November 30, 2020

Endowment Endeavors to Enhance Student Experiences

The UMW historic preservation students were on a mission. As part of a 2019 study abroad trip to Paris, they were determined to find the grave of James Monroe’s daughter, Eliza, and make sure it was in good shape. Success. After clearing away some plant growth, the students were able to report that Eliza Monroe […]

Sarah Moran: Travel Guide

Sarah Moran began studying abroad even before she could read words on a map. When she was 5, her family participated in an exchange program in England through her father’s company.

Sarah Moran '10, found her way back to UMW in 2017, when she became the study abroad coordinator for the Center for International Education. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Sarah Moran ’10, found her way back to UMW in 2017, when she became the study abroad coordinator for the Center for International Education. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Over the years, she’s added nearly 20 stamps to her passport, hiking and rafting in Slovenia, quilting in Cuba and biking a tiny island off the Australian coast. Her wanderlust also led her to the University of Mary Washington.

“I knew when selecting a college that I wanted to study abroad, so Mary Washington was a great fit,” said Moran, a 2010 alumna who spent a semester in Ireland while completing her bachelor’s degree in business. Seven years later, she returned to UMW, this time as study abroad coordinator for the Center for International Education (CIE).

One-third of each graduating class – about 300 students – study abroad during their time at UMW, Moran said, so her office is always busy helping them find their way through the world. CIE also helps international students navigate life on campus and in the United States.

In her role, Moran, who also earned an MBA from UMW’s College of Business, organizes faculty-led programs, juggling behind-the-scenes work like logistics, marketing and finances, so instructors can focus on their classes and students. She also helps coordinate the CIE Peer Advisor program, alumni activities and social media outreach. Since COVID-19 hit in March, she’s been doing all of this from home while caring for her 15-month-old daughter.

“The pandemic may have thrown a wrench in everyone’s plans,” Moran said, but CIE is encouraging students to explore options so they’re ready to travel when the time comes.

“Leaving Mary Washington, even for a little while, is hard,” she said, “but the experiences you will find abroad, and what you’ll discover about yourself, are worth it.”

International Education Week 2020, Nov. 16 to 20, celebrates cross-cultural learning. Visit the CIE website or call (540) 654-1434 for more information about faculty-led trips, exchange partnerships and other UMW-approved experiences outside the United States.

 

“I knew when selecting a college that I wanted to study abroad, so Mary Washington was a great fit,” said Moran, who now helps current UMW students plan their travels and professors coordinate faculty-led trips. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

“I knew when selecting a college that I wanted to study abroad, so Mary Washington was a great fit,” said Moran, who now helps current UMW students plan their travels and professors coordinate faculty-led trips. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Q: How can students prepare now for future study abroad experiences?
A: We hosted “Travel Tuesday” Q&A’s earlier this fall semester, which were a great way for prospective students to ask questions of study abroad alums and program staff. CIE is also attending virtual admissions events and hosted a panel during Family Weekend.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Helping students go abroad and have a fulfilling experience when they didn’t think it was a possibility.

Q: The most challenging?
A: When students don’t take responsibility for their own experience and are disappointed that it didn’t go the way they expected.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I like to read and listen to audiobooks, go on long walks and watch Netflix. I also enjoy puzzles and coloring.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: Growing up I wanted to be a pastry chef, and I was a Junior Olympic fencer in high school.

Q: What’s next on your travel bucket list?
A: My next big trip is Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: These days, I often repeat the phrase “strength, peace and patience.” I also like “Happiness is a journey, not the destination.”

Marketing Class Partners with Students Across the Globe

Studying abroad is as much a part of University of Mary Washington culture as bench-sitting or playing Frisbee on Ball Circle. One-third of each graduating class – about 300 students – spends time learning overseas. Not this year. As COVID-19 continues to sweep the globe, international travel – like commencements, reunions and all large gatherings […]

Forum Reveals Reality of Racial Issues at UMW

Do you have to be a person of color to be offended by a racial epithet? No, according to Alexandra Polymeropoulos, a junior at the University of Mary Washington. During a lively discussion Wednesday evening in a session of Mary Washington’s U.S. Race & Reality Forum, Polymeropoulos said she is riled every time she hears […]

Partnerships Lead Students to Engineering Master’s Degrees

Sophomore Justin Daniels is part of a group building a virtual campus tour where users can order – and “drink” – Katora coffee. Junior Zoe Rafter put her knowledge of voltage and wavelengths to work this semester using a circuit board. New partnerships with Virginia schools give University of Mary Washington students like Daniels and […]

Concert Raises Funds for Music Students, Area Legal Aid

If the University of Mary Washington brings the melody to tomorrow night’s Jazz4Justice concert, legal aid brings the rhythm. Sponsored by UMW’s jazz music program and Legal Aid Works of Fredericksburg, the free production is a 45-minute blend of nostalgic concert footage, soulful surprises, and messages and performances by Mary Washington students. This year’s seventh […]

Mental Health is Top of Mind at Mary Washington

Five short words can go a long way toward mental wellness: “How are you feeling today?” “It’s something every single member of our community can do for our students,” said Tevya Zukor, director of University of Mary Washington’s Talley Center for Counseling Services. “That kind of check-in can mean the world to someone who’s feeling […]

Worrell Wins Metzger Achievement Award

Planning a party? A performance? A prestigious event? Susan Worrell is the woman for you. Colleagues call her a dynamo, their point person, a problem-solver.

Special Assistant to the President for University Events Susan Worrell won this year's Patricia Lacey Metzger Award. Presented at this morning's Women's Leadership Colloquium @UMW, the award recognizes women who have excelled in their chosen career path.

Special Assistant to the President for University Events Susan Worrell won this year’s Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award. Presented at this morning’s Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW, the award recognizes women who have excelled in their chosen career path.

Now Worrell, University of Mary Washington Special Assistant to the President for University Events, has another title to add to the mix – Metzger Award winner. The annual recognition – the Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award – goes to a woman who’s established herself as a leader in her chosen field, showing personal and professional integrity along the way. Worrell has actually for years planned the event at which the award was presented. (Talk about trying to keep a secret!)

“Susan Worrell is the engine that makes so many things happen at the University of Mary Washington,” College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson said in her nomination letter for the award, presented this morning at the Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW. “She’s a ‘behind the scenes’ dynamo.”

If you have an event, Worrell’s team has the tools to pull it off and the polish to make it shine. They oversee hundreds of functions each year, from mammoth complexities like Commencement and glitzy affairs like Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars to scholarly talks, holiday galas and, yes, the ever-present pizza party. Wrangling details that swivel and swirl – think flight times and forecasts – Worrell makes sure authors, politicians, musicians and more enjoy their Mary Washington stay. And she pampers high-profile alumni and donors with personal touches.

Not to mention the nuptials. A self-described “wedding whisperer,” Worrell has handled exactly 987 of them, with two more planned later this month.

“You want everything to run smoothly and be seamless,” said Central Rappahannock Regional Library Director Martha Hutzel, who presented this morning’s award. “You want them to leave with a wonderful experience and a connection to the people and place.”

That’s what Worrell delivers.

Before Mary Washington, she built a career directing military clubs across Europe and in catering with the Marriott Corp., where she opened a kosher kitchen in Richmond and a string of hotels from one coast to the other. She came to work for the Wood Company – predecessor to UMW dining services partner Sodexo – in the mid-’90s, rising to the rank of assistant vice president, with accounts nationwide.

Former Mary Washington President William B. Anderson took note, tapping Worrell to manage Brompton and open the Jepson Executive Alumni Center in 2004. She arrived, waving her practicality and ingenuity like a wand over banquets and balls, conventions and colloquiums … and weddings.

“Everywhere I worked always had weddings,” said Worrell, who insists they’re her favorite.

Her secret? Putting her personal preferences aside to bring the bride and groom’s dream day to life.

“I let them choose their own path. My job is to make sure they’re getting exactly what they want, not what I want,” Worrell said. “I’ve never had a bad experience.”

The CHAT bubble at the virtual Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW blew up with congratulatory messages when Worrell received the Metzger Award this morning. Here is a small sample:

  •  “Susan Worrell, that is AWESOME! Congratulations!”
  • “I knew it was you when it said grace and creativity. You embody those characteristics!”
  • “YEASSS! Congrats!”
  • “I am so happy for you, Susan! CONGRATULATIONS!”
  • “We have been so fortunate to have Susan Worrell share “the fullness of who she is” for many years!!”

Graves and Ghouls Tour Makes Halloween Début

The past comes alive in historic Fredericksburg, but each Halloween, it’s the dead who are memorialized by University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation Club. Earlier this month, the club’s annual Ghostwalk – a popular attraction for the past 36 years – transformed into “Graves and Ghouls,” a graveyard tour that was socially distanced due to […]

Ryan Hastings: Military Man

Staff Sgt. Ryan Hastings served for 20 years with the U.S. Army before becoming UMW's veterans liaison in 2019.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Hastings served for 20 years with the U.S. Army before becoming UMW’s veterans liaison in 2019.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Hastings began the year on a mission. He wanted to purchase lapel pins for faculty and staff to show solidarity with veterans and students from military families, who make up a sizeable chunk of the University of Mary Washington community. He shored up support from the Staff Advisory Council, the Office of the President and UMW’s Veterans Resource Center and found a local veteran-owned business to produce the pins.

Then came COVID-19. Everything was put on hold, that is, until Hastings decided to pay out of his own pocket for the pins, he said, “in a small act of defiance against the pandemic.”

This kind of commitment to those who have served is what led to Hastings – a 20-year U.S. Army veteran – becoming UMW’s Veterans Liaison in 2019. He previously earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree in History and Communication from UMW and a post-baccalaureate degree in Leadership and Management Studies.

“As a student, I found it difficult to relate to many of my younger classmates,” said Hastings, adding that veterans tend to be older and married with children. Based in the Registrar’s Office on the Stafford Campus, he draws from personal experience to help the graduate students seeking their MBA or Master in Education, as well as the undergrad students using the V.A. Vocational Readiness and Employment education benefits to acclimate to life at UMW, often coordinating with other departments across the University.

After arranging tutoring for one student, Hastings shared how UMW’s Office of Disability Resources had helped him in college. He also brought him to the Veterans Resource Center on the University Center’s first floor, where veterans and military-connected students can study, relax and connect with other former service members.

“If you’re a veteran looking to recapture the camaraderie you had in the military,” he said, “I encourage you to give it a try.”

Q: What motivated you to join the military?
A: I grew up in a musical family, so I wanted to serve in one of the military bands stationed near Washington, D.C. After an intense audition process, I was fortunate to earn a spot with the U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps and serve as a bugler at Fort Myer in Arlington for 20 years.

Q: What do you remember about your time in the military?
A: Marching in five inauguration ceremonies for Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama and performing at the opening of the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, where I met Tom Hanks. But I’m also haunted by the memories of the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon. Many of us saw it happen and were later tasked with removing the remains.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Engaging with UMW’s veteran community and helping them make their academic goals a reality.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Working with a student who just transitioned out of the military. There are a few required steps to set up education benefits through the Veterans Affairs office, which moves at a glacial pace.

Q: How has life changed for you now that you’re a veteran?
A: I’ve enjoyed using the word “no” a lot. I wasn’t able to say it very much between 1995 and 2015.