October 30, 2020

Local Special Olympian to Deliver UMW Disability Awareness Keynote

Matthew Doyle, who has Down Syndrome, will deliver the keynote address for UMW’s Disability Awareness Month celebration on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. Here, Doyle speaks at the Special Olympics State Basketball Championships several years ago.

Matthew Doyle, who has Down Syndrome, will deliver the keynote address for UMW’s Disability Awareness Month celebration on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. Here, Doyle speaks at the Special Olympics State Basketball Championships several years ago.

Special Olympian Matthew Doyle found a few minutes yesterday to FaceTime his friend Erin Malkiewicz. He wanted her feedback on the Disability Awareness Month keynote address he’ll deliver to the University of Mary Washington community. The talk, scheduled for tomorrow at 5 p.m. on Zoom, is open to the public.

“If it wasn’t through Zoom, I think he’d get a standing ovation,” said Malkiewicz, a first-year student who’s paired with Doyle in UMW’s Best Buddies chapter.

During the address, presented by the James Farmer Multicultural Center, Doyle, who has Down Syndrome, will discuss his involvement with organizations like Special Olympics and Best Buddies, and reflect on life in general.“If it wasn’t through Zoom, I think he’d get a standing ovation,” said Malkiewicz, a first-year student who’s paired with Doyle in UMW’s Best Buddies chapter.

He’s been a few places. Just look at his pictures on Facebook, where he’s dressed in a wetsuit for the Polar Plunge, at fundraisers with friends and getting kissed on the cheek on the beach. He’s living the life. And he has a voice. And he wants the millions of Americans with disabilities – and everyone else – to hear it. Read more.

Disability Studies Course Gains Acceptance at UMW

UMW senior Claudia Woods, president of the student club DiversAbility (shown here in a psychology course last year with her service dog, Hearo), is taking “Intro to Disability Studies.” Offered for the first time this fall, the course takes an interdisciplinary look at disability as key to the human experience as race or gender. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

UMW senior Claudia Woods, president of the student club DiversAbility (shown here in a psychology course last year with her service dog, Hearo), is taking “Intro to Disability Studies.” Offered for the first time this fall, the course takes an interdisciplinary look at disability as key to the human experience as race or gender. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

One in four Americans lives with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the University of Mary Washington, it’s one in eight.

“With those sorts of numbers, it’s mind-boggling [that] disability doesn’t have more automatic inclusion when people think about diversity,” said UMW Professor of English Chris Foss.

As the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 30th year and October’s Disability Awareness Month shine a light on one of the country’s most underrepresented groups, so does a new UMW course. Offered for the first time this fall, Intro to Disability Studies (IDS) delves into the 21st-century experience of a diverse population, exploring cognitive, sensory, mobility and other differences as just as essential to the human condition as gender and race.

The 16-week course fans out across disciplines, examining disability throughout the lifespan in historical, political, social and other contexts. Years in the making, the class is team-taught by faculty and staff – from art history, education, English, historic preservation, psychology and the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) – who’ve poured their time and passion into the topic in hopes it gains traction. Read more.

Social Justice Summit Spurs Students to Action

UMW students speak at a previous Social Justice and Leadership Summit, presented by the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Covering topics like systemic racism, housing injustice, immigration and climate crisis, this year's full event was held last weekend, while a smaller event was held during the summer.

UMW students speak at a previous Social Justice and Leadership Summit, presented by the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Covering topics like systemic racism, housing injustice, immigration and climate crisis, this year’s full event was held last weekend, while a smaller event was held during the summer.

When junior Mandy Byrd came to the University of Mary Washington, she got involved with the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC) and the University’s new NAACP chapter. These organizations helped open her eyes to a wide range of social justice issues, she said, and “just how powerful this kind of work can be.”

Her goal is to devote the rest of college – and beyond – to educating people about injustice and encouraging conversations that result in “positive and lasting change.”

She did both last Saturday, when JFMC hosted its Social Justice and Leadership Summit on Zoom. Dozens of Mary Washington students joined high school and community college students from the Fredericksburg area, as well as UMW faculty members and guest speakers, engaging in a virtual dialogue about pressing issues currently impacting our country and planet. Held annually since 2018 – usually in person – the summit gives students, according to the website, “the chance to build coalitions across cultural barriers, strengthen advocacy and promote a more equitable culture and climate at UMW and in American society.” Read more.

COAR’s 2020 Box Drive

2020 Box Drive

Community Outreach and Resources’ (COAR) 2020 Box Drive works to serve the children and teens of low-income families in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Boxes will be filled with art supplies, outdoor toys, gloves, hats, etc. and delivered to kids in the community. COAR is working in collaboration with some of our local community partners, such as Hope House and the Thurman Brisben Center to provide an opportunity for UMW faculty, staff, and students to support local families and youth. Although the modality of our annual box drive has changed, our passion to serve Fredericksburg has not gone anywhere. Our presence in the community is more important now than ever before. Please consider picking up a box to fill at the CCE Suite (UC 320) now through November 2nd, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please email questions to coarumw@gmail.com.

National Day on Write and Why I Write

October 20th is National Day On Writing. Around UMW and all over the globe people will share their love for writing through the #WhyIWrite campaign sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. Join others on Simpson’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and tell us why you write. You can also go to add your thoughts and comments to Simpson’s Call to Contribute page and document your experiences during COVID-19. https://libraries.umw.edu/call-to-contribute-submission-form/
#WhyIWrite #NDoW109

Sponsored by UMW Libraries, UMW English and Linguistics, UMW Honors Council and the UMW Creative Writing Club.

Virginia Business Profile on UMW

Lee Hall

President Troy Paino, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao were interviewed for a Virginia Business profile on the University of Mary Washington entitled, “The Mother of Innovation.”

Don’t try to be something you’re not.

That’s one way to sum up the approach that Troy Paino has taken to guiding the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg since assuming the school’s presidency in July 2016.

“I knew as an outsider that Virginia had a crowded and competitive marketplace for higher education,” says Paino, who previously served as president of Missouri’s Truman State University. “I don’t think I fully appreciated it until I got here.” Read more.

 

Mary Washington Makes Princeton Review’s 2021 ‘Best Colleges’ List

UMW is one of fewer than 400 four-year schools to make Princeton Review’s 2021 “Best Colleges” list. Photo courtesy of Princeton Review.

UMW is one of fewer than 400 four-year schools to make Princeton Review’s 2021 “Best Colleges” list. Photo courtesy of Princeton Review.

The University of Mary Washington is among the best in the country, according to Princeton Review’s The Best 386 Colleges guide. The 2021 edition of the rankings publication, released last month, lists UMW among the top 13 percent of the thousands of four-year colleges and universities throughout the nation.

One of the longest-running and most well-respected guides of its type, the publication has been used for nearly three decades by degree-seeking college applicants and their parents looking for the best undergraduate academic experiences available in the U.S. Results published in this year’s book are based on 143,000 student surveys gauging both on- and off-campus involvement.

The guide describes each school’s student body, and provides ratings in such categories as campus life, academics, admissions selectivity, financial aid and sustainability. UMW received high marks in all categories, including academics, with students reporting to find faculty members both interesting and accessible.

“Perhaps what [they] value most is the level of communication they have with their professors,” the publication states. “As one impressed undergrad explains, ‘UMW professors go the extra mile to help students and ensure that they succeed, and students never hesitate to take time out of their day to go see their professors during their office hours for extra help’ … It’s quite evident that ‘they love what they teach and want you to love it as well.’ ” Read more.

Service Project Takes UMW Students ‘Into the Streets’ to Build Community

From right to left: Caroline Mowdy, Paige Beidelman and Lance Whitesel spread mulch with Tree Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of COAR’s Into the Streets. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

From right to left: Caroline Mowdy, Paige Beidelman and Lance Whitesel spread mulch with Tree Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of COAR’s Into the Streets. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Early Saturday morning, a group of University of Mary Washington students gathered on Ball Circle. Wearing masks and social distancing, they came together on that crisp fall day to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, completing outdoor service projects for Into the Streets. The autumn tradition is hosted by UMW’s COAR (Community Outreach and Resources), whose mission is to provide structural support for community engagement, volunteerism and service.

“At a time when we are all unable to do many of the things that give us joy, satisfaction and focus,” said Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE),  “volunteering reminds us that we are all still connected and able to work together for the betterment of our shared community.”

The Center, which opened last fall, helps build bridges – and strengthen existing ones – between Mary Washington and organizations in the greater Fredericksburg area. Several of CCE’s community partners are navigating budget cuts and layoffs as a result of the pandemic, Martin said, so “our community needs us now more than ever.” Read more.

Tragedy Turned Alumna’s Focus to Suicide Prevention

UMW alumna Julie van Ommeren had barely begun her coursework toward a bachelor of liberal studies degree when tragedy struck. The experience led her to shape her degree toward the work she plans in suicide prevention.

UMW alumna Julie van Ommeren had barely begun her coursework toward a bachelor of liberal studies degree when tragedy struck. The experience led her to shape her degree toward the work she plans in suicide prevention.

It’s 2 a.m., and there’s a police officer sitting on Julie van Ommeren’s gingham-print loveseat. Another stands by his side. But where is Kyle? She hears someone scream, then suddenly realizes the voice is her own.

This is a story of how a liberal arts education – and a custom-made major – can map to more than a college degree, even when it detours to the darkest of places. Van Ommeren was two weeks into a bachelor of liberal studies program at the University of Mary Washington when her 19-year-old son ended his life in the family van. As she grappled with grief, her schoolwork grew even more personal.

A careful collection of classes and unflagging support from faculty brought meaning to a mother’s worst nightmare and led to a plan to help others. KYVO – named for her son – and “Dream to Live,” the platform and program born from van Ommeren’s coursework, shift the focus of suicide from death to life. Though they have not been officially endorsed, she shares them – and her story – on a website she launched this September, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, with deaths on the rise, particularly among young people like Kyle. Read more.

COVID-19, Voting and Climate Change presentation on Zoom, Oct. 11

COVID-19, Voting and Climate Change: Becoming Agents of ChangeAre you wondering how the COVID-19 crisis intersects with climate change? Do you want to learn how your vote will count on counteracting the worst effects of both crises? And lastly, do you want to be a part of making systemic changes in our different levels of government, ranging from locally to nationally?

If your answer is “YES!” to any or all of these questions, I invite you to attend the upcoming “COVID-19, Voting and Climate Change: Becoming Agents of Change.” Held virtually via Zoom, this presentation is inspired by the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future on Sunday, October 11th at 2 p.m. ET. Representatives from the University of Mary Washington, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Fossil Free Fredericksburg and the Climate Reality Project will share information regarding each topic, helping you identify ways you can help implement systemic changes in policy for our city, state, and nation. Each person attending the session will have a tree planted in their honor by the Climate Reality Project. Sign up now and get involved!