Main Course

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In a medium-sized Combs Hall classroom, combine one cool professor, a dozen sharp summer-school students and a dash of inspiration. Blend well. That’s the recipe for UMW Professor of English Colin Rafferty’s seminar, Let’s Eat: Writing About Food. Designed to whet appetites for wielding together words, the tantalizing course takes a novel approach to two topics we often take for granted. When it comes to food – and writing – we devour the finished product with little thought of the tedious decision-making that went into them. Students analyzed the rhetoric of cooking shows, read works by famed food authors and – perhaps everyone’s favorite – wrote odes to beloved dishes, paired with samples to share. The communal essence of mealtime fosters an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration. “By bringing food into the classroom as a subject, we engage the critical thinking skills,” said Rafferty, who’s taught the five-week writing-intensive course since arriving at UMW in 2008. … [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...]

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...]

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...]

Inside the Beltway

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Senior Evan Lauderdale gazes through a glass partition at two co-hosts, poised in front of microphones and computers in a Sirius XM recording studio. Six large television screens cover the wall, tuned to news organizations from around the world. The red light above the studio door beams red, signaling the show is live. “This is the Politics Powered by Twitter show; this is Evan,” Lauderdale greets the show’s first radio caller. “Are you ready to go on the air?” Lauderdale, a business administration and political science double major, is an intern for the “Politics Powered by Twitter” program on the POTUS channel – the ‘P’ stands for politics, not president – which airs from 2 to 3 p.m. each weekday. He’s one of several University of Mary Washington students who are interning in Washington, D.C., this semester, in positions from Capitol Hill to government agencies to media organizations. Lauderdale also helps hosts with their blogs and social media content and edits … [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...]

A Poet’s Perspective

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The door to Claudia Emerson’s office on the Fredericksburg campus tells a story: her favorite quotes about writing and poetry are pinned to a corkboard; a name badge from her appearance at the 2011 National Book Festival hangs from a hook; and a black and white photo of Emily Dickinson is front and center. Emerson, the Arrington Distinguished Chair of Poetry at the University of Mary Washington, drew inspiration from a Dickinson poem for the title of her own latest poetry collection, “The Opposite House.” Emerson finished the book, recently accepted for publication, during her Guggenheim Fellowship sabbatical last semester. The sabbatical took her from catacombs in Sicily to medical history museums in Frederick, Md., and Chicago. “I became interested in looking at loss from a distance and looking imaginatively into the lives of others,” she said, explaining that “The Opposite House” ranges from poems about rural life in America to poems of travel and medical history. As … [Read more...]

Conversation Starter

Warren 8

For Warren Rochelle, professor of English, a class is a conversation where knowledge goes both ways. “Classes are conversations between students and the professor. Knowledge isn’t static,” he said. “We make and discover meaning in conversation, whether it is a conversation with self, with a text, and in this case, in a classroom, with those who are participating in the class. Students bring knowledge to the table, as does the professor, and then through the give-and-take of a class discussion, through responses to a lecture, through blog posts, meaning is explored and developed.” His goal is for students to achieve mastery of the subject and feel engaged with the material. To make the coursework come alive for his students, Rochelle encourages discussions in small groups. An accomplished science fiction writer in his own right and one of the Princeton Review’s 300 Best Professors, Rochelle’s passion for fantasy and science fiction is evident in his classes. … [Read more...]

UMW Alumna’s Research is “Eye-Opening” Experience

Shirin Afsous (right) is assisting Leila Asadi with human rights research

For Shirin Afsous, the problem of sex trafficking in the Middle East hits home. The 2012 graduate of the University of Mary Washington was born in Iran and grew up making occasional visits to the country with her family. When Afsous learned that human rights activist Leila Asadi wanted help with research on gender and sexuality issues, Afsous jumped at the opportunity. Asadi is visiting professor at UMW this semester, where she’s continuing the research she began in the Middle East. Although hundreds of UMW students study abroad every year, undergraduate research like Afsous’ work with Asadi provides a way for students to make global connections without ever leaving the Fredericksburg campus. In Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, Afsous explained, research has shown that, in some cases, girls as young as 12 years old are engaged in prostitution rings. Some girls may see it as their only way out of poverty. Asadi, herself, fled Iran after one of her friends was … [Read more...]