Everyone's an Educator is a series of articles highlighting campus community members' unique contributions to the education, well-being, experience, and personal growth of students.

What does it take to thrive?

As the university’s inaugural alumni scholar of practice, Dan Maguire ’94 is helping students in the Thrive living-learning community find out.

“A big part of the answer for me is mentoring Virginia Tech students,” he said. “It was really a no-brainer to say yes to a more formal role.”

Maguire brings a wealth of experience. As CEO of TeraThink, an information technology and management consulting company in Northern Virginia, he balances business with quality time at home, a focus on health and well-being, and service.

“My wife tells me I seem to get the most satisfaction out of helping others,” he said. “I think that’s especially true when it comes to supporting students. It is incredibly refreshing to engage with them.”

Maguire serves on Thrive’s steering committee and creates experiences that help students learn more about communication, leadership, and professionalism. He pushes them to think about what it means to thrive on a personal and professional level.

In October, Maguire brought other Virginia Tech alumni from his company to Blacksburg for a panel discussion on using strengths at work. The team shared lessons learned and gave advice. “Our pain is their gain,” he said.

Maguire’s panel included TeraThink’s Vice President Glen Lyle ’92; Vice President Jeff Jones ’95; Recruiting and Events Specialist Susan Naugle ’01; HR Specialist Victoria Hickman, ’10; and Functional Analyst Melanie Norton, '17.

“If you can put yourself into others’ shoes and think about how they will act and react, that’s the leadership game changer,” Maguire told students. “It’s pretty good advice for life, too.”

His key piece of advice for students?

“Take time to explore more of what Virginia Tech has to offer to learn and grow beyond academics,” said Maguire. “I wish I had done more of that. Living-learning communities and other programs are beneficial. It’s a big world and getting involved in a diverse set of activities will create a more well-rounded perspective to take out into it.”

It is obvious Maguire is an educator at heart.

He is energetic and engaged during sessions and open about his experiences. He is approachable and warm. Whoever is speaking to him gets his full attention. He makes eye contact and leans forward.

“This was my second time hearing him speak,” said sophomore Maddie Martin, a multimedia journalism major in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences who joined Thrive’s diverse living-learning community to learn how to better leverage her strengths. “I was inspired by him last year and knew the panel was an opportunity to learn more.”

Architecture major Isaiah Ho, a sophomore in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, came to the session to learn how to use his strengths outside of an academic setting. “The whole group was fantastic,” he said. “They provided really great information and helped me see how to go from college to an internship or job.”

Virginia Tech is the first university in the nation to offer students the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment tool for free to help them discover their strengths and the areas in which they excel.

 “The unique Thrive community invites students to play to their strengths, engage with the Aspirations for Student Learning, and be part of a supportive mentoring community,” said Taran Cardone, Thrive program director and Student Affairs director for learning partnerships. “It is open to students from all majors and years.”

This is Maguire’s second semester in his role with Thrive. His work brings him to Blacksburg periodically and includes forums, town hall meetings, conference calls, and presentations. It is also breaking new ground for alumni.

“As our inaugural alumni scholar of practice, Dan is continually teaching us how we can engage alumni in truly meaningful ways,” said Patty Perillo, vice president for Student Affairs. “His work with students in this role is invaluable. He is a champion of strengths-based learning and a great mentor in helping students connect their strengths with their priorities and potential life path.”

Maguire’s leadership style is open and collaborative. He is also a servant leader.

He received the university’s prestigious Ut Prosim Aspire! Award last spring for serving others. The awards recognize those who exemplify the university’s Aspirations for Student Learning

Maguire seeks out ways to support his alma mater. He sees a need and says yes. He serves on the Student Affairs Alumni Advisory Board. He worked with fellow alumnus J.P. Foley ’92 to create an endowment to support undergraduate leadership training. He is an active donor. And he is a regular in Lane Stadium.

“There are things that give you energy and things that take it away,” he said. “Working with students gives me tremendous energy. And it’s a way I can give back.”

Those who want to help the university expand strengths education can donate to the Virginia Tech Strengths JUMP Crowdfunding Campaign by Nov. 27. Donations will enhance training, resources, and activities to allow more students to turn their raw talents into true strengths. 

Photos by Christina Franusich

Written by Tammy Tripp