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Terrin Tucker ’95: Why I VMI

Terrin Tucker '95


“It’s important for me to stay plugged into VMI because I value the experience. I think it’s unlike any experience that any other college can offer. I value the education that I received, the experience of the Rat Line and my cadetship, and the friendships that I developed at VMI.” That’s how Terrin Tucker ’95 explains his decision to be involved as a member of the VMI family and serve the Institute as a volunteer leader—specifically, as the Club of the Triad Chapter president.

Like many cadets, Tucker found his way to the Institute via an athletic scholarship. He’d played football for E.C. Glass High School in his native Lynchburg, Virginia, and was looking to continue with that sport at the Division I level. He’d also heard that VMI’s academics and alumni connections were exceptionally strong. “It was just a blessing to be offered a scholarship to VMI,” Tucker commented. “So, once I accepted that scholarship, I never looked back.”

But like all rats, Tucker had days when the Rat Line just seemed endless and the Institute’s challenges overwhelming. He well remembers the sinking feeling he’d get when the family car turned up Letcher Avenue after a furlough, but the brother rat bond and the desire to finish what he started kept him fixed on the course he’d embarked upon on Matriculation Day. “If these guys beside me are able to stick it out, if they’ve been able to hang in there for four years, I can definitely hang in there for four years,” Tucker noted. “So, there was really nothing in me that said, they’ve got the best of you, you can quit now. I wasn’t going to let that happen.”

Tucker didn’t quit on the football field, either, nor did his brother rats. Gridiron victories were rare in those years, but Tucker and his teammates exhibited a relentless spirit and forged a bond that exists to this day.

“We learn. We fight hard. We develop leadership skills. We push through adversity. Those are the things I think that are needed in today’s society.”

Terrin Tucker ’95

“It was more of a family atmosphere,” Tucker related. “And we just allowed our experience at VMI through football, through sports, to continue to build the character that we had down inside. We continued to build on that year after year, even in spite of tough losses and near wins.”

For some onlookers, it was easy to discount the VMI football team of Tucker’s era—but Tucker recalls one game when the naysayers were left speechless. It was the fall of Tucker’s 1st Class year, and the team had traveled to Boone, North Carolina, to play Appalachian State, then favored to win the SoCon championship. “And so going into that last game, VMI, we were 0 and 10, and this was Coach Bill Stewart’s first year,” said Tucker. The hard-fought game ended in a Keydet victory in overtime, and even today, the memory of that incredible game reminds Tucker of the grit that VMI instills. “That just epitomizes the never-say-die attitude of VMI cadets,” he stated. “We had a freshman or rat at the time make the game-winning interception. So, we had people [who] contributed across the board offensively, defensively, and we never gave up. We continued to fight until the very end.”

Tucker graduated from VMI with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, and today, working as a software developer, he can see that the values VMI instilled are the ones he uses in his job each day. “So, it’s very important, especially in an IT field, to be able to multitask, pay attention to detail, expect the unexpected,” he said. “You’re never going to know what’s coming next in the Rat Line. Likewise, in business, there are times when you’re never going to know what’s coming next, and you have to be prepared for it and adjust on the fly.”

The workplace demands leadership skills, as well, and Tucker believes that his were forged at VMI. “One of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to receive through my current company is being honored for having one of the best teams, developing the best teams on multiple occasions,” he stated. “I think VMI has assisted me because of its uniqueness in terms of giving cadets opportunities to develop leadership skills in an adversative environment.”

Tucker also noted that VMI’s cohesive environment provides exceptional preparation not only for the work world but for life in general. “At VMI, you learn that everyone comes from different socio-economic backgrounds, different races, religions … whatever it may be, we are all thrown into that same crucible together,” he commented. “We learn. We fight hard. We develop leadership skills. We push through adversity. Those are the things I think that are needed in today’s society to help kids develop not only that mental and physical toughness but also those skills that will allow them to stand out from amongst their peers.”

  • Victoria Ferris

    Victoria Ferris Social Media and Communications Strategist

    The social media and communications strategist is responsible for creating compelling, audience-appropriate, multi-channel content for social media, and for monitoring the VMI Alumni Agencies' social media accounts. The strategist supports all communications efforts, including email marketing deployment and training, website updating, and video editing.

    Mary Price

    Mary Price Development Writer/Communications Specialist

    The development writer plays a key role in producing advancement communications. This role imagines, creates, and produces a variety of written communication to inspire donors to make gifts benefiting VMI. Utilizing journalistic features and storytelling, the development writer will produce content for areas such as Annual Giving, stewardship, and gift planning.