement group co-lead for Creativity and Innovation (C+I), a chapter advisor for Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), and a faculty advisor for the Orbital Launch Vehicle Team at Virginia Tech. His efforts in his community have not gone unnoticed. Ron was recognized with the Excellent in Teaching Award by the Department of Management and the UT Prosim Award for his service in the Innovate Living Learning Community.

Ron has obtained an M.S in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire, a Graduate Certification in eMarketing from The University of Virginia, and a B.S in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. Before becoming an assistant professor of practice, he led global sourcing activities, supported new product development processes, and drove strategic results for Pfizer, Newell Brands, and Spectrum Brands. In 2008, he joined Mar-Bal as a new business development manager and then advanced to the Director of Global Marketing and Brands, responsible for managing all B2B communications functions, product development, and related marketing activities. Later, he made himself a small business owner too. He is the Co-Founder and Advising Partner for the PRIME Factory, a marketing and public relations agency at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. His talents, expertise, and time at Virginia Tech have impacted many in our community.

Welcoming New CENI Student Employees and Interns

Ashley Costello 
Ashley Costello (she, her, hers) is a Graduate Research and Evaluation Assistant for CENI. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education, with a background in Social Work, Public Administration, and Educational Psychology. Her research interests are in how trauma and mental health impact learning, creating more conducive higher educational environments for trauma-impacted students, and how mental health can be incorporated into STEM.

Davia Wiley
My name is Davia Wiley, and I am a junior double majoring in Marketing and Management. I am new to CENI’s Marketing and Outreach, but I am thrilled to be a part of the team! I look forward to representing Virginia Tech and CENI as we promote all there is to offer. In addition to interning for CENI, I work at Virginia Tech’s Smith Career Center. I also enjoy listening to music, going to the gym, and spending time with friends and family.

Lauren Melton 
Hello! My name is Lauren Melton, and I am a Senior double majoring in Criminology and Communication Science and Social Inquiry (CSSI). I am excited to be joining the Marketing and Outreach Team at CENI. Education is something that I am passionate about, so I am looking forward to getting involved with this program more by assisting with the Hokie for A Day program. I enjoy traveling with family and friends, cooking or baking, and reading when I am not attending classes. After graduating, I hope to secure a position working in the Advertising or Marketing field.

Fralin Life Sciences Summer 4H STEM Camp

CENI Educator Liaison Corner

Floyd County Public Schools
Floyd County Public Schools is a rural division with approximately 1,700 students, operating out of five school buildings; four elementary (Pre-K to 7) and one comprehensive high school (8-12). With forty-three percent of students considered economically disadvantaged, approximately 70% of Floyd County students continue their education beyond high school graduation at some post-secondary educational facility, while around 34% complete four-year degrees.

FCPS students and teachers have been back since mid August and look forward to creating mutually beneficial engagement opportunities with faculty and Virginia Tech  groups. Have an idea or want to bounce around thoughts regarding working with our district? Reach out!

Montgomery County Public Schools

Hello! My name is Amy Guerin and I am excited to be the new Virginia Tech Liaison/STEM Specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools.  I have a passion for teaching, learning, and creating unique experiences and opportunities for students and teachers that ignite their curiosity and drive to learn more.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Marine Science and a master’s degree in Science Education. During my nearly 20 years in the classroom, I have worked as a Marine Science Curriculum Coordinator, IMAST (gifted science) teacher, STEM educator, and program coordinator. I have worked with students and educators from kindergarten through college.
I look forward to working with students, teachers, and partners at Virginia Tech and throughout the county. 

You may contact me at

Radford City Public Schools

Hello from Radford City Schools!  We’re gearing up for a great year and already have some exciting Virginia Tech-RCPS partnerships in the works, including:

  • Hokies for a Day with CENI/College Access Collaborative (CAC)
  • Hokie BugFest on the Go with Daniel Frank and Dana Beegle
  • STEM competition sponsored by Al Wicks/Mechanical Engineering
  • Passport to Career and College with Karen Eley Sanders, CAC
  • Tech Tracks with Minh-An Pence and Jeff Cumberland, VT Human Resources
  • Matinee Performances at the Moss Arts Center, Shara Appanaitis

Please contact me at my RCPS email address to discuss other partnership opportunities! Thanks!
Jamie Little ( 

Virginia Tech Roanoke Center

Roanoke STEAM Day 2022 is coming on Friday, October 28! Roanoke STEAM Day is hosted by partners that include the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center, Virginia Tech Ware Lab, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Science Museum of Western Virginia, Taubman Museum of Art, Virginia Museum of Transportation, Radford University Carilion, Clean Valley Council, and Virginia Western Community College. Registration is open now for exhibitors and those who wish to attend.
Science Museum of Western Virginia

SMWV was delighted to welcome CENI liaisons to the museum as we discussed upcoming partnerships and goals.

Lending Library: SMWV is excited to bring a centralized lending library of resources from a variety of STEM focused institutions.

Highlights from the Campus Engagement Network 

Wonder Universe
Wonder Universe celebrated the Back to School Bash on July 30th with special guests from across the New River Valley. To kick off an exciting year of learning and play, the museum welcomed local businesses, programs, and agencies serving families, plus sensory art activities, and a morning STEM Saturday visit from Dr. Valerie Welborn focusing on Newton color wheels and solar toys. We are looking forward to the start of the school year and welcoming field trips back. If you are interested in being a special guest at a STEM Saturday or on one of our field trips to provide a hands-on demonstration or experience for our student visitors, please contact

Join us at Virginia Tech Roanoke Center for a fun & engaging “Makerspace Adventure” into hands-on learning with passionate educators!
Looking for ways to invigorate and inspire your students? Show is always better than tell! Whether you are curious about how to get started or have been makerspacing for some time this workshop is for you!

Space is limited, register soon! Registration LINK
Contact Ashley Sloan, lead instructor, Thinkabit Lab
(540) 767-6096

Upcoming Deadlines and Events

9/5: Labor Day (No Classes - University Offices Closed)
10/7: Fall Break (No Classes - University Offices Open)
10/8: Hokie BugFest (located at Squires Student Center)
10/28: Roanoke STEAM Day 2022
11/12: Virginia Tech Science Festival

Our mailing address is:
190 Alumni Mall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
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