High Flyer


Air travel guru Marion Blakey ’70 racks up corporate connections faster than frequent fliers collect miles. So when the soon-to-retire president and CEO of jet-engine giant Rolls-Royce North America asked her to lunch last winter, she took it in stride. “I thought it was just part of the ongoing discussions I tend to have with him and others,” said Blakey, who realized during the course of the meal she was being courted for the job. “You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.” She took the reins this month, the first woman to lead the London-based company that employs 9,000. It’s just one of the boundaries Blakey has broken in a high-flying career that’s made our skies – and our country – more secure.   Back in 1966, she opted to travel by land, boarding a northbound train from her Gadsden, Alabama, home to an all-women’s college. She reached Fredericksburg before the sun that summer morning, steamer trunk in tow. Making her way to Mary Washington, she … [Read more...]

Every Vote Counts


Voting is a way of life for most people. Regaining the right to vote poses no easy task for convicted felons who have served time in prison. Benjamin Hermerding aims to turn that around. A political science major at the University of Mary Washington, Hermerding interns with the Commonweath’s Restoration of Rights Department  that restores voting rights to convicted felons who have served their prison time. Within the past few years, the Richmond Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office division has granted them more rights than in any other time in Virginia’s history, according to Hermerding. In a given day, he looks at approximately 150 applications requesting off probation or parole, the first step in the process. The overwhelming amount of work serves only to make him more determined. “I think the most rewarding thing, and what drives me, is that voting is such an important part of our democracy,” said Hermerding, who has been interested in political science since he was a … [Read more...]

Mental Notes

Rebecca Brown '15

UMW graduate Becky Brown '15 has been baring her soul onstage for what seems like forever – through the strings of her harp. A recent piece she created put that honesty to the test. “A lot of the subject matter turned out to be very personal,” Brown blogged about her electroacoustic composition, Hold Still. “Opening up to a room full of strangers is daunting.” She claimed her voice, though, at last month’s Research and Creativity Day, revealing her senior project – and much of her persona – to a roomful of students and faculty. An intimate tangle of technology, poetry, music, and more, it taps into Brown’s deep pool of talents … and also her soul. It’s the ultimate self-portrait, painted with No. 2 pencils and modern effects, a mixed-media masterpiece of her innermost thoughts. A camera captures the picture of Brown’s drawing, while her original poetry and spoken-word compilation play simultaneously on two different tracks. Her words swirl around her as she works, leading … [Read more...]

Scrutinizing Solidarity

Kristen Powell

Standing outside of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, senior Kristen Powell had a thought: how is it possible that the apartheid regime came to exist? The University of Mary Washington anthropology major returned from an environmental sustainability trip to South Africa last January inspired to explore answers to her question – and her senior thesis provides her the platform to do just that. Apartheid, a word meaning “the state of being apart,” was a system of racial segregation in South Africa in the latter half of the 1900s. For Powell, the question revolved around why people would identify with   a regime such as apartheid or a sub-cultural group premised on racial supremacy and segregation.    With groups such as American Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan continuing to thrive in the 21st century, Powell argues that these questions must be explored to address the root forces behind racism in our society. “I started looking into all of the reasons people were drawn to these … [Read more...]

Scanning Through History

Joe Romero_HP

It’s the ultimate combination of old and new. Decked out in full body armor as a gladiator from the ancient Roman Empire, Senior Harry Rol clamps on his helmet and steps onto a 3-D printing scanner in the University of Mary Washington’s 21st century classroom known as the ThinkLab. “You really look the part,” said Associate Professor of Classics Joe Romero, as Rol strikes a pose, knees bent with shield and sword at the ready. Rol, a classics and computer science major, is one of 10 students in UMW’s inaugural course known simply as 3-D Pompeii. The class combines the study of ancient history with cutting edge 3-D printing technology. Students design their own historically accurate replicas and print three- dimensional miniature models. As a final project, the class will create and print a 3-D version of the ancient city of Pompeii before it was buried in volcanic ash in 79 A.D. The unique classroom brings together students from the varied disciplines of computer … [Read more...]

A Palate for Poverty

Jeff Paddock, Two Dollar Challenge 2015

The human body can go three weeks without food – a fact that most people hope to never test. Yet University of Mary Washington senior Jeffrey Paddock is certainly on his way. No stranger to hunger, the international affairs and philosophy major has joined the Two Dollar Challenge at UMW all four years of his college duration. He’s even lived on two dollars a day for a full month while studying abroad in Peru. And this April, Paddock has added a four-day fast as part of his last challenge at UMW. The Two Dollar Challenge is a five-day program, founded in 2006 at UMW, that challenges college and high school students across the United States to live on just two dollars a day—as nearly half the world’s population does—in an effort to raise awareness of global poverty. Participants buy food, hygiene products and other necessities from two dollars each day while following other rules designed to simulate obstacles faced by people living in poverty. Paddock first learned about … [Read more...]

Celebrating Acceptance


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...]

Lifted Learning

Omar Aminzay1_HP

Omar Aminzay is tackling his MBA at the University of Mary Washington in the same way that he approaches lifting 525 pounds, one day at a time. The first-generation American, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan in the 1970s as refugees, has mapped out his life for the next decade. He aims to compete in his next powerlifting competition within the next 10 months; advance to a middle management position within five years; become a chief financial officer within 10 years.  He’ll accomplish these goals one day at a time. “My parents came here for the American dream. They sacrificed their lives to make a better one for me. That is what fuels me,” said Aminzay, who works as a project accountant for CACI Incorporated. “A day that I don’t have a plan is a bad day.” Aminzay, who starts each day with a to-do list, received his bachelor of science in business administration in three years at UMW, and he’ll complete his master of business administration in one year. He works 40 to 50 … [Read more...]

Open-Door Policy


The door in Ana Chichester’s Combs Hall office is always open. In fact, her University of Mary Washington students know better than anyone that the professor of Modern Languages and Literatures is always willing and able to help with questions and concerns. “Ana always pushed me to work hard and not settle,” said Chareese Ross, a 2006 graduate who works in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education. “She did not have low expectations for any student and she wanted her students to succeed at the highest level possible. That was such an important lesson to learn.” Whether it’s a question about a recent major declaration or advice on which classes to take, Chichester offers a listening ear and will help find a solution. “The students, hands down, are what energize me the most,” said Chichester, who also is director of the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program. The Cuban native, who moved to the U.S. at the age of 16, always knew she … [Read more...]

A Degree of Balance


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...]