Alumnus impacts laws and regulations for U.S. Department of Transportation
“Don’t focus on one thing, keep an open mind to where your passion takes you. Don’t rush yourself. Seek advice and figure out what you want to do and how you want to achieve it.”
Stephen E. Altizer ’02, spent a lot of time when he was growing up visiting his great grandparents’ farm in Woodlawn, Virginia. He always had great respect for agriculture, but did not think of it as a career when he started at Virginia Tech in pre-vet. Switching focus when he found he was much better at math than science, the Marion, Virginia, native graduated with a B.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics, concentrating on Agribusiness Management, from Virginia Tech and an M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue in 2004.
Altizer then worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a marketing specialist, enforcing regulations promulgated under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. His work ignited an interest in the law and after discussing a law career with Leon Geyer, professor emeritus of Agricultural Applied Economics, in Hutcheson Hall prior to a home football game, he applied to law school. He graduated from West Virginia University’s College of Law in 2010 where he was a research editor for the West Virginia Law Review. He called upon his economic background in writing his law review note about the crude oil futures market.
Altizer was commissioned as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army after graduating from law school. He thought he had missed his chance to serve, but was grateful when the opportunity came around again. He primarily prosecuted soldiers accused of crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but also helped soldiers with a variety of legal issues including taxes, estate planning, and family law. Things do not always go as planned and he was medically retired from the Army in 2016 because of service-related injuries. Today, he is an attorney for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration whose mission is to reduce crashes and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. He still appreciates his education from Virginia Tech in this role when agriculture and transportation intersect.
As far as advice for students today, “Don’t focus on one thing, keep an open mind to where your passion takes you. Don’t rush yourself. Seek advice and figure out what you want to do and how you want to achieve it.” Altizer continues to follow his passions as he seeks new opportunities to grow and learn.
You can get in touch with him via LinkedIn.
What do you miss most about Virginia Tech?
Surprisingly, running across the drillfield from one class to the next. Walking among the buildings made of Hokie Stone. I’ve never been to a campus that compares to Virginia Tech’s beauty.
Do you keep in touch with fellow classmates?
Yes! I am privileged to be a brother of Alpha Gamma Rho as I remain friends with many of the ones I was in school with still to this day.
What dorm did you live in?
Would you ever move back to Blacksburg?
I grew up in Southwest Virginia and nothing compares to its splendor. Bouncing around for school and in the Army, I haven’t had a lot of places I’d call “home.” Blacksburg is definitely one and I’d be happy to be back there.