June 4, 2023

UMW Student Leaders: On the Cutting Edge

We always knew our students were cutting edge. Now, campus leaders from around the state also know.


At the 2016 Virginia Leadership Academy last week, University of Mary Washington students mowed over the competition in the category of spirit, teamwork and growth. And they have a (toy) lawn mower to prove it.

Student advisers, including vice presidents and deans, from schools represented at the Academy voted and declared UMW’s eight-member delegation winners of the conference’s one and only distinction, The Cutting Edge Award. While awaiting a formal plaque, the team was appeased with a plastic lawn mower that now resides on a shelf in the office of Melissa Jones, assistant dean for student involvement.

“During the conference, several people commented on the intelligence and charisma of our Mary Washington contingent,” said Juliette Landphair, UMW’s vice president for student affairs. “This meant a lot, especially since our students represented groups across campus, from student government to athletics.”

The three-day Academy, held at Old Dominion University (ODU), provided an opportunity for newly elected campus leaders and their advisers to share ideas and solutions, as well as network and hear from invited leadership experts. In addition to UMW and ODU, schools represented included Longwood, Radford, Tidewater Community College, Roanoke College, VCU, Norfolk State and Virginia State.

Attending from Mary Washington were: Danielle Howard ’17, chair of the Diversity & Unity Committee; Emily Stallings ’17, Campus Programming Board chair; Jackie Khawand ’17,  Honor Council president; Lanieta Budi ’17, president of the Judicial Review Board ; Laura Gilchrist ’17, Commuter Student Association president; Sophia Hamdan ’18, chair of the Legislative Action Committee; Zaire Sprowal ’17, Finance Committee chair; and Kevin Jones ’18, member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Accompanying them were Landphair, Jones, and Residence Life Area Coordinator John Hughey.