October 1, 2020

Crystal Rawls: Online Organizer

Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Crystal Rawls

Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Crystal Rawls

Nothing ever stopped Crystal Rawls from going to school. With perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade, she never missed a single day with her classmates. So she can understand why students miss being together on the University of Mary Washington campus.

Even while they’re social-distancing during the pandemic, though, UMW students haven’t missed out on opportunities to engage with their peers, thanks to the Office of Student Activities and Engagement (SAE), of which Rawls is assistant director.

“Our goal is to give students the chance to connect with each other, especially during these trying times,” Rawls said. A communications major, she was active on VCU’s campus as an undergrad, which led her to pursue a master’s degree in higher education at Old Dominion University. “We want to help them lay the groundwork so they can continue fostering these relationships once they return to campus.”

That’s easy to do in a normal year, but when COVID-19 cases began to climb last spring, the SAE team had to get creative, lining up activities on social media and Zoom. Throughout the summer, they kept incoming and current students entertained with bracket challenges and game nights, film screenings and cooking videos, playlists and podcast recommendations.

“We were able to interact with a large group of students, especially the Class of 2024,” said Rawls, who expects that even more will engage this fall after Club Carnival, which runs through Sept. 4. The popular Ball Circle event has been transformed into a week of virtual interest meetings, held by UMW’s more than 150 student clubs and organizations.

“Student activities can help you find your on-campus family,” said Rawls, who met one of her closest friends through a college club. “They can help you make lifelong friendships and create a lasting bond with your school.”

 

Q: What activities were you involved in while in college?
A: I served as a resident assistant and undergraduate teaching assistant, and I was a member of VCU ASPiRE, a living and learning community that encourages community engagement.

Q: What does your job at UMW entail?
A: I help UMW’s student clubs and organizations plan campus activities. I’m also the advisor to the Campus Programming Board (CPB) and Class Council, as well as STEP@UMW, Women of Color and Comb As You Are, which promotes natural hair and beauty. I also coordinate the Student Leadership Committee and serve as the Title IX Deputy for Students.

Q: What other virtual activities are planned for the fall?
A: CPB is having a caricature speed drawing event, and we’re also planning socially distanced scavenger hunts and online movie screenings. Bingo is returning, with surprise campus celebrity hosts and a special guest, Morgan McMichaels from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Q: Are there any new clubs this semester?
A: Aubade Literary and Art Magazine is returning after a hiatus, and new organizations include the Culinary Club, Day on Democracy and the Fourth Wall Studio Club, focusing on filmmaking.

Q: What do you do when you’re not working?
A: Catch up on Netflix – The Umbrella Academy is quite good – and listen to podcasts.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: There is only one of you in the world, so be the best you that you can be.

Tradition Reinvention: Iconic UMW Events Go Virtual

Online trivia, virtual dance parties and outdoor fitness classes are in this fall. High fives, handshakes and hugs are out, at least for now. Activities and engagement are as much a part of college life as academics. That’s why staff and student volunteers at the University of Mary Washington have worked tirelessly this summer to […]

Eagles Fly High During Virtual Awards Ceremony

University of Mary Washington senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the annual Eagle Awards ceremony, presented virtually Friday evening. This event honors student leaders and outstanding campus organizations. New this year was the James Farmer Defining A Legacy Award. As one of the emcees for the video awards ceremony, Brianna “Breezy” […]

Uniquely UMW Tradition – Devil Goat Day – Lives On

The uniquely UMW tradition of Devil Goat Day continues this year. With classes online due to COVID-19, contests are being held virtually.

The uniquely UMW tradition of Devil Goat Day continues this year. With classes online due to COVID-19, contests are being held virtually.

The name might sound odd to some. But for University of Mary Washington students and alumni, “Devil Goat Day” is tradition – one that’s been around for nearly a century.

And this year, as always, it’s on!

With courses turned virtual and campus cleared out due to COVID-19, Senior Class Council (SCC) couldn’t bear to give up this uniquely UMW event – where students who graduate in odd years, called “devils,” compete with those who graduate in even years, called “goats.”

“We couldn’t let that day slide by without acknowledging the tradition that we care so much about,” said SCC President Eleanor Kilmon, who’s worked with her clubmates to take it online for a week instead of a day.

Launched Sunday, this year’s event is packed with as much Eagle pride and well-meaning rivalry – seniors and sophomores vs. juniors and freshmen – as ever. But instead of on Ball Circle, competitions take place on Instagram, with #umwdgd. Traditional matches of corn hole, cup-pong and bull-riding give way to virtual challenges unofficially measured by re-posts and tags. Read more.

Come Be a Part of Unwind @ Mary Wash!

Planned by the Office of Student Activities and Engagement, Unwind @ Mary Wash helps students de-stress before exams. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Planned by the Office of Student Activities and Engagement, Unwind @ Mary Wash helps students de-stress before exams. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Every semester during finals week, the Office of Student Activities and Engagement participates with other offices on campus to put together Unwind @ Mary Wash. A program that brings together free snacks, arts and crafts, and therapy dogs to help students unwind as they go through finals. This year, we are looking to expand to more departments on campus! If you are interested in participating this year, or if you have any questions, please reach out the Assistant Director of SAE, Crystal Rawls, at crawls@umw.edu.

UMW Dance Kids Camp, Jan. 18-19

The UMW Dance Team is hosting a dance camp for kids ages 5-12! On January 18 (5 p.m.-8 p.m.) and January 19 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.), the kids will be engaging in many fun activities with the members of the dance team including playing games, learning dance technique, and also learning a fun routine; the two-minute routine will then be performed at the UMW men’s basketball game on January 19 that starts at 3 p.m. The kids will be fed pizza for dinner on Friday and will also be given a T-shirt to remember their awesome experience as a UMW Eaglette! The price for the camp is $70 which inclues a T-shirt, food for Friday, and 2 tickets to the baskeball game on Saturday. We are very excited and hope for a great turnout! Email umwdanceteam@gmail.com to register a spot or to ask any further questions.