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Carson Irvine: Why I VMI

Why I VMI: Carson Irvine


When it came to looking at schools, Carson Irvine’s son, Clark, didn’t have VMI on his radar. Carson Irvine recalls telling his son, “You want to put VMI on your list just to check it off … you might see something there that you like.”

Neither Carson nor his wife, Virginia, had any connection to VMI, but that suggestion ended up changing their son’s collegiate career.

That initial look turned into an application, which quickly turned into an acceptance. “He had his application in on a Thursday and was accepted on a Saturday,” Carson Irvine said. “I think he saw VMI as an opportunity to do something unique and different than what other schools might offer. And once he got there, he never looked back.”

Carson Irvine said his son, a 2013 graduate, had three main goals while attending VMI: Achieving academic excellence, serving as a citizen-soldier, and playing football as a cadet-athlete. Clark Irvine ’13 achieved all three by graduating with honors, receiving the George C. Marshall award as a 1st Class cadet, playing football for the Keydets, and serving in the U.S. Army.

“He’s had a roadmap, and he’s been on that roadmap ever since,” said Carson Irvine.

Since graduating from the Institute, Clark Irvine served six years in the U.S. Army, attending Army Ranger School, and left the military with the rank of captain. He also received his master’s degree from Oxford University in Russian and European Studies. He’s currently getting an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, while concurrently attending the Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University for a master’s degree in public administration.

The ability to attend those schools is no small feat—and one Clark Irvine’s father attributes to the fundamentals learned at VMI. “VMI had prepared him very well, in terms of time management and work ethic,” he said. “Getting up every morning, being the first one up and the last one to bed, and keeping yourself in shape both mentally and physically [was important].

“His resume is set up in a way that he’ll be successful for him and his family for the rest of his life. And for the rest of his life, he will be able to make that connection to VMI.”

Carson Irvine and his wife have been ardent supporters of VMI during and after their son’s time at the Institute. As he explained, “We have the opportunity to give money to other schools of higher education, and frankly, we choose not to.

“VMI is an institution of higher education that will always give back and will always be there for your son or daughter should they need help as they go through their life.”

Carson Irvine is also giving his time by serving on the Keydet Club Board of Governors.

While VMI started as a checkmark on a list, giving to the Institute is far more than that to Carson Irvine. It is an emotional connection that is paying dividends in his son’s life.

“And my mother always told me, she said, ‘Judge your success by the success of your children.’ So if that’s the case, with my son, I’m pretty successful,” Carson Irvine said with a laugh. “So if [VMI] keeps giving to him … it’s our obligation to give back … And if the parents can afford to do it even if they have to stretch a little bit, it’s a place you should give back because we’ve certainly got a lot from [VMI].”

  • 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.