September 20, 2017

SOAR Makes a Splash With First-Year Students

Members of Mary Washington’s incoming class traded tablets and cell phones for campfires and bug spray to live off the grid, so to speak, for three days and two nights. And they loved it. More than 48 hours with no Wi-Fi, no social media. Not even showers. “I didn’t touch my phone all day,” said […]

A Beautiful Cause

UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short rocked a shimmering black and gold dress in the Miss Virginia evening-wear segment.

UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she's a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association.
UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she’s a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association. Photo by Kimberly Needles.

She sported a lacy cropped top for her talent, ukulele and vocals to Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love. And the pale yellow number she wore in the swimsuit competition? Oh, my.

She’s got the beauty, talent and brains, but for this psychology and philosophy major, it’s the platform that makes pageantry personal. Thanks to a childhood incident, human trafficking hits closer to home for Short than viewers might have imagined when she answered her interview question onstage. And with the help of Mary Washington’s pre-law program, she plans to take her passion to the courtroom, where she’ll fight this terrible crime as an attorney.

“That was almost me,” said Short, recounting her experience as a 9-year-old girl, when two women nearly snatched her during a trip to her mother’s native Philippines. “By the grace of God, my mom screamed my name and I ran.” The family learned later that during their trip, a pair suspected of human trafficking had been detained.

“In 2016, there were 148 crimes of human trafficking that were reported. Fifty-nine of those crimes were reported against minors,” Short told the host of the Miss Virginia Pageant, held in Roanoke and livestreamed online. “It’s time for Virginia to take a stand and say ‘no’ to human trafficking. There’s no reason why we are waiting to solve this issue.”

A graduate of King George High School, Short fell for the beautiful campus, small class sizes and serious vibe at Mary Washington, where she’s president of the Commuter Student Association and a cheerleading captain. She carries an 18-credit course load, interns with the Charles B. Roberts law firm in Fredericksburg and works at a bridal boutique in Spotsylvania County.

“I’ve always been a busy lady,” said Short, who recently took the LSAT and hopes to get into a Virginia law school. “I try to be involved as much as possible.”

UMW senior Miss Hanover Amanda Lynn Short sported a pale yellow bikini during the swimsuit segment of the 2017 Miss Virginia Pageant. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Miss Hanover Amanda Lynn Short sparkled in a black and gold dress during the evening-wear segment of the 2017 Miss Virginia Pageant. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she's a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she's a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she's a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short (far right) poses with competitors in the 2017 Miss Virginia Pageant (from left to right), Miss State Fair of Virginia Taylor Reynolds, Miss Mountain Laurel Caroline Weinroth and Miss Piedmont Region Carlehr Swanson. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she's a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association. Photo by Julius Tolentino UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short competed in the recent Miss Virginia Pageant in Roanoke. At UMW, she's a cheerleader and president of the Commuter Student Association. Photo by Julius Tolentino

She was still a teenager when she entered her first pageant in the King George Fall Festival, placing among the top five and claiming the crown the following year. She won the Miss Hanover title in January and wore that sash in the Virginia pageant in Roanoke. She didn’t make the final round but won a $500 scholarship for her volunteer work with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and her knowledge of Virginia’s human trafficking laws.

“Of course, it’s super disappointing not to make Top 11,” she said. “One goal of mine from last year was to be a lot more prepared and confident coming into this year, and I definitely achieved that.”

Short hasn’t been back to the Philippines since her narrow brush with the cause she now champions, but she hopes to return someday to see relatives. For now, she’s fighting for Virginia, the state with the seventh highest human trafficking rate in the U.S. and the last to pass legislation to stop it.

“Our state is not adequately preparing our youth to be aware of such dangers,” she said. “That’s why I feel I must advocate this issue.”

Watch the livestream of all three of the 2017 Miss Virginia Pageant evening competitions.

All Over the Map

Melanie Fuechsel was in middle school when she saw that old Spanish coin peeking out through the crust of the Earth. The piece from the past, uncovered during her first archaeological dig, would color her future.

Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel '17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel ’17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.

“It was the coolest thing they’d found to date,” said Fuechsel, who graduated from Mary Washington in May with a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation and a Geospatial Information Science Certificate (GISc). “After that I was hooked.”

Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, she was drawn to UMW for its unique historic preservation program. Despite her late start – she transferred from a community college – she embodied the spirit of a liberal arts and sciences education, soaking up hands-on learning experiences, attending conferences across the country and taking courses in everything from forensic archaeology to cell biology. Finally, at the place where antiquity meets technology, she found her sweet spot.

“I just want to try it all,” said Fuechsel, whose senior capstone project, exploring the evolution of segregation in Fredericksburg, melded her two courses of study. The remote sensing she learned in the GISc program, for example, let her make maps showing the people and periods she explored with historic preservation professors.

Born in Berlin, Fuechsel was 7 when she moved with her family, including sister Martha Fuechsel, M.Ed. ’17, to Warrenton, Virginia. After high school, she indulged her hunger for learning and “did a lot of things to try to spread my wings,” she said. She toured Germany, volunteered in fire and rescue, and worked for a hospital, the National Park Service and the school system.

“Sometimes it’s just as much about finding out what you don’t want to do as it is about learning what you do want to do,” Fuechsel said. “It’s OK to fail; that’s how you learn.”

At Mary Washington, she kept up the pace, working in Residence Life, interning at the Mosby Heritage Area, volunteering at the Montpelier Foundation and loading up on experiential learning opportunities.

Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel '17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel ’17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.

“Historic preservation is a hands-on field,” said Fuechsel, who – in addition to her capstone project on segregation – helped conserve historic objects at the Masonic Lodge, designed coloring book pages for Archaeology in the Community and studied bottle glass shards from a Civil War encampment.

“She threw herself into the project 110 percent,” said Adjunct Professor of Historic Preservation Lauren McMillan, who advised Fuechsel on the study she presented at the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference in March. “Melanie’s ability to combine her passion for history and material culture with her skills in GIS and other digital technologies makes her a unique graduate of the program and … a highly sought-after historic preservation practitioner.”

Fuechsel joined UMW’s Mortar Board honor society and Historic Preservation Club, presented her work at the Student Research and Creativity Symposium and holed up at the Center for Career and Professional Development. She showed her share of school spirit, as well, attending events from the serious Honor Convocation and Eagle Gathering to the super silly lip sync contest and ice cream social.

“Mary Washington has so many cool things,” she said. “You’re surrounded by people who really have your best interests at heart.”

All Over the Map

Melanie Fuechsel was in middle school when she saw that old Spanish coin peeking out through the crust of the Earth. The piece from the past, uncovered during her first archaeological dig, would color her future.

Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel '17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel ’17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.

“It was the coolest thing they’d found to date,” said Fuechsel, who graduated from Mary Washington in May with a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation and a Geospatial Information Science Certificate (GISc). “After that I was hooked.”

Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, she was drawn to UMW for its unique historic preservation program. Despite her late start – she transferred from a community college – she embodied the spirit of a liberal arts and sciences education, soaking up hands-on learning experiences, attending conferences across the country and taking courses in everything from forensic archaeology to cell biology. Finally, at the place where antiquity meets technology, she found her sweet spot.

“I just want to try it all,” said Fuechsel, whose senior capstone project, exploring the evolution of segregation in Fredericksburg, melded her two courses of study. The remote sensing she learned in the GISc program, for example, let her make maps showing the people and periods she explored with historic preservation professors.

Born in Berlin, Fuechsel was 7 when she moved with her family, including sister Martha Fuechsel, M.Ed. ’17, to Warrenton, Virginia. After high school, she indulged her hunger for learning and “did a lot of things to try to spread my wings,” she said. She toured Germany, volunteered in fire and rescue, and worked for a hospital, the National Park Service and the school system.

“Sometimes it’s just as much about finding out what you don’t want to do as it is about learning what you do want to do,” Fuechsel said. “It’s OK to fail; that’s how you learn.”

At Mary Washington, she kept up the pace, working in Residence Life, interning at the Mosby Heritage Area, volunteering at the Montpelier Foundation and loading up on experiential learning opportunities.

Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel '17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Now a GIS intern at the Fortune 500 engineering firm AECOM, Melanie Fuechsel ’17 studied bottle glass from a Civil War encampment while at UMW. Photo by Norm Shafer.

“Historic preservation is a hands-on field,” said Fuechsel, who – in addition to her capstone project on segregation – helped conserve historic objects at the Masonic Lodge, designed coloring book pages for Archaeology in the Community and studied bottle glass shards from a Civil War encampment.

“She threw herself into the project 110 percent,” said Adjunct Professor of Historic Preservation Lauren McMillan, who advised Fuechsel on the study she presented at the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference in March. “Melanie’s ability to combine her passion for history and material culture with her skills in GIS and other digital technologies makes her a unique graduate of the program and … a highly sought-after historic preservation practitioner.”

Fuechsel joined UMW’s Mortar Board honor society and Historic Preservation Club, presented her work at the Student Research and Creativity Symposium and holed up at the Center for Career and Professional Development. She showed her share of school spirit, as well, attending events from the serious Honor Convocation and Eagle Gathering to the super silly lip sync contest and ice cream social.

“Mary Washington has so many cool things,” she said. “You’re surrounded by people who really have your best interests at heart.”

UMW Alum Shines on Jeopardy!

  UMW alum Becca Arm ’16 walked away from a recent episode of the long-running TV game show Jeopardy! with $27,500 and a second-place finish. Now employed as a library assistant, Arm served as a special collections student assistant in the Simpson Library during her time at UMW. “She was a wonderful library assistant, very […]

New UMW Students on Campus for Orientation

More than 150 first-year Mary Washington students attended summer Orientation on Wednesday, June 14, and Thursday, June 15, 2017. By the end of the month – with a total of six two-day sessions scheduled – that number will swell to more than a thousand. Designed to get first-year students – both freshmen and transfers – […]

UMW Alum Shines on Jeopardy!

UMW alum Becca Arm ’16 walked away from a recent episode of the long-running TV game show Jeopardy! with $27,500 and a second-place finish.

Now employed as a library assistant, Arm served as a special collections student assistant in the Simpson Library during her time at UMW.

UMW alum Becca Arm ’16 walked away from a recent episode of the long-running TV game show Jeopardy! with $27,500 and a second-place finish.
UMW alum Becca Arm ’16 walked away from a recent episode of the long-running TV game show Jeopardy! with $27,500 and a second-place finish. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions Inc.

“She was a wonderful library assistant, very detail-oriented and a very good writer,” said UMW Head of Special Collections Carolyn Parsons. “We’re excited to see that she’s gone into the library profession.”

Arm was a fierce contestant on Jeopardy!, leading her competitors – a management consultant and the returning champion, an ESL teacher – for most of the game.

She tore through categories like “1817,” “design & architecture” and “children’s books” in the show’s first round, finishing in the lead with $9,000. In the second round, she muscled through topics including “similes,” “entertaining fruits & vegetables” and “Biblical pairs,” maintaining the lead with $22,200. Arm also snagged one Daily Double in each of the game’s first two segments.

In Final Jeopardy, she questioned the answer – “His First novel, from 1920, incorporated some of his pieces from The Nassau, a Princeton literary magazine” – correctly (F. Scott Fitzgerald) but wagered only $5,300, which left her just short of winning the game.

Arm, who lives in Herndon, Virginia, majored in art history and was a scholarship recipient at Mary Washington. She is interested in onomastics, the study of names, she told the show’s host, Alex Trebek, who admitted to being unfamiliar with the topic.

“It can be any kind of name, but I’m interested in personal names, given names. I like to watch what’s in the media, what’s going on in the news, see what’s going to become popular as a baby name,” Arm told Trebek. “It’s kind of fun.”

Governor Announces Appointments to UMW Board of Visitors

The Virginia Governor’s Office announced the appointment of Patricia “Pat” Gwaltney McGinnis ’69 of Washington, D.C., and Devon Williams Cushman ’93 of Richmond to the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors. They will serve four-year terms, which expire June 30, 2021. They succeed Kenneth J. Lopez ’92 and Lisa D. Taylor ’85, whose terms […]

Birds of a Feather: Eagle grads flock together

There was definitely something in the water at the University of Mary Washington’s undergraduate commencement ceremony last month.  
Theater major Morgan “Mo” Gresham crossed the Ball Circle stage with a memory of her grandmother, Barbara Hitchings Gresham ’57, who passed away last May, glued to her cap. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Theater major Morgan “Mo” Gresham crossed the Ball Circle stage with a memory of her grandmother, Barbara Hitchings Gresham ’57, who passed away last May, glued to her cap. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Grandmothers and grandchildren, husbands and wives, even big groups of siblings and cousins – all UMW grads – braved the rain and damp weather to prove Eagle spirit really does run in the family. UMW’s 106th commencement ceremony showcased a large legacy of love for a small liberal arts and sciences school. Theater major Morgan “Mo” Gresham crossed the Ball Circle stage with a memory of her grandmother, who passed away last May, glued to her cap. She’d covered her mortarboard in a dainty blue and white floral fabric that looked like something her “memaw,” Barbara Hitchings Gresham ’57, would have worn, she said. “One of the big reasons Mo selected UMW was to share in the legacy her grandmother established,” Morgan’s father, Donald Gresham, said of his mother, who would’ve celebrated the 60th anniversary of her own graduation on Saturday. Tor and Shannon Smalling showed up for the couples. They waited side-by-side, as they have through their 17-year marriage, to receive their perspective BLS degrees. “We have done many things together over the years,” Shannon said, including a somewhat challenging stint as lab partners in a UMW astronomy class, “but this is one of the most monumental.”
Martha Fuechsel ’16, M.Ed. ’17, received a master’s degree the night before her sister, Melanie Fuechsel ’17, a historic preservation and geospatial analysis double major, earned a bachelor’s.
Martha Fuechsel ’16, M.Ed. ’17, received a master’s degree the night before her sister, Melanie Fuechsel ’17, a historic preservation and geospatial analysis double major, earned a bachelor’s.
Glenn Gatzke ’12 was there to see sister Gabrielle Gatzke ’17 receive her bachelor’s degree. He braved the rain with wife Rachel Gatzke ’12 and 16-month-old daughter Jillian. But Glenn’s Mary Washington ties don’t stop there. His brother, Keith Gatzke ’13, also graduated from UMW, as did sister-in-law Tracy Frelk ’13 and cousins Rick Westerman ’13 and Cory Yeago ’11. “I think they saw how plugged in I got,” Glenn Gatzke said of the siblings, in-laws and cousins who followed him to Mary Washington. “Not only on campus but in Fredericksburg in general.” Martha Fuechsel ’16, M.Ed. ’17, received a master’s degree the night before her sister, Melanie Fuechsel ’17, a historic preservation and geospatial analysis double major, earned a bachelor’s. “Being able to walk alongside each other as sisters and Eagles is something rare and special for two sisters to do,” Martha Fuechsel said. Sociology major Alex Smith followed in the footsteps of his grandmother, Hellen Hope Harrison Mitchell ’47, who 70 years before her grandson crossed the Ball Circle stage, earned a degree in home economics. “She’s my favorite person ever,” Smith said of his grandmother, who could not make the trip from her Prince George County, Virginia, home.
Morgan James ’17 of San Leandro, California, now shares an alma mater with her grandmother, Christine Harper Hovis '55. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Morgan James ’17 of San Leandro, California, now shares an alma mater with her grandmother, Christine Harper Hovis ’55. Photo by Norm Shafer.
Morgan James ’17 of San Leandro, California, double majored in German and environmental affairs. Growing up, she knew Mary Washington as the alma mater of her grandmother, Christine Harper Hovis, who finished back in 1955. It was a different world back then, Hovis said Saturday after commencement, while the family waited for Morgan’s brother, Harper James ’19, to finish his job ushering for the event. From an all-women’s school when Hovis was a student to the UMW her granddaughter found when she visited with family in the fall of 2012, so much had changed. But, Morgan said, the Mary Washington magic remained. “I fell head over heels for this campus, this community, and this school.”

Social Media Campaign To Trace Monroe’s 1817 Tour

In March of 1817, James Monroe began his first term as the fifth president of the United States with a sense of reverence and purpose. Attaining the nation’s highest office was the logical culmination of his 50-year career in public service. The new president soon took to the road, ostensibly to inspect military installations in […]