September 24, 2023

Cap-tivating Stories

As the Class of 2017 marched onto Ball Circle for the University of Mary Washington’s 106th commencement ceremony, so did a parade of brightly decorated and eye-catching caps. More than just glue and fabric, the colorful decorations told the stories of the 1,035 soon-to-be alumni.

Courtney Burrows '17 Courtney Burrows '17

For first-generation student Courtney Burrows, commencement was a significant moment – and her decorated cap provided the perfect way to share the meaning of the day. Topped with bright blue flowers, her cap boasts the words, “Nevertheless she persisted.”

“My mom is also in school while working full time and we’ve been through a lot together,” said the history major who will stay at UMW to finish her master’s in education next year. “This phrase is something that means a lot to both of us.”

Brittany Olenslager '17 Brittany Olenslager '17

Name: Brittany Olenslager
HometownCulpeper, Virginia
Major: Environmental Science, Natural Track
Post-graduation: Hoping to work with the Culpeper Soil and Water District as a field technician

True to her academic career, Brittany Olenslager reflected her passion for the environment and love of the sciences while looking to the future.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart – this is one of my favorite Confucius quotes. I wanted something inspiring that looked to the future. The main goal of environmental scientists is to help the environment so I reflected that too.”

Chris Markham '17 Chris Markham '17

Name: Chris Markham
Hometown: Fluvanna, Virginia
Major: Journalism
Post-graduation: Pursuing a career in journalism

For journalism major and athlete Chris Markham, his cap was a way to look back on each area of his life at Mary Washington – writing for the Blue & Gray Press student newspaper, running track & field and running on the cross country team.

“My cap has my last race numbers for both track and cross country,” said Markham. “And it has the last story I wrote for the Blue & Gray Press.”

Megan Joslin '17 Megan Joslin '17 Megan Joslin '17

Name: Megan Joslin 
Hometown: Fredericksburg, Virginia
Major: History with a minor in education
Post-graduation: Pursuing a master’s degree in education at UMW

History major Megan Joslin took a quote from author Shel Silverstein to reflect a hope that she has for all students and added a shout-out to her mom and dad.

“The quote speaks to the hope that you can do anything if you try,” said Joslin. “My parents have been especially supportive so I added a thank you message to the bow.”

Ultimate Frisbee cap Robby Pratt '17 (left) and Zachary Norrbom '17 (right) Robby Pratt '17 (left) and Zachary Norrbom '17 (right)

Name: Zachary Norrbom
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia
Major: Studio art with a minor in education
Post-graduation: Pursuing a master’s degree in education at UMW

Ultimate Frisbee captain Zachary Norrbom teamed up with co-captain Robby Pratt to recognize the team that has made all the difference to their time at Mary Washington.

“Ultimate Frisbee is the best nonofficial sport there is,” said Norrbom. “Under the Frisbee, I have my number and “MOG” for “Mother of George,” the name of our team. I’ve been captain for two years now and will be returning next year as captain so this team means a lot to me.”

And under the regalia? The duo couldn’t help but sport their ‘lucky onesies.’

“We won a pumpkin carving contest our sophomore year and used the money to buy these onesies,” said Norrbom. “Then we wore them in our next Ultimate Frisbee game and won and they’ve been lucky ever since.”

What’s the story behind your cap? Share on social with #UMW17.