July 15, 2019

Bianca Hightower: Career Creator

Bianca Hightower, assistant director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Bianca Hightower, assistant director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Bianca Hightower has several meaningful mementos and family photos decorating her office. But for the assistant director of the Center for Career and Professional Development, what reminds her most of why she loves her job are the signed business cards from UMW graduates she’s guided toward careers.

“I work closely with students to help them develop the skills and experiences they need to pursue their career goals,” said Hightower, who came to Mary Washington in 2013 and began her current role two years later. “I cherish seeing how successful they have become.”

Hightower oversees UMW’s Peer Career Consultant Program and helps students navigate the internship and job search, in addition to teaching a course that helps job seekers learn how to communicate their personal brand to prospective employers. One might assume that Hightower and the Career and Professional Development staff have downtime during the summer. On the contrary, the office is bustling with activity, especially after commencement, during orientation and before the start of the school year. In the meantime, the staff is busy preparing to help the next crop of students plan their futures.

If that isn’t enough, Hightower also supports teenagers throughout the region in finding pathways to success. She leads the James Farmer Scholars, a college access program for 250 students in grades seven to 12.

“Juggling these dual roles has certainly challenged me to grow as a professional,” Hightower said. “I manage by staying organized and being efficient. But I couldn’t do it without the people around me.”

 

Q: How did you come to work in this field?
A: I completed several internships during graduate school to discover my interests and career services was where I found my niche.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: When students are able to define and reach their goals. Figuring out a career path is a daunting task, so I applaud students for working through the process.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Finding time in the day to fit it all in. Our office is small, but we get the job done.

Q: Tell us about Handshake and how it works.
A: It’s a platform that students use to connect with potential mentors and employers, track their experiences and keep in touch with our office. The biggest use is for students to search for and apply to job and internships posted in the system by employers.

Q: How will the James Farmer Scholars celebrate the 100th anniversary of James Farmer’s birth next January?
A: We are planning a reunion for past Scholars and special activities for current participants.

Q: What was your favorite summer job as a teen or college student?
A: Working as an undergraduate RA during a summer school session at Wake Forest University. It was a different dynamic than during the academic year and helped solidify my desire to pursue a career in higher education.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am obsessed with cheerleading! I recently had knee surgery after being on an adult cheer team, but it was worth it.

UMW Names Inaugural Director of Center for Career and Professional Development

Paul Binkley was recently named the inaugural director of UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development.

University of Mary Washington announces the fulfillment of one of its key strategic goals with the selection of the first executive director for its Center for Career and Professional Development. Paul Binkley, whose employment will begin June 25, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of career services, student affairs, international development and higher education management.

He comes to UMW from the Homewood Career Center at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), where he served as director of the Student Career Development Team. In that role, he managed a staff of career coaches who implemented an industry-based service model that included group, one-on-one and class-based services to all Homewood undergraduate and graduate students, and young alumni.

Binkley will work with similar constituents at Mary Washington. His arrival at UMW solidifies the University’s commitment to meeting statewide workforce needs as well as its conviction that a liberal arts education is the essence of career and life readiness.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with Dr. Binkley on bringing to life a vision that makes preparation for the transition from college to career and life after Mary Washington a central aspect of the student experience,” said Tim O’Donnell, associate provost for academic engagement and student success.

Prior to his job at JHU, Binkley worked in Monrovia, Liberia, for more than three years, first as an education officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and then as the resident director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

Before his tenure in Africa, Binkley spent 13 years working in career development at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the Elliott School of International Affairs. He has also worked in Afghanistan, Barbados, Iraq, Tajikistan and several other countries in Europe and Africa.

Recognized for his significant knowledge and expertise in the area of federal careers, Binkley teamed with Katherine Troutman, a noted federal careers expert, to author the book Students’ Federal Career Guide — How Students, Student Vets, and Recent Grads Land a Federal Job, now in its third edition. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration from The George Washington University, a master’s degree in international affairs from the University of Kentucky and a certificate in Human Performance Improvement. Originally from central Minnesota, Binkley is a certified MBTI facilitator, and a Board Certified Coach.

UMW Names Inaugural Director of Center for Career and Professional Development

University of Mary Washington announces the fulfillment of one of its key strategic goals with the selection of the first executive director for its Center for Career and Professional Development. Paul Binkley, whose employment will begin June 25, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of career services, student affairs, international development and […]

UMW Names Inaugural Director of Center for Career and Professional Development

University of Mary Washington announces the fulfillment of one of its key strategic goals with the selection of the first executive director for its Center for Career and Professional Development. Paul Binkley, whose employment will begin June 25, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of career services, student affairs, international development and […]

Women’s Leadership Colloquium at Stevenson Ridge on May 7

The Women’s Leadership Colloquium @ UMW’s next networking event will be held on Tuesday, May 7 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Stevenson Ridge.

This Old Piece…Finding and Finishing Furniture

The Beginner’s Guide to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Be inspired as you learn from Sara Branner and Mindy Gray, Co-Owners of SaraGray Designs, LLC, how to find and refinish furniture using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Participants will discover practical tips and gain the confidence to paint a piece on their own.  A finished piece will be given away to one lucky person! All attendees will also get to experience one of their DIY workshops.

SaraGray Designs, LLC is a “Pop Up” studio/shop in Remington that features painted and farmhouse furniture, home accessories, jewelry, artwork and paper crafting items.  DIY workshops are also held during the month.

Light food and wine will be provided. Cost per person: $15.

REGISTER TODAY! Space limited.

https://www.umw.edu/lcpw/

Kyle Danzey: Corps Values

Before Kyle Danzey can talk about his military service, or the GI bill that put him through college, or the work that funded his graduate degree in Norfolk, he must first talk about his family.

“My mom and dad grew up in the segregated South,” he said. “They didn’t have many opportunities.”

Yet they made them – paving the way for their son.

Kyle Danzey

Kyle Danzey is director of the new Peace Corps Prep program at UMW. Photo by Alex Sakes.

Danzey’s parents joined the military, which gave them the chance to go to college. His father was injured while serving in Vietnam. Together, they raised a son who would follow in their footsteps, fully appreciating the value of an education.

He got a bachelor’s degree, worked two years and then went to graduate school at Old Dominion University – paying his own way as a full-time vocational instructor for recipients of welfare benefits.

He arrived at UMW two years ago, taking on the role of assistant director for career and professional development. He also serves as coordinator of UMW’s brand new Peace Corps Prep program.

Q: The Peace Corps just recognized UMW as one of the top volunteer-producing colleges for the 10th year in a row. Why do so many join?

A: It’s just a culture that we have here at UMW. We’ve always had that tradition of being educators or providing a service. Our students want to contribute to society. They want to travel internationally.

Q: Tell me about the new Peace Corps Prep program.

A: It’s a pipeline program that combines targeted coursework, service-oriented field work and professional development to prepare undergraduates for future volunteer positions. Successful students receive a certificate from the Peace Corps, a graduation rope and help with applying to the Peace Corps.

Q: Tell me about your other roles here on campus.

A: I do all of the marketing within the Career Center. I do resume reviews, career assessments and presentations on resume building. I also teach local seventh through twelfth graders once a month as part of the James Farmer Scholars program. I teach a student transition program for incoming freshmen for under-represented students. I’m also coordinator for a workforce recruitment program for students with disabilities.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

A: Working with students and seeing them grow over time. It still shocks me sometimes when I’m walking across campus and I hear, “Hi, Mr. Danzey.” I made some impact on that student’s life for them to remember me. That’s the ultimate reward.

Q: What is the most challenging part?

A: Throughout my life, I’ve seen that one person others don’t see who may feel undervalued. I’ve always taken to that person. There are so many out there we just don’t know. It hurts my heart that there may be a student going through a situation that I can’t help.

Q: Is there a motto you live by?

A: Strengths lie in differences, not similarities. I think that can apply to everything.