STEP UP team members

Learn about the STEP UP team

Our student leadership team, STEP UP (Students Together Engaging in & Practicing Ut Prosim) coordinates all VT Engage service trips. Our leaders are passionate about service, social justice, and inspiring change. They work closely with peers, VT Engage, and community partners to coordinate service trips based on community-identified need. Leaders are trained to develop engaging, learning-centered reflections for each trip.

Throughout each service experience and STEP UP meetings, they explore their passion for service and the issues they care about. STEP UP leaders coordinate a range of service programs and have opportunities to take on increasing responsibility as they progress through STEP UP.

Students of any major are welcome to apply. Undergraduate students from incoming first year students to rising seniors are invited to apply, as are graduate students. Applications for the 2018-2019 school year are now closed. 

Our programs include:

Questions? Contact Jessica Davis, Student Engagement Coordinator at or 540-231-6947.

Why choose STEP UP?

Our leaders have the unique opportunity to develop their leadership capacities through the lenses of service and social justice. Through hands-on experiences and weekly meetings, STEP UP leaders become more knowledgeable about best practices in community engagement and service-learning.

As they develop reflection facilitation skills, STEP UP leaders learn how to engage in meaningful discussion about complex social issues. STEP UP leaders are trained to cultivate sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with communities and teach trip participants to do the same.

Leaders are encouraged to venture out of their comfort zone as they learn with and from a team of thoughtful, fun peer leaders. Our goal is to help STEP UP leaders recognize their own capacity to be change agents, then equip them with the knowledge and tools to be engaged citizens both during college and throughout their lives.


Leaders are expected to:

  • Attend weekly meetings throughout the academic year. 
  • Deepen their understanding of service, and local and global issues. 
  • Develop their leadership, reflection, and trip management skills. 
  • Commit to co-leading or leading VT Engage trips. 
  • Attend a two-day retreat in August

Engaging, learning-centered curriculum

STEP UP leaders attend weekly meetings focused on developing new skills and building impactful service experiences for their peers. Throughout the program, leaders will be immersed in learning more about best practices for community engagement and trip coordination while taking a critical look at service and social issues.

Our students will have the opportunity to develop as leaders, as well as build their communication and conflict management skills, become trained in facilitating reflection, and learn more about local and global social issues. Additionally, students may choose to earn one credit hour of elective credit each semester they participate in the program.

Each semester, STEP UP leaders will focus on a different set of topics related to service learning and community engagement. The curriculum is designed to build knowledge and expertise as students progress in the program, with goal of developing leaders into mentors for new classes of STEP UP.

Fall: Introduction to service learning
During weekly meetings, new leaders will learn about VT Engage's community engagement philosophy, criticisms of volunteerism, trip logistics, and risk management. They will build skills in leading reflection and developing group dynamics on service trips. Opportunities available to new students include:

Spring: Deep dive into issues
This semester will continue to build reflection skills and critically discuss service learning. During weekly meetings, leaders will engage in conversations centered around specific local and global topics including food insecurity, literacy and education access, refugees and immigration, poverty, incarceration, gender and sexuality, and mental health.

  • In addition to the same opportunities from fall semester, leaders may lead half-and day-long trips and co-lead weekend trips.

Fall: International service learning
Students will focus on the complexities that service in a global setting brings, and discuss the connections between local and global issues. In addition to opportunities available to year one leaders, students will also have the opportunity to co-lead domestic spring break trips.

  • After completing this semester, leaders will be eligible to lead VT Engage international immersion trips to the Dominican Republic and Peru (preference will be given to students who have participated in an international trip with VT Engage previously.)

Spring: Deep dive into issues part II
Leaders will continue to develop and refine skills in reflection facilitation and critical thinking. Weekly meetings will continue to examine local and global issues.

Mentorship & Leadership
Students in year three of STEP UP will continue to develop their leadership competencies while mentoring new leaders in the program. They will partner with VT Engage team members to plan weekly meetings and co-facilitate the meetings.

Throughout the year, they will be paired with new leaders on half-and full-day and weekend trips to assist new leaders with reflection facilitation and trip management.


Our leaders are trained to put together thoughtful, quality service experiences for students. One aspect of those experiences includes reflection activities. Reflection allows groups and individuals to process service, social issues, and the questions these experiences bring up. Leaders guide participants through this process using a variety of methods.

Below are reflection guides put together by former SERVE students Analise Adams and Emily Neer. All are welcome to download and use these guides, please credit VT Engage if you do so.

2017-18 Student leaders

STEP UP Leader Abby England

Abby England
Geography major from Arlington Virginia

STEP UP Leader Alayna Bryant

Alayna Bryant
Human Development major from Winchester, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Allie Parker

Allie Parker
Political Science, Pre-Law major from Chapel Hill, North Carolina

STEP UP Leader Allison Monroe

Allison Monroe
Architecture major from Ruckerville, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Amy Chen

Amy Chen
Biological Sciences major from Roanoke, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Asmar Eltayb

Asmar Eltayb
Psychology major from Reston, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Breanna LaTondre

Breanna LaTondre
Architecture major from Ellicott City, Maryland

STEP UP Leader Brooke Souders

Brooke Souders
Human development major from Winchester, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith
Human development major from Virginia Beach, Virginia

Bryan Kamenga, STEP UP Leader

Bryan Kamenga
Business information technology major from Stafford, Virginia


STEP UP Leader Cameron Chambers

Cameron Chambers
Geology major from Paso Robles, California

STEP UP Leader Carl Yao

Carl Yao
Computer science major from Fujian, China

STEP UP Leader Daniele Lewis

Daniele Lewis
Master's student in animal & poultry sciences from Richmond, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Danielle Kassel

Danielle Kassel
Construction Engineering major from Chesapeake, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Delaney Beattie

Delaney Beattie
National resources conservation & spanish major from King & Queen, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Derek Chen

Derek Chen
Biochemistry major from Roanoke, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Franklin Edwards

Franklin Edwards
Neuroscience & psychology double major from Radford, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Gabby Magasic

Gabby Magasic
Ecomonics major from Shamong, New Jersey

STEP UP Leader Jacob Benjamin

Jacob Benjamin
Computer science major from Marshall, Virginia

Abby England, SERVE class 2016-17

Kaley Holloway
Human nutrition, foods, & exercise major from Tazewell, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Kara Hall

Kara Hall
Wildlife conservation major from Rocky River, Ohio

STEP UP Leader Laura Wichin

Laura Wichin
Pschology major from Reston, Virginia

Lexy Keeler, STEP UP leader

Lexy Keeler
ublic relations & international relations double major from Winchester, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Lisa Lane

Lisa Lane
International relations major from Oak Hill, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Martha Legg

Martha Legg
Civil engineering major from King George, Virginia

Matty Meyer, STEP UP Leader

Matty Meyer
Biological sciences major from Woodbridge, Virginia

Aria Lee, SERVE class 2016-17

Megan Mickey
Architecture major from Kinnelon, New Jersey

STEP UP Leader Megha Jassal

Megha Jassal
Business information technology major from Centreville, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Meghan Johnson

Meghan Johnson
Human development major from Richmond, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Michelle Besser

Michelle Besser
Computational & systems neuroscience major from Hardy, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Molly Kwitny

Molly Kwitny
Biology major from Roanoke, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Monica Fikes

Monica Fikes
Agricultural leadership, & community education major from Alexandria, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Nick Kaloudis

Nick Kaloudis
Building construction major from Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania   

STEP UP Leader Olivia DiMaio

Olivia DiMaio
Political science major

STEP UP Leader Rebecca Pettit

Rebecca Pettit
Biological systems engineering major from Elkton, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Renad Bougis

Renad Bougis
Biological systems engineering major

STEP UP Leader Salome Raiszadeh

Salome Raiszadeh
Biology & psychology major from Hampton, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Sarah Tartabini

Sarah Tartabini
Biochemistry major from Yorktown, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Shaifali Prajapati

Shaifali Prajapati
Water: resources, policy, & management major from Yorktown, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Steph Kapllani

Steph Kapllani
Technical Writing major from Springfield, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Suzanne Laliberte

Suzanne Laliberte
Biology for crop and soil environmental sciences major from Barboursville, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Sydney Winn

Sydney Winn
Biochemistry major from McLean, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Tanha Patel

Tanha Patel
Biochemistry major from Virginia Beach, Virginia

STEP UP Leader Taylor Schiller

Taylor Schiller
Master's student in higher education major from Charlotte, North Carolina

Tina Malhotra, STEP UP Leader

Tina Malhotra
Business information technology & economics major from Alexandria, Virginia