Celebrating the Legacy and Lessons of Roxanne Paul
June 20, 2022
Roxanne Paul will retire at the end of June 2022 from Virginia Tech after serving for eight years as the administrative and program specialist for the Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering departments at the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church.
During her career, Paul earned a master’s degree in natural resources from Virginia Tech, supplementing a degree from Cornell University in 1977. She also had a distinguished career in the environmental sector, including several years working as a park ranger in Hawaii and Arizona and more than a decade at the National Wildlife Federation.
Although her role working with Virginia Tech began as a temporary position, Paul quickly earned a reputation among her students, coworkers, and supervisors as a dedicated and passionate woman. In 2021, she was awarded the Virginia Louise “Jenny” Frank Award for Outstanding Contributions, which recognizes extraordinary College of Engineering (COE) staff members for their work at the school.
Nearly a dozen coworkers, department professors, and Ph.D. students sent in letters of support for Paul’s 2021 nomination as the COE’s Exemplary Employee Award. All of them praised her for the help she provided to each task she was assigned in a timely and courteous way. They eagerly recalled fond memories of the holiday events she hosted, or pre-pandemic weekly social events at the Northern Virginia Center that she put together.
“I am impressed by her diligence, enthusiasm, kindness, and uncanny ability to tackle the myriad of issues we put on her table. Roxanne is professional, courteous, and always willing to help. Our graduate students encounter many challenges that straddle between study and life. Roxanne does not shy away from lending a hand and guiding them to solutions. I am constantly amazed by her kindness and her ability to quickly manage the highly stratified needs of students and faculty.”
-- C.T. Lu, Computer Science Professor and Northern Virginia Center Computer Science Program Director
“Roxanne has continued with the process by making herself available to students for any requests or queries regarding their course work, plan of study or degree application or any other administrative process even if it is by Zoom… her concern for students’ physical and mental health is evident from her role as a search committee member for recruiting a mental health clinician to provide services to students at the VT greater Washington D.C. metro area campus.”
--Shailik Sarkar, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science
Paul’s years of work in support of environmental causes did not go unused during her time with Virginia Tech.
In 2019, she started the first Earth Day Symposium at the Northern Virginia Center campus. From this she was able to recruit several like-minded colleagues to form a sustainability committee, which helped to encourage better recycling efforts at the campus.
On May 15, Paul served as the commencement speaker at the Washington, D.C., Metro Area graduation ceremony. During her speech, she expressed her hopes for the sustainability committee to continue the annual symposium and provide students and staff with the training and education to continue improving Virginia Tech’s environmental efforts.
After retiring, Paul plans to continue advocating for sustainability by volunteering at relevant non-profits and giving educational presentations and speeches. Her combined passion for climate change and compassion for others have helped her to succeed in her career at Virginia Tech, and will undoubtedly serve her in these future plans as well.
--Written by Hannah Lee, a student intern with the Department of Computer Science