July 13, 2020

Alumnus Earns Competitive Fellowship to Teach Constitution

2006 graduate Sam Ulmschneider (left), a global studies and history teacher based in Richmond, was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship.

2006 graduate Sam Ulmschneider (left), a global studies and history teacher based in Richmond, was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship.

Persistence paid off for UMW graduate Sam Ulmschneider.

The global studies and history teacher was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship – on his fourth attempt to earn the award.

The $24,000 prize is given to just one recipient per state each year to promote outstanding teaching of the U.S. Constitution in secondary schools. It will allow Ulmschneider to pursue a second master’s degree while he continues to teach gifted high schoolers at his other alma mater, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond.

Two of Ulmschneider’s previous fellowship applications resulted in his being named a runner-up. Undiscouraged, he kept applying, a process that included a lot of essay-writing. “I felt like my students do when they’re filling out their college applications,” he said.

His own education at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School – and the Advanced Placement credits he earned there – allowed him to focus on his academic interests almost immediately at UMW.

“The advising system was wonderful, and it’s one of the things I took away from Mary Washington,” said Ulmschneider, who double majored in history and philosophy with a minor in religion, and joined the University’s club fencing team. Read more.

Doctor Supports Veterans, the Underserved

1999 Mary Washington alumnus Dr. Anthony D. Jones’ military-focused medical career has also allowed him to volunteer his services to those with HIV and other underserved patients. Photo by Clement Britt

1999 Mary Washington alumnus Dr. Anthony D. Jones’ military-focused medical career has also allowed him to volunteer his services to those with HIV and other underserved patients. Photo by Clement Britt.

This story, written by Daryl Lease ’85, originally appeared in the University of Mary Washington Magazine’s spring/summer 2020 issue.

As a pre-med student at Mary Washington, Anthony D. Jones ’99 volunteered at the nearby Lloyd Moss Free Clinic, shadowing doctors as they provided care to low-income residents, including patients with HIV/AIDS. The experience helped set him on a path of serving the underserved.

“Back then, having HIV was more or less a death sentence,” Jones recalled. “The physicians at the clinic showed a whole lot of compassion taking care of HIV patients. That left a good impression on me.”

Today, the physician is chief medical officer of the Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Lee, Virginia, and works for Veterans Evaluation Services in Richmond, where he conducts compensation exams for veterans, and recently assisted in daily COVID-19 briefings for a division in the Department of Defense.

He also volunteered at a Virginia Department of Health men’s clinic focused on sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Through the nonprofit Minority Health Consortium, he has provided HIV testing and assisted with care coordination for newly diagnosed HIV patients. Read more.

Read ‘THE FEATHER THIEF’ with the Mother of All Book Clubs

Looking for a way to stay connected to other alumni? We are beginning the third round of reading in our online literary group–the Mother of All Book Clubs!

Alumni read and discuss via a private Facebook group, so only approved members can see posts or participate in the discussion. This is informal and low-pressure–read along with us and chime in on the discussion as much or as little as you like.

Our next selection is The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk Wallace Johnson. The Feather Thief is the colorful tale of a bizarre crime; it promises to read like a classic thriller made more fascinating by the fact that it’s nonfiction.

From a review in The New York Times: “In June 2009, Edwin Rist, a 20-year-old American flutist studying at the Royal Academy of Music, smashed a window at the Museum of Natural History in Tring, near London, and pulled off one of the more bizarre robberies of recent decades. Under the nose of a hapless security guard, Rist ransacked storage drawers and absconded with the preserved skins of 299 tropical birds, including specimens collected by the legendary naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in the mid-19th century.” Why did he commit the crime, and what happened afterward?

Pick up a copy of the book and start reading–we will begin posting discussion questions on Monday, July 13. You might have a small-business bookseller you like to support, or you might want to try your local library system, as many offer ebook rentals. But if you need the book shipped, below are some links to larger online providers.

We look forward to reading with you!

 

All the best,
The Alumni Relations Team

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Target

Mary Talks: ‘COVID-19 and Climate’ with Dr. Pamela Grothe

Join us ONLINE for the next Mary Talk of the year.

This year’s series continues with Dr. Pamela Grothe, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, presenting “COVID-19 and Climate: What Impact is the Pandemic Having on the Environment?”

In her research, Dr. Grothe uses natural archives to reconstruct the climate hundreds to thousands of years ago. This creates a baseline of natural climate variability so we can better understand humans’ contribution to present-day climate. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of addressing the climate crisis. With global economies shut down, we have seen reports in the news about better air quality and lower carbon emissions. This Talk will discuss the immediate and long-term environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lessons learned as we tackle the looming climate crisis.

Wednesday, June 10

7:30 p.m.

Online

To watch the Talk online, register here. You then will receive a link to the streaming video, which can be watched live or at a later time. You also will have the opportunity to submit questions to be asked of the speaker at the end of the Talk.

Note: Online viewing is the only option for this Mary Talk, as we are not conducting any in-person events at this time.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Read ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ with the Mother of All Book Clubs

Looking for a way to stay connected to other alumni during this challenging time? We are beginning the second round of reading in our online literary group–the Mother of All Book Clubs!

Alumni read and discuss via a private Facebook group, so only approved members can see posts or participate in the discussion. This is informal and low-pressure–read along with us and chime in on the discussion as much or as little as you like.

Our next selection is Dear Evan Hansen, by Steven Levenson. “A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed could be his. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to belong. Deeply personal and profoundly universal, Dear Evan Hansen is a groundbreaking American musical about truth, fiction, and the price we’re willing to pay for the possibility to connect.”

Dear Evan Hansen was UMW’s Common Read experience for 2017 and is an ongoing Broadway hit. This book should prompt some good discussions about ethics, mental health, and the impact of social media on our society and relationships. It also is uplifting and warm, with an award-winning soundtrack. Recently, the UMW Theatre department adapted a song from the soundtrack and released it on social media, where it received praise on the show’s social media as well.

Please note that we are reading the actual screenplay of the Broadway production. There are other publications, including a novelization, by the same name. Use the links here and confirm the author to ensure you obtain the correct text.

Pick up a copy of the book and start reading–we will begin posting discussion questions on Monday, May 25. You might have a small-business bookseller you like to support, or you might want to try your local library system, as many offer ebook rentals. But if you need the book shipped, below are some links to larger online providers.

We look forward to reading with you!

All the best,
The Alumni Relations Team

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Target

UMW Faculty Teach “Chemistry in the Kitchen”

Join us online for virtual programming from UMW Alumni and UMW’s chemistry faculty

UMW chemistry professors will present “Chemistry in the Kitchen” in three Lunchtime Learning sessions. These sessions will feature chemistry experiments that you can do yourself at home in your kitchen. Watch and enjoy, or conduct your own experiments along with us–we will send a supply list ahead of time so you can join in, if desired.

Each session will focus on a different topic:

Tuesday: Intermolecular Interactions with Dr. Leanna Giancarlo

Wednesday: Polymers with Dr. Kelli Slunt

Thursday: Sustainability with Dr. Janet Asper

Tuesday-Thursday, June 2-4

12:00-1:00 p.m. each day

Online

These experiments are designed for children in fourth-eighth grades, but likely will be entertaining for children outside that range as well.

Join us for one, two, or all three sessions–just pick which you want in the registration form. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a link to the Zoom sessions. You also will be sent a supply list in advance of the program.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Visualizing a Virus: Alum’s Art Captures Emotions of a Pandemic

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Hadrian Mendoza isn’t glorifying the novel coronavirus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in images of the tiny particle, he sees more than fear, suffering, loss and grief.

To Mendoza, a 1996 Mary Washington graduate and internationally known fine-arts potter, viruses have long represented a fascinating intersection of danger and beauty. Starting in 2016, he began creating sculptural interpretations of viruses – his creations then were hollow spheres with sharp, spiny protrusions that served both to balance and to convey threat.

Alumnus Cooks Up Initiative to Save Small Restaurants

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a 2007 UMW alumnus, helps package meals at D.C. Caribbean restaurant Cane for Washington Hospital Center workers. His Power of 10 initiative has raised over $200,000 to feed families, first responders and hospital workers across the country. Photo Credit: Foreign National.

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a 2007 UMW alumnus, helps package meals at D.C. Caribbean restaurant Cane for Washington Hospital Center workers. His Power of 10 initiative has raised over $200,000 to feed families, first responders and hospital workers across the country. Photo Credit: Foreign National.

Acclaimed chef and restaurant owner Erik Bruner-Yang and his wife welcomed their third child and bought their first home in January. Just eight weeks later, the same weekend they moved into their new house in Washington, D.C., the mayor ordered all city restaurants to close because of COVID-19.

The 2007 UMW graduate felt fortunate that he and his family could survive – he’s the executive chef at D.C.-based chain &Pizza. But he’d invested 15 years and lots of drive to build six successful restaurants in the H Street corridor he calls home. Within 48 hours, he said, he went from having 225 employees to just 40.

“Basically, it broke down in my hands overnight,” said Bruner-Yang, a two-time James Beard-award finalist whose name and restaurants appear regularly in The Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Eater and other national publications. “It was this really weird feeling where I felt blessed and crushed at the same time.”

He was driving along a deserted H Street when he had an idea that could make a difference – “Power of 10” – partnering restaurants with local nonprofits to distribute food to those in need. A weekly $10,000, Bruner-Yang thought, could employ 10 full-time cooks and cover food to generate 1,000 meals for hungry people, first responders and hospital workers. Now, with help from the community he’s always supported and friends made at Mary Washington, the effort to feed families, fund farmers and revitalize restaurants has taken root across the country. Read more.

Alum, Infectious Disease Expert, Urges Patience in Fighting COVID-19

Jerri Perkins, MD, graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, studied at the National Institutes of Health, and recommended the first FDA therapy related to AIDS. With a background in infectious disease, she believes that social distancing – and patience – are our best weapons in the fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Jerri Perkins.

Jerri Perkins, MD, graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, studied at the National Institutes of Health, and recommended the first FDA therapy related to AIDS. With a background in infectious disease, she believes that social distancing – and patience – are our best weapons in the fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Jerri Perkins.

Jerri Barden Perkins was heading to the peak of a powdery slope in Sun Valley, Idaho, when her ski instructor suggested they spread out from the group. As they stepped into the gondola, the women pointed their elbows away from their sides to create personal space.

It was the first of March, and coronavirus was beginning to creep through the United States. By the time Perkins, an infectious disease expert who graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, returned to her Hilton Head home in South Carolina, she was concerned. She sat down in her office overlooking peaceful Calibogue Sound to pen a letter to the editor of her local newspaper.

Like her ski instructor, Perkins believed social distancing was the way to slow the virus’s spread. But rather than scooching away from gondola-riders, Perkins was asking a town to close a bridge that provides access to an island.

“It doesn’t respect people or borders; it’s going to do its own thing,” she said of COVID-19. “If we want to survive, we have to pause and distance ourselves until we get more data and knowledge.” Read more.

Join Mary Washington’s ‘Mother of All Book Clubs’

Looking for a way to stay connected to other alumni during this challenging time? Join our new online literary group–the Mother of All Book Clubs!

Alumni will read and collaborate via a Facebook group. The Facebook group is private, so only approved members will be able to see posts or participate in the discussion. This is designed to be an informal and low-pressure group–read along with us and chime in on the discussion as much or as little as you like.

Our first selection is “Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover. This was UMW’s Common Read for 2019, so we’ll be reading the same book that all incoming freshmen read last fall.

Pick up a copy of the book and start reading–we will begin posting discussion questions about Part 1 on Monday, April 20.

You might have a local small-business bookseller you like to support, and that’s great! But if you are in a shutdown area and need the book shipped, here are some links to larger providers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target.

We look forward to reading with you!

 

All the best,

The Alumni Relations Team