Historic Preservation Students Blend Humanities and Sciences

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When Audra Medve first visited Mount Vernon as a child, she was struck by the timelessness of George Washington’s home, so much so that she returned dozens of times. She never could have imagined she would be an intern at the estate decades later as a senior in the historic preservation program at the university named for Washington’s mother. Medve enrolled at the University of Mary Washington after the Navy transferred her husband to the Washington, D.C. area in 2008. “There are very few undergraduate degrees in historic preservation available in the United States, and when I decided to return to school I realized I lived within 30 miles of a truly wonderful program,” Medve said. Medve’s internship is one of a dozen this spring through UMW’s historic preservation department, regarded as among the best in the nation. Each year, internships range from local preservation organizations like the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation and the Fredericksburg Area Museum, to … [Read more...]

UMW Students Spend Spring Break with Habitat for Humanity

Students build a house in Wilmington, N.C., during a 2011 Alternative Spring Break trip

While some of their friends soaked up sun on the beach, 51 University of Mary Washington students donated their time building and rehabilitating houses—and having the time of their lives in the process. This year, the student-run Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) team organized three alternative spring break trips, in Wilmington, N.C., Avery County, N.C., and Cookeville, Tenn., from March 3 through 11. At each location, the students collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to help eliminate substandard housing. Senior Vicky Hudspeth, the COAR alternative spring break coordinator, has been on two previous spring break trips, leading the trip to Bunnell, Fla., in her sophomore year, and this year led the trip in Cookeville. “In the past, we have done almost every stage of construction, including laying the foundation, installing siding and drywall, and laying sod,” Hudspeth said.  “It is an incredible week where we can give back to the communities and help those in need, … [Read more...]

UMW’s Lady Eagles Capture CAC Championship


Senior guard Katie Wimmer scored 15 points, and classmate Jenna McRae added 14 to pace the seventh-ranked University of Mary Washington women's basketball team to a 50-46 win over visiting York College to claim the 2012 Capital Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday, February 25 at the William M. Anderson Center. The Eagles improved to 27-0 on the year, tying the school record for consecutive wins with 27, and gained an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles, in much the same way they played Thursday night in the CAC semifinals, played from behind throughout much of the first half, trailing by as many as six on two occasions. But a late 4-0 spurt gave UMW the lead at 24-23 at halftime, punctuated by a McRae three pointer. In the second half, the lead changed hands five times before UMW took the lead at 34-33 with 9:50 remaining on a three-point basket by Sarah Jones. The Eagles then used a jumper by McRae and a layup from Aby Diop to build the lead to five, at … [Read more...]

UMW Political Science Students Collaborate on Book Project

(From left) Ian Huff, Assistant Professor of Political Science Chad Murphy, Chris Blough and Eric Stortz in Monroe Hall

As a political science and pre-law philosophy double major, Michael Behrens figured he would spend much of his senior year writing extensive research papers. He never expected to collaborate with his professor on writing a book. Behrens and three fellow seniors -- Chris Blough, Ian Huff and Eric Stortz -- have teamed up with Assistant Professor of Political Science Chad Murphy to research and write chapters for a book on presidential rhetoric. The project is one of more than dozen research initiatives in the university’s innovative undergraduate research program. This semester’s undergraduate projects delve into such issues as women in Islam; statistical consulting for after-school programs; stress, guilt and eating; the effects of Atrazine in zebra fish; and the effects of exercise and estrogen on mouse hearts. Still Behrens isn’t surprised to be part of such a challenging project at UMW. “That’s just the environment that the school’s attitude cultivates,” he said. “If … [Read more...]

Geography Students Spend Winter Break in Cambodia

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While winter break sent scores of college students scrambling for the comforts of home, UMW geography major Brian Brown spent his winter break out of the country for the very first time.  He was one of seven UMW seniors in Cambodia as part of a three-and-a-half week study abroad program with Associate Professor of Geography Donald Rallis and Assistant Dean of Academic Services Amber Huffman, who is a geography graduate of UMW. The students chronicled their journeys through blog posts and social media, like Brown’s description of his arrival in the country: A pop sounded from the rear of the car.  The driver slowly pulled off the dusty and dark avenue to assess the situation.  A haze hung in the air, tinted blue by a sign for a cheap hotel.  The back tire was flat.  I waited, watching motorcycles drift by at a carefree pace, while my first Cambodian acquaintance worked to get us back on the road. The winter break program, offered for the first time at Mary Washington, is one of … [Read more...]

Reaching New Heights: UMW Student Climbs Mount Everest


Two years ago, UMW junior Dudley “Art” Franzen flipped a coin. Tails – he and his climbing partner, Scott Campbell, would head to the highest mountain in Argentina; heads – they would tackle the world’s highest peak. Heads won. He was going to the Himalayas. Franzen , a 47-year-old historic preservation major originally from Winnie, Texas, felt up to the challenge. After all, he already had climbed some of the most daunting mountains in the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro. He researched the climate and terrain and trained for the grueling Mount Everest climb both in gyms and in mountains of Fredericksburg and Colorado. Ascent to the 29,000-foot-high summit can take several months and thousands of dollars, so Franzen set his sights on Mount Everest Base Camp, still a formidable 17,598 feet. After he finishes school, he plans to attempt the summit. After two years of preparation, Franzen and Campbell arrived in Nepal last spring and started the climb with a team … [Read more...]

Where Great Minds Get Creative

Colin Rafferty, professor of English

Fourteen students recently sat in a circle in a University of Mary Washington classroom, framed by the view of falling leaves outside the large window. Some students rested their hands on laptops, others opted for the traditional stacks of papers and books. A handful of reusable water bottles and half-empty coffee cups decorated the otherwise sparse table. With the precision of scientists and the careful eye of artists, the group spent nearly an hour dissecting the original work of two students in the class. The professor sat in the circle with the students, guiding the discussion at forks in the road, careful not to dictate the direction. Once the critique drew to a close, applause erupted, as if to pay homage to the artistic endeavor. The scene offered a glimpse into the intricate creative writing process where tone, structure and narrative reign. “We never get to see writers in the act of writing, the way we can with actors or musicians or dancers,” said Colin … [Read more...]

UMW Student Doubles as Rescue Squad Captain


UMW senior Jamie Larounis finds time to volunteer hundreds of hours a month as an emergency medical technician (EMT) at the Fredericksburg Rescue Squad, while managing a full course load to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education. In fact, the rescue squad recently named him captain of the 150-member volunteer organization. “I had been involved in Boy Scouts since I was a little kid, am still an Eagle Scout and had worked at an outdoor camp over the summer,” Larounis explained. “I wanted to do real 9-1-1.” As a certified EMT-Enhanced, he is able to administer drugs, start IVs and provide life support. Community service, like that of Larounis, is a tradition among the university community, evident in the university’s place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Larounis has been a volunteer with the squad for two years and often clocks close to 400 hours a month. He is among a dozen or more UMW students and recent … [Read more...]

UMW Students Place in National Web Debates

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A group of University of Mary Washington students participated in the University of Southern California’s Trojan Web Debates in October, with three students making the top 10 and advancing to the final week of debates. Freshman Steven Apruzese, senior Charles Girard, sophomore Tan Handres and freshman Michael Jaster each argued the topic: “Should same sex marriage be the top priority of the LGBT civil rights movement?” Girard placed sixth in the tournament, Apruzese placed ninth and Handres placed tenth. The debate marked the first time any of the four students had competed in intercollegiate debate. “The four of us camped out in the James Farmer Multicultural Center well after midnight on most nights because the videos were always due at 3 a.m.,” Girard said. “We got to know each other and really learned a lot from each other regarding debating, as well as from the debates themselves.” The two-week online intercollegiate debate tournament started with 18 students representing … [Read more...]

UMW Freshman Blogs for Seventeen Magazine


Every week, Berkley Schmidt takes photos, creates videos or writes journal entries about her freshman year at the University of Mary Washington. She talks about how to navigate college life and offers tips and advice along the way. As one of Seventeen Magazine’s Freshman 15, Schmidt is not just a blogger – she is sharing her UMW experience with a national audience. Schmidt, a Richmond native, was chosen from more than 2,000 applicants to be one of the 15 bloggers on the Seventeen.com website and in the pages of the November 2011 issue of Seventeen Magazine, on newsstands October 18. In one blog entry, she describes the Class of 2015’s first week on-campus: The second day here, as we were walking to convocation dressed in our formal attire, a storm fired away on the little town of Fredericksburg. Luckily we had just reached the covered walk when the skies opened up, but the real fun began as we reached the library. Sirens blasted as faculty and Orientation Leaders rushed us … [Read more...]