Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech
  Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech

Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech

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Be sure to register early for any of these fun learning opportunities that come as a benefit of LLI membership. Many events are free, but space is limited. Please register for special events using the form in the back of the catalog; or download a PDF - (LLIEventSpr2019regform.pdf). If you are confirmed for an event that requires a fee, you will be notified where to send your check. If you later discover that you cannot attend an event for which you have registered, please contact the LLI Office ( or 540-231-4364) so that someone else can use your place. There will be no refunds for fee-based events; however, you may find a substitute if you are unable to attend.

How to Register for Special Events
Register for special events using the form provided in the catalog or download a PDF (LLIEventSpr2019regform.pdf). There is no online registration for special events. LLI volunteers will handle special event registration. You must first register as a member (either online or by paper) to participate in Special Events. Follow the mailing instructions on the form. Many special events are free. If you are confirmed for an event that requires a fee, follow the instructions in the catalog to make payment. Please do not send or deliver cash to Continuing and Professional Education.

For questions concerning special event registration, please contact the LLI Registrar at 540-231-4364 or email

Sneak Peek!

Special Events and Tours

Every Monday

Reel Talk: Mondays at the Lyric

Time: 12:15 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: The Lyric Theatre, 135 College Avenue, Blacksburg
Class Limit: None
Cost: Free for discussion; fee for movie admission

Presented in Partnership with the Lyric Theatre

Do you love going to the historic Lyric to see movies? Then this after-the-movie discussion group is just for you. Each Monday anyone can gather after the 10:00 a.m. matinee for informal conversation about the week’s movie. Attend any of the scheduled viewings and come to discuss any movie that interests you. Register with LLI to receive email reminders (weekly start time may vary depending on movie length). Film conversations are open to anyone who wishes to participate, so bring a friend. Brown bag if you wish, or go out to eat afterwards with new friends.

Monday, January 28

A 20-year-old Farm Boy Experiences World War II

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 50
Cost: Free

Easley Smith was born on a farm in 1924 near Crewe, Virginia. In 1942, when he was a cadet at VPI, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Three years later he returned after the war was over, to complete his degree at VPI. At the age of 20, he flew a B-24 bomber named “Rocky” along with his crew of 9 airmen on 25 bombing missions against the Germans. Easley went on to have a long career as a faculty member in the Agricultural Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. Easley lives at the Showalter Center at Warm Hearth Village. He will speak about some of his ventures as a B-24 pilot during that critical time in American history.

Friday, February 1

Making the Most of the Tax Code Changes

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 50
Cost: Free

Gain a wealth of information on how the Tax Code changes affect you and how you can plan ahead in this new tax environment.

Workshop topics will include:

  1. The increase on the standard deduction
  2. Impact on Charitable Deductions
  3. Impact on Investment Fee Deductions
  4. The suspension of Deductions for Personal


  1. Changes to itemized deductions
  2. Deduction for Qualified Business Income


Mary Anne McElmurray is Tax Director for the New River Valley and Roanoke offices of Brown Edwards. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a designated “Super CPA” for her corporate tax expertise, and a frequent speaker on tax matters to professional and civic organizations.

Friday, February 8

Preparing Chinese Dim Sum

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: Home of Instructor, 1002 Eheart Street, Blacksburg
Class Limit: 10
Cost: $20 includes lunch, payable by check to the instructor

DIm Sum is the food of Chinese Tea House lunches. The literal translation of Dim Sum is “dot heart” but the poetic meaning is “heart’s delight.” Dim Sum dishes are small items, mostly deep-fried, baked or steamed (but not restricted to these techniques); they are often served with sauces. In a restaurant setting, servers circulate with carts of small plates of single types of items of many sorts. Your bill depends on the number and size of the plates that your table takes.

We will make a variety of dim sum dishes such as dumplings or pot stickers, steamed buns and deepfried tidbits (e.g. won tons), a total of about 10 dishes. Some can be made ahead. Recipes will be provided. We’ll end the event with a delicious dim sum lunch. (This event is a repeat of Spring term 2018.)


Anne McNabb has been cooking Chinese Banquets since graduate school. She has 80 some Chinese cookbooks and has used them all to learn about making authentic foods from the many regions of Chinese cuisine.

Tuesday, February 12

Travel E4

Time: 10:30 – 11:45 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

Looking for inspiration and recommendations for a very special vacation? Learn about a variety of group travel experiences from LLI members who have traveled near and far, on land, river, and sea. Ask questions, take home literature on programs of interest. We’ll also cover upcoming LLI Charter destinations for 2020.

Chautauqua Institution (CI): For nine weeks each summer, the CI offers an extraordinary blend of programming in the performing and visual arts, thoughtful discussion of critical issues by renowned experts, recreation, and religion. It is truly “LLI on steroids.” CI is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life. Throughout the years speakers have included such luminaries as Franklin Roosevelt and Sandra Day O’Connor, and performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, and Wynton Marsalis. The historic village on Chautauqua Lake in Western NY is a beautiful and a magical place.

Road Scholar: Road Scholar is truly the “University” of the world. The choice of destinations is vast; all are educational adventures engaging people for whom learning is a journey of a lifetime.

Potpourri Options: Cruises (river/ocean), Garden Tours with Robert McDuffie, Disney for Adults (Epcot International Food & Wine Festival/Flower & Garden Festival/ Behind the Scenes educational tours), VBT – worldwide walking and bicycling vacations, Overseas Adventure Travels, Walking the World, Travel with a Challenge, Spotlight Voyages by LLI Semester at Sea, and many more.


LLI members Virginia Cox, Susan Baker, Mike Kelly, Robert McDuffie, and Tamara Hodsden will share their travel experiences.

Tuesday, February 19

William Ballard Preston and the Crisis of Secession

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

A slaveholder, lawyer, and third-generation owner of Blacksburg’s Smithfield plantation, William Ballard Preston sponsored the ordinance of secession that took Virginia out of the Union. This lecture explores Preston’s shifting positions on slavery and secession as he tried--unsuccessfully--to balance his commitment to slavery and Virginia with his loyalty to the United States.


Paul Quigley is Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the James I. Robertson, Jr., Associate Professor of Civil War Studies in the History Department at Virginia Tech. He is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848–65.

Friday, February 22

Lenny at 100: Leonard Bernstein and the Shape of American Music

Time: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Location: Cube, Moss Arts Center
Class Limit: 40
Cost: Event is free; refreshments available for purchase in the lobby

Presented in partnership with the Moss Arts Center

The conductor, composer, educator, and pianist Leonard Bernstein had an outsize impact on the American musical scene but was never content with his own contributions. Learn more about Bernstein and his legacy at this talk directly before the performance. Virginia Tech piano faculty member, Rick Masters, will share some insights on Bernstein’s enduring impact on American music.

Tickets for the 7:30 performance for the Czech National Symphony Orchestra performance of Leonard Bernstein at 100 can be purchased from the Moss Arts Center,


Richard Masters is assistant professor of piano, School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, February 26

The Mothers Behind the Men: Women Who Raised a President

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

The 44 men who have served as President of the United States have done much to shape our nation. But who was most influential in shaping these men? In many cases, the President’s mother played a very significant – if not paramount – role in forming the man who would be President. What do we know about these women? How did they manage to raise men who would become important world leaders? Were they women of privilege and wealth--or did they have to overcome economic and social challenges? Let us see together!


Patty Manthe is a lifelong history lover. History was an avocation while she served as a program analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C. Since retiring, history has again become an important part of her life’s work. Patty currently serves as the Regent of the Alleghany Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

Friday, March 1

Stamped from the Beginning: The Archaeology of Race and Diversity in Early Jamestown

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

This lecture is open to Warm Hearth residents, guests, and the public.

2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to English North America. The context of the events leading up to and after the arrival of “20 and odd” Angolans in August of 1619 has recently come to light. Starting in 2016, the Jamestown Rediscovery team, in conjunction with the National Park Service, has been excavating the site where one of these first Africans, a servant living with a wealthy planter in the colonial town, lived and worked. The “Angela” site has been named for this Angolan woman, who is recorded as having arrived in 1619. While the documentary record is silent about her age and what became of her, recent archaeology has begun to contextualize the lost landscape in which Angela lived and negotiated her world. This talk will highlight the process of discovery and the role that public archaeology plays in this commemorative year so poignant in American history.


David Givens is the Director of Archaeology with the Jamestown Rediscovery project. He first started in archaeology over thirty years ago, volunteering on dig sites in the mountains where he worked with the local chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia (ASV). It was also in Blacksburg that he got his introduction to computer science, working for Virginia Tech’s electrical engineering department to establish the Electronic Village program and build computers for students. His passion for the past and the application of technology to the world of historical archaeology is what brought him to the Jamestown Rediscovery project in 2001. He specializes in visualizing lost landscapes of colonial Virginia and is currently directing the archaeology of the Angela site.

Tuesday, March 5

Learning to “See” and Capture Beauty in Photographic Images

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

Photography has been described as “Painting with Light.” So much beauty all around is available for capture with patience, desire, perseverance, knowledge, equipment and steadfast resolve. First, we must “see” the light. Have you purchased a new car, only to ride home noticing for the first time many just like it? That experience illustrates “seeing” with new knowledge. Those same automobiles were there all along, just like exotic and interesting images are waiting to be noticed by prepared and attentive viewers. During this introduction, the presenter will briefly explore the art and science of photography and share some tips on seeing and capturing desirable images.


Joe Jennelle trained as a mathematician and had a career as a teacher and high school principal. Retirement opened opportunities to focus on his lifelong passion, photography. Thousands of hours of study and experience propelled a progression from landscape to portrait to wildlife genres. His photographs have been exhibited at many venues locally, including the Alexander Black House, Warm Hearth Village, and The Artful Lawyer.

Two Sessions
Friday, March 15 - Android eReaders

Friday, March 22 - Apple eReaders

Enjoy Free Movies, Music, eBooks, Audiobooks and More on Your Devices

Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (both sessions)
Location: Blacksburg Library Community Room 200 Miller Street, Blacksburg
Class Limit:10 per session
Cost: Free

Enjoy Free Movies, Music, eBooks, Audiobooks and More on your Android Devices (March 15, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

Bring your Android phone (such as a Samsung Galaxy, LG, Nexus) or tablet, and library experts will teach you how to watch movies, read eBooks, listen to audiobooks and music, and more, all for free from Hoopla and your Library. Your device will need to have at least Android 4.4 (Fire OS 5.0 for Kindle Fires) to use the Hoopla app; download Hoopla from the Google Play Store. You will need your Google Account and Password.

Enjoy Free Movies, Music, eBooks, Audiobooks and More on your Apple Devices (March 22, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

Bring your Apple device (such as an iPad, iPhone, iPod) and library experts will teach you how to watch movies, read eBooks, listen to audiobooks and music, and more, all for free from Hoopla and your Library. Your device will need to have at least iOS 10.3 to use the Hoopla app; download Hoopla from the App Store. You will need your Apple ID and Password.

For both sessions, you will need:

  1. A Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library card in good standing
  2. Hoopla App downloaded in advance

The library offers ‘book-a-librarian’ appointments for one-on-one learning if you need assistance in advance of the class with accessing the app store to download the Hoopla App.

Tuesday, March 19

Roots of Southern Appalachian Music

Time: 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

Fred and Jon Benfield took the name “American Roots” because it describes the music they have enjoyed performing together in the 5-county area over the last 25 or so years. Their musical influences are many and varied as are their shows which could be characterized as Americana Music: “Carter Family to Gershwin.” A typical performance may include traditional Appalachian ballads, country/ piedmont blues, delta blues, very early country, tin-pan alley tunes, western swing, jazz, hot fiddle tunes (on guitar), and “folkgrass” (folk tunes played at bluegrass tempo).


Fred and Jon Benfield

Wednesday, March 20

What’s Happening in Public Schools?

Time: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

This event is open to Warm Hearth residents, guests, and the public.

How are we preparing our public school students for the future? Budgetary concerns, staffing needs, school safety, rapidly changing technology, the current emphasis in Virginia on career and workforce readiness – all present challenges in Montgomery County and nationwide.

A panel of educators from Montgomery County will provide a brief overview of the school system and share how teachers and administrators are preparing students both for further education and for entrance into the work force. A question and answer period will follow.


Mark Miear, Superintendent of Schools

Lois Graham, Deputy Superintendent

Thomas Kranz, Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Carl Pauli, Director of Secondary Education

Mark Husband, Director of Career and Technology Education

Thursday, March 21

Cultural Appropriation: Past and Present Voices

Time: 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center
Class Limit: 40
Cost: Free

Presented in partnership with the Moss Arts Center

For generations, artists, scholars, and cultural critics have explored the question: What are the implications of adapting the arts and culture of underrepresented communities? In this hybrid performance and discussion, engage with guest artist-experts in the history of American music, including spirituals and sorrow songs. Delve into the relationship between contemporary perspectives on the timely subject of cultural appropriation and those of such luminaries as W.E.B. DuBois, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, and Antonin Dvorak.


Dwight Bigler, associate professor and director of choral activities, School of Performing Arts

Kevin Deas, acclaimed concert singer

Joseph Horowitz, executive director, PostClassical Ensemble

Angel Gil-Ordonez, music director, PostClassical Ensemble

This event is presented by members of the PostClassical Ensemble in advance of their March 23rd performance of Deep River: The Art of the Spiritual. Tickets to the performance should be purchased through the Moss Arts Center: https:/

Tuesday, March 26

Producing on Broadway: Why Are Tickets So Expensive?

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

Why is the price of a ticket for a Broadway show so expensive? We will explore the business of producing a show on Broadway and what it takes to get the draft of an idea through the opening night, both financially and legally.

This talk will be of special interest to LLI members headed to New York City in May for our Road Scholar charter tour “Behind the Velvet Curtain.” But all LLI members are invited to attend.


Don Drapeau retired from Virginia Tech as Professor Emeritus and Head of the Department of Theatre Arts. He served 15 years as a member of the Lyric Council Board and 9 years as the chair; he remains active with the Lyric as a volunteer and serving on committees.

Friday, March 29

Opera Preview: Wagner’s Die Walküre

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: P. Buckley Moss Gallery 223 Gilbert Street, Blacksburg
Parking available in the adjacent North End Center Garage
Class Limit: 35
Cost: Free

Join other opera aficionados and newcomers in a preview of Wagner’s opera Die Walküre which will be shown at the Regal Cinema on Saturday, March 30 as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s HD Live Performances. Learn how this story relates to other famous myths and explore Wagner’s use of the Leitmotif (short musical theme related to a character or idea) in constructing his drama. Violinist Linda Plaut shares her unique perspective as an orchestra member performing this work.


Linda Plaut worked as a freelance violinist for 20 years, performing with the Boston Pops and the Boston and Philadelphia Opera companies. Following her move to Blacksburg in 1983, she played with the Roanoke Symphony, including a performance of Act One of Die Walküre, led by conductor Victoria Bond. Now retired, Linda plays string quartets every week and serves on the North American Outreach Board of the Associated Chamber Music Players.

Friday, April 5

Tour an Amazing Collection of Classic and Imported Cars

Time: 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Duncan Imports & Classic Cars, 2300 Prospect Avenue, Christiansburg
Class Limit: 25
Cost: Free

Tucked away in Christiansburg is Gary Duncan’s collection of nearly 1,000 classic and imported cars. It started as a hobby for this car dealer/owner and it grew into a business of its own. The collection attracts car enthusiasts and buyers from all over. Film crews and studios have taken a particular interest in the collection, sometimes renting and returning the cars and other times purchasing the cars to wreck while they film. Join us for a tour of Duncan’s amazing collection to see for yourself.

Want an idea of what you might see? Check out the video from Jalopnik on the Duncan Imports website: -- look under “Articles” for the Jalopnik 2018 video.

Tuesday, April 9

Evolution of America: 1619 to Today

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Warm Hearth Village Center
Class Limit: 75
Cost: Free

“Evolution of America: 1619 to Today” is a one-hour documentary created for a national audience that explores four historical events of this seemingly obscure but decisive year, and the effect that year had on the growth and development of the U.S., which still resonates today. Supported by approximately 16 minutes of narration, the majority of the show features interviews with Virginia and national leaders discussing how the 1619 events are reflected in contemporary American society.

We’ll watch this documentary together and join in a facilitated discussion afterward with a VT historian.

Thursday, April 11

Bunker Tour at the Greenbrier

Time: Depart Blacksburg Community Center at 8:30 a.m.; please arrive 15 minutes early
Estimated return time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Departure and return - Blacksburg Community Center
Class Limit: 22
Cost: $56 includes bus transportation and bunker tour fee; the fee is subject to minor change if bunker tour fee increases this spring. Lunch cost is not included.

The secret is out! The declassified Bunker at The Greenbrier is a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes and walks you through a fascinating period of history. Carved deep into the mountainside beneath the resort’s West Virginia Wing is an emergency Cold War fallout shelter. This once top-secret U.S. government relocation facility for Congress was declassified in 1995; the Bunker is now open to the public. Check out the Bunker Tour website to get a better idea of what you will see: Bunker/Bunker-History. The tour is approximately 90 minutes, followed by lunch at Food and Friends in Lewisburg before returning to Blacksburg.

Bus transportation and trip coordination is provided by Blacksburg Parks and Recreation. If your registration is confirmed with LLI, you will be sent payment instructions. Your seat is not guaranteed unless and until you make payment to the trip coordinator.

Thursday, April 18

Really Local Food: A Field Trip to Glade Road Growing

Time: Farm tour: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Food and beverages served until 9:00 p.m.
Location: 2351 Glade Rd, Blacksburg
Class Limit: 25
Cost: Tour is free; food and beverages afterward on your own

Presented in partnership with the New River Land Trust

Just down Glade Road in Blacksburg, not far past housing developments and within town limits, lies the Bixler easement. This 48-acre property is under a conservation easement and is home to Glade Road Growing and a variety of small businesses that provide vegetables, eggs, chickens, beer, local music and local flavor. Join the New River Land Trust for a tour of the farm property and see what’s growing! Stick around after the tour for food, beer and music with Tabula Rasa and Rising Silo Brewery. (Cost of beer and food are not included in the tour.) Wear shoes for walking on uneven ground and be prepared for the weather.

Tuesday, April 23

Walking Tour of Downtown Christiansburg

Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Starting location in Christiansburg provided later
Class Limit: 20
Cost: Free

Presented in partnership with the Montgomery Museum of Art & History

Architectural styles, like fashion, are an indicator of culture, just as national business trends were important economic drivers throughout much of our local history. Join Sherry Joines Wyatt, curator at the Montgomery Museum & Lewis Miller Regional Art Center, on a walking tour through the heart of Downtown Christiansburg, which will serve as a learning lab for history. You’ll see how the town participated in national trends of architecture and business as illustrated by buildings, monuments, and sites dating from 1853 through the early 1960s. The tour will be supplemented with historic photographs from the museum’s collection and there will be plenty of opportunity for questions and answers.


Sherry Joines Wyatt holds a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Georgia and worked as an architectural history consultant for over ten years. She has been curator at the Montgomery Museum & Lewis Miller Regional Art Center since 2010. She enjoys sharing the many cultural influences, connections, and threads of history in her work.

Wednesday, April 24

Bluegrass and Barbecue Social

Time: 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Location: The German Club Manor 711 Southgate Drive, Blacksburg
Class Limit: 125
Cost: $20 - Payment instructions will be provided to registrants at a later date.

Co-sponsored by AARP Blacksburg Chapter

Join LLI and AARP members for a social to be held at the German Club Manor. Enjoy bluegrass music from local musicians and a meal of barbecue with two sides, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage. This is a BYOB event so you are welcome to bring a bottle of wine, or your favorite alcoholic beverage to share at your table.

Friday and Saturday, April 26 – 27

Overnight Trip to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Time: Depart early afternoon on Friday, return early evening on Saturday
(Detailed schedule, final cost, and payment instructions to be confirmed later.)
Location: Market Place Shopping Center, Christiansburg
Class Limit: 23
Cost: $250/person double room; $320/person single room, includes bus transportation, lodging, Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast

This is a very special opportunity to join Virginia Tech faculty members Nikki Giovanni and Ginney Fowler as they host a bus trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum’s 12 inaugural exhibitions focus on broad themes of history, culture and community. These exhibitions have been conceived to help transform visitors’ understanding of American history and culture and to help visitors adapt to and participate in changing definitions of American citizenship, liberty and equality.

We’ll start our tour before the museum opens to the public with our guide John Whittington Franklin, son of esteemed historian John Hope Franklin and a cultural historian and senior manager in the Office of External Affairs at the museum. We’ll learn how Nikki Giovanni’s accomplishments are exhibited in the museum and hear about her past and current contributions to the civil rights movement and racial equality. You’ll be given plenty of time to browse exhibits and to enjoy lunch on your own in the museum’s Sweet Home Café.

Monday, April 29

Wilderness Road Museum Talk and Tour

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Wilderness Road Museum, New Bern, Virginia
Class Limit: 30
Cost: Free

Join LLI for exclusive access on a day the museum is not open to visitors. We’ll begin inside an 1806 cabin with a video telling the story of the Wilderness Road. Host and historian April Martin will then discuss the history of the American Revolution in the New River Valley followed by a selfguided tour of the museum.

Carpool or drive yourself. Museum is in Newbern, 20 minutes from Blacksburg.


April Martin

LLI Spring Social Events

January 20 at 3:00 p.m.
Senior Social and Dance Party at the Sapphire Ballroom and Dance Center, $12/person. Enjoy ballroom dance performances, sample a few homemade snacks, meet interesting new friends, and then (if you want) try dancing during the beginner-friendly lesson all to fantastic music from the 40′s, 50′s, & 60′s. RSVP to Sapphire Ballroom at 540-382-8782 or

April 24, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Bluegrass and Barbeque Social, see above for details.

Plans underway:
Visit to new craft brewery and brand new restaurant at the Old Prices Fork School.

For more information or to share your ideas for additional social events with the committee, please contact Judy Ridinger,, (540) 230-1059 cell

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Continuing & Professional Education @ Virginia Tech