November 22, 2017

Healing Through Horses

On a warm spring evening, UMW sophomores Elizabeth Finto and Hannah Backe dress down for a night away from the library. Trading books for bridles, the girls head to nearby Hazelwild Farm, where they prepare to saddle up Penny, Marlin and Barney, three horses with big hearts and an even bigger purpose.

UMW students participate in the therapeutic horseback riding program at Hazelwild Farm. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti. UMW students participate in the therapeutic horseback riding program at Hazelwild Farm. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti. UMW students participate in the therapeutic horseback riding program at Hazelwild Farm. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti. UMW students participate in the therapeutic horseback riding program at Hazelwild Farm. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti. UMW students participate in the therapeutic horseback riding program at Hazelwild Farm. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti. UMW students participate in the therapeutic horseback riding program at Hazelwild Farm. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti.

Host to Mary Washington’s varsity equestrian team, the only program of its type in Virginia, the Spotsylvania County farm offers another uniquely UMW opportunity – therapeutic horseback riding. Focused on rehabilitating riders of all ages with physical and mental disabilities, the Tuesday night lessons give students a chance to get involved and make a difference. And it’s often hard to tell who benefits more.

“The riders are teaching us to see the beauty in things, sing when we want to sing or do something random and throw societal norms out the window,” said Backe, an anthropology and international affairs major.

Open to UMW students through COAR, Community Outreach and Resources, the weekly riding lessons place student volunteers in one of two jobs: leaders, who guide horses around the ring, or side walkers, who walk beside mounted riders to provide balance, direction and comfort.

“Therapeutic riding at Hazelwild Farm has been going on for 10-plus years,” said sophomore Linnea Harding-Scudder, COAR leader for the therapeutic riding program. “We have riders in their 20s who’ve been coming since they were 8 or 9.”

With disabilities ranging from generalized anxiety and autism, to cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination, the riders who come to Hazelwild often are looking to work on balance, control and self-confidence.

“[Maintaining a sense of] control is a big concern for people who struggle with disabilities, and horseback riding gives them that,” Backe said. “It also builds strength in core muscles while not putting too much stress on the body.”

Finto, a communications and digital studies major, said the weekly program gives her a sense of success and makes her feel proud.

Finto, who hails from Richmond, and Backe, who’s from Charlottesville, met in high school when they signed up for the same summer camp. They reignited their friendship as UMW freshmen, when they discovered they were neighbors in Virginia Hall. When they decided to volunteer together with therapeutic horseback riding, they never imagined they would fall in love with the program the way that they have.

Volunteers can spend hours each night, grooming and tacking the horses, working with riders, and cleaning up after everyone else has gone home. The horses do their part, too, helping riders with stability, strength, flexibility, motor skills, cognitive ability and more.

“The paring between child and horse is based on what the child needs,” said Backe. “Horses can sense your demeanor and how you’re feeling, and they will respond to it.”

One in particular, named Penny for the brown star-shaped mark on her forehead, is a favorite among riders. Her gentle and steady spirit is perfect for those who struggle with balance.

“A therapeutic horse has patience like no other and goes a step above and beyond to take care of its therapeutic rider,” said senior Catie Morton, weekly volunteer and UMW equestrian team captain. “I feel lucky to be part of such a wonderful program full of amazing volunteers, incredible horses and the coolest, sweetest kids I know.”

Positive Buzz

With spring finally popping up at the University of Mary Washington, so are the bold buds and blooms of our native plants – purple phlox, golden coneflowers, blue false indigo. Campus is bursting with bright colors made even more vivid by the hard work of a student determined to have her voice heard.

Senior biology and environmental sciences major Maggie Magliato poses with a sign from the pollinator walk she created on campus. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Senior biology and environmental sciences major Maggie Magliato poses with a sign from the pollinator walk she created on campus. Photo by Norm Shafer.

“Pollinators are in decline, and that’s a big topic in the environmental science and conservation world right now,” said UMW senior Maggie Magliato, who is raising awareness on the Fredericksburg campus.

This spring, for the first time ever, a bumblebee was added to the United States list of endangered species. The rusty patched bumblebee, whose population has plummeted nearly 90 percent since the late 1990s, according to a recent  National Geographic article, is facing extinction. The dominant cause for the decline is habitat loss.

Magliato, a biology and environmental studies major, has brought the battle to empower the pollinators to UMW. On April 20, just in time for Mary Washington’s Earth Day celebration, she launched the “pollinator walk.” The interactive experience – five colorful signs strategically placed along Campus Walk – gives students, faculty, staff and the entire community the opportunity to learn about the process of pollination and the importance of native plants.

The continuing decline of pollinators – like the rusty patched bumblebee and other animals, including birds, butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and bats that cause plants to make fruits and seeds – is due in part to urban development. Using insecticides and mowing down fields instead of letting them flourish can lead to habitat loss.

As such, three of the five signs on Magliato’s pollinator walk designate “no mow zones,” where the grass stays tall at all times. The remaining two signs highlight the importance of pollinators, our native eco systems and how we can help.

UMW senior Maggie Magliato created the pollinator walk, a series of five signs along Campus Walk. UMW senior Maggie Magliato created the pollinator walk, a series of five signs along Campus Walk. UMW senior Maggie Magliato created the pollinator walk, a series of five signs along Campus Walk.

“Species are going extinct every day due to human impact,” Magliato said. “I strive to prevent that as much as possible by educating people and making a difference.”

During her time at Mary Washington, Magliato earned two grants – a “Go Green” grant from the food services and facilities management company Sodexo and an Innovation in Environmental Stewardship Award from the natural resource and environmental consulting firm Marstel-Day – that would make her dreams grow.

“I want to be active in protecting the world we live in, and that includes our campus,” said Magliato. “Applying for those grants was a way to leave my footprint behind.”

With the funds from the grants, Magliato’s original idea of planting a pollinator garden on the Mary Washington campus blossomed into a plan to create an active learning experience.

“We thought we could enact more change and benefits through teaching people,” Magliato said. “We wanted to highlight the native plants that we already have established on campus and tell people how they can also help.”

Joni Wilson, UMW’s longtime director of landscape and grounds, was excited to have a hand in the pollinator walk project and an opportunity to embrace student involvement.

“Working with Maggie I learned even more,” Wilson said. “I never cease to be impressed with the students’ knowledge, commitment and willingness to work hard to improve not only UMW, but their world.”

Designed to be experienced individually or together, the signs that make up the pollinator walk turned out to be everything Magliato imagined. She hopes one day she’ll return to campus to find her project expanded by other Mary Washington students with similar passions.

“It’s really cool knowing that I will be leaving this project as my legacy here at Mary Washington,” Magliato said. “Knowing that I’ll be able to come back and see that it inspired more environmentalists to attend this school is a great feeling.”

UMW Adopts Peace Corps Prep Program

A new agreement with the Peace Corps will give UMW students an edge in the competitive volunteer initiative. Beginning fall 2017, Mary Washington will offer the Peace Corps Prep program. “The prep program enhances students’ undergraduate experience by preparing them for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service,” said Assistant Director of Career Services […]

UMW Celebrates Trailblazers for Women’s History Month

  Founder and executive director of Feminist.com Marianne Schnall will be the keynote speaker as the University of Mary Washington celebrates trailblazers and visionaries during Women’s History Month this month. She will speak on Monday, March 20, at 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411, on the Fredericksburg campus. The talk is one of a […]

UMW Named Top Peace Corps Producer

For the 13th year, the Peace Corps has ranked the University of Mary Washington among the nation’s top-producing colleges for alumni now serving as Peace Corps volunteers across the globe.Ranking No. 2 among small schools or institutions, Mary Washington has jumped six spots from its No. 8 ranking last year, with 13 UMW alumni currently […]

UMW Named Top Peace Corps Producer

For the 13th year, the Peace Corps has ranked the University of Mary Washington among the nation’s top-producing colleges for alumni now serving as Peace Corps volunteers across the globe.Ranking No. 2 among small schools or institutions, Mary Washington has jumped six spots from its No. 8 ranking last year, with 13 UMW alumni currently […]

Serving in Senegal

As the hot sun begins to descend in Kedougou, Senegal, women leave their huts for a late afternoon stroll to the village well. The sound of swaying buckets and rushing water is heard as each woman waits her turn for the pump. In a sea of chatty girls, UMW alumna Maura Slocum listens carefully to their enunciations as she works to perfect the native language of Pulaar.

M Slocum
Maura Slocum works on an agriforestry project.

Slocum is living in this rural West African country as a Peace Corps volunteer. Arriving in mid-December, she’s still adjusting to the dramatic cultural shift from the familiar Fredericksburg campus where she graduated last May with a degree in environmental science.

M. Slocum
Maura Slocum ’16 with some of her Senegalese family.

She’s following a rich tradition of Mary Washington alumni who have been chosen to serve with the volunteer global outreach established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. In fact, UMW has been included among the top 20 of the Peace Corps’ list of top-producing small schools since 2005. In all, more than 230 UMW alumni have served the 27-month commitment around the world since the Peace Corps’ inception.

Maura Slocum '16
Maura Slocum ’16 with some of her Peace Corps siblings.

At home in her host family’s compound, Slocum spends much of her time with her young siblings, Sadie, Maimudu and Abdoulaiye, who love introducing her to new places. Ranging in ages from 3 to 9, they aren’t the youngest of the bunch. Not long after she arrived, her young host mother gave birth to twins.

“My family and neighbors were very welcoming,” Slocum said. “They even got me to dance in the drum circle at the [babies’] naming ceremonies.”

When she’s not practicing Pulaar or spending time with her host siblings, Slocum tends to her personal compost and tree nursery.

“I arrived to the village at the end of the harvest season, so there is not a lot of agriculture work right now,” Slocum said. “The main focus right now is garden preparation, since the farming season will not begin until the rains come in March or April.”

As an agroforestry volunteer, she aims to help bolster food security and sustainability by integrating trees into agriculture.

Just under a year ago, Slocum beamed with excitement over her acceptance into the Peace Corps as she stood with a UMW environmental sciences team in the polluted water of Contrary Creek in Louisa County. A senior at the time, Slocum researched soil contamination and worked to improve it, a skill that will serve her well in helping the villagers of Kedougou..

Preparation was key for Slocum in December of 2016, when she arrived in the village with a population of 250.

Melanie Szulczewski, Slocum’s advisor and former agroforestry volunteer for the Peace Corps, encouraged her to apply to the Peace Corps and offered her support.

“I talked with Maura extensively about the application process,” said Szulczewski, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences. “She could clearly outline her goals and was well prepared with abundant volunteer experience.”

Slocum has been preparing for her Peace Corps service since high school. On a mission’s trip to Guatemala she discovered her passion to serve, and when it came time to choose a university, she had her eyes on the prize.

“The University of Mary Washington was fundamental in my journey to the Peace Corps,” Slocum said. “I actually chose UMW over James Madison University because I read that UMW had such a high number of alumni who go on to serve.”

With a team of friends, family and professors to support and advise her, Slocum seamlessly transitioned from a UMW student to a Peace Corps volunteer.

“I believe Maura will truly embody the goals of the Peace Corps,” said Szulczewski. “She will be helping others while growing as a global citizen.” 

 

 

 

Serving in Senegal

As the hot sun begins to descend in Kedougou, Senegal, women leave their huts for a late afternoon stroll to the village well. The sound of swaying buckets and rushing water is heard as each woman waits her turn for the pump. In a sea of chatty girls, UMW alumna Maura Slocum listens carefully to their enunciations as she works to perfect the native language of Pulaar.

M Slocum
Maura Slocum works on an agriforestry project.

Slocum is living in this rural West African country as a Peace Corps volunteer. Arriving in mid-December, she’s still adjusting to the dramatic cultural shift from the familiar Fredericksburg campus where she graduated last May with a degree in environmental science.

M. Slocum
Maura Slocum ’16 with some of her Senegalese family.

She’s following a rich tradition of Mary Washington alumni who have been chosen to serve with the volunteer global outreach established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. In fact, UMW has been included among the top 20 of the Peace Corps’ list of top-producing small schools since 2005. In all, more than 230 UMW alumni have served the 27-month commitment around the world since the Peace Corps’ inception.

Maura Slocum '16
Maura Slocum ’16 with some of her Peace Corps siblings.

At home in her host family’s compound, Slocum spends much of her time with her young siblings, Sadie, Maimudu and Abdoulaiye, who love introducing her to new places. Ranging in ages from 3 to 9, they aren’t the youngest of the bunch. Not long after she arrived, her young host mother gave birth to twins.

“My family and neighbors were very welcoming,” Slocum said. “They even got me to dance in the drum circle at the [babies’] naming ceremonies.”

When she’s not practicing Pulaar or spending time with her host siblings, Slocum tends to her personal compost and tree nursery.

“I arrived to the village at the end of the harvest season, so there is not a lot of agriculture work right now,” Slocum said. “The main focus right now is garden preparation, since the farming season will not begin until the rains come in March or April.”

As an agroforestry volunteer, she aims to help bolster food security and sustainability by integrating trees into agriculture.

Just under a year ago, Slocum beamed with excitement over her acceptance into the Peace Corps as she stood with a UMW environmental sciences team in the polluted water of Contrary Creek in Louisa County. A senior at the time, Slocum researched soil contamination and worked to improve it, a skill that will serve her well in helping the villagers of Kedougou..

Preparation was key for Slocum in December of 2016, when she arrived in the village with a population of 250.

Melanie Szulczewski, Slocum’s advisor and former agroforestry volunteer for the Peace Corps, encouraged her to apply to the Peace Corps and offered her support.

“I talked with Maura extensively about the application process,” said Szulczewski, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences. “She could clearly outline her goals and was well prepared with abundant volunteer experience.”

Slocum has been preparing for her Peace Corps service since high school. On a mission’s trip to Guatemala she discovered her passion to serve, and when it came time to choose a university, she had her eyes on the prize.

“The University of Mary Washington was fundamental in my journey to the Peace Corps,” Slocum said. “I actually chose UMW over James Madison University because I read that UMW had such a high number of alumni who go on to serve.”

With a team of friends, family and professors to support and advise her, Slocum seamlessly transitioned from a UMW student to a Peace Corps volunteer.

“I believe Maura will truly embody the goals of the Peace Corps,” said Szulczewski. “She will be helping others while growing as a global citizen.” 

 

 

 

Creative Communication

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. For first-generation college student Joemmel Tendilla, a picture is priceless.

Though his immediate family moved to the United States before he was born, Tendilla’s roots are in the Philippines, and it can be difficult to communicate with some of his relatives, whose native language is Tagalog.

UMW student Joemmel Tendilla uses photography to express himself.

That’s where photography comes in.

After receiving his first camera as a hand-me-down from his sister when he was 16, Tendilla taught himself how to capture beautiful images and tell stories through his lens. Now the UMW sophomore uses photography to break down the language barrier within his Filipino-American family.

“I communicate with my family through my pictures,” said Tendilla, a sociology major pursuing a minor in social justice. “Some of my family doesn’t speak fluent English, so it’s easier to show them pictures than to try to find the words to explain it.”

As the first person in his family to attend a four-year college, Tendilla has become a role model for relatives both in America and abroad. He started at UMW in August 2015 with a partial scholarship for his outstanding community service and leadership.

“My family is very proud,” he said. “Being the first to go to college in the U.S. is a big deal.”

Hoping to leave his print on the Mary Washington community, Tendilla has jumped head-first into his education, joining the photography club and doing an internship with UMW’s Department of University Relations.

“I believe knowledge isn’t gained just by sitting behind a desk,” said Tendilla, who took photos for the university’s website and social media platforms during a fall-semester internship. “These opportunities have allowed me to improve my photography and make connections that add value to my education. That’s something that will be invaluable when I graduate.”

With unlimited outlets for experiences outside of the classroom, Tendilla feels like he can be himself at UMW.

“I honestly cannot see myself going anywhere else,” he said. “Mary Washington is just a place where I feel at home.”

Eagle Madness

Silence swept over UMW’s Ron Rosner Arena. More than 500 Students and community members rose to their feet. With prize money on the line, first-year student Paige Haskins stood center court, poised for the adrenaline-pumping finale of last night’s first-ever Eagle Madness event.

She drew a deep breath, took a running start and sent the ball soaring into the air. When it swooshed through the net, students rushed to the floor. The crowd went wild, chanting “Write the check,” “Write the check” to UMW President Troy Paino and Athletic Director Ken Tyler, who’d agreed to split payment of the $500 award.

Lacrosse player Paige Haskins lacrosse player Paige Haskins

The heart-stopping half-court competition was the culmination of a series of activities that marked the début of Eagle Madness, a spirit-boosting midnight madness-style event hosted by UMW Athletics. The two-hour inaugural event celebrated the start of UMW’s basketball season, set to open this year with a men’s game on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Anderson Center.

Featuring raffles and games like musical chairs, an Eagle relay race and a poster slogan scramble, the evening also included performances by UMW’s dance and step teams. Senior Mikey Barnes led the event as emcee, introducing the players and coaches for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and pumping Eagle pride through the crowd.

UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness. UMW celebrates Eagle Madness.

Both teams have big goals for their seasons, which include a total of 26 home games to be played in the Anderson Center’s Ron Rosner Arena.

“I think it’s important to never be complacent,” said sophomore and men’s basketball player Johnny Cronin, who was part of the team’s 15-12 record last season that led them to the CAC semifinals. “You have to push yourself.”

Men’s Head Coach Marcus Kahn echoed the sentiment, that his goal for the team is simple: to keep getting better each day.

With Head Coach Deena Applebury at the helm, the women’s basketball team, which will enter the season ranked 22nd in the nation, has lofty ambitions, as well. The team returns with a 24-5 season in which they claimed the CAC Championship.

Senior Megan Green looks to her teammates to build that success.

“These girls have changed my life,” Green said. “They are the greatest group of women I have ever met. They are the reason I’m here and loving life.”

For more information about the UMW Athletic teams, visit http://www.umweagles.com. To learn more about season tickets to UMW’s men’s and women’s basketball games, visit http://umweagles.com/general/2016-17/releases/20160826gz0xnn.