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  • Jessica Barbish ('22)

The Galipatia: Engineering Living Learning Community

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Graphic / RJ Weaver
Graphic / RJ Weaver
"The Galipatia Living Learning Community (LLC) is one of many communities within the residential halls that freshmen can apply to join. This particular LLC is designed for engineering students at Virginia Tech to help them adjust to college life and prepare them for a successful transition into their careers. When students join, they are mentored by one of the many upperclassmen within Galipatia for their first ten weeks. Galipatia resides within Hoge Hall and offers both study lounges and a studio! After freshman year, students can choose to remain within the community as upperclassmen to help share their experiences with the community." - Jessica Barbish

Jessica Barbish: Mentor Liaison for Galipatia
Jessica Barbish: Mentor Liaison for Galipatia

My Experience Within the Galipatia Living Learning Community

My name is Jessica Barbish and I am a junior in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. I am currently one of the GLT (Galipatia Leadership Team) who help to organize the underclassmen within Galipatia. More specifically, I am a mentor liaison. The mentor liaison is in charge of a group of mentors who check in on their progress with their mentees and assist them with anything complex.

As a freshman, I enjoyed being around other female engineers who could relate to me. The community helped me form connections and strong friendships with those around me. I was able to use the resources to help me adapt to college life and find my way during freshman year.

As a mentor, I got to connect closely with four women and watch as they discovered their way in college. I learned how important each role within the community is and decided to stay on as a mentor liaison to start giving back all the care and assistance that I was given in my first two years at college. There is something for everyone who may want to join. It has become a place that I can always come back to as the people have become a second home.

What has been your experience within the Galipatia Living Learning Community?

Amber Clauss. Photo / Amber Clauss
Amber Clauss. Photo / Amber Clauss

My name is Amber Clauss and I am a sophomore in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. I am currently a Galipatia mentor and a Stable Minds Initiative (SMI) committee member. Being a part of this community has given me a better understanding of all engineering fields and fostered an atmosphere for deeper connections with my fellow engineers and lifelong friends.

I attribute many of the skills I have developed to the people of this community. The people I interact with are excellent at providing opportunities for my personal growth while maintaining a guiding presence when I need encouragement. The general personality of a student in Galipatia is deeply empathetic, supportive, and intelligent. In my freshman year, one of my now closest friends spent two hours trying to help me fix my laptop when, at the time, he barely knew me. In short, this community has created a place for me to grow, accomplish, and connect with others. I am so thankful for the people that contribute to the atmosphere in the building we call home.


We also interviewed the new Director of the Undergraduate Programs at Virginia Tech, DeAnna Katey. She took over Galipatia about two weeks before the onset of COVID-19 on March 2, 2019.

What is DeAnna Katey’s background?

DeAnna Katey: Director of Undergraduate Programs at Virginia Tech
DeAnna Katey: Director of Undergraduate Programs at Virginia Tech

DeAnna has an extensive background involving education and mentoring programs. She got her B.S. in Secondary Education Social Studies at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She also got her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at Clarion and her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Morgan State University. At Morgan State University, DeAnna was a resident director for two male dormitories, one of which was focused on engineering students. She eventually left Morgan and worked as an assistant director of residential life at the University of Kentucky. Deanna then traveled to Michigan and worked for first-year experience. Finally, DeAnna Katey has her current role as the Director of Undergraduate Programs.

What inspired DeAnna to come work at Virginia Tech and lead Galipatia?

DeAnna’s passions lied with living learning communities and she was pursuing a job that allowed her to help freshmen. When she first came upon the application for the job, she was thrilled by the opportunities it offered her. DeAnna liked the idea of working with engineers who held a strong academic focus. As she learned more during her interview, she realized that Virginia Tech was where she wanted to go to fulfill her wishes of working with first-year students.

What is DeAnna’s favorite thing about Galipatia?

DeAnna’s favorite thing about Galipatia is that Hoge Hall is completely filled with the community. She loves that the building can contain 800 students and has a small makerspace. DeAnna also loves seeing how many students want to give back to Galipatia and return as upperclassmen, GLT, and even graduate assistants.

Studio 1: The CNC machines in the lab.
Studio 1: The CNC machines in the lab.
Studio 1: Creations made in the studio using a CNC machine!
Studio 1: Creations made in the studio using a CNC machine!

How has COVID-19 affected DeAnna and her plans for Galipatia?

COVID-19 has had a huge influence in restricting what needs to be done within Galipatia. DeAnna’s originally easy transition became hard given that the college went into quarantine two weeks into her starting her job. After everything went virtual, many of the events normally held in-person were canceled and still may not happen. However, DeAnna hopes that going into her second year at Virginia Tech, she will be able to hold many of the greatly missed in-person events.

Where does DeAnna see Galipatia in the future?

DeAnna would like to see Galipatia continue to grow and eventually have an even split between males and females. She would also like to expand the Invents studio space and find a way to give scholarships for the community and the leadership roles within the LLC.

Why should freshmen join the LLC according to DeAnna?

She would have liked to see such a helpful program when she was an undergraduate student. The program is a great way to connect with others. Galipatia isn’t a one size fits all and has a gathering of people coming from various backgrounds. Having a diverse community allows for everyone to feel welcome and learn from each other.

Some final words from Deanna

“It’s a great opportunity and everyone should apply and it’s a good way to meet people. Even if you can’t join Galipatia, you can still be a part of the CEED family and you can ask for help.”

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