Revealing Moments

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Taking on Twitter

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Is it a human or a Twitter bot? Researchers from the University of Mary Washington and the Naval Surface Warfare Center want to know for sure. UMW computer science majors Bryan Holster and Chris Zimmerman, under the guidance of Professor Stephen Davies, have teamed with scientists at the center’s Dahlgren division to get to the bottom of this sometimes perplexing social media mystery. The partnership is one of several ongoing collaborations between the University and the Naval Surface Warfare Center. For novices to the Twitter sphere, a Twitter bot is an automated software program that posts content or tweets to the online social network Twitter. For instance, the bot @everyword spent seven years tweeting every word in the English language, while @EnjoyTheFilm posts spoilers in response to the tweets of unsuspecting movie-goers. Since the fall, Holster and Zimmerman have collected an innumerable number of tweets using a Web application that they built. Then they developed a … [Read more...]

Cataloging Clues

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Paul Murphy spends his days discovering clues to America’s past. Surrounded by a magnifying glass, latex gloves and a hand-held dusting brush, the University of Mary Washington historic preservation major sorts through a box of seemingly innocuous objects to identify and catalog bits of history. He spies a small sherd of ceramic, perhaps part of a bowl or plate once used by Native Americans; a triangular chipped rock, probably a prehistoric spear or an arrow; and a smooth piece of stone, likely used by hunters to skin animals. “It’s not like being a historian where you read what somebody else wrote and then write your ideas about it,” said Murphy. “It’s something new. You’ve found it, you’ve excavated it, and you interpret it to study how other people lived.” Murphy is one of 11 veterans working at The Veterans Curation Program in Alexandria – an employment and training program for wounded, disabled and recently separated veterans who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan … [Read more...]

Cross-Country Chronicles

Adam Burns

Stickers plastered to the frame of Adam Hunter’s bike tell the tales of his freewheeling cross-country adventures. Ask Hunter about the white Montana decal that declares "I am an Adventure Cyclist," and he'll tell you about being mesmerized by the expansive blue sky while biking across the nation's fourth largest state. The green heart surrounded by an Oregon-shaped border reminds him of stopping to look back at Washington as he crossed the state line after a two-week visit, and the tan bison-pictured Yellowstone National Park sticker reminds him of the steepest part of his journey in Wyoming where he pedaled from an elevation of 3,500 to 9,000 feet. After flying from Virginia to California, the University of Mary Washington senior began his journey with UMW alum Chris Marino ’11 in Santa Cruz by dipping the two tires of his Raleigh Sojourn classic touring bike into the Pacific. He then traveled 4,200 miles east to Virginia Beach where he culminated his adventure by … [Read more...]

Spring Training

Crawford’s experience helped her to learn what it would be like to work on the business side of sports. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Dancing the Macarena with a giant squirrel named Nutzy on top of a dugout wasn’t exactly what Kayla Crawford had in mind when she signed up for her summer internship. Nevertheless, it turned out to be the best part of the University of Mary Washington senior’s summer as she interned with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a minor league baseball team. Crawford, along with 30 other interns from throughout the region, learned about marketing, sales techniques, customer relations and how to interact with coworkers and supervisors, all while having a great time. “It’s a really fun environment, very lively, a lot of people,” said the business major. “I like being interactive with people and I like being on the field; you feel special and important. You’re in charge of creating that fun.” Crawford is among more than 100 UMW students who completed internships for credit this summer for organizations ranging from Mary Washington Healthcare to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. Each year, … [Read more...]

Exploring Education

Environmental science student Katy Chase works with Professor George Meadows to create several portable environmental education kits. Photo by Bob Martin.

Katy Chase has bug viewers, digital microscopes, binoculars and GPS navigation systems at her disposal when she shares her knowledge about environmental science with the community. Using two recently purchased environmental science kits, Chase is one of 15 University of Mary Washington students teaching local families at the England Run Library as part of a partnership with UMW. She aims to ignite in them a similar passion and appreciation for science that she holds dear. “In schools teachers might be a little afraid of science and kids aren’t always exposed to different tools and materials related to the sciences. They learn a lot from textbooks,” said the environmental science and Master of Science in elementary education student. She’s already spread her love for science to Brazil, where as an intern, she taught environmental science in public schools. After she graduates, Chase plans to continue in the classroom, either home or abroad. Using the kits, Chase creates … [Read more...]

Speaking from the Heart

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As a preteen at St. Ursula School, Tom Pacheco took the stage in front of his classmates, took a deep breath, and asked them for their vote for student government. After his very first speech, he was hooked on public speaking. Years later, Pacheco ’14 found a way to share his knack for oration at the University of Mary Washington. “Public speaking is something that people are extremely afraid of and I’ve never felt that, but it’s an incredible experience being able to help someone work through it,” said Pacheco, who worked at the UMW Speaking Center for four years. “I feel that I have these communications skills and I want to do something with them. I want to give back to the community in some way.” He joined the debate team in high school and found a passion for speaking and learning. That passion led him to UMW. At UMW, debate permeated every aspect of his life. A philosophy and political science double major, Pacheco traveled throughout the United States as part of the … [Read more...]

Better Business

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Matt Ernst had a taste for entrepreneurial adventures long before he came to the University of Mary Washington. The 1994 business administration graduate began his first startup –a lawn care company – at the age of 15. “There’s no time like the present,” said Ernst. “If you don’t pursue your dream when you have it right there in front of you, you never know if that moment might come again.” Ernst has seized many moments since his first startup as a teenager. Most recently, he founded Walnut Grove Holdings LLC, an investment company that focuses on early-stage technology companies. “I’m learning how to invest, what not to invest in, to trust my gut like I always did, to seek mentors, to be a sponge, to continue learning and to get out there and be present,” said Ernst, who is focusing on investing in companies with honest, hardworking people. As the eighth of nine children, Ernst learned at a young age about group dynamics, teamwork and to be resilient in the face of … [Read more...]

Creative Critics

Rappahannock-Review

A small circle of University of Mary Washington students scrutinized the printed sheets of poetry resting on their laps. Lost in their lively deliberation the amateur literary critics seemed oblivious to the bitter cold outside the Combs Hall window. “I really want to like this poem,” said senior Abbey Doherty. “I think I love what it’s pursuing.” “I just love the way the poet used the pomegranate,” fellow student Greg Chandler said from across the circle. “I can see this.” “This isn’t the typical divorce poem,” Visiting Assistant Professor of English Elizabeth Wade explained to the group after further discussion. “OK, let’s vote.” The group readied for the ballot—five thumbs up; one down—signaling acceptance in the Rappahannock Review, a new online literary journal created and published by UMW students. With 138 submissions just in the month of February, the Rappahannock Review is a burgeoning publication with plans to publish at least two issues a year and includes … [Read more...]

Letters from Laramie

Shayla-Roland

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