Voices of Hope

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Growing up in Afghanistan, Fatemeh Ahmadi moved every couple years, her family bouncing from one house to another. The University of Mary Washington junior, who never imagined she’d attend a university in the U.S., spent last spring break giving another family a place to call home as part of a Habitat for Humanity trip. “I come from a third world country where we’ve lived in rental houses,” Ahmadi said. “I understand how hard it is not to have a roof of your own on top of your head.” Now, she is the first person in her family to attend college.  Ahmadi and Afghan native Maryam Yousufzai, also a junior, are receiving full scholarships through UMW as part of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, known as IEAW. The largest program of its kind, the IEAW has a mission to “create Afghanistan’s future women leaders through education and career guidance.” Since the launch of the program more than a decade ago, the initiative has given an education and a voice to more than 85 … [Read more...]

Lift Off

STEM_HP

Olivia Schiermeyer led fifth graders in a countdown as she manned a miniature rocket launcher at the “3…2…1 Lift Off” station. Several covered their ears in anticipation of the blast. … [Read more...]

Chronicles of Courage

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Seven years have passed since Retired Marine Sergeant Kenny Lyon sat down with CBS’s Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes.” With a wire holding his jaw together, Lyon vowed that he would fight to regain everything back that he lost in a mortar attack on May 1, 2006, while serving in Iraq. Today, Lyon is well on his way. He loves to entertain friends, race cars and is in his first year of classes at the University of Mary Washington. Thanks to his classmates at UMW, his miraculous story of recovery will become a part of American history through the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project. The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center, a research center of the Library of Congress, collects and preserves personal stories from veterans so future generations can learn about the realities of war. Lyon is one of 24 veterans who were interviewed by UMW students to have their personal stories of service recorded in history. Every fall since the creation of the project … [Read more...]

Stage Presence

Nicholas McGovern '14 plays Melchior in "Spring Awakening."
Photo by Geoff Greene.

Nicholas McGovern ’14 never planned to major in theater at the University of Mary Washington. He never considered auditioning for a play and had no idea he had the talent to make it on stage. He didn’t realize that he could sing, let alone belt out a tune in front of hundreds or be accepted into a competitive summer acting school.  He never dreamed he would play a lead in the musical “Spring Awakening” at Klein Theatre. But, in a space of a year, it all happened. And it all started with baseball. Growing up in Springfield, Va., McGovern was surrounded by his sports-loving family. Between McGovern and his cousins, they covered all ranges of sports from ice hockey and lacrosse to cheerleading and collegiate sailing. McGovern swam, played football and baseball, for which he was recruited to play on the varsity team at UMW. Although he declared a major in business, McGovern took a theater class during his freshmen year to fill a general education requirement. In that … [Read more...]

Speaking Intensive

Professor Anand Rao teaches courses in small group communication, visual rhetoric and social media.

Anand Rao came to the University of Mary Washington more than a decade ago with one goal in mind: to teach students to communicate effectively. “Strong communication skills are essential to succeed in every area of life,” said Rao, associate professor of communication and director of the Speaking Intensive Program. In his role with the Speaking Intensive Program, Rao has influenced most every UMW student, since undergraduates are required to take at least two speaking intensive courses to graduate. “The purpose of the speaking intensive requirement is to help students find ways to express themselves and build relationships,” said Rao. The ability to communicate well is crucial not just for excelling in classes, but for relationships and the work place, he said. Speaking Intensive courses are offered in nearly every major, from math to historic preservation. Students learn how to become proficient in speaking skills that are specific to their individual majors. Within … [Read more...]

Educating Innovators

Professor Teresa Coffman uses new technologies to teach her education graduate students.

Don’t walk into Teresa Coffman’s classroom and expect to see a typical lecture. “I flip my classroom,” said Coffman. “I want my students to read and explain and think about the information. I like to hear what they have to say and how we can make it better.” An associate professor at the University of Mary Washington’s College of Education, Coffman pioneers innovative education in the classroom to inspire future teachers. “Technology is a tool that can create an environment that really gets students thinking effectively,” said Coffman. “It provides a vast amount of new sources and possibilities.” Coffman’s graduate courses focus on critical and creative thinking for real-world applications. “I want my students to think about ways that they can engage their students in new ways of thinking,” said Coffman. “You can’t just sit in front of a computer and expect learning to occur.” She requires blogs in all her classes, where students reflect and post assignments to … [Read more...]

The Sounds of Spirit

Members of the UMW Pep Band perform at each home basketball game.

The action on the Anderson Center court may have paused, but high in the stands the new University of Mary Washington Pep Band is charged with keeping up the excitement. The instrumental group, complete with cowbell, bursts into song, and UMW mascot Sammy D. Eagle dances with the halftime crowd. A trumpet solo gives way to a fist pump from the band and a rousing chant – “Eagles!” “A pep band has been absent from sports [at UMW] for all these years and now it’s a reality,” said faculty band leader Jim Ford. The pep band, the brainchild of Ford and faculty adviser Kevin Bartram, director of the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra, recently became an officially recognized student group with about 20 student musicians. Although it has only been operating for about a month, the group has stayed busy, attending every home basketball game so far this year. No matter the score on the board, members of the pep band are there to show their support – cheering on their fellow students and … [Read more...]

Ultimate Honors

Maggie Karrs '16 (center) is one of

When Maggie Karrs researched potential colleges, she was already familiar with the University of Mary Washington. Her two older brothers, Jeremiah Karrs ’09 and Christian Karrs ’12, had raved about the school’s small, interactive classes, its focus on honor and integrity and the multitude of undergraduate research and internship opportunities. This fall, she followed in her brothers’ footsteps. “I was probably slightly influenced to come to UMW because of my family connection, but I also love the atmosphere of the campus, and the school’s great academic reputation,” said Karrs’16. When she opened her acceptance letter to UMW last spring, she was surprised to find that she’d be able to further her education in a different way than her brothers, as one of 73 students in the university’s newly implemented honors program. The creation of the honors program at UMW has become another way for students to enhance their learning experience and further their academic … [Read more...]