December 6, 2023

UMW Student Chosen as Shawn Carter Scholar

Ebony Dixon, a University of Mary Washington political science and theater double major, was selected as a Shawn Carter Scholar for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Shawn Carter — better known as rapper Jay-Z — provides yearly grants from $1,500 to $2,500 to help college students pay for tuition and other educational expenses through his foundation.

“This scholarship means the world to me,” said Dixon, who is a senior from Alexandria, Virginia. “I am especially thankful because it was unexpected and I was selected from a competitive pool of applicants.”

According to the Shawn Carter Foundation website, this program was created to give individuals facing socio-economic hardships the opportunity to further their education. Dixon has personally overcome several obstacles while obtaining her degree, including the death of her father.

“I continued to go to school despite my financial and academic struggles,” Dixon said. “The largest tragedy I had to overcome, which I still haven’t fully recovered from, was the death of my father in 2012. Continuing my education showed them that I was very resilient and determined.”

All Shawn Carter Scholars are required to give back by conducting community service and by serving as mentors to younger, aspiring Shawn Carter Scholars.

Dixon plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation and eventually seek her master of fine arts degree. She has aspirations of becoming a playwright.

UMW Sophomore Receives Barry Goldwater Honorable Mention

University of Mary Washington sophomore Juliana Laszakovits is the recipient of an honorable mention from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Juliana Laszakovits Her work focuses on understanding how dead plant life, known as dissolved organic matter, and pharmaceuticals and personal care products, known as PPCP’s, degrade. An accurate estimation of how quickly PPCP naturally degrade will provide a better estimate of the actual concentrations of pharmaceuticals entering the environment. During her research process, Laszakovits, a chemistry major, collaborated with research groups from Ohio State University and the University of Connecticut. Charles Sharpless, UMW associate professor of chemistry, will present their research findings at the Gordon Research Conference this summer. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program, established by Congress in 1986 to honor longtime Senator Barry Goldwater, is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. It aims to foster and encourage excellence in the STEM disciples and to education and train new generations of U.S. leaders. This year, the Goldwater Foundation awarded 283 scholarships from more than 1,100 STEM students across the country. In addition to the scholarships, the foundation also recognized several students from each state with the honorable mention distinction. Laszakovits, a member of the UMW Honor’s Program, has been named to the Dean’s List. In August, she will attend the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education to present findings on the effectiveness of Peer Assisted Study Sessions at UMW.

UMW Student Receives Scholarship to Study in China

University of Mary Washington senior Shirley Naa-kowaa Martey’s quest to become fully fluent in the Chinese language will soon become a reality. The political science major is the recipient of the Chinese Critical Language Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Shortly after her graduation this May, Martey will travel to China for nine weeks to immerse herself in the country’s culture and language. “This scholarship means an opportunity to move toward my goal of attaining proficiency in Mandarin [Chinese] in an immersive environment,” said Martey, who added that she has searched for ways to learn Chinese language and culture beyond her classes at UMW.  “I want any opinion that I contribute to be one that people take seriously, and the scholarship puts me on that path.” Shirely Naa-kowaa Martey spent eight weeks in Taiwan in 2013. Shortly after graduation in May, she will travel to China. This is not the first travel abroad experience for Martey, who spent eight weeks at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan as a recipient of the 2013 Ambassador Summer Scholarship from the Taiwan-U.S. Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA). “While I was in Taiwan, my post-graduation plans changed from going straight to grad school to focusing on becoming fluent,” Martey said. “I don’t want to be that fresh-faced student who reads books about China, has some language classes, and thinks she is qualified to talk about China in a graduate school or a professional setting. That’s not credible.” Martey, who describes herself as Ghanaian American, hopes to teach English in Taiwan and eventually seek her master’s and doctoral degrees. “Martey’s is precisely the type of prestigious academic achievement of which the UMW community should be proud,” said Jack Kramer, chair and distinguished professor of political science and international affairs. “It says a lot about the quality of our students and the education they receive here.”

Community Leaders Dance to Raise Scholarship Funds

The inaugural “Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars,” held at the University of Mary Washington on August 17, raised more than $65,000 to endow a UMW Performing Arts in the Community Scholarship for regional students who excel in music, theatre or dance. An audience of more than 500 watched as nine leaders in the Fredericksburg community performed ballroom dances with professional dancers from Strictly Ballroom Dance Studio of Fredericksburg. A panel of judges provided comments and presented the top awards. Ellen Killough, chief executive officer with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, earned “Best-in-Show” for her Mambo, performed with Michael Scott, co-owner of Strictly Ballroom. She also received recognition for the “Most Amazing Move.” Mary Katherine Greenlaw, mayor of the City of Fredericksburg, who danced a QuickStep with Michael Scott, received the People’s Choice Award, given at a Champagne reception following the performances. Greenlaw also received honors for “Fanciest Footwork.” Despite their long, hard work in preparation for the event, the evening’s celebrities were unanimous in their praise of the event. “Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars will certainly go down as one of my best personal experiences ever,” said William B. Young, chief executive officer for Virginia Partners Bank, who received a “Best Costume” award for his performance of the Hustle. UMW President Richard V. Hurley, who received the “Best Posture” award for his Rumba routine, said the fundraising event will be an annual one. “Everyone thought it was one of the best events Fredericksburg has ever seen,” he said. Other winners announced by the judges were:
  • Melanie Kay-Wyatt, principal of Walker-Grant Middle School, “Most Spirited” for the Salsa
  • J. Martin Bass, retired attorney and judge, “Most Entertaining” for the Cha Cha
  • Fred M. Rankin III, president and chief executive officer of Mary Washington Healthcare, “Most Rhythmical” for the Swing
  • Susan G. Spears, president of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, “Most Flair” for the Samba
  • Richmond McDaniel, senior vice president for C.B. Richard Ellis, “Most Dramatic” for the Tango.
Kevin Bartram, director of the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra, and Penny Wack, a disc jockey at country music radio station Thunder 104.5, hosted the evening. Judges were Dori Eglevsky, community volunteer; Patrick A’Hearn, artistic director of the Riverside Center; and Corey Von Ginkel, member of the National Dance Council of America. Caressa Cameron-Jackson, Miss America 2010, was unable to participate due to deaths in the family. Lias Biever, director of Donor Services with The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, who attended the event, described the evening as “wildly entertaining.” “I am so impressed by the courage and sheer personality of the local leaders involved,” she said. “The reception was a great party. It was a super event all around.”

Fredericksburg’s Stars Raise Funds for UMW Scholarship

Ten Fredericksburg-area community leaders will don dancing shoes on Saturday, August 17 to raise money for a performing arts scholarship at the University of Mary Washington. “Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars” will begin at 7 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium, followed by an outdoor reception. “Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars” is modeled after the popular ABC television series “Dancing with the Stars,” now in its 16th season. In the Fredericksburg version, the 10 regional “stars” will be paired with professional dancers from Strictly Ballroom Dance Studio in Fredericksburg to compete for the People’s Choice Award. The performance also will include two hosts and a panel of judges who will offer commentary following each dance. Proceeds from the performance will be used to endow the UMW Performing Arts in the Community Scholarship for regional students who excel in music, theatre or dance. Performers will include J. Martin Bass, retired lawyer and judge; Caressa Cameron-Jackson, Miss America 2010; Mary Katherine Greenlaw, mayor of the City of Fredericksburg; Richard V. Hurley, president of UMW; Ellen Killough, president and CEO of the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center; Richmond McDaniel, senior vice president of CBRE; Fred M. Rankin III, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare; Susan Garnett Spears, president of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce; Deirdre Powell White, president and CEO of DPW Training & Associates, LLC; and Bill Young, CEO of Virginia Partners Bank. “I firmly believe that the exposure to the arts is a hallmark of a liberal arts education,” Rankin said. “We are blessed in this community to have a myriad of choices to enjoy, from the downtown galleries to the performing arts available at the University of Mary Washington.” Kevin Bartram, director of the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra, and Penny Wack, a disc jockey at country music radio station Thunder 104.5, will host the evening. Judges Dori Eglevsky, community volunteer, Patrick A’Hearn, associate artistic director of the Riverside Center and Corey Von Ginkel, member of the National Dance Council of America, will judge the performers and determine the “Best in Show.”  Audience members will be provided ballots to cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award winner. Tickets are on sale at for $75, plus a $5 processing fee, of which $65 is tax deductible. Seats are selected and reserved at the time of purchase. For more information, contact (540) 654-1065.

Student Wins English Department Scholarship for Creative Writing

Helen Alston of Charlottesville, Va., has been selected to receive the Barbara Thomas Phillips Creative Writing Scholarship for the spring semester of 2012 at UMW. The scholarship is awarded annually to a junior or senior exhibiting excellence in writing.

A senior majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, Alston is poetry editor of the Aubade, the university’s biannual literary magazine. She also is president of the UMW Hand Percussion Club and a tutor at the Fredericksburg campus Writing Center. Alston has been an orientation leader and has been named to the Dean’s List.