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Gene Warren ’83: Why I VMI

Gene Warren ’83


Each fall, young people from all backgrounds come together at VMI. Once they march into barracks the great equalizer begins: VMI’s famed Rat Line.

Gene Warren ’83 remembers standing in ranks, looking to the right and left and not being able to tell if cadets came from poor or rich families. Warren and his younger brother were raised by their single-parent mother, who was a teacher.

At one point during Warren’s cadetship, his family “financially hit the wall.” The young cadet knew he could not afford to finish his education at VMI. One of Warren’s brother rats called his father. The father arranged to pay for the rest of Warren’s education, telling Warren, “I don’t care if you ever pay me back. This is not about a loan. This is about you finishing your education.”

The experience was overwhelming, Warren remembered. “His actions and the way he gave that to me taught me the meaning of the word ‘giving’ in a way I’d never been exposed to.”

The generosity shown to Warren had “exponential power,” he said. It went beyond helping one young man earn a VMI diploma. The generosity affected not just Warren’s future, but that of his wife, children, business and employees.

Donations to VMI can change lives, Warren said. “It’s not just a check you write.”

  • Christian Heilman

    Christian Heilman Director of Digital Content

    The director of digital content is responsible for creating original video and multimedia materials, as well as developing and editing web and digital content. The director is responsible for platform coordination and troubleshooting, to include the VMI Alumni Agencies’ primary websites, digital newsletter and other digital platforms.

    Molly Rolon

    Molly Rolon Editorial Specialist