Feature Stories Campus Events

Interns at Work: Ryan Brink ’18 The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee, Lexington, VA

“By the end of this summer I hope to have developed a new set of relationships in the Rockbridge community.”

What attracted you to this internship?

I had worked with campus kitchen all year and really loved the work I was doing, so when the opportunity arose to stay in Lex for the summer and work in the kitchen full-time, I couldn’t say no.

How did you learn about it?

Being fairly close to the Pov program at school, I found out about this opportunity fairly quickly from Jenny Davidson.

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

A big part of it was just the fact that I already had so much experience in the kitchen. The transition was fairly seamless.

Describe your daily duties.

Depending on what day of the week it is, we are usually running around between the kitchen and a variety of our delivery sites. In addition we teach nutrition lessons to children four to five times a week and cook food for the deliveries three times a week.

What are some tasks/projects you’ve been working on?

A big part of the summer has been spent in the Campus Garden either teaching nutrition lessons or working in the beds.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

Pov 101 and 102 really helped me view service in quite a different manner, and forced me to really consider why I was doing the service that I was. This reflection aided me significantly in learning about the mindset that is necessary when doing work such as what I am doing with the kitchen.

What do you hope to learn by the end of your experience?

By the end of this summer I hope to have developed a new set of relationships in the Rockbridge community through greater exposure to it. In addition I hope to continue improving my adaptability.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

The best perk of the internship has to be just getting the ability to explore this great county that so many W&L students never get to see, and there is a sweet farmer’s tan that comes with working in the garden so much.

What did you learn from city where the internship was located?

Staying in Lexington over the summer really helped me appreciate the people that I was with a lot more than during the school year.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

The biggest thing I will bring to W&L after this summer has to be a new ability to deal with the huge variety of people and problems that can arise in daily life.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

I would make sure that it is something you really enjoy and really feel passionate about, because there is a lot of time and energy that goes into a summer with an organization with a kitchen. Food insecurity and other problems that arise in our society don’t take days off, which means neither can you.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

If nothing else, this summer introduced me to the fantastic organization that is the national Campus Kitchens Project, and exposed that as a possibility for the future.

Hometown: Mequon, WI
Major: Undecided

Company Name: The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee
Location: Lexington, VA
Industry: Food Insecurity Relief
Position: Summer Intern


Interns at Work: Faith Pinho ’18 WBUR, Boston's NPR News Station, Boston, MA

“Before this summer, political journalism was a bright idea but a far-off goal. It has finally become an exciting reality, and now there is no doubt in my mind that it is the path for me.”

What attracted you to this internship?

I am a born and bred NPR listener. I was the kid in the back seat who listened to public radio every time my dad was in the driver’s seat. Around eighth grade, I began tuning into the local public radio stations myself. Every time I was in my room or in the front seat of my parents’ car, I would turn the knob to WBUR. I always say it was the reporting and the stories I heard on NPR that inspired me to pursue political journalism. When I decided to stay at home in Boston for the first summer of my college career and do a local internship, I immediately looked up available positions at WBUR.

How did you learn about it?

From years of listening to NPR, I knew that their stations offered internships. I did a little research on Google and learned the necessary information for applying to the WBUR internship. I also found stories and reviews from past interns at NPR stations, all of which described amazing journalistic experiences in glowing detail. I had a good idea of what I would be getting into when I applied.

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

The internship coordinator at WBUR — the guy who reviewed all resumes, conducted all interviews and made the hiring decisions — said it was my resume that initially peaked his interest and my interview that got me through the door. I didn’t have much journalism experience to date, but my work for various Massachusetts government offices and political campaigns apparently convinced him that I was versed in the Boston political world and would be a good fit. In the interview, I expressed my passionate desire to learn the ropes of Boston’s news scene and to work for one of the country’s largest NPR stations. And, of course, I showed that I was comfortable interacting with strangers — an important skill for an aspiring journalist!

Describe your daily duties.

The first thing I do is “read up”: go through all the news stories of the day and familiarize myself with the main ideas and important details of each one. The station uses a database that keeps track of the various stories and their most recent updates.

From there, I am usually assigned to write “a reader.” The Newscast section of the newsroom is responsible for producing a rundown of important Massachusetts news at the beginning of every hour. The whole newscast only lasts between four and six minutes, so each story is usually less than 30 seconds long. The reader that I write is a short script summing up one news story. That reader is printed out — along with several of the other important news stories of the day — and given to the host, who reads it on air.

Throughout the day, I write several readers and do any research that is necessary for the completion of a story. That may involve calling a few people or scouring the Internet for more information. Everything, of course, has to be confirmed with a source. I also interview people directly through the phone and get sound quotes to put in the newscast.

On some days, I will be sent out to get sound at some city event. That is absolutely my favorite duty. So far I have attended press conferences and events at the Massachusetts State House, covered a rally celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage and recorded sound at a breaking ground ceremony for a new development project in Boston. Back in the newsroom, I edit the sound into short clips and write a reader to accompany them for the hour’s newscast.

What are some tasks/projects you’ve been working on?

There aren’t many long term projects to be working on since the newscast is produced every hour and the stories must be timely. In my spare time though, I am working to produce an entire newscast myself. That means researching several stories, writing readers for all of them (some with sound quotes), organizing the stories according to importance and, finally, recording them. None of this will be sent out on WBUR’s airwaves, but I will keep them in my personal journalism portfolio.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

I took Journalism 101 with Prof. Kevin Finch my first semester at W&L. Not only did he teach me the basics of different types of journalism (including the complexities of networks and their affiliate stations — I never was able to understand that before!), we got to know each other well enough that he wrote a wonderful recommendation for me, boosting my application to WBUR.

John Muncie, W&L’s intern coordinator for the journalism department, was also very helpful in securing this internship. He reviewed (and re-reviewed and re-re-reviewed) my resume and cover letter and gave a lot of invaluable advice during the application process. It is because of his suggestion to pursue small, local journalism that I am also working this summer for ECTV, the community television station for the City of Everett.

These two were instrumental in helping me to enjoy a summer packed full of amazing journalism learning experiences.

What do you hope to learn by the end of your experience?

I hope to hone my ability to localize a story. Whenever big, national stories are happening, WBUR reports on it from a Boston-focused angle — often in creative ways I wouldn’t imagine. By the end of the summer, I want to be comfortable reporting on a story from any local angle.

I also want to develop my questioning skills. Journalism is a fast-paced industry and one can never think of questions fast enough!

Lastly, I hope to improve on critical thinking. A journalist should be able to detect untruths — or simply not-quite-true truths — in an interview and ask provoking questions that will draw out the real, true truth.

I know I have already learned much in these three fields, and I plan to get even better by the end of the summer!

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

My favorite part is definitely the field assignments. Usually right after a public event at the State House or City Hall involving important government officials such as the governor or the mayor of Boston, there will be an intimate press conference called a “media scrum.” Journalists from news stations across the city of Boston press together (press, ha, ha) around the governor or the mayor with microphones extended, asking hard-hitting questions about important issues. I always feel simultaneously blessed and starstruck to be in such close proximity to news gatherers and government leaders, people who are so integral to the success of this country’s democracy.

Bumping into Tom Ashbrook on my way to the bathroom is pretty cool, too.

What did you learn from the city where the internship was located?

I have always lived in Everett, a neighboring city to Boston. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the capital city, whether for work or play. This summer, I am becoming much better acquainted with city officials. Now, instead of hearing about them on the news, I am the one calling them to ask questions! They are no longer simply a voice giving speeches or a face in newspaper pictures. I see them on a more personal level, as real people in real working positions.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

Honestly, I think one of the most useful skills I will be bringing back to W&L with me is the ability to write succinctly and quickly! After writing for an hourly newscast, I have no excuse for procrastination on future college writing assignments…

On a more serious note, I know I will be more inquisitive going back to school. In this journalism internship, it is necessary that I understand every facet of a story for me to write about it. I am growing comfortable in persistently asking questions until I receive an answer. I’m sure I will apply this skill in classes next year during times when I don’t understand the material.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Be a news junkie. Read, listen, watch — do whatever is your most comfortable form of news consumption, but just make sure you consume. One of the questions in my interview was “What is your daily news diet?” Every day on the job, I realize how helpful it is to have background information on the stories that make the news. It is also a good idea to be a regular consumer of the publication where you would like to work. If you want to intern at a TV station, watch some of their news shows everyday. If you want to work for a newspaper, read their articles everyday.

Write regularly — all different forms of writing. Radio newscast writing is different than a feature article in a magazine, which is different than a newspaper opinion piece. Journalistic writing is an acquired skill that can always be improved!

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

I am so, so thankful to work at WBUR this summer for many reasons, one being that I am now confident in my ambition to pursue political journalism. I wake up everyday excited to go to work and I go to bed every night reeling with new ideas about how to improve myself and further my career goals. Before this summer, political journalism was a bright idea but a far-off goal. It has finally become an exciting reality, and now there is no doubt in my mind that it is the path for me.

Describe your experience in a single word.

“Motivation.”

Hometown: Everett, MA
Major: Journalism and Mass Communications

Company Name: WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station
Location: Boston, MA
Industry: Radio Journalism
Position: Newscast Intern

Changing Perspectives: Phillip Harmon ’17 Changing Perspectives, Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People, Inc., Richmond, VA

“The most invaluable part of my summer work with CAPUP is a newfound drive to help those in need.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect my first day working in the Food Pantry, but it certainly wasn’t this! As a college student, I thought I had an understanding of what it meant to live on a budget. In fact, my friends are always teasing me when I talk about my studies with the Shepherd Program saying things like, “Don’t all college students minor in poverty?” Speaking to the girl across from me, I quickly grasped just how privileged I am. From the questions she answered when checking herself in, I learned that the girl had no income. Although searching, she could not find a job. She was fortunate in that she had secured temporary housing, but it sounded like it would not be a long-term solution. Even if she hadn’t told us that she desperately needed the food we gave her, it would have been apparent from her worn-down figure. I was helping one of the poorest of Richmond’s poor and in a startling realization noticed that we could easily have been sitting in different places. We were born within two weeks of each other and both graduated from high school in the spring of 2013. Each of us wants to lead a happy life and be able to provide for ourselves. Quite frankly, the biggest difference in our current situations stems from birth. I grew up in a very supportive family with the time and resources to support me in any endeavor. This girl’s family wanted to support her, but simply could not afford to and was forced to kick her out of the house following her graduation. By consequence of birth, I am lucky.

Working at Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People Inc. (CAPUP) this summer, I had the opportunity to interact with people in different capacities to confront the problems facing the impoverished in and around Richmond every day. Observing local politicians and other leaders in the community in conjunction with CAPUP’s clients helped me to not only better understand the lives of the impoverished, but to see what problems they face and how they are not being addressed. As a community action agency, CAPUP works to identify and put into place programs to remedy these problems. It came as no surprise to find that topics I had previously discussed in classes such as food and housing insecurity and inadequate access to transportation are the focuses of many of the programs that CAPUP oversees. Still, it came as a shock to me just how much this organization does. I was fortunate to interact frequently with the clients in CAPUP’s many programs. Every day was different from the one before as I raced between diverse placements such as the food pantry or the Musical Youth summer camp. What came as a larger surprise, however, was not just how much CAPUP succeeds in fighting poverty, but how much still needs to be addressed. CAPUP has helped thousands of people. This does not even take into consideration the awesome work that the local government and dozens of other great nonprofit organizations have done in the Richmond area. On the national scene, Richmond has become a model for other cities hoping to fight socioeconomic injustice. With this in mind, I was struck when I met the girl in the food pantry who had seemingly slipped through the cracks of our system. Surely more could have been done to prevent this girl from reaching her current situation. My interaction with her showed me the flaws of our society in a way that I could never have understood from reading a text.

The most invaluable part of my summer work with CAPUP is a newfound drive to help those in need. My daily interaction with CAPUP’s clients has given me a deeper understanding of the diverse manifestations of poverty and social exclusion by allowing me to form concrete frames of reference for them. It is often easy to ignore or forget the fact that statistics concerning poverty or related issues show the conditions of real human lives. In my opinion, stripping away the humanity from discussions about such problems fails to respect the dignity of the people most affected by them. My work with CAPUP gave me a sharper understanding of problems in our society and a greater passion for finding solutions to these problems. I am lucky to live such a privileged life. My summer made this clear to me. Now, however, I better understand why I have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate.

Hometown: Roanoke, VA

Majors: Mathematics and Economics

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Varsity Cross Country
  • Varsity Track and Field
  • Catholic Campus Ministry
  • Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity
  • Volunteer at Yellow Brick Road Early Learning Center

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Community Action Intern at Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People Inc. (CAPUP)
  • Employee of Northwest True Value

Why did you apply for this particular internship? For a number of years prior to this summer, I spent my breaks away from school working at hardware stores. My job was to go through the stores peeling off old labels and replacing them with fresh ones. While many aspects of the job were great, the work itself was tedious and not very rewarding. In the Shepherd Internship Program, I saw an opportunity to spend my summer helping other people. I applied to CAPUP because it offered me the ability to try my hand at a wide variety of new things while doing work that I find meaningful.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? Working with CAPUP’s clients helped me to better grasp many of the problems and ideas I learned about in my introductory Poverty Courses.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? At the beginning of the summer, I did not have a firm grasp on how Community Action Agencies work. More specifically, I did not understand how much they do. As a result, I was surprised by how varied my work was. No two days were the same, and I was always learning about and helping with something new.

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Favorite W&L Memory: This might sound silly, but my favorite memory at W&L is of a cross country practice. On the day that comes to mind, my whole team had an easy run together and it was pouring outside. Everyone was joking and smiling as we sloshed through the mud. Toward the end we got into a small race to get back to the track. I remember thinking about how proud I was to wear the trident and run with such a great group of guys.

Favorite Class: This is a three-way tie between Microeconomic Theory with Professor Guse, Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics with Professor Keller, and Introduction to Poverty and Human Capability Studies with Professor Brotzman.

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Changing Perspectives: Ram Raval ’18 Changing Perspectives, Cooper's Ferry Partnership , Camden, N.J.

“By the end of my internship, I began to view economic development as a comprehensive implementation of infrastructure that will create capabilities for the area’s citizens.”

Interestingly enough, one of the most memorable experiences I encountered while working at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership (CFP) in Camden, N.J., occurred even before my first day of work. Eager to begin our journey of cooking for ourselves on a budget, my roommates and I decided to buy groceries immediately after settling into our apartment. Shortly after beginning our search, we quickly realized that the nearest supermarket was not only outside of Camden, but also inaccessible by public transportation. We then learned upon arriving at the supermarket that it also lacked any fresh produce, forcing us to shop at a nearby, more expensive store.

Knowing that around 35 percent of Camden households lack access to their own vehicle, I quickly began to understand the extent to which food deserts plague Camden and similar urban environments. Having been raised in a suburban community with cars readily accessible, I never truly understood the severity of food deserts as an issue, despite countless readings and discussions in my poverty studies classes that argued otherwise.

Still, looking back, it seems rather peculiar that the most pronounced memory I have concerning Camden’s problems is from my very first day in the city. I eventually realized that this is so because while my first week may have served as an introduction to Camden, its history, and its issues, the subsequent seven weeks of my internship focused on its bright future and the necessary steps to achieve it.

An integral component of CFP’s mission is to change the conversation regarding Camden. Instead of introducing Camden by listing its crime and poverty statistics, it is our responsibility to focus on its potential. For example, a mere 1.5 miles separates Camden from Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the United States; Camden has a long stretch of waterfront property with panoramic views of Philadelphia; and Camden is serviced by excellent transportation infrastructure such as the RiverLink Ferry, the PATCO Speedline, and nearby I-295 and I-76.

CFP is a not-for-profit corporation that leverages partnerships with public, private, and other not-for-profit entities to execute long-term, sustainable economic development in the city of Camden with the goal of making the city an attractive place to visit, live, work and invest. As one can imagine, this broad mission statement has led CFP to possess a diverse portfolio of projects. For example, my projects for the summer included promoting recreational trails throughout Camden, helping execute components of a neighborhood plan for East Camden, improving the business model of the Camden CoLab small business incubator and helping to draft and edit grant proposals for each of the preceding initiatives.

After working on these projects for eight weeks, one of the primary takeaways I gained was an appreciation for the importance of creating “capabilities,” a notion developed by Martha Nussbaum. Nussbaum’s concept of capabilities argues that poverty extends far beyond a mere lack of financial resources; it is also a deprivation of resources and rights such as education, health and healthcare, recreation, safety, cleanliness and political power, all of which work together to promote welfare. CFP works to equip Camden to provide its residents with these capabilities by improving green space within the city, implementing trails, cleaning its streets, improving roadway conditions and safety, implementing cultural programming and facilitating investment. By the end of my internship, I began to view economic development as a comprehensive implementation of infrastructure that will create capabilities for the area’s citizens; in other words, an economic development firm aims to outfit its city with the groundwork necessary to ensure the welfare of its citizens. By improving the quality of life for its citizens, Camden will in turn attract investment, which will eventually work to mitigate financial hardship, thus working to solve poverty from both a capabilities and purely financial perspective.

In retrospect, my experience this summer supplemented my pre-existing knowledge by adding another dimension to it: I now understand and respect the importance of focusing on solutions to poverty rather than merely its existence. I went into the experience expecting it to primarily be a means of becoming acquainted with the nature of urban poverty, but living and working in Camden taught me much more about the hope and potential within the city than it did about its struggles. At the risk of sounding youthfully optimistic, my experience working at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership in Camden taught me that there is an abundance of realistic, feasible work that can be done not only in areas of concentrated urban poverty such as Camden, but throughout the United States and globally in order to make the world a better place to live for all. Not only am I now considering economic development as a potential career path, but I have also begun to view the world differently. For example, while driving through my hometown of Virginia Beach, I now envision potential development opportunities by considering how projects being done in Camden could extend elsewhere to improve quality of life. Economic development does not necessarily have to serve only as an anti-poverty measure, but can be a means of improving the world in general.

Photo: Ram Raval ’18 (far left) with his fellow CFP interns and Donna Redd, mayor of Camden (third from left).

Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA

Major: Undecided — Possibly Economics or Business Administration and Accounting major with Poverty Studies minor

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • College Access Mentor and Tutor
  • Member of Real Estate Society
  • Habitat for Humanity volunteer

Why did you apply for this particular internship? Cooper’s Ferry Partnership offered me the opportunity to work in a variety of fields in which I have always been interested. For example, I wanted the opportunity to work to implement parks and recreational trails, attract business development, revitalize a waterfront area and execute community development.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? The economic development internship provided a perfect marriage between my coursework in economics and my coursework in poverty studies.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? I would have to say that the most unexpected aspect of my Shepherd Internship experience was the extent to which I fell in love with the city of Camden and its communities. I did not expect to gain such a strong admiration for the city and believe so strongly in its potential for a bright future. It is almost impossible to not join the positive momentum that is occurring within the city at this time.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: Chessie Nature Trail

Why did you choose W&L? I chose W&L because I believed it would provide me with unparalleled attention, access to resources and opportunities, and relationships that would help me succeed not only in college, but in the future as well.


Changing Perspectives: Hannah Gilmore ’16 Changing Perspectives, Mobile Oasis Farmer's Market, Greensboro, N.C.

“The Mobile Oasis team recognizes that, regardless of community status, everybody eats. And shouldn’t everybody deserve to eat well?”

Alana Babington and I pored over a map of Greensboro, N.C., divided into wobbly little shapes by bright, bold yellow lines. The yellow lines started in the center of the city and stretched outwards toward more suburban areas, covering at least a quarter of the map. As interns with the Mobile Food Oasis Farmer’s Market, Mark Smith, an epidemiologist with the Guilford County Health Department, had invited us to a meeting of the area’s Hunger Task Force to learn more about different efforts aimed at alleviating hunger in Greensboro. As we studied the shapes and pointed to the areas in which we lived, worked and shopped, we realized that the bright and cheery yellow lines were indicative of something much darker: these were the boundaries of food deserts, areas in which there is limited to no access to affordable, fresh, healthy food.

In the past several years, Greensboro has consistently been ranked among the top cities in the nation with the greatest food insecurity. But in 2015, the Food Research & Action Center named Greensboro-High Point area the hungriest city in America. Greensboro has 24 food deserts and is the only city with over 25% of the population reporting food hardship. So I began to understand the urgent need for effective solutions to combat the area’s hunger epidemic.

Enter Mobile Oasis Farmer’s Market. Our goal is to provide access to fresh, local affordable produce to low-income families. But instead of asking people to block out three hours of their day to take three different buses to the grocery store, Mobile Oasis brings its produce right into the heart of the poorest neighborhoods in food deserts. Aside from its locational flexibility, Mobile Oasis also offers customers an incentive to use their SNAP/EBT (food stamp) money at the market. When customers use SNAP/EBT to purchase Mobile Oasis produce, they receive vouchers redeemable at the next market matching the amount they spent, effectively doubling the value of their money. This not only encourages people to use their SNAP/EBT on healthy produce rather than fast food, but it also encourages people to make return visits to the market. The market isn’t out to make a profit, but rather to provide reliable locational and economic access to healthy, high-quality food.

As I became more involved with the market and spoke with different team members about the project’s vision, I came upon the realization that the work we were doing with Mobile Oasis was considerably more valuable in the eyes of the area’s poor compared to discussions about hunger and poverty. In a classroom, we sit down for an hour or two and propose how best to remedy people’s hardships. But the hypothetical situations posed in discussions lack that sense of urgency that instigates real, effective and creative action. In a discussion, it is appropriate and sometimes encouraged to admit that we don’t know how to solve a problem. But for the single, homeless, jobless mother of three whom I watched spend three hours on the phone trying to find more than $104 to feed her family for the month, telling her that we don’t have a solution is not good enough. Asking her to talk to us about it won’t do much to solve her crisis. She needs to find food and a safe shelter in which to raise her children. She doesn’t need a conversation: she needs action.

The Mobile Oasis team is not only talking about what Greensboro’s hungriest needs and wants: they are doing something about it. They order the freshest and healthiest produce, and even started an urban garden in Greensboro’s poorest neighborhood so that people in the area can literally watch their food grow. They note customer’s requests for lower prices, greater selection, and more convenient hours of operation. For us as interns, the team quickly became role models, then mentors, then friends.

People often come together over food: lunch meetings, dinner parties, holiday meals. But this summer, I saw how food unites people in a different way. At the market, we met people from all backgrounds, races and socioeconomic statuses. But they were all buying the same produce. They were all supporting local farmers by buying food grown down the road from their neighborhoods. They were all willingly spending their money, in whatever form they had, on healthy, high-quality foods and making an investment not only in their health, but also in their community. The Mobile Oasis team recognizes that, regardless of community status, everybody eats. And shouldn’t everybody deserve to eat well?

Hometown: Wilmington, N.C.

Major: Environmental Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Chi Omega Fraternity (New Member Educator and Recruitment Chair)
  • Student Faculty Hearing Board
  • Peer Counselor

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Environmental Education Intern at Airlie Gardens (2013)

Why did you apply for this particular internship? Professor Howard Pickett recommended that I apply for the Shepherd Internship and suggested that it would be a unique experience to study the relationship between environmental studies and poverty.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? The internship with Mobile Oasis Farmer’s Market built on my studies of the local food movement and issues with food security, and I was able to do some marketing and book-keeping projects, too.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? The positivity and excitement! I never imagined I’d have so much fun shoveling dirt, selling vegetables, and watching kids try new foods. It was hard work, but the people I worked with always made market days seem like a party!

Favorite Class: Too many to list! Any class with Professor Green (particularly Eco-Writing), or Environmental Poetry and Thoreau and Transcendentalism with Professor Warren.

What professor has inspired you? Professor Green inspired me to pursue both Environmental Studies and Creative Writing. I’ve never met someone with more thoughtful words, brilliant patience and support, and unwavering dedication to her craft.

Summer Research: Caroline Birdrow ’16 Community-Based Research with Maury River Home Care, Lexington, VA

“My service experiences allowed me to embrace my research with a more personal interest, and my research is making my service more informed and intentional.”

Briefly describe your community-based research (CBR) project.
Over the summer, I partnered on a CARA community-based research (CBR) project with Maury River Home Care (MRHC). MRHC is an organization that provides professional in-home care and services to the elderly in the Rockbridge area, but which is also increasingly interested in providing support to informal caregivers. The goal of my CBR project was to help MRHC figure out how to best support these informal caregivers, a growing need as our population ages. In addition to conducting a literature review on the needs and challenges of caregivers in general, I also designed and piloted a survey instrument that will be used to assess the particular needs and stressors of caregivers in the Rockbridge area.

What interested you about this project?
As a Bonner student, I have spent numerous hours serving in the local community. One of the first community partners with which I served is an assisted living facility in the Rockbridge area. Since I started visiting the home, I have come to know and care for many of the individuals who live there. They each have very unique, fun personalities, and getting to know them has been a pleasure! However, even though they always were glad to see me, some of them expressed that they were unhappy or generally not feeling well, which was upsetting to learn. Sometimes I left feeling that the residents were not experiencing the quality of life and care that they deserved. What I came to realize is that a positive atmosphere in such a facility is not always easy to maintain. The challenge of caring for the elderly who are in different stages of aging can create a strain on the employees of a facility who may not always be able to meet everyone’s needs in a timely manner. Over time I began to understand that the staff have stressors of their own inside and outside of the workplace. It was my interest in understanding how to better support caregivers and, in turn, the elderly that led me to investigate the needs and challenges of caregivers in this CBR.

Which faculty offered guidance and how did they enhance your CBR project?
Professor Julie Woodzicka and Professor Karla Murdock, although not official advisors for this CBR project, offered valuable advice as I developed an appropriate survey intended to assess the needs and challenges of caregivers. As they both are psychology professors and have devised similar instruments of their own, they helped me to think about and understand the nuances of putting together an effective survey. Many of these factors I had not considered before, and they helped me learn how language and structure affect the capturing of accurate and desired data. Additionally, Professor Howard Pickett worked with me on understanding ways of making a survey accessible to individuals of varying visual ability, something I also had not considered. Overall, these professors guided me throughout my project and allowed me to gain a deeper knowledge of what community-based research (CBR) entails.

While these professors offered invaluable advice, so too did my community partner, Laura Simspon. Ms. Simpson has an intimate knowledge of caregiving issues, in both professional and informal realms of caring for the elderly. She also works with caregivers every day and therefore knows them on a more personal level. Thus, my professors helped me devise a survey that would be academically sound, but Ms. Simpson guided me in putting together an instrument that would be well-received by and valuable to our community.

What was the most interesting thing you learned while working on this project?
What I thought was most interesting is how emotionally taxing it can be for caregivers to watch their loved ones age and experience physical or personality changes. At the assisted living facility with which I worked, I mainly met individuals later in their lives or later in their illnesses. Thus, I forgot about what it must feel like to know someone before aging or the onset of illness and to witness their transformations.

What was your favorite part of creating this CBR project?
Talking about it with others. When I explained my project, listeners would share related personal stories or the experiences of their friends and relatives. This made me realize that my project was addressing an issue that everyone will face at some point. Theoretically, everyone ages, and everyone must develop a plan for their care for later years of life. Understanding this helped me see the importance of conducting research about caregivers and their relatives and friends.

In what ways do you think this CBR project allowed you to integrate your service and academic experience? How did one inform the other?
My service was the motivation for pursuing this project and gave me some idea of what potential stressors exist for professional caregivers such as low wages, insufficient training, and lack of workplace flexibility. My research, although focused on unpaid and informal caregivers, provided a larger context in which to view the lives of the residents and the staff members at the assisted living facility. The residents once may have had informal caregivers, and the staff members also may serve as unpaid caregivers in other aspects of their lives. In addition, my service experiences allowed me to embrace my research with a more personal interest, and my research is making my service more informed and intentional.

What impact do you think this CBR project will have in the community?
I think my project laid part of a foundation for conducting similar research in the Rockbridge area and, much further down the line, implementing new policies and long-term care models that will address the needs and challenges of caregivers and the elderly they serve. In many ways, my project helped to initiate conversation and thought about this particular issue, and hopefully others will take this many steps further.

Describe your experience in a single word.
Boundless!

This project was conducted under the umbrella of the Community-Academic Research Alliance (CARA). CARA supports community-based research (CBR) partnerships between Washington and Lee University students and faculty and non-profits in the Rockbridge area to address pressing community challenges.

Hometown: Gulfport, MS
Major: Mathematics
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Organization: W&L Community-Academic Research Alliance (CARA)
Location: Lexington, VA
Industry: Research

My W&L: Rebecca Dunn ’16

“As a senior, I look back at my four years and can see how much the Shepherd Program has shaped my passions, worldview and career aspirations.”

Washington and Lee’s Shepherd Poverty Program has truly defined my college experience. Through enrollment in the Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor and involvement in co-curricular activities the Shepherd Program has to offer, I have been able to take classes with inspiring professors, participate in two fully-funded summer professional experiences, meet new and interesting students, and become immersed in the Rockbridge community. I am proud to say that I attend the founding institution of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), which unites nearly two-dozen institutions to fight poverty across the U.S. and around the world. I believe that the niche the program occupies, the meaningful work it carries out, and the passion it inspires in students is unmatched by any other undergraduate institution.

It didn’t take long for the Shepherd Program to permeate into my coursework, define what I would do in my free time, and eventually go as far as shape my identity — in fact, it started in the first semester of my freshman year with Dr. Beckley’s Poverty 101 class. The rigorous coursework allowed me to understand the complexities of poverty and what can be done to foster human capabilities in ways I did not previously understand. Not only was I intellectually stimulated in the classroom, but I also later found that volunteer opportunities falling under the Shepherd Program’s umbrella — namely as a leader at Campus Kitchen — allowed me to deepen my academic studies and expand them beyond the scope of W&L’s campus.

The Shepherd Program later afforded me opportunities to intern for organizations in Kampala, Uganda and Washington, D.C. over consecutive summers. This work allowed me to gain technical knowledge regarding the nonprofit sector as well as participate in a variety of rich cultural experiences; some of which included playing barefoot soccer on a dirt pitch, teaching a class of 7-9-year-old refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the ocean, working with a single mother to help her secure stable housing, and carrying out research for my sociology honor’s thesis on concentrated disadvantage and racial segregation across Washington, D.C. My internship experiences continue to push me to grapple with challenging domestic and international issues related to poverty, race, inequality, and policy.

Back when I applied to Washington and Lee, I never would have guessed how many learning experiences and opportunities that I would gain from the poverty and human capability studies minor. As a senior, I look back at my four years and can see how much the program has shaped my passions, worldview and career aspirations. I am truly grateful to the donors and professors who make it possible and cannot wait to read about the incredible experiences of Campus Kitchen leaders and Shepherd interns in the future.

Hometown: Houston, TX

Major: Sociology

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Women’s Soccer Team
  • Campus Kitchen Leader
  • Writing Center Tutor
  • GenDev Project Manager
  • Questioning Passion Seminar Participant
  • Kappa Alpha Theta sorority member

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Shepherd International Internship (Soccer Without Borders intern in Kampala, Uganda)
  • Shepherd Domestic Internship (LIFT Community Advocate in Washington, D.C.)

Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a fellowship abroad

Favorite W&L Memory: Beating Virginia Wesleyan in women’s soccer in double overtime my sophomore year

Favorite Class: International Development with Professor Dickovick

Favorite Campus Landmark: The view from Watt Field of the Shenandoah Valley

What professor has inspired you? Professor Eastwood-to pursue a PhD in Sociology

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Hike House Mountain!

Changing Perspectives: Elena Diller ’17 Changing Perspectives, New American Pathways, Atlanta, GA

“As a health intern, I learned that the American medical system is not well-equipped to deal with refugee health because of the rigidness of our social structure.”

I sit in the passenger seat of a 15-person van, listening to 90’s rap music on a hot July Wednesday. Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but the van squeaks up onto its two right wheels as we round the corner, my case manager rapping to an old-school Usher song. The van lets out a sigh of relief as we straighten onto the road. We had just dropped off a client at a doctor’s appointment. The young man is from Uganda, yet due to his sexual orientation, he is not safe in his home country. Up on the main road, I see a banner waving above a red food truck in an otherwise empty parking lot, partially surrounded by abandoned buildings. The words “Refuge Coffee” fly in a white print and I can’t help but wonder if the banner is connected to the thousands of refugees which are resettled in the neighborhood.

* * * *

Clarkston, GA is one of the most diverse cities in the United States. Over 2500 refugees every year find themselves relocated in the small town just miles outside of metro-Atlanta. From the outside, Clarkston seems to be filled with run-down strip malls, apartment complexes teetering on top of each other as they compete for space among the overgrown grass and cracked sidewalks. Yet, from an insider’s view, a status I have earned by working as Shepherd intern this summer, Clarkston is the world condensed into square feet. Congolese mothers walk with their children to Thriftown, the local discount grocery where a Bhutanese woman stocks the shelves. Twenty feet away from the store, Ethiopian and Nepali restaurants serve hungry customers during the throes of lunch hour. It was not, however, until I visited Somali plaza, a strip mall of Somalian-owned stores, that I understood the vitality and resistance of refugees. How little countries may form anywhere in the world so long as there is culture and community.

I called my visits to Clarkston “field trips” from my daily health internship at New American Pathways (NAP), a refugee resettlement service in Atlanta. To be honest, most of my days at NAP consisted of paperwork and logging case notes in paper format and online. Though NAP is funded primarily on donations and grants, the Georgia Department of Human Services is also a source of funding. Such paperwork is therefore integral to the success of the organization, as funding from the government requires documentation of services provided. By the time case managers at NAP provide comprehensive services, which range from picking up a refugee family at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport to renewing their Medicaid and Food Stamps, they have little time to case note. Often, I would serve the agency by doing the deskwork of the case managers, scheduling doctor’s appointments (read: being put on hold for 10-90 minutes at a time), prepping case files and making copies.

These seemingly mundane tasks proved to be exceedingly difficult at times. As a health intern, I learned that the American medical system is not well-equipped to deal with refugee health because of the rigidness of our social structure. Our medical system, and to a larger extent, American social welfare, lacks the flexibility to understand personal circumstances. Government welfare requires that refugees follow the same rules as American citizens, yet refugees have extenuating circumstances that prevent them from receiving the same benefits as native-born Americans. For example, all Americans must apply for Medicaid using state paperwork, a process that takes up to a month. Because refugees lack health insurance when they first arrive, they use the Emergency department for the most basic of healthcare needs. They frequently utilize ambulances because they lack the knowledge and ability to transport themselves. The result is thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted, as the refugees cannot pay the medical bills. If the state government was to amend certain welfare assistance programs to accommodate for these unique circumstances, refugees would receive better health care upon arrival to the United States, and the healthcare would be cheaper for the state.

Even with laws in place to specifically help refugees, refugee resettlement services are left to align healthcare disparities. For example, although medical providers are required by law to provide interpreters if they accept Medicaid, a majority of providers do not provide this needed interpreter. Thus, I found myself calling Medicaid to schedule interpreters on behalf of my clients. Other times, I would run around the office and persuade one of our multi-lingual staff members to attend the appointment with the client. Sometimes, these attempts would be in vain as refugees would arrive late or completely miss their appointments. Public or even Medicaid-provided transportation would delay my clients’ arrival to appointments, as would different cultural understandings of promptness. Therefore, the duty of our organization, and arguably the moral duty of all of those who engage with refugees, is to provide that needed flexibility.

For example, case managers often take it upon themselves to drive clients to appointments to ensure a timely arrival. That July Wednesday, after my case manager and I dropped off the client at his appointment, I found myself looking up at the “Refuge Coffee” banner. My case manager pulled into the parking lot and parked behind the red food truck. As we walked up to the truck, the creative branding initially impressed me. But listening to my case manager talk with the truck owner put meaning behind the shiny logo. Refuge Coffee not only trained and employed refugees in making caffeinated drinks, but was also dedicated to combatting the social isolation this disadvantaged group faces.

Despite closely-knit ethnic communities, there is little integration between different ethnicities. Somalian families are resettled with other Somalian families, while the Bhutanese families are resettled with each other. This technique is often helpful for newly arrived refugees, as they like to be surrounded by similar cultures and people, yet it creates ethnic isolation over time. Clarkston lacks a community center, so whether by choice or social structure, refugees often feel stuck within their small social circles. Refuge Coffee provides a meeting place that is not only accessible to most of these various ethnic communities, but also allows integration with native-born Americans. My case manager and I departed the establishment, a coffee in my hand for me and for the Ugandan man we were going to pick up. Through my Shepherd internship, my understanding of community has grown because of the problems I’ve observed in Clarkston, but also the community I was welcomed into while interning.

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Major: Sociology
Minors: Poverty and Human Capability Studies, Womens and Gender Studies

Company Name: New American Pathways
Location: Atlanta, GA
Industry: Community and Individual Services
Position: Shepherd-Connolly Intern


Changing Perspectives: Zoe Stein ’17 Changing Perspectives, Monster Slayers, Navajo Nation Reservation

“I believe investing in and supporting people individually pays off in ways that cannot be measured.”

This summer I served as a mentor for Monster Slayers, a summer program targeting social, emotional and leadership skills in Diné youth on the Navajo Nation reservation. The mission is for students to take the support and skills formed and use them to slay the monsters harming the community, such as poverty, substance abuse and domestic violence. About twenty students from Sanders Valley High School participated in the program, and one of the highlights was visiting Ghost Ranch, a retreat camp focusing on team building activities and stepping outside comfort zones.

Ian, a leader at Ghost Ranch, placed a circular piece of rope on the ground, about two feet in diameter. The twenty Monster Slayers were instructed to fit themselves inside the boundaries of the rope, including all feet and extremities. Many methods were attempted and a few tears from laughter were shed before the students decided that standing on each other’s shoulders was the best possibility. It took about four attempts of the piggyback method until everybody fit inside the circle. After many cheers for the success and sighs of relief to no longer be smelling each other’s body odors, Ian congratulated us and then placed the rope on the ground again, this time half the size.

“See if you can all fit into it now!”, he said jokingly.

Many students groaned, and Kai, a particularly outspoken one, exclaimed, “No way, that’s impossible!”

Then, to everyone’s surprise, one of the quieter jokesters of the group stepped up and said he had an idea for how to fit everyone inside the rope. Grabbing a few friends, Michael ordered them to stand on each other’s feet in alternating directions, holding each other’s arms so they could balance. The method seemed to work, and after only two attempts the entire group was able to fit into the small space.

Michael’s innovation and leadership is exactly what the Monster Slayers program aims to bring out in students. He could have easily stayed quiet about the idea because the majority of students expressed that it was impossible. Instead, he had the confidence in himself to speak up and try the idea, and it worked. Not only did he have the innovation to come up with the idea and the confidence to share it, but Michael had the leadership skills to guide the rest of the group in its successful execution.

I saw firsthand in Sanders how invaluable this innovation, confidence and leadership can be in the community. One monster harming the Sanders community is alcoholism. An overwhelming number of people suffer from alcoholism, and the local taverns and bars were making the problem worse by having alcohol readily available and being so concerned with making a profit that little action was taken about violence and other crimes taking place on the property. Many individuals in the community noticed the problem, but only a few individuals had the confidence and leadership skills to take action, and their action resulted in the three local bars and taverns being shut down by the state.

The youth in Sanders are aware of the monsters harming their community. They see it every day in their families and schools, and they have the capacity to slay those monsters. Even when structural obstacles stand in the way, the people are creative, motivated, and well-intentioned in finding ways to navigate these hurdles. It is heartbreaking to see the adversity the Diné community faces. The people were historically oppressed, killed, relocated and forced to assimilate. Today, the community faces extreme poverty, racism, mental health issues and a lack of support and resources from the government. This list only begins to scratch the surface, but even so, I saw a great potential in the students I worked with this summer to improve their community.

Michael taking initiative in the rope activity was only one of the many instances I saw of the group being great leaders and friends to each other. In the two months I spent in Sanders, many students suffered more abuse and loss than I have seen in my life. Yet they showed an astounding amount of resilience. Successfully leading your team to victory in capture the flag, playing the guitar in front of a crowd for the first time, or expressing your dream job in a talking circle might seem like feats that can bring small personal improvement at most. However, these skills put into a community context can bring about change. The community is made up of people, so I believe investing in and supporting people individually pays off in ways that cannot be measured.

Hometown: Covington, Virginia

Major: Philosophy

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • The Stone
  • College Access
  • Hillel
  • General’s Christian Fellowship
  • University Wind Ensemble

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I wanted to experience a different community and see their perspective on poverty and related issues

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? Aside from poverty studies, I was able to apply my work to my philosophy and religious studies. I stayed at the Native American Baha’i Institute, so I learned about the Baha’i faith and philosophies as well as the Navajo faith and philosophies. It was insightful to learn how complex the spiritual dimension of poverty is.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? The most unexpected aspect was learning that a lack of what I considered basic needs, such as electricity and running water, does not necessarily mean a family is impoverished, and in some cases, forcing these basic needs on people can harm them in other ways, such as undermining traditional values.

Post-Graduation Plans: Returning to my home community and teaching

Favorite Class: My spring term class about Nepal that ended up being held on campus with Prof. Silwal and Prof. Lubin. It was called Caste at the Intersection of Religion, Economy, and Law

Favorite W&L Event: the SAIL showcase, I love seeing how talented my peers are and coming together for a cause

Staying Local: Teacher Education Partnerships with area schools benefit both W&L and K-12 students

“This valuable partnership allows us to open our doors and classrooms to prospective educators and pair them with the highly qualified, passionate and dedicated teachers on our staff.” — Scott Jefferies, superintendent of Lexington City Schools

It’s 7:30 a.m. at Harrington Waddell Elementary School in Lexington, Virginia, and Kim Hickman ’96 and Lucy Ortiz ’15 are sitting down to plan the day’s lessons.

For the 19 students in their fourth grade class, there will be reading, math and writing in the morning, with a break for lunch and recess, and science in the afternoon. They’ll get the students up and moving, incorporating hands-on, interactive activities. There will be individual, partner and small-group work.

“We both have equal contributions, and I have as much to learn from her as she does from me,” said Hickman, who has taught at the school for 10 years. “More and more, Lucy has been taking control of the classroom, and I’ve been stepping back to be more of her assistant teacher.”

Ortiz is student teaching in Hickman’s classroom after graduating from Washington and Lee this past spring, with a degree in economics and a minor in education policy. Originally from Ketchikan, Alaska, Ortiz decided to stay in Lexington to fulfill her student teaching requirement, and she will remain at Waddell Elementary to take a position as a long-term substitute, filling in when another teacher goes on maternity leave.

“Having the support of the W&L faculty as mentors during my student teaching was very appealing,” she said. “I also already had connections within the school systems and knew so many of the administrators and teachers from being in the schools so much during my practicums.”

The W&L Teacher Education Program offers minors in education and education policy and allows students to complete their student teaching requirement during their last semester or after graduation. In consortium with Southern Virginia University, W&L students can obtain licensure in elementary, middle or secondary education. The interest in education continues to grow; in 2015, 43 students, or over 9 percent of the senior class, enrolled in education courses.

Haley Sigler, the assistant director of the program, said 100 percent of the licensure candidates found jobs in the field in 2014, and more students are choosing to remain in the Lexington area when beginning their careers.

She said one huge factor is the opportunity to spend time in local schools while completing education coursework. In the 2014-15 academic year, the program boasted 77 placements in local schools, amounting to over 6,300 hours.

The practicum program was carefully developed to build positive reciprocal relationships with both the Lexington City and Rockbridge County school systems. Through the university’s Clinical Faculty Program, local teachers like Hickman were included in the program’s development, giving feedback on how to best prepare new teachers and structure student teaching placements.

“This valuable partnership allows us to open our doors and classrooms to prospective educators and pair them with the highly qualified, passionate and dedicated teachers on our staff,” said Scott Jefferies, superintendent of Lexington City Schools. “The result is a dynamic instructional environment where all who are involved are learning and growing.”

Phillip Thompson, assistant superintendent for Rockbridge County Schools, said the collaboration with W&L has been a win-win situation for everyone.

“It has been wonderful to have several W&L graduates come on board as new teachers in Rockbridge County,” he said. “The level of knowledge and professionalism we experience with these graduates is refreshing in an era when it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality teacher candidates.”

Two of those new hires in Rockbridge County include 2015 graduates Chris Hu, class co-valedictorian, and Josy Hu, who received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for, among other things, her outstanding service to others.

The recently married pair decided to stay in the Lexington area because they felt the close-knit community and connection to faculty would make the transition from college to working life easier. Chris Hu, a biochemistry major and education minor, teaches chemistry at Rockbridge County High School. Josy Hu, a Spanish major and poverty and education minor, teaches third grade at Central Elementary School.

In addition to five practicums as part of the Teacher Education Program, as a student Josy Hu taught Spanish classes at all of the Rockbridge County schools through the university’s Foreign Language Enrichment Program. She helped to create curricula during the summer and then taught 30-minute courses within the schools as a volunteer.

“My volunteer work within the schools made it so much easier to transition to working there,” Josy Hu said. “They knew me, and I had worked with the kids there before.”

Chris Hu said he and Josy are very happy they chose to stay in Lexington — they get to enjoy all of the outdoor recreation and campus activities that they did as students, but have also been able to bridge into the greater community and form new relationships.

“The staff at the schools and the people in the community have been really welcoming to us,” Chris Hu said. “They have extended a hand whenever we needed it and given us so many resources. As a first-year teacher, I can’t even imagine doing what I’m doing without that support.”

– by Jenny Pedraza

Screening for Success: A Day in K Rockbridge-area schools systems, universities and community volunteers joined forces to make the first-annual "A Day in K" event at Hull's Drive-in a success for local kids.

“I think the best takeaway from the night was it didn’t matter what school or whatever, it truly was a community thing.” – Timothy Martino, principal of Waddell Elementary School

Tears and trepidation are practically guaranteed on the first day of kindergarten — for children and parents alike.

But this fall, when kids are packed off to school for the first time in Buena Vista, Lexington and Rockbridge County, there’s a good chance that many of them will be more excited than afraid. Thanks to an event held at Hull’s Drive-in on April 14, those students will be able to picture kindergarten as a fun and welcoming experience instead of something to fear.

The first-annual “A Day in K” was a festival-like event featuring a short film made by students in W&L Professor Haley Sigler’s Teaching Elementary Reading class. The event was organized by representatives from Rockbridge Reads (part of the United Way of Rockbridge), as well as all three public school systems, Washington and Lee University and Southern Virginia University. Additional support came from Virginia Military Institute, Lexington fire and police departments, Buena Vista Police Department, South River Volunteer Fire Department and Fairfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, along with a number of other individuals and organizations that volunteered time and resources.

“I think the best takeaway from the night was it didn’t matter what school or whatever, it truly was a community thing,” said Timothy Martino, principal of Harrington Waddell Elementary School in Lexington. “It wasn’t separated by the Rockbridge people over here, the Lexington people over here. It really just said we all want the same thing, and that is never a bad message to send out.”

“Free popcorn” is never a bad message to send out to the families of young children, either. Nor is the promise of fire trucks, police cruisers, an ambulance, a school bus, face painting, a children’s movie and free goodies such as books, stickers and crayons. The evening at Hull’s offered all of those treats, but the capstone was the screening of “A Day in K,” the video made by Sigler’s class.

The class is part of the Rockbridge Teacher Education Consortium, a partnership between Washington and Lee University and Southern Virginia University. Sigler said the students in her class are always required to develop a service-learning project, and her winter term class came up with the idea to create a short film that would model a typical day in kindergarten.

The 10 students in the class divided up and gathered smartphone video at elementary schools across all three local school divisions, striving to capture footage of activities that make up a day in kindergarten. They shot video of buses rolling in and parents dropping off students; panned colorful classrooms packed with puppets, posters, books and other fun learning tools; and captured welcoming messages from teachers and administrators. They caught kids practicing reading and writing, singing and dancing, playing during recess, and lining up to board the bus at the end of the day.

One of Sigler’s students, a mass communications major with some experience editing video, knitted the clips together using iMovie. The video was broken up by titles that were narrated by Sigler’s daughter, Claire. The completed film, which was about eight minutes long, was projected on the movie screen at Hull’s.

“As far as a service-learning project for my class, it is possibly the most rewarding project we have done so far,” Sigler said. Most of the past projects have been completed and sent off to community partners, so students often don’t get to see results in action, she said. “It was better than I had imagined. It was really exciting for my students to be a part of it.”

After months of work and committee meetings, the day of the event arrived with beautiful spring weather. United Way board member Kelly Fujiwara estimated that at least 200 people turned out at the drive-in, and about a quarter were children of kindergarten age or younger. She said people were waiting in line when the gates opened at 6 p.m.

For about two hours, children explored a school bus and checked out ambulance and fire truck. Some were so excited by the opportunity to sit in the back seat of the police cruiser that they cried when their parents forced them to move on (hopefully, Fujiwara joked, they’ve now gotten that desire out of their systems).

Kids were also entertained by VMI’s mascot, Moe the kangaroo, and by Rockbridge County High School’s Wildcat. They picked up free books that had been collected in a drive organized by students of VMI professor Josh Iddings. With 250 books to hand out, there were leftovers that were donated to the schools.

“Everyone appeared to have a good time and wanted to come back next year,” Fujiwara said. “The schools all expressed a lot of pleasure in being there and being able to participate. There were teachers and administrators and parents who were willing to talk to families and kids. It was very festive, and there was a lot of giggling and laughing.”

When the event committee met several days later, members agreed that “A Day in K” was a success that should be repeated annually. They discussed whether any tweaks should be made and determined that the only significant change ought to be in timing. Because the weather was so lovely, it did not get dark enough to screen the films until about a half-hour later than planned.

Next year, committee members said, it will be easier to make a new film and market the event to community partners and the target audience because of what they accomplished and learned this year. Although intended for rising kindergarteners, “A Day in K” benefits children from birth to age 5 and beyond, as well as their families.

“I think the goal of Rockbridge Reads is to get kids ready to go to school. And so, in that sense, any trickle-down is gravy,” Fujiwara said. “That even goes on the other side of kindergarten because we know that we have kids who aren’t reading on grade level. So if we can get books in kids’ hands; if we can make parents, grandparents and caregivers see that these are things that are good and everybody wins, I think we have hit a home run.”

— by Lindsey Nair | lnair@wlu.edu

Defending the Herd Biology professor Bill Hamilton and his students continue to research the effects of a growing bison population on the ecology of Yellowstone National Park.

“I think we’re really lucky that we get to see both the lab work and the field work, especially as undergraduates.”

bison_medium-400x400 Defending the HerdStudents of biology professor Bill Hamilton conduct laboratory tests on bison dung they brought back from a research trip to Yellowstone National Park.

The word “beauty” may not immediately come to mind when considering the American bison, but a summer spent studying the ungainly ungulates allowed Sydney Lundquist ’17 and her fellow student researchers at Washington and Lee to see the National Mammal in a new light.

“I love bison!” Lundquist said. “They are beautiful. They are such big, majestic creatures.”

Along with Anna Alexander ’18, John Carmody ’18 and Kendyll Coxen ’18, Lundquist was able to observe the burly beasts in the wild during a June trip to Yellowstone National Park with biology professor Bill Hamilton. The summer research trip was part of a five-year project that aims to determine the impact of the growing bison population on the ecology of the park.

Specifically, this group of students is studying the effects of bison grazing on soil quality, which directly relates to the overall health of plant and animal life in the park, as well as to bison migration patterns. After returning to W&L with soil and dung samples, the students have spent every weekday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., running laboratory tests on those samples. Their work on the project this summer will total about eight weeks.

In 1902, when Yellowstone began work to restore its bison population, only about two dozen of the animals remained in the park. Today, more than 5,000 bison make up two herds – the northern herd and the central herd. But not everyone is thrilled by their comeback; cattle ranchers who neighbor the park worry that bison will roam onto their land and transmit a disease called brucellosis to their cattle, although Hamilton says there is little evidence that would be possible.

Hamilton’s work is not concerned with brucellosis, but it could inform decision-makers on how many head of bison can live and graze in Yellowstone without having a deleterious effect on the land. Right now, an integrated bison management group has put the preferred cap at 3,000, a somewhat arbitrary number that is not based in science.

In 2013, Hamilton partnered with Douglas Frank of Syracuse University and Rick Wallen, head of the Yellowstone Bison Management Program, on a pilot project that examined the impact of bison grazing intensity on grassland processes. Becca Bolton ’12 assisted with that research while she was a student at W&L, and after graduation continued to do field work on the project as an employee of the National Park Service. Hamilton said she will wrap up that work this summer and head to veterinarian school in the fall.

That project, which involved clipping grass inside permanent exclosures to simulate bison grazing, determined that the areas studied could tolerate high levels of grazing without negative effects on grassland production. This new phase of research may prove that large numbers of bison at Yellowstone may actually improve soil health.

During Spring Term, another group consisting of 12 W&L students accompanied Hamilton to Yellowstone, where they applied simulated bovine urine in the field, took soil samples, then stuck ion exchange membranes into the soil. These devices were left to absorb ammonium, nitrate and phosphate until the June research group returned. The spring group also collected bison dung, returned to the labs at W&L, and analyzed the samples for ammonium, nitrate and phosphate.

“We came up with some rough estimates of the nutrient contribution per hectare that bison are contributing at each of those field sites,” Hamilton said, “and it was a pretty impressive number. The Park Service had no idea, and it encouraged us to go and do more.”

During last month’s visit, the students collected as many of the ion exchange membranes as they could find (some were stolen by ravens or pulled out of the ground by bison nibbling the grass). They also categorized the freshness of bison patties on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being fresh and 5 being old and hard, and collected more dung samples. They came back to campus with 40 pounds of bison dung now chilling in a refrigerator in Howe Hall.

After five days of trekking to and from field sites, and poking at buffalo flops, the students took time out to enjoy the scenery. One of the spherical images shot by Hamilton on the trip shows him with the students, overlooking a stunning waterfall on the Yellowstone River in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. In addition to bison, they saw a wolf, black bears, and coyotes feeding on a dead elk.

Both the soil samples and the dung samples will be tested in an effort to further determine what materials are being absorbed into the soil in Yellowstone. The laboratory work requires long hours and many laborious steps, but the students said they enjoy it as much as the field work.

“I think we’re really lucky that we get to see both the lab work and the field work,” said Alexander, “especially as undergraduates.”

Lundquist and Alexander are Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellows who have been involved in the project for two years. Carmody and Coxen are Summer Research Scholars. These four students were assisted in the laboratory this summer by Zach Franci, an Advanced Research Cohort student from Dallas, Texas.

Lundquist, who said she puts up with good-natured ribbing from her family about her work with dung, plans to write a research paper during the next academic year. She hopes the findings will help to protect the American bison, a species that was once nearly decimated by man.

“I don’t want them to be killed,” she said. “I think the park can support more than 3,000 of them – maybe more than 6,000.”

Learn more about the W&L bison research on the group’s Facebook page.

See a 360 image of Hamilton and his students at Yellowstone.

An Epic Project The 2016 Mednick Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges will help W&L professor Stephen P. McCormick translate and digitize a romance epic called the "Huon d'Auvergne."

“I love my work, and I love medieval literature, so most of all this recognition is great to get the word out that medieval literature is relevant and worth studying.”

mccormick_thumb An Epic ProjectStephen P. McCormick, assistant professor of French and Italian

The 2016 Mednick Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) has been awarded to Stephen P. McCormick, assistant professor of French and Italian at Washington and Lee University.

The award will fund the continuation of a collaborative digital humanities project that aims to translate and digitize an important yet largely unknown work of pre-modern literature, the “Huon d’Auvergne.” The romance-epic, existing in four distinct manuscript witnesses, is one of the first works to reference Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” but because it was written in Franco-Italian, a complicated hybrid literary language, it has not been easily accessible to scholars.

McCormick is working on the project with Leslie Zarker Morgan of Loyola University Maryland and Shira Schwam-Baird at the University of North Florida. Their work thus far has been funded entirely by grants, including a three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the W&L Lenfest summer research award, and the University of South Carolina summer research award.

McCormick, who is currently teaching a Spring Term Abroad course in Toulouse, France, wrote in an email that it is a great honor to receive the Mednick award.

“I love my work, and I love medieval literature, so most of all this recognition is great to get the word out that medieval literature is relevant and worth studying,” he wrote. “It’s a great feeling to know that a project in medieval studies has been selected.”

The award money will allow McCormick to travel this summer to libraries and archives in Italy that house three of the four surviving manuscripts of the Huon d’Auvergne epic: the Biblioteca del seminario vescovile in Padua; the Biblioteca nazionale in Turin; and the Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio in Bologna.

In a letter recommending McCormick for the award, Suzanne Keen, dean of The College at W&L, praised the professor for working with W&L undergraduate students and the Digital Humanities Action Team in a way that emphasizes the university’s teacher-scholar model. She also underlined the importance of his project.

“Professor McCormick’s endeavor is both traditional, in the sense that this scholarly editorial work undertakes fundamental literary recovery of a text,” Keen wrote, “and also quite contemporary, for he employs a digital humanities toolkit to create an edition that will be accessible to the public on a web-based platform.”

Read on to learn more about McCormick’s fascinating work on the “Huon d’Auvergne.”

Q: When and how did you first come across the “Huon d’Auvergne”?

I first encountered the “Huon d’Auvergne” romance-epic when I was still a graduate student. I was studying in Padua, Italy, for the year, and a professor at the university there suggested I take a look at it. There are not many people who are currently working on the text — 6 to 10 that I know of. The fact that it was a little-studied document, and its importance in Italian literary history, were reasons I was drawn to it.

Q: Why do you find the work so fascinating and important?

The “Huon d’Auvergne” romance-epic first appealed to me from a linguistic point of view: It is composed in a mix of Old French, Venetian/Padua, Tuscan, and Latin, a mix today called “Franco-Italian.” This was not a spoken language, but rather a highly variable written language used between the 13th and mid-15th centuries to tell stories related to the Charlemagne cycle of medieval epic, stories about Roland, Oliver, and the emperor Charlemagne. This is the same Roland as the ‘Song of Roland.’

The “Huon d’Auvergne,” however, is separate from the Charlemagne cycle and instead tells the adventures of Huon, count of Auvergne, and his journey to Hell. Here he must seek tribute from Lucifer for the emperor Carlo Martello. The thematic program was therefore another reason this text interested me; the story as it exists in the surviving manuscripts is clearly related to Dante Alighieri’s Inferno from the “Divine Comedy.” The more I study this text, the more I’m interested in it. What is perhaps the most interesting for our current project is the fact that the “Huon d’Auvergne” romance-epic survives in four manuscripts, and therefore four distinct yet related versions. It’s fascinating to try to understand how the story changes through time and in response to different audiences.

Q: Why do you suppose it has taken so long for someone to translate it or study it in depth?

There is one reason in particular this text has gone unstudied for so long: the Franco-Italian languages in which it is written. This mixed language is extremely difficult for modern audiences to read and decipher and requires a solid knowledge of French, Italian, and their medieval variants to make sense of the text. This is the case with Franco-Italian literature in general. Many of these epic texts are still unknown to the wider scholarly community.

Q: Are these hybrid languages very common in literary history?

In the context of medieval linguistic history, I would say that language functions very differently than it does today. Now we have dictionaries and grammars that have standardized the languages we use, and languages are very closely associated with national belonging (French in France, English in England, Italian in Italy, etc.). Before print technology, it was impossible to standardize languages in this same way, and for this reason, language variation was the rule and not the exception.

Also, we have many sources that tell us that the language we now call French (which was called the ‘langue d’oïl’ in the Middle Ages) was an international language, spoken and read from the southern part of the British Isles all the way to the near East. For this reason, many of the storytelling traditions in the ‘langue d’oïl’ spread throughout much of the Mediterranean basin. That’s why there are mosaics in the south of Italy that depict King Arthur and, of course, mixed-language epic manuscripts in northeastern Italy that preserve stories of Charlemagne and Roland: Franco-Italian epic.

The hybrid language called Franco-Italian, however, is different than other of medieval languages. Franco-Italian was never a spoken language and, therefore, we suspect it was a language created specifically to tell the stories of Charlemagne and Roland in northern Italy. This particular phenomenon is indeed very rare and unique.

Q: Is there any work in existence to which you could compare it?

The “Huon d’Auvergne” epic-romance, or at least the four versions that have survived, are clearly influenced by Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” So, many of the themes and narrative frameworks are used in the “Huon d’Auvergne.” Also, the “Huon” epic resembles many of the Old French epic works in theme and content. Finally, one narrative segment of one manuscript, the one conserved today in Padua, is a rewriting of the Potiphar’s wife story from Genesis 39. Many variants of this story are found in medieval literature.

Q: Any idea who wrote it? Is it believed to have been written by a single person, or multiple authors?

We have no idea who wrote the “Huon d’Auvergne.” It is anonymous and only mentions a vague and unidentifiable name “Odinel.” Consistent with most medieval literature, the author is seldom mentioned or considered important. These stories were told and retold by professional storytellers. Audiences were probably more interested in the storyteller’s interpretation than who the original person was who invented the story. In any case, it’s a question that has concerned many scholars for a long time. Unfortunately, we have no clues beyond the name Odinel, which does not correspond with any other text or literary name.

Q: Do you know the basic storyline?

The romance-epic’s eponymous hero sets out to wander the world, visiting the most famous medieval pilgrimage sites — Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela — as well as imaginary lands that were common in medieval literature, including the lands of Prester John, an exceedingly rich Christian king whose kingdom is far away in the East, lost and severed from the main lands of Christendom.

Huon’s goal ultimately is to seek tribute from Lucifer on behalf of King Carlo Martello (who is later also identified as the emperor of Rome). Huon does not know, however, that the king sent him on this impossible task in order to gain access to the object of his lust, the lovely Ynide, Huon’s wife.

While Huon is away in search of Hell, Carlo Martello attempts to force Ynide to come to his court in Paris, but the king’s plan fails because of Ynide’s bold self-defense. The king’s elaborately concocted plot ultimately fails: Huon successfully finds Hell, receives the tribute from Lucifer, returns home magically to his castle, and Carlo Martello, when he takes the tribute, is quickly swept away to Hell by a swarm of devils.

Other protagonists include Sandino, Carlo Martello’s loyal minstrel, and Sofia, the wife of Huon’s good friend Sanguino. The story consists of six main episodes: Sofia’s betrayal; Carlo Martello’s love for Ynide; Huon’s travels through the East and his visit to the lands of Prester John; Ynide’s defense against Carlo’s amorous advances; Huon’s journey through Hell; and finally the siege of Rome. None of the four manuscripts conserves all six episodes and variation in inserted or deleted scenes give each textual witness a characteristic reading.

Q: How did you get hooked up with your project partners, Leslie Zarker Morgan of Loyola University Maryland and Shira Schwam-Baird at the University of Florida?

Leslie was one of my dissertation advisors and she sat on my Ph.D. committee. We have worked together for a long time on this project. To complete a printed edition of this text would take a lifetime and would ultimately be a futile task for one person. This is why we assembled the team. Shira was a friend and colleague of Leslie’s before the project. She translated another important text, “Valentin and Ourson,” bringing this fascinating story back into light.

Art with Heart When theater professor Stephanie Sandberg's new play debuts next month at a huge international art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called ArtPrize, it will tell the stories of six different victims of human sex trafficking.

“We wanted to figure out a way to do a piece that would educate people, teach people about the signs, and be able to celebrate the stories of healing of people who have been rescued.”

sandberg_med-400x400 Art with HeartW&L theater professor Stephanie Sandberg

Washington and Lee University’s newest theater professor, Stephanie Sandberg, has nothing against fun, lighthearted productions. She will direct a humorous, contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” on campus in December.

But many of the plays Sandberg has written in the past were more likely to make audiences squirm than smile. She has tackled such heavy topics as racism, faith, sexuality, and the plight of refugees, all in an effort to educate the community and inspire social change. In fact, her Michigan-based professional theater company, ADAPT., uses the motto “theatre that changes.”

The next production by ADAPT., “Stories in Blue,” will be no different. When it debuts next month at a huge international art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called ArtPrize, it will tell the stories of six different victims of human sex trafficking. Over the course of a year and a half, Sandberg interviewed dozens of trafficking victims before settling on the half-dozen stories that will make up the piece.

“We wanted to figure out a way to do a piece that would educate people, teach people about the signs, and be able to celebrate the stories of healing of people who have been rescued,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg, who this fall will teach Global Cinema, University Theater, and History of Theater and Drama I, came to W&L from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where she worked for 20 years. She grew up in West Africa and earned her Ph.D in theater from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Her previous work includes “Lines: The Lived Experience of Race”; “Grains of Hope,” about refugees in Michigan; “Seven Passages,” about the intersection of sexuality and faith; and “Check your Privilege,” a piece of documentary theater based on interviews with students, staff and faculty at Western Michigan University.

Sandberg was inspired to write “Stories in Blue” after she was introduced to a sex trafficking survivor in Grand Rapids who was working to change how the crimes are prosecuted in Michigan. As she explored the topic, Sandberg learned that Michigan has the second-largest rate of sex trafficking in the U.S., owing to its waterways, the I-94 corridor and its position on the border with Canada.

In addition to the stories of five female survivors, the performance includes the experience of one transgender victim — a woman who was trafficked as a male prostitute out of the back of a van before she was rescued and was able to transition.

“Transgender youth are at particular risk because most of the time, they have been kicked out of their families, they’ve been ostracized by their culture, and they have been homeless and living in poverty,” she said.

Sandberg added that sex trafficking disproportionately affects people of color, a fact reflected in “Stories of Blue,” and that the play includes one international story about a young woman from Mexico who was sold into slavery by her stepfather. “Blue” is in the title because it is the color used by anti-human trafficking agencies around the world, and it also represents the coldness of the traffickers themselves and the sadness of the victims.

ArtPrize, which runs Sept. 21 through Oct. 9, is a competition, but Sandberg said that was not what motivated the theater company to debut the piece there. She said they learned from the Department of Homeland Security that human trafficking in Grand Rapids increases 400 percent during ArtPrize, so it presented a greater opportunity for education.

The performance itself will unfold as a pilgrimage that moves through the streets of Grand Rapids, beginning at sunset each day during ArtPrize and running through nightfall. At each of six stops along the way, professional actors will tell a different victim’s story in words and intonation. The procession will end at a permanent installation that will include video, photographs and educational materials. ADAPT. has invited the Department of Homeland Security and anti-trafficking agencies to send speakers for the occasion.

“With a piece like that, you want as many people to see it as possible,” Sandberg said. “People can always hear the stories. We will put them on our website and on our app so everybody has access to the stories, because it may be that you can only listen to a couple of these at a time. They’re pretty harrowing.”

As a researcher and writer, she said, she’s had to distance herself from the project at times to avoid a kind of secondary trauma that results from focusing on such disturbing material. She and the rest of the ADAPT. team have had to look out for each other to make sure nobody is overwhelmed by the sadness of the stories. Statistics show that many people who are trafficked survive only about seven years because they become addicted to drugs or fall victim to homicide or suicide.

After ArtPrize, ADAPT. would like to take “Stories in Blue” to locations outside Michigan. Sandberg said that although the crimes depicted occurred in Michigan, the company intentionally created a piece that would resonate anywhere.

Sandberg has left ADAPT. in the capable hands of a new director while she begins the next stage of her career. She feels she left the company in a good place, and joining the W&L community was an opportunity she could not resist.

“This is a very nice place to work,” she said, “and there is a lot of support for the arts. It just seems like the whole university is in love with supporting liberal arts ideas.”

Click here to read more about “Stories in Blue.”

Changing Perspectives: Michael Sullivan ’18 Changing Perspectives, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Camden, N.J.

“Being able to relate my classroom studies to real experiences has made my academic work all the more captivating.”

I remember how many people looked at me in disbelief when I told them I would be spending my summer living and working in Camden, New Jersey. As time went on, I heard the same responses repeatedly. Some people would warn me to be careful, others would ask me if I knew how dangerous it was, and still more would simply say something along the lines of “Wow, good luck.” While I did my best not to let this effect my expectations, I could not help but feel a tad overwhelmed (and to be honest, slightly frightened) to be heading into an environment with such an infamous reputation.

When I arrived to my placement at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (also known as the Coalition), my uneasy feelings were amplified as I learned exactly what my responsibilities would be within my organization. I would be going out to 12 different primary care practices all over the city of Camden and collecting patient satisfaction surveys. I would be walking into unfamiliar doctors’ offices with a clipboard and a name-tag, approaching complete strangers, asking them to tell me about their personal relationship with their doctor. About half the time, I would be asking and recording responses in Spanish. My team of interns was tasked with collecting 700 surveys by the end of the summer, and it felt like a very daunting task.

However, the uneasiness subsided quickly. For all the negative media attention that Camden gets, it is a rather small city; both geographically and in terms of population. With only 80,000 residents, the city takes up less than 9 square miles, making it more than fifteen times smaller than neighboring Philadelphia. It is easy to get a feel for how the city is organized, and it was a few short weeks before I stopped looking at my GPS for directions. I got a chance to see the revival efforts in Camden. Business development non-profits have been working to create a healthier economy in the city of Camden, facilitating efforts such as the relocation of the Subaru National Headquarters into Camden. I saw evidence of the healthy foods initiative that the Food Trust of Camden was taking to bring fresh produce into corner stores all over the city.

My most personal experiences with these efforts came from my own placement. I was inspired to see the work that the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers was doing to help improve the quality and access of healthcare for every resident in Camden. While their mission is broad, the Coalition focuses on implementing data-driven measures that lower cost and expand opportunities for better healthcare.

In order to use data-driven policies, the Coalition needs to have data collected. The other interns and I spent 6 weeks in the lobbies of doctors’ offices with the survey. We asked about barriers to receiving healthcare the patient encountered, the relationship of the doctor and the staff with the patient, and even some questions about the level of food insecurity the patient experienced. Although most of the interactions I had with patients were short, I was amazed at how easily and often people would open up to me about their health and personal life. While I did not have background information about anybody that I surveyed, and there was no way to tell if the patients were in poverty or not, about 40% of the population of Camden lives below the poverty line. The data that we collected revealed that around 50% of the people we surveyed did not have enough secure income to be sure they would be able to provide enough food for the week. It is a city of under-served individuals, and I had a unique opportunity to try and help give them a voice. In that regard, I found my experience to be invaluable.

My Poverty 101 professor always emphasized the importance of building relationships with people for whom you do service work. Although I did not spend a lot of time with any single patient, I have a greater understanding of why it is so important that those relationships be built. Whether it was listening to man talk about how his homelessness effects his ability to see a doctor, or helping an older woman with poor eyesight fill out forms in the waiting room after she completed my survey, I began to see the barriers that can prevent health access more clearly, and specifically how poverty can make those barriers nearly insurmountable. I look forward to continuing to find ways to eliminate these barriers, not just in Camden, but around the country and the globe. There is work to be done, but I know I can live to see the day when saying that you will be spending a summer in Camden will no longer illicit responses of cautionary warnings, but rather those of optimism and hope.

Hometown: Laurel, MD

Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Co-President of SPEAK
  • Peer Counselor
  • Wrestling
  • Volunteer Venture Pre-Orientation Trip Leader
  • Mock-Con Delegation Administrative Assistant

Off-Campus Experiences: Pov 296: Incarceration and Inequality (the class took place inside a state prison, with a student body of half W&L students and half inmates.)

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I am interested in healthcare and the system we have here in the US. I think by pursuing opportunities to explore issues with healthcare, I will be able to better provide medicine as a physician down the road.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? My work this summer has been very applicable to my academic career. For example, last fall I took a Health Economics class. It combined the fields of population health and economics while also exploring disparities in health due to social factors. I found myself reading about the same problems I encountered this summer. Being able to relate my classroom studies to real experiences has made my academic work all the more captivating.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? The most unexpected aspect of my internship was how passionate everyone at my placement was. I had no idea I would be surrounded with a group of people who were so interested in healthcare, poverty alleviation, and general social issues we are facing today. I find myself passionate about similar topics, and interacting with such fantastic, engaged people on a daily basis made for a fantastic work environment.

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Post-Graduation Plans: I am interested in pursuing medical school. Right now, I could see myself practicing anesthesia, but that could change in the coming years.

Why did you choose W&L? I remember being here on my wrestling recruitment visit, and I was stunned by the student body here. Everyone felt welcoming, and I loved how engaged the student body was not only in the classroom, but also building a community special to Washington and Lee.

What professor has inspired you? Professor Uffelman has been such a role model to me during my time at Washington and Lee. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and he is always willing to make time to help students who are looking for it. His class was tough and pushed me to work in ways that I never realized I could, but I came out the better for it.

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Charles R. Johnson to Address Washington and Lee’s Opening Convocation

Charles R. Johnson, award-winning philosopher, novelist, essayist, short story writer, and scholar of black American literature and Buddhism, will address Washington and Lee University’s 2016 Fall Convocation at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7.

Johnson is the author of four novels, including “Middle Passage” (1990) and “Dreamer” (1998) (the first fictional account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life), three collections of short stories, and over 20 screenplays. He has also published books on philosophy, spiritual inquiry, and cultural criticism, as well as two books of drawings and two books of children’s literature.

A MacArthur fellow, Johnson has received a 2002 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, a 1990 National Book Award for “Middle Passage,” a 1985 Writers Guild award for his PBS teleplay “Booker,” the 2016 W.E.B. Du Bois Award at the National Black Writers Conference, and many other awards. The Charles Johnson Society at the American Literature Association was founded in 2003. In November 2016, Pegasus Theater in Chicago will debut its play adaptation of “Middle Passage,” titled “Rutherford’s Travels.” Dr. Johnson recently published “Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice.” His forthcoming book is “The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling.”

In 2008, Johnson delivered the Martin Luther King Day keynote address at Washington and Lee, which was subsequently published in The American Scholar as “The End of the Black American Narrative,” and in 2009 he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Washington and Lee.

In his Convocation talk, titled “Four Years of Adventure,” Dr. Johnson will address the college experience from first year to graduation. He will draw on his own experience as a first-generation college student in the late 1960s, from his studies of journalism and philosophy to his experiences of the Civil Rights era. He’ll address the ability of dedicated teachers to help change and shape the lives of their students, and he’ll talk about the meaning of education and the importance of teachers in today’s society.

As part of Washington and Lee’s Community Discussion program, every first-year student will read one of Johnson’s most important essays, “The King We Need: Teachings for a Nation in Search of Itself.” Written in 2005, this essay asks what the essence of Martin Luther King Jr.’s teaching was, and how that teaching is sorely needed in America today. Faculty will then lead small discussion groups of first-year students who have all read Johnson’s essay.

“Most years we get 30 or so faculty to volunteer to lead such a discussion,” said Marc Conner, Washington and Lee’s interim provost and Jo and James Ballengee Professor of English. “This year we have over 50 faculty who have eagerly offered to lead sessions. To me, this speaks to the relevance of Johnson’s theme in our current moment.”

“The essay is more than just a reflection on America today,” continued Conner. “It asks what it is that all Americans have in common, and how King’s philosophy of the beloved community can point us towards that common ground, rather than towards what divides us.”

Fall Convocation is the traditional opening of Washington and Lee’s academic year. This year will mark the university’s 268th academic year and the 168th year of the School of Law. The convocation, which is free and open to the public, will be held on the university’s Front Lawn.

Charles R. Johnson to Address Washington and Lee’s Opening Convocation

Charles R. Johnson, award-winning philosopher, novelist, essayist, short story writer, and scholar of black American literature and Buddhism, will address Washington and Lee University’s 2016 Fall Convocation at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7.

Johnson is the author of four novels, including “Middle Passage” (1990) and “Dreamer” (1998) (the first fictional account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life), three collections of short stories, and over 20 screenplays. He has also published books on philosophy, spiritual inquiry, and cultural criticism, as well as two books of drawings and two books of children’s literature.

A MacArthur fellow, Johnson has received a 2002 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, a 1990 National Book Award for “Middle Passage,” a 1985 Writers Guild award for his PBS teleplay “Booker,” the 2016 W.E.B. Du Bois Award at the National Black Writers Conference, and many other awards. The Charles Johnson Society at the American Literature Association was founded in 2003. In November 2016, Pegasus Theater in Chicago will debut its play adaptation of “Middle Passage,” titled “Rutherford’s Travels.” Dr. Johnson recently published “Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice.” His forthcoming book is “The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling.”

In 2008, Johnson delivered the Martin Luther King Day keynote address at Washington and Lee, which was subsequently published in The American Scholar as “The End of the Black American Narrative,” and in 2009 he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Washington and Lee.

In his Convocation talk, titled “Four Years of Adventure,” Dr. Johnson will address the college experience from first year to graduation. He will draw on his own experience as a first-generation college student in the late 1960s, from his studies of journalism and philosophy to his experiences of the Civil Rights era. He’ll address the ability of dedicated teachers to help change and shape the lives of their students, and he’ll talk about the meaning of education and the importance of teachers in today’s society.

As part of Washington and Lee’s Community Discussion program, every first-year student will read one of Johnson’s most important essays, “The King We Need: Teachings for a Nation in Search of Itself.” Written in 2005, this essay asks what the essence of Martin Luther King Jr.’s teaching was, and how that teaching is sorely needed in America today. Faculty will then lead small discussion groups of first-year students who have all read Johnson’s essay.

“Most years we get 30 or so faculty to volunteer to lead such a discussion,” said Marc Conner, Washington and Lee’s interim provost and Jo and James Ballengee Professor of English. “This year we have over 50 faculty who have eagerly offered to lead sessions. To me, this speaks to the relevance of Johnson’s theme in our current moment.”

“The essay is more than just a reflection on America today,” continued Conner. “It asks what it is that all Americans have in common, and how King’s philosophy of the beloved community can point us towards that common ground, rather than towards what divides us.”

Fall Convocation is the traditional opening of Washington and Lee’s academic year. This year will mark the university’s 268th academic year and the 168th year of the School of Law. The convocation, which is free and open to the public, will be held on the university’s Front Lawn.


W&L Law Academic Fellow Henok Gabisa Comments on Olympic Marathon Protest

The Olympic marathon is often filled with drama, but it rarely rises to the geopolitical realm. However, when Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia took second in Rio with his wrists crossed over his head, he brought the plight of Ethiopia’s Oromo people to the world stage.

The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group and have been dislocated and persecuted by the central government for many years. Henok Gabisa, a visiting academic fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law who is from Ethiopia, explained that when Lilesa made the gesture showing solidarity with the Oromo, he put his life in danger.

“Given that he is from Oromo, the most targeted and marginalized group of people in Ethiopia in economic and political realm, he is likely to be taken by government security force at the Addis Ababa airport upon arrival,” Gabisa said in an interview with the LA Times.

Gabisa is now part of a legal team working on assisting Lilesa’s transition and to protect his wife and family, who remain in Ethiopia.

In addition to the LA Times article, Gabisa has commented on this situation for the BBC and in a commentary in The Guardian.

Colin Wallace '17 Awarded Rotary District 7570 Skelton/Jones Scholarship

Colin Wallace, from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, a senior at Washington and Lee University, has been awarded the Rotary District 7570 Skelton/Jones Scholarship, previously the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.

The scholarship provides $30,000 to fund one year of post-baccalaureate study at a university outside the U.S. Wallace has applied to the University of Sydney’s Master of Development Studies program.

“I am honored to have been selected for this scholarship,” said Wallace. “I will be working towards my masters of development studies, where I plan to focus on barriers to education, the inextricable link those barriers have on employment opportunities, and the ultimate impact they have on the economic grown of communities.”

A global politics major and poverty and human capabilities minor, Wallace was a development intern for Sister Cities International, an NGO located in Washington, D.C., and through the Shepherd Internship Program, she interned for Jubilee Jobs, also an NGO in Washington.

She was a communications consultant for NISAA Institute of Women’s Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, and worked in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Senator Tim Scott. She has done international volunteer work in New Delhi; Surin, Thailand; Moshi, Tanzania; Tamarindo, Costa Rica; Managua, Nicaragua; and Mandeville, Jamaica.

Wallace has served as a pre-orientation trip leader for first-years and as the philanthropy chair for Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

“In recent years, Colin has had the good fortune to travel far and wide, and she has consistently put her travel time to good use,” said Seth Cantey, assistant professor of politics at W&L.  “She’s helped to build houses and schools, taught English, raised money for students without access to quality education, and much more.

“This Rotary Scholarship will enable her to continue her important work abroad, adding to her already significant global perspective and complementing her college work in global politics and poverty studies at Washington and Lee. Colin is a strong student and a remarkable young woman. I have no doubt she will be an excellent representative of Rotary and W&L.”

W&L Magazine, Summer 2016: Vol. 92 | No. 2

Read Online »

In This Issue:

  • 48 Hours in Lexington
  • Rockbridge Wants You

2- Speak

  • Letters to the Editor

4 – Along the Colonnade

  • Graduation
  • W&L’s history of slavery
  • Center for Global Learning opens
  • Retirees and new trustees

11 – Lewis Hall Notes

  • Employment report
  • Moot Court victory

12 – Generals’ Report

  • Year-end roundup

28 – Alumni Profile

  • Trust and Confidence: Mike Missal ’78

30 – Milestones

  • Reunion recap
  • Alumni president’s message
  • Beau Knows
  • Alumni news and photos
  • President Ruscio’s column

Johanna Bond to Serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at W&L Law

Johanna Bond, professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been appointed associate dean for academic affairs by Dean Brant Hellwig.

Bond succeeds Sam Calhoun, who served as associate dean for three years and will return to the faculty following a sabbatical leave. Bond previously served as associate dean during 2012-13, and her administrative experience includes service on W&L’s recent presidential search committee.

“The Law School is fortunate to have Prof. Bond fill this critical role in the senior administration,” said Dean Brant Hellwig. “Her experience and judgment make her ideally suited for the position.  She cares deeply about W&L Law, and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead to chart the Law School’s future.”

A distinguished scholar in the area of international human rights law and gender and the law, Bond has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar. In 2001, she traveled to Uganda and Tanzania to conduct research that resulted in her edited book, “Voices of African Women: Women’s Rights in Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania.” In 2014, she studied access to legal aid in Tanzania.

Her recent publications include “CEDAW in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons in Implementation” in the Michigan State Law Review, “Honor as Property” in the Columbia Journal of Gender & Law, “Victimization & the Complexity of Gender in Armed Conflict” in the Santa Clara Journal of International Law, and “A Decade After Abu Ghraib: Lessons in ‘Softening Up The Enemy’ and Sex-based Humiliation” in the Journal of Law and Inequality, and “Gender, Discourse, and Customary Law in Africa” in the Southern California Law Review.

“I am excited to work with Dean Hellwig in maintaining W&L’s tradition of excellence while continuing to innovate as we seek to prepare students for a legal career in the 21st century,” said Bond.

In addition to teaching Family Law and Torts, Bond leads an international human rights practicum in W&L’s innovative experiential curriculum. During the class, students learn to apply the primary international and regional human rights treaties to real-world human rights problems. The class, which includes international travel to investigate possible human rights abuses, results in an official human rights report that foreign governments and organizations can use to address the problems.

Prior to joining the faculty of W&L in 2008, Bond was an associate professor of law at the University of Wyoming and before that a visiting associate professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center for several years.  She also served as the executive director of the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program, a non-profit organization housed at Georgetown.

Before beginning her teaching career, Bond was a law clerk for the Honorable Ann D. Montgomery, United States District Court, District of Minnesota from 1997 to 1998. She holds a B.A. from Colorado College, a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School and an LL.M from Georgetown University Law Center.

An Affair to Research What can today's digital tools tell us about a scandalous crime that happened in Paris more than 100 years ago? A trio of W&L researchers is working to find out.

“We are using a tactic called micro-history, where you examine something extraordinary that happened with the idea that it can tell you about the history of the time.”

— Sarah Horowitz

Steinheil_large An Affair to ResearchSarah Horowitz, Sam Gibson ’17 and Brandon Walsh investigate the Steinheil Affair.

Washington and Lee history professor Sarah Horowitz has spent a year and a half researching an early 20th century scandal involving a notorious Parisian woman and a high-profile double murder.

This summer, with help from Sam Gibson ’17 and Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Instructor Brandon Walsh, she has been able to use digital technology to delve deeper into the fascinating “Steinheil Affair.” The goal of their research is to better understand not only the scandal itself, but how it was covered by newspapers – and what that says about the culture of the time.

Marguerite Steinheil, who was born into an affluent family in 1869, married a French painter named Adolphe Steinheil in 1890. But wedlock was no obstacle for Madame Steinheil, who is believed to have carried on a string of love affairs over the years with prominent men, including French President Felix Faure. Faure allegedly suffered a seizure during intimate relations with his mistress, and died just hours later.

Despite her dalliances with powerful men, Steinheil did not achieve national notoriety until 1908, when her husband and mother were found dead in their home. Investigators initially came up with no evidence with which to charge Steinheil in connection with the crime, but her poorly conceived attempts to frame others made officials suspicious. (One attempt involved planting a pearl in the pocketbook of a manservant, then saying it had been stolen at the time of the murders). She was charged with the crime and locked up in St. Lazare prison until November 1909, when she was acquitted after a sensational trial.

Horowitz, Gibson and Walsh set out to analyze articles published in 10 different French newspapers at three different points in history: the time of the murders, Steinheil’s imprisonment, and her trial. Thanks to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), all of the newspapers they wanted to study had been digitized.

Most of the articles were digitized using Optical Character Recognition, which uses computers to identify printed characters and turn them into words. But OCR can be inaccurate, so Horowitz and Gibson had to retype or correct articles using images of the newspapers as a reference.

The researchers then analyzed the text using digital technology, including a program called Voyant that creates word clouds and examines proximity of words in stories. They used MALLET topic modeling to sort large chunks of text into topics and groups of similar words. This work has allowed them to identify interesting patterns and trends in newspaper coverage of the Steinheil Affair.

For example, they found that early coverage of the murders focused on physical evidence and other concrete elements of the case, such as time, place and detective work. Over time, coverage became more about Steinheil and who she was as a character; references to “wife” and “painter” declined as she was seen more as her own person. They also found that although the woman’s arrest and imprisonment garnered a great deal of news coverage, the media’s attention had begun to drift elsewhere by the time the trial rolled around.

The team also has been able to hone in on how certain newspapers focused on different pieces of the story, and how the language they used speaks to their leanings. In some cases, after the affair with President Faure was dredged up in articles about the crime, the word “patriote” was used as a sort of protective code word for the president.

The newspaper language also provides insight into gender perceptions at the time. Madame Steinheil was widely depicted as a lying femme fatale. “At one time it was thought that women were more prone to lying than men,” Horowitz explained.

As the research continues, the team is using the Natural Language Toolkit to do more detailed analyses, such as searches for first-person language, exclamation points, dialog and direct quotes. “Next we get to think about things like the use of certain words, emotion terms, the cast of characters and when they appear to become more important,” Horowitz said.

Some of the techniques they are using will factor into a Fall Term class that Horowitz and Walsh will teach together. According to the course description for Scandal, Crime and Spectacle in the 19th Century, the class will delve into “the nature of scandals, the connection between scandals and political change, and how scandals and ideas about crime were used to articulate new ideas about class, gender, and sexuality.”

“I have an interest in scandal in general,” Horowitz said, “but we are using a tactic called micro-history, where you examine something extraordinary that happened with the idea that it can tell you about the history of the time, including things like gender roles, culture, politics and the press.”

Eventually, Horowitz would like to write a book about the Steinheil Affair. In late July, the team took its summer research project to ILiADS (the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship) at Hamilton College in New York.

Gibson, a history major who is also earning a minor in French, said working on the research this summer has opened his eyes to the many possible uses for text mining. It also happened to dovetail nicely with his existing passions.

“It is the perfect blend of history and the French minor,” he said. “It is the perfect way to utilize both interests.”

By Lindsey Nair | lnair@wlu.edu

Connect, Involve, Support: Advancing W&L's Mission

In the July issue of Generally Speaking, University Advancement announced that the Annual Fund reached a record of $10.3 million and benefited from the participation of more than 53 percent of undergraduate alumni.  The 2015-2016 results represent a 2.72 percent increase over 2014-2015 and includes record amounts given by undergraduate alumni, law alumni and parents. Overall, W&L received $26,637,845.18 in new gifts and pledges.

Dennis Cross, vice president for university advancement, noted that fundraising is just one aspect of the division’s mission to connect, involve, and gain the support of alumni, parents, and friends and to welcome and tell the story of Washington and Lee to campus visitors. Cross highlighted several additional accomplishments with University Advancement in 2015-16:

Alumni Affairs helped 71 chapters in the United States and England stage 306 events. 486 volunteers are engaged in alumni chapters. 33 chapters helped host campaign celebration events. Spring Alumni Weekend attracted 708 alumni back to campus. 494 alumni registered for Young Alumni Weekend. Again, the Five-Star Festival for alumni who graduated from W&L more than 50 years ago was well received by alumni in the fall and included the 55th and 60th reunion classes.

Law Alumni Weekend attracted a record 416 alumni and guests. The record Law Annual Fund result of $1.491 million exceeded the amount called for in the Law School’s post-transition plan to bring financial stability to the Law School.

In addition to three issues of the Alumni Magazine and two issues of the Law School Newsletter, Communications and Public Affairs produced monthly issues of the electronic newsletter Generally Speaking received by more than 24,000 alumni, parents, and friends. Reflective of the importance of mobile technology, 51 percent of those who opened Generally Speaking did so on a mobile device. Communications continued to make its communication outlets accessible to all, including those with disabilities. Eight students continued the popular wluLex, a student social media team covering all aspects of campus and community life.  Followers of wlunews and wluLex include 13,745 followers on Facebook, 10,563 on Twitter, 8,371 on Instagram.  wluLex has 768 followers on Snapchat.

Reflecting the importance of video in the University’s communications, there were 26 lifelong learning video productions viewed by 3,910; 17 live Life of the University events viewed by 27,721; 25 short videos capturing different aspects of campus life viewed by 14,824; and 97 live video sports broadcasts viewed by 19,863.

Lee Chapel & Museum welcomed 41,689 visitors from the United States and throughout the world.  These visitors were able to view a special exhibition 150 Years: Lee’s Lasting Vision, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s inauguration as president of Washington College.  A goal of University Collections of Art and History is to draw attention to the collections in the Reeves Center and Watson Pavilion.  More than 1,300 visitors enjoyed the Reeves Center and Watson Pavilion.  932 objects were added to the Reeves Center collection in 2015-16, mostly through gifts.  Watson Pavilion also had a special exhibition on George Washington and his commemoration on English cream ware.  The curators in University Collections of Art and History continue to work closely with faculty to include objects and the histories they reflect in appropriate courses.


Accounting for the Past W&L accounting professor Stephan Fafatas mines Special Collections for historic canal company records.

“What’s interesting about all these records is it goes beyond accounting. I think historians in a variety of disciplines would find it interesting.”

— Stephan Fafatas

fafatas-m Accounting for the PastStephan Fafatas pores over old canal company accounting ledgers in W&L Special Collections.

In 2014, a Washington and Lee University Spring Term class learned that historic account ledgers can reveal a wealth of information about not only businesses, but also the communities they served. This summer, accounting professor Stephan Fafatas, who won an award for that 2014 class from the Academy of Accounting Historians, is again delving into W&L’s Special Collections.

During the time Fafatas has spent this summer surrounded by yellowed papers and books in Leyburn Library, his focus has been on a company with strong ties to the university: the James River and Kanawha Canal Company. In 1796, Washington and Lee’s predecessor, Liberty Hall Academy, was on the brink of financial ruin when George Washington saved it with a gift of $20,000 in James River Canal stock. The trustees were so grateful that they changed the name of the school to Washington Academy.

The canal company was chartered in 1785 to fulfill Washington’s vision of a navigable waterway that would connect the James and Kanawha rivers. The canal, which opened in 1790, eventually stretched from Buchanan to Richmond. It was instrumental in the transportation of goods across the state before railroads moved in and diminished its relevance. Floods and war also contributed to the canal company’s downfall.

As Fafatas sorts through the company’s records, he is looking for connections to the university and also analyzing the methods and reasoning for the canal company’s financial reporting. For example, if no organization like today’s Securities and Exchange Commission existed to regulate the reporting of corporations, what compelled the company to share information? Was it spurred by interest from shareholders like Washington Academy? Why did the canal company have external audits done if that was not a requirement from an outside authority?

“My interest is in, from an accounting standpoint, what do we see changing? How is it evolving over time? And is there a catalyst for the change?” Fafatas said.

Fafatas has noticed that the canal company at some point began to itemize the goods it was transporting — commodities such as coal and grains and tobacco. He can compare these itemized lists across the years to spot changes in the variety and amount of goods transported. The company also began to list more descriptive toll-rate statistics. A sharp decrease in toll rates is seen in the data presented for the 1840s and 1850s, a period that coincides with added competition from railroads.
In those ways, the records can paint a picture of how other industries were performing at the time. Fafatas said he will likely compare some railroad transportation records with those of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company.

“I think what’s interesting about all these records is it goes beyond accounting,” he said. “I think historians in a variety of disciplines would find it interesting.”

In August, Fafatas attended an accounting historians workshop as part of the annual conference of the American Accounting Association, and discussed his preliminary findings and observations with other researchers interested in the development of financial reporting in the U.S. Eventually, he hopes to get students involved in the project.

For now, Fafatas has only begun to peel back the layers of information about the canal company. He has yet to examine everything in W&L’s Special Collections and plans to check other libraries for additional pieces, but he’s grateful for the significant start he’s gotten at W&L.

“I like the idea of using our materials,” he said. “We are a small school, but we have a really good collection.”

W&L Alumna Linda Klein ‘83L Named President of the American Bar Association

Linda Klein, a 1983 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, was installed as president of the American Bar Association during its annual meeting this week.

Klein will serve a one-year term in this role. She previously served as president-elect and as chair of the ABA House of Delegates, the association’s policy making body.

Klein is managing shareholder of the Georgia offices of Baker Donelson. Her practice concentrates on litigation, alternative dispute resolution and counseling business owners.

In her address during the ABA meeting, Klein outlined several of her initiatives, including improving access to justice and providing legal assistance for the nation’s veterans. She also emphasized two civic initiatives: one that mobilizes ABA resources to promote voting in the upcoming elections and another that will support the rights of all children to a quality education.

Klein becomes the seventh W&L Law alumnus to lead the ABA. Only Harvard and Columbia have produced more ABA presidents than W&L. Most recently, Robert J. Grey ‘76L served as ABA president in 2004-05. A partner at Hunton & Williams and executive director of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, Grey received the ABA’s Spirit of Excellence award in 2014.

A past president of the State Bar of Georgia, and the first woman to hold that post, Klein worked to increase access to legal services for Georgia’s indigent. She devised and executed the plan to achieve the first state appropriation of tax dollars to support legal services.  She is vice-chair of the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice, which works for increased access to courts, and a member of the Supreme Court Commission on Civil Justice.

Klein also has worked to uphold judicial excellence, and served as co-chair of a state Judicial Evaluation Committee, a member of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission, and a member of a committee established by former Sen. Max Cleland to advise on filling federal judicial vacancies in the Northern District of Georgia.

She has held leadership positions in the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the Atlanta Bar Association and the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, and is a founding as well as a member of the Georgia chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Gate City Bar and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Among her numerous awards and recognitions, Klein was the recipient of the ABA’s 2010 Fellows Outstanding State Chair Award and was honored with the Randolph Thrower Lifetime Achievement Award 2009 from the State Bar of Georgia, which recognizes Georgia attorneys for their achievements in promoting diversity in the legal profession. In 2015, she received the State Bar of Georgia’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Daily Reports first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Klein received her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.

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W&L's Strong Considers Trump Tipping Point

The following opinion piece by Bob Strong, William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee, appeared on USA Today’s website on August 6, 2016, and is reprinted here by permission.

Trump tipping point could be upon us: Column

The question is how he lasted so long. Edwin Edwards
of ‘dead girl, live boy’
fame offers clues.

by Robert A. Strong

Edwin Edwards, the flamboyant Louisiana politician who was investigated and indicted on multiple occasions, once boasted, “The only way I can lose this election is if I get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.” That was in 1983, the year he won the third of his four terms as governor.

Even if you didn’t like what Edwards had to say, you had to admire his willingness to offend media monitors and refined opinion. He was a little like Donald Trump with a career that defied the conventional rules of politics. Trump, like Edwards, routinely says and does things that should destroy his political prospects. He could be about to self-destruct — but we’ve said that many times before.

What is the secret of Trump’s staying power? 

First, there is the authenticity defense. Trump is not a politician; he tells it like it is. He’s authentic, and authentic people speak their mind and tweet from whatever portion of it happens to be awake and active in the middle of the night. You can’t expect Trump to be politically (or factually) correct. This claim has had a remarkable currency in the 2016 election cycle.

Second, there is the sarcasm sanctuary. Trump didn’t mean whatever ridiculous thing he said yesterday; he was just trying to be provocative or funny. Of course, if you are trying to be humorous,as Edwards often was, it helps to have an actual sense of humor. When there are no laughs, the sarcasm claim is hard to make and can only be used on a couple of occasions.

Third, and probably most important, there is the strategic use of innuendo and attribution. Trump didn’t say that Obama was a Muslim, he just thought there were .

So, in this very unusual presidential election, what would it take for the Trump campaign to collapse completely? That is not an easy question to answer, particularly for those who have prematurely predicted his demise on multiple occasions. But here goes.

Trump has survived lawsuits, personal scandals and bankruptcies. It is hard to imagine that any ordinary setback in his personal or professional dealings would trigger a significant change in his popularity. But if his tax returns became public, they might contain damaging information about outlandish tax avoidance, exaggerated wealth or dubious charitable generosity.

Without the returns, the steady shaming of Trump for not making them available might reinforce negative narratives about his business career that eventually undermine his central claim to a presidential qualification.

Then there are the debates. Candidate events with a large field of primary contenders are very different from those with a single opponent.  In the upcoming presidential debates there is always the possibility of a major mistake or gaffe. Gerald Ford inadvertently liberated Poland from the Soviet Union in a debate with Jimmy Carter and never recovered.

Trump will be held to a lower standard than a sitting president, but no one in the history of televised presidential debates will have had less public policy knowledge or political preparation. Trump has proven himself to be a gregarious gaffe gusher with a Houdini-like ability to escape the consequences of his errors. Still, in the widely watched debates in September and October, Trump could easily produce a catastrophic comment that decisively moves the minds of undecided voters belatedly paying attention to the presidential race.

Finally, there is the camel and the straw. The long string of Trumpery and Trumpisms may have made voters immune to the next incident. But it is equally possible that there is a cumulative effect. Criticizing John McCain for being captured is one thing; criticizing a Gold Star mother is another. There may be a tipping point when large numbers of people conclude that they have had enough. The mistakes Trump has made in the last few weeks, along with Hillary Clinton’s lead in new polls, may mean that the tipping point has arrived.

Edwin Edwards, under a cloud of controversy, won his last race for Louisiana governor in 1991. He was running against the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. When reporters asked Edwards about his reputation as a womanizer, he replied that the only thing he had in common with Duke was that “we both have been wizards beneath the sheets.”

There was a bumper sticker commonly seen on Louisiana automobiles during that campaign. It said: “Vote For The Crook. It’s Important.”

It always helps to have an opponent with higher negatives than your own. Alas for Trump, he does not.

Hoover Offers Advice on Flipping Houses on WalletHub

Scott Hoover, A. Stevens Miles Professor of Banking and Finance at Washington and Lee University, discusses the dos and don’ts of flipping houses in WalletHub. Hoover answers questions on common mistakes people make when trying to flip a house, the best way to finance a flip, the type of people best suited to the practice, how to find the best properties and the effect of flipping on real estate markets.

You can read Hoover’s advice on the WalletHub website.

Working the National Conventions

W&L was well represented by five alumni and one current undergraduate working at the Republican National Convention, held July 18-21, in Cleveland. One week later, Jake Barr ’16 worked the Democratic National Convention, held July 25 -28 in Philadelphia. (Rising senior Steven Yeung served as one of the DNC’s youngest delegates, and you can read his account of the experience here).

Here’s what the convention staffers had to say about the experience:

Scott McClintock ’12, Political Science

I have been working in politics for the past four years managing campaigns, acting as personal aide to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, serving as executive director of Gov. Bryant’s inauguration and now working at the Republican National Convention.

At the RNC, I served as special projects manager for the Operations Department — allocating over 1 million square feet of space, managing the overall build-out schedule of the arena transformation, and essentially taking on anything that doesn’t have a category.

After three years in the office of the governor, I knew that I enjoyed logistics and people, so the Republican National Convention was a perfect fit for me. Additionally, Cleveland was a world away for me, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend half a year in a completely new environment (winter was tough!). In six months, I’ve watched this convention grow from ideas on paper to lights on a podium.

The city after the Cavs won the NBA title was amazing. However, because Cleveland took seven games to win, the convention was left with four weeks to perform a complete venue overhaul in what is typically a six-week build-out. Completing the same amount of work in two fewer weeks has resulted in some late nights and early mornings. And for a while, we were preparing to host three campaigns in what would have been a contested convention.

In managing special projects in the operations division, my work spanned from PhotoShopping maps and planning fireworks shows to setting up doublewide trailers and giving tours to visiting governors. The breadth of responsibilities, I believe, directly correlates with my liberal arts education and ability to dissect and address problems of all varieties rather than having a tunneled skill set.

Cameron Dorsey ’14, Art History

I worked for a small PAC fundraising and event planning firm in Washington, D.C.

For the convention, I was the manager of hotel data, meaning I contracted and assigned 17,000 hotel rooms in the greater Cleveland area for the 80,000 credentialed attendees of the convention. I then moved onto the campaign side and did advance work for the Trump campaign. This role included strategizing which surrogate (or spokesperson) went to each delegation event, and then staffing these events to keep the surrogate on message.

I am originally from Cleveland and was one of the first people on the ground for the RNC, starting in February 2015 (over a year and a half ago!). The opportunity fulfilled my desire to give back to my city and support the Republican cause. It was like killing two birds with one stone.

The most exciting aspect of this experience is getting to work with such fascinating and accomplished people from around the country. They have such amazing stories, spanning decades.

W&L taught me to be honest. That can be a unique quality in the political world, but one that people appreciate. It also taught me to be efficient, yet detail-oriented. That was incredibly important when dealing with the minute details of assigning 17,000 rooms.

Joy Lee ’12L

After a post-graduate fellowship in Charlottesville, I moved to D.C. to work for the District of Columbia Public Employee Relations Board. Most recently, I was an attorney advisor at the Federal Labor Relations Board.

I was an attorney in the legal division for the 2016 Republican National Convention. I advised the counsel and convention officers and staff on regulatory compliance, and I drafted, revised and edited contracts for venues, hotels, independent contractors, official providers, the 2016 RNC Freedom Marketplace, caterers and more. I also represented the convention’s interests in contract negotiations and other interactions with state parties and delegations, state and local officials, and representatives from corporate entities and the host committee.

This was my first job in politics. Up until this position, I had only worked in politics on an individual and volunteer basis in state and local campaigns. I wanted to transition into politics and had learned about this opportunity through the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) after volunteering at the RNLA Election Law Seminar. I first applied for the position in October 2015, interviewed in January 2016 and then came on board about a month later. There were about 50 people on staff at that point, and we built up to about 120 by the end (in addition to hundreds of volunteers).

The most fascinating aspect of this experience has been seeing how a National Special Security Event (NSSE), an event of national or international significance deemed by the United States Department of Homeland Security, comes together, and getting to know each person who worked to make it possible. The convention is the second-largest media-credentialed event in the world, behind the Olympics. Because of what’s at stake, the convention often attracts the best of the best in each respective field (logistics, communications, security, IT, etc.), and it’s been an honor to be a part of this team.

W&L taught me a lot of things, but I believe its honor code is what will remain with me forever. There are plenty of gray areas in politics and in life, in general, so it’s that much more imperative to have and to unwaveringly hold onto a set of morals.

Bill Greener ’72, American History and Psychology

I have been engaged in public policy-politics-government service. I have worked in the White House, headed public affairs at the Department of Energy, been in charge of both the political and communications divisions at the RNC, served as CEO of the 1996 convention, and been program coordinator for the 2008 convention. In 1998, I became the founding partner of Greener and Hook, a strategic communications firm serving Republican candidates and organizations, individual companies, and ad hoc groups.

For this convention, I was the program director — responsible for developing the content of the program, as well as directing official proceedings and supervising production (meaning I make sure what Executive Producer Phil Alongi wants, Phil Alongi gets).

I came at the request of the convention, the RNC and the Trump campaign. I arrived on Thursday, June 23.

Going from a blank piece of paper to an actual program in the length of time we had remaining to accomplish the task — were it not for Jeff Larson (CEO of the convention), Reince Priebus (chair of the Republican National Committee) and Paul Manafort (Trump’s campaign chair) and their support and leadership, it would never have happened. I am in their debt.

W&L prepared me in two ways.  First, understanding the Honor System is not just words on a page but a way of life is a guiding light in all that I attempt to do. Second, I learned how to formulate the right questions to ask, a process to go about getting them answered, and creating criteria to evaluate the answers generated.

Dustin Olson ’02, Politics

Since graduation, I have managed campaigns or consulted for political organizations at all levels across the country, with a few stints working in government on Capitol Hill and in the Bush Administration. In 2006, I founded Olson Strategies & Advertising, a political consulting firm specializing in advocacy, fundraising and campaigns. We have offices in Colorado and Ohio. In 2009, I met my wife, Carolyn, while helping Congressman Joe Wilson ’69 win reelection.

At the convention, I worked with fellow W&L alumnus Bill Greener ’72 on the Program Team. Specifically, I did all of the video elements for the convention. Bill brought me in when he accepted the role of program director.

It was an honor to work with so many talented people. In particular, the production team — many of whom are former television journalists — who are amazing and responsible for the razzle-dazzle that makes it a show.

I would not have a career in politics if it weren’t for the Contact Committee at W&L. Many of the speakers we brought to campus made a lasting impact on me and opened up doors I would not have had access to otherwise.

Jake Barr ’16, History and Politics

Working at the Democratic National Convention was an amazing and unforgettable experience. At the convention I was on the backstage credentialing team. Our job was to distribute temporary backstage and podium passes to speakers, staffers and event employees. During my week in Philadelphia, I had the fortune of meeting many of my heroes and having a behind-the-scenes view of the incredible amount of effort that goes into coordinating the many moving pieces of the convention. In my time at Washington and Lee, I was on the Steering Committee for Mock Convention, and it was remarkable to see the similarities between the preparation, coordination and execution of our Mock Convention and the real thing. I still cannot believe that I had a front-row seat to history. Go Hillary! #ImWithHer

Through the Lens: Photography by Professor Mitch Keller

During this First Friday’s Gallery Walk in downtown Lexington on Aug. 5, be sure to stop by Sweet Treats Bakery to take a look at Mitch Keller’s solo photography exhibition.

An assistant math professor at Washington and Lee University, Mitch took up photography as a way to document his travels, and much of his work focuses on landscape work. “I love photographing natural beauty,” he said, “but the architectural beauty of our built environment fascinates me as well. I can’t imagine a day when I tire of photographing bridges or night cityscapes. I am working on developing an eye for more close-up sorts of photography, and perhaps the arrival of my nephew Jack and niece Emma will help me develop some skills at photographing people as well.”

For this show, Mitch said, “I think it’s fair to describe the exhibition as focused on landscape photographs incorporating a variety of scenes from Lexington and the surrounding area, as well as places I’ve visited around the world.”

Mitch is the treasurer of the Rockbridge Camera Club, as well as the faculty adviser for W&L’s baseball team.

You can see more of his work on his website.

Connect, Involve, Support Advancing W&L's Mission

alumni_portrait-400x600 Connect, Involve, SupportAlumni visiting campus during Alumni Weekend 2016.

In the July issue of Generally Speaking, University Advancement announced that the Annual Fund reached a record of $10.3 million and benefited from the participation of more than 53 percent of undergraduate alumni.  The 2015-2016 results represent a 2.72 percent increase over 2014-2015 and includes record amounts given by undergraduate alumni, law alumni and parents. Overall, W&L received $26,637,845.18 in new gifts and pledges.

Dennis Cross, vice president for university advancement, noted that fundraising is just one aspect of the division’s mission to connect, involve, and gain the support of alumni, parents, and friends and to welcome and tell the story of Washington and Lee to campus visitors. Cross highlighted several additional accomplishments with University Advancement in 2015-16:

Alumni Affairs helped 71 chapters in the United States and England stage 306 events. 486 volunteers are engaged in alumni chapters. 33 chapters helped host campaign celebration events. Spring Alumni Weekend attracted 708 alumni back to campus. 494 alumni registered for Young Alumni Weekend. Again, the Five-Star Festival for alumni who graduated from W&L more than 50 years ago was well received by alumni in the fall and included the 55th and 60th reunion classes.

Law Alumni Weekend attracted a record 416 alumni and guests. The record Law Annual Fund result of $1.491 million exceeded the amount called for in the Law School’s post-transition plan to bring financial stability to the Law School.

In addition to three issues of the Alumni Magazine and two issues of the Law School Newsletter, Communications and Public Affairs produced monthly issues of the electronic newsletter Generally Speaking received by more than 24,000 alumni, parents, and friends. Reflective of the importance of mobile technology, 51 percent of those who opened Generally Speaking did so on a mobile device. Communications continued to make its communication outlets accessible to all, including those with disabilities. Eight students continued the popular wluLex, a student social media team covering all aspects of campus and community life.  Followers of wlunews and wluLex include 13,745 followers on Facebook, 10,563 on Twitter, 8,371 on Instagram.  wluLex has 768 followers on Snapchat.

Reflecting the importance of video in the University’s communications, there were 26 lifelong learning video productions viewed by 3,910; 17 live Life of the University events viewed by 27,721; 25 short videos capturing different aspects of campus life viewed by 14,824; and 97 live video sports broadcasts viewed by 19,863.

Lee Chapel & Museum welcomed 41,689 visitors from the United States and throughout the world.  These visitors were able to view a special exhibition 150 Years: Lee’s Lasting Vision, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s inauguration as president of Washington College.  A goal of University Collections of Art and History is to draw attention to the collections in the Reeves Center and Watson Pavilion.  More than 1,300 visitors enjoyed the Reeves Center and Watson Pavilion.  932 objects were added to the Reeves Center collection in 2015-16, mostly through gifts.  Watson Pavilion also had a special exhibition on George Washington and his commemoration on English cream ware.  The curators in University Collections of Art and History continue to work closely with faculty to include objects and the histories they reflect in appropriate courses.


Pull the Plug

The eight-year relationship between Kelly Evans, a 2007 graduate of Washington and Lee University, and Twitter is over. She also dumped Facebook and Instagram.

How is it possible for the co-anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell” to be unplugged? As Kelly noted, “The risk for any of us in the news business is missing breaking news — which, these days, typically breaks on social media.”

She explains her decision on the CNBC website: “I shut down social media because I needed to shut out online distractions and engage with the people, issues and work right in front of me.”

Instead of social media, Kelly got her news the old-fashioned way. “I started reading the newspaper first thing daily instead of following the news all day on social media — and I’ve never felt better informed.

“But what I have turned ‘off’— hopefully for good — is the need to keep up with the Instagram Joneses. Am I ‘missing out’ on stuff now as a result? Sure! And I can’t wait to hear all about it when I catch up with everybody directly.”

Kelly still has a LinkedIn account, but only because she’s forgotten her login and password.