Celebrating Acceptance

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Nicole Dobson can’t keep her fingers off her hot pink iPhone. In the few minutes’ walk from her room in Willard Hall to the ITCC, the UMW senior’s Facebook “likes” have revved up. “182,” she says, eyes glued to the screen in her hands. “183!” Dobson’s mid-March post? “BIG DAY – I have been accepted to … Columbia University.” Rewind nearly a decade to another big day. “I faced things no 13-year-old should have to face,” said Dobson, who was asleep in the backseat of her family’s minivan when an 18-wheeler slammed it from behind. She was thrown through a window and 30 feet from the car; suffered a traumatic brain injury, 11 broken bones, and a punctured lung; and spent three weeks in a coma. As she pushed through therapy, learning to walk, talk – and think – all over again, the young field hockey player from Santa Fe realized she’d never be the same. Now, UMW and its Center for International Education (CIE) have proven her right. Just not in the way she’d … [Read more...]

A Degree of Balance

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It’s 2 a.m. when Joshua Bailey slides behind the wheel of his car, the last one left in the star-lit mall lot. He checks his phone for missed texts. “Hey JB, we’re going out …” “Josh, you able to chill tonight?” By now, though, at the end of the UMW senior’s late shift at Splitsville, most of his classmates have called it a night. One of nine children, Bailey knew he’d have to work to pay his way through college, but Double Drive wasn’t his first stop. Like many of the 234 transfer students UMW admitted last semester, he got his start at community college. A star business student, he’ll earn a bachelor’s degree this summer. But with a 50-hour job, 20-minute commute, 12 credit hours, and one fiancée, it’s been a balancing act. “You have to be conscious of what you do with your time. How much TV do you watch? How many video games do you play?” Bailey said. “You have to take a bullet in that area.” Growing up, his large family ran on teamwork. He shared a room with … [Read more...]

All In

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Christian Hughes flings Eagle gear into the crowd on Ball Circle and adlibs a joke into the mike. The UMW junior’s perfectly comfortable onstage as a Family Weekend emcee, with no memorized material. Just confidence. That’s all he brought with him to college – no pictures, no posters, no high school pals. He saw Mary Washington as a place to start fresh and try different things. Determined to soak it all in, he joined many of the University’s more than 120 student organizations, finding new friends, new interests, and a new sense of self. “A light bulb went off in my head that what you do here will define the rest of your life,” said Hughes, a double major in political science and economics. Growing up in Charlottesville, he was the kind of kid who took charge, planning an alternate high school prom and launching his own landscaping company. His school principal mother and fire captain father met as undergrads and cast so much school spirit onto their children Hughes knew … [Read more...]

Face of Feminism

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Paige McKinsey was in middle school when the March for Women’s Rights played out on Capitol Hill. But there she was, rallying with her mother and tens of thousands of others. “That was the first time I ever experienced the word ‘feminism,’ ” said McKinsey, a UMW senior majoring in women’s and gender studies and international relations. “It was a really important experience, participating in the system at such a young age.” She could make a difference, she realized, just by showing up. Not that McKinsey, now a full-fledged feminist, “just shows up” for anything. If she isn’t touting equal rights at Lee Hall, she’s tweeting the dangers of adopting Greek life or rallying for the ERA in D.C. She’ll take that passion with her to West Africa when she enters the Peace Corps this spring. But the strides she’s made for Feminists United will remain at Mary Washington. “She’s taken them out of the shadows to be a real, critical part of campus life,” said Women’s and Gender Studies Chair … [Read more...]

Munching the Numbers

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Debra Schleef’s students got a sweet assignment this fall. And, if you don’t think learning about univariate statistics sounds sweet, think again. Chocolate changes everything. “I’m pumped to get started on this,” said senior sociology major Lauren Boyle, who tore into a bag of M&M’s in a late-morning lab in Monroe 114. Each October Schleef, professor of sociology, turns her Quantitative Research Methods and Analysis course into the tastier “Candy Lab.” M&M’s add color to the curriculum and whet students’ appetites for concepts, like random probability sampling, that might otherwise seem tedious. Working in pairs, Boyle and her classmates ripped open bags of the button-shaped morsels and set aside 50 pieces. Schleef let them slurp up the extras – with one caveat. “Randomly eat them,” she said. “Don’t eat only one color, or you’ll ruin the results.” They counted the green, red, yellow, brown, orange, and blue M&M’s in their bags, while Schleef drew … [Read more...]

The Color of Science

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Isabelle Malouf was so into science she wore it to prom. The gown that she made with organza and sequins had a bubble-type skirt that resembled a bacteriophage. A dress and a virus, it was part of the Daring Night Attire – or DNA – collection she created for a high school design class. “It was fun taking something like that and making it pretty,” said Malouf, a University of Mary Washington senior. “A lot of molecular biology stuff is gorgeous.” These days, rather than fashion, she channels her passion for science into zebrafish. Through them, she’s studying an herbicide that’s been linked to cancer. Her research, along with her hair color – she changes it weekly –make Malouf a standout on campus. And, as a face in UMW’s new branded photos, she hopes to make science seem more accessible, especially for women. “Girls aren’t expected to be good at science,” said Malouf, a biology major with a chemistry minor. Growing up in Boston, she learned to expect the unexpected, … [Read more...]

Marvels of Morocco

Alyssa Brown '14 was among 15 UMW students visiting Morocco this summer.

Alyssa Brown played up her limited funds to score a tunic in Rabat. Andrew Broedel shared an American cigarette to seal a deal on a turban in the Sahara. … [Read more...]

Lights, Camera, Passion

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The job Dan Wolfe ’84 landed after graduation brought a paycheck, but it also brought nightmares. In them, 20 years had passed; he was in his late 40s, still scuffing along in car insurance. Then came the call. His 26-year-old former University of Mary Washington roommate, John Heath ’84, had died in a car crash. Shaken, Wolfe drove to the campus they’d called home. He’d been coasting, he realized, even back then – a business administration major on “the four-plus-year plan.” But Mary Washington wasn’t giving up on Wolfe yet. He thought of his friend and how he’d loved movies, especially "The Big Chill"; they’d seen it together. As Wolfe strolled Campus Walk, reliving his past, he came face-to-face with his future – a flier for film school on a bulletin board outside Lee Hall. “Once I got over my fear of failure, things started happening,” said Wolfe, now executive vice president for Worldwide Creative Operations at NBC Universal. “I realized I was holding myself … [Read more...]

Finally, the Right Fit

Cedric Rucker adjusts mortarboard on Mollie Welty '14

Simpson Library boasted new CD-ROMS. The Battlefield Athletic Complex had just been completed. And acid wash jeans and shoulder pads ruled Campus Walk. It was 1989 when a photographer captured an image a family would cherish forever. The picture – of Lisa Welty Pagliocchini ’89 trying her mortarboard on her 2-year-old niece, Mollie Elizabeth Welty – ran with Commencement Day coverage in Today, now University of Mary Washington Magazine. Welty’s mother’s been “nutsy” about the photo ever since, stashing away the magazine for all of these years. Watching her daughter, now 26, turn the tassel on her own mortarboard on Saturday, May 10, brought the family full circle. “Hindsight is always 20-20,” said Welty, who would have to leave home and come back to truly appreciate UMW. “It was the right school all along, I just didn’t know it.” If she had, she might not have schlepped all her stuff from Woodbridge to West Virginia, even with a full ride to row on the university team. … [Read more...]

A Second Chance

Nicole Dobson (center) is president of UMW's Students With Disabilities and Their Allies (SDATA).

Nicole Dobson never saw the truck that changed her life. She was asleep in the backseat when the 18-wheeler slammed into her parents’ minivan, sending it toppling head over tail and tossing Dobson 30 feet from the car. When she woke up three weeks later, the vibrant eighth-grade field hockey player was gone. “I went to sleep perfectly normal that one day,” said Dobson, who broke 13 bones, punctured a lung, and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash. “I just remember coming to terms with my ruined physical and mental states.” As she pushed through therapy, learning to walk, talk – and think – all over again, she made a decision. She would weave into her future the accident that had nearly stolen it away. Now a Mary Washington junior, Dobson hopes to use her experience to help others deal with their own disabilities – through a career in speech-language pathology and as president of UMW’s Students With Disabilities and Their Allies (SDATA). “Having almost lost life … [Read more...]