Feature Stories Campus Events

Erika Proko Hamilton ’03 Sarah Cannon Research Institute, Nashville, TN

Hamilton_Erika-400x600 Erika Proko Hamilton '03Erika Proko Hamilton ’03

Many children like to play doctor or dream of becoming one someday. For Erika Proko Hamilton ’03, her determination only intensified during her middle school years, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. And that childhood dream became a reality.

Now Hamilton, a former six-time All-American tennis player at W&L, is associate director, breast cancer research, at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI) in Nashville. She spends half of her time in direct patient care and the other half in research, managing clinical trials.

“Patients enter a clinical trial for a variety of reasons–either because other treatments have failed or with early disease, because we are trying to improve upon a standard therapy,” she said.

Doctors at SCRI work with patients from all over the United States and the world, although most come from the region around Nashville.

Although Hamilton looked into other areas of oncology, including surgery and pediatric oncology, she decided to focus on adult oncology. She enjoys developing relationships with her patients, helping them “feel more in control of an otherwise overwhelming situation.”

She said her research involvement is the most rewarding aspect of her job. “It gives me the opportunity to not only take great care of the patients I am directly involved with, but also have the knowledge that we are hopefully improving the care of future patients. It’s a very motivating thought.”

Hamilton prepared well for medical school and her career. At W&L, she majored in neuroscience, which combines elements of biology, chemistry and psychology. She remembers professors Jack Wielgus in biology and Bob Stewart in neuroscience, as her biggest champions and mentors.

The professors, with whom she keeps in touch, were also supportive of her participation on the tennis team, which involved practicing two or three hours a day for up to six days a week, and matches in the fall and spring. “It was almost a year-round pursuit,” said Hamilton. Pre-med students typically do not have time or encouragement to pursue other time-consuming activities, but Hamilton not only played tennis, she excelled at it.

After being named All-American six times for tennis and winning many other awards and honors from ODAC, Hamilton received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and was a finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year.

She earned an M.D. degree in 2007 from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and did a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Duke University, where she was a top five finalist for Duke’s annual Housestaff Fellow Teaching Award.

In 2013, Hamilton was named to the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame, and that same year, the NCAA named her a Division III “40-in-40.” The honor recognizes former student-athletes who “exemplify the division’s attributes of proportion, comprehensive learning, passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship–not just during their time on campus, but also in their careers or avocations.” The recognition was part of the 40th anniversary of Division III athletics.

Although she admits it’s a cliché, Hamilton says the teamwork she learned at W&L plays an integral role in her current job. From the front desk staff and lab workers to the nurses and research staff, “we are all working toward the same goal of helping our patients.”

Away from the lab and patient care, Hamilton is mother to 16-month-old daughter Patten. Her husband Justin, a former Air Force fighter pilot, is a pilot for Delta. He still flies the F-15E one week a month for the Air Force Reserves.

They moved to Nashville two years ago and are enjoying the “amazing culinary” opportunities in the city.

Nominating Hamilton for the NCAA 40-in-40 honor, W&L Sports Information Director Brian Laubscher summed up her achievements this way: “When I think of Erika, I see the perfect student-athlete more than just the athlete. Not only was she nearly unbeatable on the court (92-20 in singles and 104-27 in doubles), but she claimed a crazy good GPA as a neuroscience major. Today, she is Dr. Erika Hamilton. Pretty darn impressive.”

– by Linda Evans

W&L Repertory Dance Company to Perform March 30, 31 and April 1

The Washington and Lee University Department of Theater, Dance and Film presents the award-winning W&L Repertory Dance Company in an evening of multifaceted dance works.

The concert will be held at W&L’s Lenfest Center for the Arts on March 30, 31 and April 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at (540) 458-8000 or online.

This concert of eight works will contain the collaboration of two guest artists, Danah Bella and Emily Cargill, who did four-day residencies on campus earlier in the year. During their time here, they gave lectures and master classes and set their choreographic works on advanced student dancers who auditioned for the roles.

Danah Bella, founder of d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks, has performed throughout the country, Mexico and Italy, and was a master teacher for Bates Dance Festival and American College Dance Festival. Her dark humor is on display in “Poca a Poca Se Anda Lejos,” a peek at the life of has-been beauty queens.

Emily Cargill, artistic director of Emily Cargill & Dancers, has performed in Atlanta, Houston, New York and Detroit. She dances professionally with Braided Light Dance Project and Staibdance. For this show, Cargill will present a powerful investigation into misconceived identity in “Meadow by a Train.”

Liza Deck, W&L dance adjunct and City Modern Ensemble artistic director, worked intensively over the course of the semester creating “Deeply Missed by All Who Knew Her.” Student dancers contributed to this improvisation-based choreographic piece, which is directed and shaped by the choreographer.

Sandra Meythaler, an acclaimed, award-winning international dancer and W&L adjunct, will present a contemporary ballet solo that incorporates massive swaths of fabric to create an ocean to dance upon. Fabric is also used to great acclaim in returning guest artist Dana Fredericks’ aerial performance. Flying high above the audience, Fredericks will create beautiful patterns, spins and catch-your-breath drops 40 feet in the air.

Included in this concert are two outstanding student works. Elliot Emadian ’17 and Lisa Stoiser ’15 won coveted spots by creating new works that contain inspired dance shapes and new and emerging ideas in pairing dance and technology.

The evening wraps up with a new work by Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance at W&L. Davies, whose choreography has received acclaimed reviews in Scotland, Greece and Spain, is a master artist-teacher at W&L who was recently selected from artists across the country to bring her choreography to New York City for performance this spring. “The 25th of March” is a new 30-minute piece that juxtaposes R&B and rock ‘n’ roll music from the 1950s with an unconventional viewpoint on the biblical Annunciation story. Combining humor, explosive and powerful dance and an abstracted narrative, Davies explores a humanist’s perspective on acquiescence.

On creating this performance, Davies said, “Bringing together professional guest artists, faculty and current students creates a beautiful synergy. A palpable force of teaching and learning is created where people who previously didn’t know one another, but have a shared experience in dance, become unified as they collaborate in the artistic process.”

2015 LEAD Banquet Celebration, Awards and Recipients

The Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Banquet was held March 22 at Washington and Lee University and was an evening of celebration. It recognized the many individual and student accomplishments that have been completed within the past year.

“The banquet also offered moments of gratitude and affirmation as we know that the Washington and Lee experience would not be as vibrant without the hard work of dedicated student leaders,” said Megan Schneider, assistant dean of students, Student Affairs.

The LEAD Banquet awards and the 2015 recipients:

Nabors Service League Award for Volunteerism: Kate LeMasters
Recognizing a student who demonstrates a commitment to their community through innovative service.

Best Service Event: Fear 2 Freedom
Recognizing the campus group or specific event that proved to be impactful by engaging and educating a significant number of volunteers and created a meaningful difference for the population served — whether locally or in another community.

Excellence in Artistic Event Management: Samantha Sisler (Lenfest Center for the Arts)

Outstanding Philanthropic Effort: FeelGood
Recognizing the student organization/chapter whose philanthropic efforts have made the most impact on our campus while supporting a local/national/global cause. The most funds raised per capita and the most innovative way of raising those funds is a factor in selection.

Outstanding Peer Counselor: Brennon Williams

Outstanding Residential Adviser: James Quigley

Distinguished Summer Work: Eric Schwen
Recognizing a student’s summer work experience/research that best exemplifies Washington and Lee’s values of service, leadership, and character.

Emerging Leader of the Year: Faith Pinho
Recognizing a student that is passionate about leadership education and its practice. This student should bring innovative ideas to the table and exude a high level of commitment to empowering other student leaders.

Christopher Noland Student Activities Leadership Award: David Thomas
Recognizing a student whose leadership has been most impactful during the past academic year.

Greek Man of the Year: Ryan McNally
Recognizing a Greek man making the greatest and most positive impact on the fraternity and sorority system during the past academic year.

Greek Woman of the Year: Margaret McClintock
Recognizing a Greek woman making the greatest and most positive impact on the fraternity and sorority system during the past academic year.

Chapter of the Year: Kappa Kappa Gamma
Recognizing the Greek chapter that best embodies W&L’s ideals of honor, integrity, and civility. The Greek governing councils select the recipient of this award.

The G. Holbrook Barber Scholarship Award: Paqui Toscano and Elizabeth Powell
Honoring a rising senior (current junior) who manifests superior qualities of helpfulness and friendliness to fellow students, public spirit, scholarship and personal character.

The Decade Award: Noelle Rutland
Recognizing a rising junior (current sophomore) who has shown involvement and leadership within the W&L academic and extracurricular communities and who has furthered discussions of women’s issues on campus and beyond.

The Edward Lee Pinney Prize: Kate LeMasters
Awarded by the Student Affairs Committee to an undergraduate student who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to personal scholarship and to the nurturing of intellectual life at Washington and Lee.

Anece F. McCloud Excellence in Diversity: Lauren Mosely
Recognizing a senior undergraduate student whose efforts have done the most to bring a greater awareness and competence of diversity on campus.

Best Event of the Year: Bill Nye, sponsored by Contact Committee
Recognizing the event that best impacted Washington and Lee during the current academic year.

Not Unmindful of a Sustainable Future Award: Rachel “Chel” Samuels and Cort Hammond
Recognizing a student who leads sustainability efforts either for the W&L campus or for our global community.

Greenest Group Award: Student Environmental Action League (SEAL)
Recognizing the student organization or student-led event that has made an impact towards sustainability related efforts either on W&L campus or in our global community.

Adviser of the Year: Bob Ballenger
Recognizing a campus adviser that goes above and beyond in their efforts to support student initiatives, foster relationships, and provide opportunities for new experiences.

John W. Elrod General of the Year: Daphine Mugayo
Recognizing a student who has brought the most depth and breadth to the University during the past academic year.

Best Student Organization (Americus White Award): Rugby
Recognizing the student organization that has shown excellence in leadership, management, and programmatic efforts. Allocation of funds is a factor in selection.

The Frank J. Gilliam Award: Candace Maynard
Recognizing a student who has made the greatest contribution to the Division of Student Affairs.

Larry Stuart Memorial Award: Lucy Wade Shapiro
Recognizing a student who exemplifies Public Safety Senior Sergeant Larry Stuart’s character and commitment to the community.

The Alexander Thomas Boehling ’10 Memorial Award: Margaret McClintock and Patrick O’Connor
Honoring a senior for his or her campus leadership.

Jessie Ball duPont Fund Awards Grant to Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University received a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund that will help support a new initiative at W&L to enhance and expand community engagement and service-learning (CE/SL) in the Rockbridge County area.

The grant is part of a larger framework to boost the work of the W&L Community Engagement/Service-Learning Committee. The committee is tasked with developing new service opportunities for W&L’s students, enabling more faculty members to engage in community work, building stronger ties with the community partners and improving the quality of service and practices.

“This is an extremely important initiative,” said Marc Conner, associate provost at W&L. “We want to understand the extent of our students’ engagement with the larger communities of Lexington city and Rockbridge County. Our students give a lot to these communities, but just as important is how much our students learn from them, how the community projects and opportunities teach our students what it means to live and work in complex networks of civic life.”

The CE/SL initiative is a multi-year concept that calls for assessment, research, Q and A for community-wide planning sessions and training in order to ensure the highest quality of service is provided to all W&L constituents and community leaders.

The central piece supported by duPont will be implementing and analyzing the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement (NASCE), a nationally recognized assessment tool to determine the quality of W&L’s community engagement work, and how socially/geographically pervasive is on campus and in the community. The assessment will be standardized for comparability to a 60-school database that will serve as a baseline for understanding general CE/SL strengths and weaknesses on campus.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is a national foundation that makes grants to a specific group of more than 325 organizations, including Washington and Lee, whose eligibility is determined exclusively by Mrs. duPont’s personal philanthropic decisions.

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W&L Magazine, Winter 2015: Vol. 91 | No. 1

Read Online »

In This Issue:

  • An Outlaw Trade: Alumni Writers Discuss Their Craft
  • Washington and Lee University Annual Financial Report, 2013-2014

General Stats

  • By the Numbers: Dick Duchossois ’44


  • What W&L Can Provide
  • A Testament to Community
  • A Look at History

Along the Colonnade

  • Richmond Named Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid
  • Mudd ’50 Receives Philanthropic Award
  • ODK Initiates New Members on Jan. 19
  • Noteworthy
  • Speaker’s Corner
  • Board of Trustees Welcomes New Members
  • W&L Named a Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars
  • Bookshelf

Generals Report

  • Basketball Captain Gauf Works a Miracle Off the Court

Lewis Hall Notes

  • Former Law Dean Roy Steinheimer Dies at 98


  • Ties That Bind
  • Let’s Hear It for the Staff
  • W&L Traveller: Why I Like W&L Traveller
  • Transformational? Try Preservational


  • Festive Five-Stars
  • Rewind: Young Alumni Weekend

Last Look

  • Honoring Our Annual Fund Volunteers

Mitchell ’17 Wins Phi Beta Kappa’s Goehring Award

At its March 19 convocation, the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Washington and Lee University gave Stephen C. Mitchell Jr. ’17 the Phi Beta Kappa J. Brown Goehring Sophomore Award. It goes to the student with the highest cumulative scholastic average through the end of the fall term of his or her sophomore year.

Mitchell, a business administration and mathematics major from Columbia, South Carolina, is a Johnson Scholar. He belongs to the Williams Investment Society, the Phi Eta Sigma honor society and the Washington and Lee University Singers.

The award honors J. Brown Goehring, a retired W&L professor of chemistry who, during his 38-year career at W&L, spent 22 years as secretary/treasurer of the University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

What's Up in Lexington/Rockbridge, A 40th to Remember

Here’s the next installment of our roundup of events in the Lexington and Rockbridge area, compiled by 3L Hannah Shtein. Just read it! Tons of good stuff to do!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trivia Night at Devil’s Backbone, 6pm-8pm.

Trivia at Blue Lab, 6pm.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Social Entrepreneurship Summit, 12pm-3pm in the Hillel Multipurpose Room. The Williams School hosts an annual summit on Social Entrepreneurship. Started in 2014 by Professor Drew Hess, the summit is devoted to fostering student-led social entrepreneurship. In addition to two keynote addresses, students will present on their own social entrepreneurship work.

Lara Gass Women in the Law Symposium, 2:30pm in the Moot Courtroom. This year marks the 40th anniversary of women at W&L Law. The symposium, moderated by Professor Sally Wiant, ’78L, is designed to honor generations of W&L women law graduates through fruitful dialogue on the progress made by women in the law, the gender disparities that still plague the profession, and solutions to those disparities based on personal and professional experience. The outstanding panelists include members of the judiciary, current and retired, and practicing attorneys.

Dean’s Cup weekend! Starting Friday afternoon, with food from Foothill Momma’s BBQ and drinks.

Live @ the Lab, 6pm, Blue Lab Brewing Company, 123 S. Randolph St, featuring acoustic rock and roll with Alex Shreve.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Red Hill Band & City Limits 7:30-10:30pm at Stonebridge Center, 45 Natural Bridge School Road (Americana/country/folk/blues), tickets $10.

SBA Cookout on the patio, accompanied by Bud Light, Blue Moon, Bold Rock Cider, Devil’s Backbone Azrael, and Sweetwater 420 IPA, before Patio Party/Fancy Dress.

Fancy Dress Ball, 9pm-1am in the Warner Center (undergrad side), tickets on sale until March 27 in Elrod Commons. Come travel down the rabbit hole! Feature live music from Jessie’s Girls.

Patio Party on the law school patio (obviously), featuring drinks, pizza, and music. All good things.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Speaker – Sheri Fink: Reporting on Global and Local Health Care Emergencies: The Trauma Narrative in the Age of the Tweet, 5-6pm, Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons

Speaker – Message Received: The Influence of Media on Body Image & Disordered Eating, 6:30-7:30pm, Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Speaker – Judge James E. Baker: Know What You Stand For: Current Issues in Intelligence, Law and Ethics, 4pm, Law School Classroom A.

“SOLO2” Film Showcase by W&L Theater, Dance and Film Studies Department, 7-8pm in Stackhouse Theater. The Department of Theater, Dance & Film Studies presents our second film showcase, “SOLO2” to be presented at Washington and Lee’s Stackhouse Movie Theater on Tuesday evening, March 31 at 7p.m. No tickets required.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Weekly Winter Indoor Farmers Market, 18 East Nelson Street, 9am-1pm.

The Thirteenth Annual Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture will be delivered by David Westin, former president of ABC News and a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. Westin’s talk, titled “Citizen Lewis Powell” will touch on Justice Powell as a legal figure, as an individual, and will discuss Westin’s own career from clerking on the Supreme Court to modern issues in the media. Wednesday, April 1, at 5:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Trivia at Blue Lab, 123 S. Randolph St., 6pm.

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W&L's David Sukow to Lecture on Coping with Chaos in his Inaugural Telford Professorship Lecture

David W. Sukow, professor of physics and engineering at Washington and Lee University, will give his inaugural lecture marking his appointment as the Robert Lee Telford Professor of Physics and Engineering on March 31, at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The title of his lecture, which is free and open to the public, is “Coping with Chaos: When Simple Systems Show Complex Behavior.”

“Simple physical systems can display surprisingly complicated behavior that is best described in the language of nonlinear dynamics and chaos,” said Sukow. He will discuss some of the optical and electronic systems displaying such dynamics that have been studied in the laboratory. The common characteristic among these systems is their use of time-delayed feedback to create – and control – their behavior.

In addition to describing these systems and their dynamics, Sukow will discuss “how we can cope with their complexity by devising elegant methods to control it, or even to make use of it through synchronization and random number generation.”

Sukow joined the faculty of Washington and Lee in 1999. He earned his B.A. in physics from Gustavus Adolphus College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in physics from Duke University. After completing his Ph.D, Sukow spent two years completing a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Nonlinear Optics Group, Air Force Research Laboratory.

Sukow is the author and co-author of 20 journal articles, including “Fast Random Bit Generation Using a Chaotic Laser: Approaching the Information Theoretic Limit” in “IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics” (2013); and “Square-wave Switching in Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers with Polarization Rotated Optical Feedback: Experiments and Simulations” in “Physical Review” (2012).

He has received six grants to support his research. Most recently, he was awarded the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC, the Spanish Research Council), to be a guest professor at the Institut de Fisica Interdisciplinar i Sistemas Complejos, Universitat de les Illes Balears, in Spain.

Sukow has presented at and chaired panel discussions at over 30 conferences, notably the European Quantum Electronics Conference in Germany (May 2013) and the Laser Science CCVIII in New York (October 2012).

He has been a manuscript referee for journals such as “Physical Review Letters,” “Journal of Advanced Research in Dynamical and Control Systems” and “Optics Letters.” He has also served as a panel reviewer for the National Science Foundation.

Sheri Fink, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Author, to Deliver Fishback Visiting Writer Lecture at W&L

Sheri Fink, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has reported on health care crises around the world, will deliver this year’s Fishback Visiting Writer lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 30 at 5 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons.

Her talk, “Reporting on Global and Local Health Care Emergencies: The Trauma Narrative in the Age of the Tweet,” is free and open to the public. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Journalism Department and the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics.

Fink is the author of “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital,” which documents patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina. In this facility, conditions deteriorated so drastically that caregivers chose to designate certain patients as among the last to be rescued. The book was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, the Ridenhour Book Prize and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, among many others.

A former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, Fink received her M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. Her first book, “War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival,” describes the work and struggles of medical professionals during the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

She is a correspondent at The New York Times. Earlier this year, she was among a group of Times reporters who won the prestigious George Polk Award for health reporting of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Fishback Fund for Visiting Writers is endowed by Sara and William H. Fishback Jr., Class of 1956, in memory of his parents. The fund brings an outstanding writer to the W&L campus annually who delivers a public lecture to the Lexington-Rockbridge community.

Previous Fishback Visiting Writers have included author and journalist Michael Sokolove, PBS host Ray Suarez, New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, author and journalist Steve Coll, sociologist Alan Wolfe, political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain, author and legal scholar Stephen Carter, political scientist Larry Sabato, columnist and Brookings Institution Fellow E. J. Dionne and author Robert Kaplan.

University of Maryland English Professor to Lecture at W&L

Kellie Robertson, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 31, at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House. This is the new date, time and place of her lecture which was canceled due to snow.

The title of Robertson’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Bawds and ABAWDs: Able Bodies in Historical Perspective.”

The talk will examine the early history of how and why the term “able-bodied” became a category for the working poor, whose bodies have been subject to emphatic scrutiny and regulation in the name of multiple common goods in mid-14th century England. Robertson then documents the continuing effects of these early cultural and legal formations, tracing their influence up through current U.S. state policy.

Robertson teaches medieval literature and intellectual history; her research and teaching are premised on the idea that a return to this earlier intellectual history can help us to better understand our own modern desires and philosophical commitments.

Robertson is the author of “The Laborer’s Two Bodies: Labor and the ‘Work’ of the Text in Medieval Britain, 1350-1500” (2006) which explores textual and material responses to the first national labor laws. Also, she is the co-author of a collection of essays entitled “The Middle Ages at Work: Practicing Labor in the Late Medieval England” (2004).

Her current book project, “Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Natural Philosophy,” examines late medieval poetry in the context of medieval physics, arguing that both domains struggled over how to represent nature in the wake of Aristotelian science.

Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center.

Robertson earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. from Yale University. At the University of Maryland, she serves as the director of graduate placement for the English department.

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