Sequoi Phipps has been fascinated by cultures since she can remember. Born into a colorful Caribbean family, she’s intrigued by traditions around the globe.
She got hooked on geography when she took a world regions course her freshman year at the University of Mary Washington. From her laptop screen on the Fredericksburg campus, she traveled online with UMW Professor Donald Rallis as he hop-scotched from one exotic site to another, visiting places such as Istanbul, Rwanda, Johannesburg, Malaysia, Cambodia and China.
“We didn’t just look at geography and the architecture and the people,” she said. “We looked at the culture and how people interacted with other cultures. Dr. Rallis made you think from so many angles.”
Now a junior geography major, she has found her niche in urban planning. From Spanish style architecture on the West Coast to Victorian-style downtown buildings, she is amazed by the influence a nationality can have on the design of a city.
“I am interested in the history behind the way cities have been planned, specifically cities in the U.S.,” Phipps said. “I find it interesting the way our influences came from different cultures and how traces of different cultures can still be found in some cities today. I’m intrigued by what worked and what didn’t work.”
She’s taken her curiosity outside the U.S., too, traveling to the Caribbean, Mexico and Italy. In the spring, she will head to Guatemala with Dawn Bowen, professor of geography, where she and other UMW students will explore the country’s primary habitat and conduct fieldwork.
“She is such a pleasure to have in class as she is enthusiastic and she loves the discipline – she makes every effort to be successful,” said Bowen.
Phipps also is making her mark on lives at UMW and the community.
She plays club volleyball, serves as president of the Encore Show Choir and has written for The Blue & Gray Press. She also is a Young Life leader at a local high school in Fredericksburg.
“Young Life gives high school kids a fun and safe place where they learn that they have purpose and that someone cares about them.” Phipps said. “I believe everyone has an incredible story to tell.”
She’s already looking to combine her passion for travel, geography and people into a career that makes a positive impact in the world. Phipps aims to work in ministry abroad.
“Not often do people talk about their day with a stranger,” Phipps said. “But I don’t want to let all of those inspiring stories pass me by.”