UMW Parent and Family eNews recently sat down with Maxine Rice, whose daughter Michayla will graduate in May, to talk about the college journey.
Q: How did Michayla choose Mary Washington?
A: Her approach started with accessing the College Board’s “College Search” site. Mary Washington came up as a match, and we honestly hadn’t heard of it until that point. When we visited, Michayla just fell in love with the campus. We visited the University of Richmond, JMU, and several other schools, but she just knew UMW was the place for her.
Q: What has Michayla studied at UMW?
A: She is a Theatre major with a concentration in arts administration. Her passion is dance, and she has been dancing since she was five years old. Although Mary Washington does not have a dance major, Michayla has received dance scholarships and has been able to incorporate dance into her studies. [Department of Theatre and Dance Chair] Professor Gregg Stull gave her the freedom to focus on dance for her senior project, incorporating other aspects of her theatre studies into the final choreographed performance.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a college parent?
A: It has been wonderful to see Michayla develop her confidence. She has grown up so much, and she can hold her own. She is very much her own person and is not a follower. She is able to make her own decisions and say, “I’m not about that” or “This is something I agree with.” I appreciate that.
Q: What have been some of the challenges Michayla has faced along the way?
A: She has had a couple of bumps, but she never gave up. She lost her sister in the spring of 2017 and initially withdrew from school. We thought she would take the fall semester off, but she was ready to go back and we wanted to support her. She also had to have emergency surgery a couple of years ago. She underwent surgery on a weekend, and I was able to get in touch with Dean [of Student Life and Associate Vice President Cedric] Rucker immediately. On Monday morning I was in a meeting talking about alternatives for Michayla to complete her education, and I was so grateful for Dean Rucker’s incredible support at that time.
Q: In addition to her work in the Department of Theatre and Dance, what other college experiences were particularly impactful for Michayla?
A: She was very fortunate to take part in NEST [New Experiences for Students Transitioning], and she benefited from that so much. Because of that experience, she volunteered to be a NEST leader and really enjoyed it. She has also been an active member of PAC [UMW’s Performing Arts Company] throughout her college years, and that has also been very rewarding.
Q: What advice would you give to parents whose children are not as far along on the college journey?
A.: You’re going to have to let go a little bit. They are young adults, and you have to rely on the things you taught them for the first 17 or 18 years and let them make their own decisions. It’s a tough thing.
Naturally, we were concerned about Michayla’s transition to college. She was eighth in her class at Hampton High School, but sometimes high school academic success does not translate to college. But she has really worked hard and we are so proud of her. I always tell her to work hard and play hard, and I think that’s some of the best advice we can offer our children.
Now I can’t believe she is just weeks away from graduating. We’re looking forward to the next phase of her life and seeing her create a life she will truly enjoy.
Maxine Rice lives in Hampton and is a member of UMW’s Parent Leadership Circle. She and her husband Joe are the parents of Michayla, a graduating senior in the Class of 2019. To learn more about the Parent Leadership Circle, please contact Beth Hunsinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-654-2068.