The University of Virginia's College at Wise Magazine, Spring 2016

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The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Spring/Summer 2016


MESSAGE FROM THE CHANCELLOR Dear Alumni and Friends, The spring semester at the College has, excitement and celebration.

once again, been filled with

rish at UVa-Wise. In Undergraduate research continues to flou delivered 87 poster ents the 2015-2016 academic year, our stud posia and meetings sym ces, presentations and talks at 14 conferen Virginia lawmakers from ed across the nation. Their audiences rang ented another pres y The to scholars at professional associations. e Council of Stat the from 32 posters at an April 2016 onsite visit ). Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV life problems such as UVa-Wise student research involves realthe prevalence of the roadkill on Southwest Virginia roads, in our region, and Eastern Hellbender salamander species extraction methods. environmental considerations for fracking tions. As part of their Often, their research leads to real solu ing students developed a senior capstone, four software engineer il as the individual drives. mobile app that reads aloud one’s ema ing” help reduce the unsafe “texting and driv This app, when fully operational, can epidemic that persists across the nation.

vation either. As There is no shortage of discovery and inno pus. cam on osity curi of tage shor no and reward creative As you can see, there is e inquisitive minds, promote discovery urag enco icula curr our and lty facu a liberal arts college, our red speaker in the Alfred and Shirley that Miki Agrawal was this year’s featu thinking. Therefore, it was only fitting “serial entrepreneur” encouraged neurship. Ms. Agrawal, an innovator and Wampler Caudill Lecturer in Entrepre r creative potential. students to be unafraid to tap into thei 25-year history of the Highland semester as the fourth head coach in the Dane Damron joined the College this athletics program strive to bring out the ron and all the coaches in the Cavalier Cavalier football program. Coach Dam in life. excel in the classroom, on the field, and best in our student-athletes to help them re series and through athletic ergraduate research, through the lectu und ugh thro e plac s take that y over The disc factors like you. This year the the generous support of donors and bene out with ible poss be not ld wou g min program ents. Once again, thank you for ips to support the education of our stud larsh scho wed endo new 14 ived rece College ity of Virginia’s College at Wise. your generous support of The Univers omic development in the evements, I remain committed to econ achi and ess succ ent stud ote prom to As we continue agement, the College has ce of Economic Development and Eng Offi se -Wi UVa ted crea ly new the and consulting support, region. Through ide strategic planning support, advisory prov to es ness busi inia Virg with hips formed partners in this issue as a model for that Micronic Technologies is featured sed plea am I ort. supp ent lopm deve and workforce l businesses. partnership between the College and loca best in your lives and the Class of 2016. We wish you all the to ns latio ratu cong tfelt hear a nd exte And finally, I want to be a part of the UVa-Wise family. careers. And remember, you will always Best regards,

Donna P. Henry


UVA-WISEALUMNI DEPARTMENTS Headlines 2 Features 4 Shelf Expressions 16 Athletics 34 The UVa-Wise Magazine is produced by College Relations and Alumni Relations for alumni and friends of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Classnotes 50

EDITOR Kathy Still ’84 ALUMNI EDITORS Pam Collie ’93 Katherine Fleming EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Susan Mullins Principal Photography Tim Cox, Tim Cox Photo/Graphics Contributing Writers Kathy Still ’84 Lanna Monday Brandon Cantrell Sports Contributing Writers Darrell-Dingus Ely ’10 Luke Bolanos Magazine Design Jenny Salyers

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e e Coff Night

Trigiani featured at


Author and director Adriana Trigiani visited campus this spring as the featured writer for Coffee Night, the College’s popular literary event that allows writers, musicians and others to share their work with the public. The author of the popular Big Stone Gap series and other best selling novels recalled growing up in Wise County and how visits to the College were treasured moments. Field trips to the College to watch plays staged by the legendary Charles Lewis were more than a treat. “It was magical,” she said. “I never looked at Southwest Virginia like we didn’t have things. I looked at it as magical. This College is a jewel of Southwest Virginia.” Trigiani listened to the community of writers who presented at Coffee Night and she said she was overwhelmed by what she heard. She reminded the writers and artists that they could find out what they are made of when they test themselves. “Write what you want, but it has to matter,” she said. She also offered encouragement for those who were published in the spring issue of the Jimson Weed, the College’s literary journal. She recalled being published in the St. Mary’s College literary journal when she was an undergraduate student. “You don’t know the power of this,” she said of the Jimson Weed. “Getting published in this matters. It matters.” Trigiani told the crowd of more than 200 about her decision to make the movie “Big Stone Gap” in the actual town where she grew up, a choice that led to 15 years of sheer determination. “It was a mission for me,” she said. “This movie needed to be made here.” She recalled watching coal mining operations in the region and marveling at the magic, but she said Hollywood types did not agree. “They didn’t see the magic,” she said. “They left and I started from scratch.” The movie, starring Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jenna Elfman and other stars, hit the screens last year and did well in limited release. She said some critics saw no reason to even review what they considered a “mountain” film. She was asked what the region could do to combat the negative stereotypes portrayed in the media. She did not have an easy answer. “There is no arguing with the brilliance of the talent in the region,” she said. However, the region is marginalized in the media and in other parts of the country. “It’s rough,” she said. Trigiani said the region could consider developing its writers and helping the economy by publishing books in Southwest Virginia or at the College. It would bring writers to the area, bring people to the region and would spur the economy. She ended the evening with a book signing and some more words of encouragement. “I came away richer from having been with you,” she told the crowd. 2 UVa-Wise Magazine

UVa-Wise had 21 students presenting at NCUR

Nearly two dozen UVa-Wise students presented their undergraduate research projects in April at the National Council for Undergraduate Research conference in Asheville. The College had what Academic Dean Amelia Harris termed “an unprecedented number of students” apply to present at NCUR, held this year at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. The 21 students selected to present are from the natural sciences, mathematics, psychology, communication studies and Spanish academic areas. The close location of the conference, a stronger emphasis on undergraduate research and greater faculty interest are cited as reasons for the boost in student participation. “We have a lot more faculty interested in conducting undergraduate research with students,” Harris said. “This shows that scholarship is important, faculty are interested and students are more and more eager to have the opportunity to conduct research and learn outside the classroom.” Harris has noticed the number of students who choose to pursue graduate school or professional programs is rising, and undergraduate research is one reason for the uptick. The research work with faculty mentors allows students to be engaged more in critical thinking and it gives them a leg up when they apply to graduate school or professional programs, Harris added. Madelynn Shell, assistant professor of psychology, had several students who presenting research at various conferences. She readily sees the benefits. “It gives them experiences such as independent data analysis, literature reviews and detailed feedback on writing that they may not necessarily get in a classroom,” Shell said. “In addition, research provides students with a context in which to get to know faculty in their field, which can help them better understand what it means to be a psychologist or a biologist, for example, and it also helps them make decisions about their own career paths.” According to Shell, the relationship that undergraduate students build with faculty mentors helps prepare students for graduate school because, especially for those going into research programs, the level of work and independence lets students know what to expect. “Even for students not going into research programs, the critical thinking, analytic and writing skills that they learn while doing undergraduate research will help them immensely in any graduate program,” Shell said. “Many students express fear or anxiety about research before taking part in it, and alleviating this is another benefit. Students come to realize that research does not have to be scary, and that, in fact, it can lead to many important opportunities.” In addition to the benefits the students receive from presenting their research at conferences, UVa-Wise also gets a boost. “When we have students presenting at national and international conferences, it really demonstrates that although we may be a small school in a rural area, we are very competitive in our offerings and opportunities for students,” Shell said. Both Harris and Shell agree that the quality of undergraduate research and the increase in presentations both nationally and at regional conferences reflect well on the College’s reputation as a strong undergraduate institution.

UVa-Wise ranks well in ACTA The University of Virginia’s College at Wise recently was honored by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for its commitment to teaching essential skills and knowledge in academic areas such as expository writing, U.S. history, natural science and mathematics. UVa-Wise was among only one-third of the nation’s colleges and universities surveyed to receive a “B” rating from ACTA’s What Will They Learn annual online college guide. In contrast, only 24 schools nationwide received an “A” grade. To receive a “B” rating, a college or university must require four to five courses in the core academic areas.

Briggs pens book Retired faculty member Guy V. Briggs has released “Favorite Song Magic,” a book that discusses how people’s favorite songs affect them and how people can use those songs to help manage life’s ups and downs. Based on extensive research into music, psychology and the brain—as well as decades of classroom experience—Briggs’ book takes readers deeper into their favorite music, asking questions such as: • Why have your favorite songs become favorites? • What important parts of your life are your favorite songs attached to? • How often do these songs pop into your head out of nowhere? • Should you ignore them when they do? • Have you ever used one to give direction to a situation that was difficult to solve?

“Favorite Song Magic” includes 150-plus mini-stories, parables and quotes, along with some 40 emotionally engaging activities. For more information, visit www. Spring/Summer 2016 3


Vatican astronomer visits campus

Brother Guy Consolmango, director of the Vatican Observatory, said religion and science are deeply compatible and can lead to discoveries about how humans interact with the universe. The Detroit native, appointed to his post in September 2015 by Pope Francis, said good science is a way of worshipping God. Consolmango visited campus as part of the Colgate Darden Lecture Series. “Doing science is an act of worship,” the Jesuit said. “It’s an act of getting closer to the Creator and getting closer to the universe. Religion gives me a reason to do the science.” In his lecture, he said the Catholic Church is not at odds with science. The Vatican Observatory is an example of how the church has embraced science. The Vatican astronomers study asteroids, meteorites, planets, stellar evolution, and cosmology from an observatory in Rome and one in Arizona. Consolmagno, who has a doctorate in planetary science and taught astronomy before he became a Jesuit, has written several books, including “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?” The question posed as the title of the book was the topic he addressed during his lecture in the Prior Center. 4 UVa-Wise Magazine

“The real question is why do you want to know?” he said. “There is a challenge behind that question.” Humans have never seen an extraterrestrial yet still enjoy speculating about baptizing one. The interesting thing, he said, is that the notion of ETs has been around for ages, including in Greek literature and the Bible passages about angels. Whether or not there is intelligent life in the vast universe would not change his beliefs and would not change the majority of humans’ beliefs, he added. “We don’t know,” he said about the possibilities of other life forms in the universe. “But what do we know? We’ve seen evidence of other planets. There’re lots out there we haven’t found yet. Our data are consistent that every star has planets, probably more than one planet. There are lots of places where there could be life.”

The galaxy is 100 thousand light years across and is not the only galaxy in the universe, he explained. There are more than 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe. “If we are the only place that has life, it would have to be phenomenally rare,” he said. “We are coming to the realization that the God we call ‘Daddy’ is more powerful than we imagined.” The Jesuit scientist also spent a day with UVa-Wise students. “I was impressed with the patience, insight and engagement that Brother Guy brought to all of his interactions,” said Professor Anthony Cashio. “His presentations centered on the relationship between science and religion and I know the students were quite excited about what he had to say.” Cashio said he was drawn into numerous conversations about the relationship between faith and reason since Consolmango’s visit. “On that point alone, his presentation was a wild success,” Cashio said.

Photos: Highland Cavalier

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By Brandon Cantrell Photos: Highland Cavalier

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“What sucks in my world?”

“Does it suck for a lot of people?” “Can I be passionate about this for a very long time?” According to self-described “serial entrepreneur” Miki Agrawal, those three questions are the beginning of the path to becoming a successful socially conscious entrepreneur in today’s business world. However, she stressed during a wideranging hour, the journey to becoming an overnight success still requires lots of time, hard work and passion. Agrawal’s presentation, part of the Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill Lecture in Entrepreneurship Series, drew an audience of more than 150 from the college community and public at the Slemp Student Center’s Rhododendron Room on March 30. She described an academic and professional journey which took an abrupt turn when she overslept and was late for her investment banking job at 2 World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Describing how 9/11 changed her life outlook, Agrawal described a 15 year journey of learning innovative business methods and the five essential tips she wish she had known before becoming an investment banker, American soccer player, advertising and music video producer, owner of multiple successful businesses and author of her best-selling book, “Do Cool Sh*T.” Agrawal quickly established a rapport with the audience through her humor and down-to-earth personality because the issues regarding period hygiene and sanitation are taboo in most conversations, Agrawal aimed to find a way to break that barrier. Because many individuals still face issues with the traditional method of menstrual sanitation,

Agrawal created THINX, an underwear company committed to breaking down that taboo. Agrawal stressed the importance of innovation throughout her business ventures. “It is so important to put something out there and keep improving it,” Agrawal said. Shifting culture through innovation is a vital practice in Agrawal’s personal philosophy. Along with bettering the environment by creating products that eliminate the use of paper and water, her company teamed up with an organization that provides schoolgirls in Africa reusable cloth pads. Agrawal explained that many girls are not able to attend school while on a period due to lack of resources. As of today, THINX has been valued as a $300 million company and has helped more than 45,000 girls return to school. Following this trend of integrating business with philanthropy, Agrawal’s company recently released the same form of underwear for members of the transgender community. She said that when a female-to-male transition happens, they should not be excluded from the benefits of product innovation and marketing. With her success, Agrawal had plenty of practical advice to share. “As an entrepreneur, I am constantly hustling every single day and deal with so many people,” Agrawal said. “It’s hard and a lot of hard work, and that is why your purpose should be your motivation. What keeps me motivated is that with every pair of underwear sold, we’re helping a girl go back to school.” “In order to be an overnight success, it will take 10 years in the making. Partners should be in mutual awe of each other, so choose your partner wisely. You should complement each other, not step on each other.” As for marketing a business, Agrawal confided that ads have to feel like art. “If you would put your ad on your fridge,” Agrawal reasoned, “it is art.” Agrawal’s talk sparked several audience questions, and her answers encouraged the importance of being completely authentic when starting a business, as well as advice on what type of business to start and how one can sell the business. Agrawal, when asked about starting non-profit advocacy ventures, said that the traditional model of depending on the for-profit business world for financial support has become more tenuous. People wanting to engage in social change need to consider starting business ventures that generate the revenue to support that goal. And in any venture, Agrawal said the successful entrepreneur must demonstrate integrity and show how their product or service meets a need that other businesses are not fulfilling. Students were able to speak one-on-one with her at the book-signing held after the event. Although Agrawal’s lecture was only an hour, she left behind a wealth of experience and practical advice that students can use to strive for success. Spring/Summer 2016 7

Mitigating wildlife and vehicle collisions

doing his own version of Crime Scene Investigation by marking the road kill victims and the location with striping paint, a task that sparks curiosity in the drivers. “There is a lot of community interest,” he said. In one year, Vance has recorded 1,837 cases of road kill. Vance found approximately 1,415 mammals, 188 birds, 105 reptiles, 122 domestic animals and seven frogs. Overall, he found 64 different species. Among the surprising findings were 30 owls, more than expected. He also found a rare mink, long-tailed weasels and some species that are listed as “species of concern” by state wildlife authorities. As expected, he found a high number of possums, raccoons, groundhogs and white-tailed deer. Birds ranged from chimney swifts, yellow belly sapsuckers, eastern king bird, eastern wood peewee, gray catbird, brown thrasher, eastern meadowlark and eastern towhee. her, but she never thought the Faced with a daunting task of measuring road to academic success would be numerous variables at each roadkill site, filled with roadkill. Vance and Smith turned to technology, Smith, a junior math major specifically Google Maps, to see if the normal at UVa-Wise, has been working five hours it would take to properly record with faculty mentor James just a handful of data at each location could Vance on an undergraduate be done more efficiently. They picked a research project that involves studying variables at areas where certain number of points, measured a select set of variables unfortunate animals fall victim to traffic along a particular in the field, returned to the computer lab to see if the results route. The work that Smith and Vance are doing could predict they found using Google Maps and Street View matched where road kill will occur and, ultimately, help mitigate it what they found when they did the measurements in the field. with a few simple changes along the roadway. In addition They found most were accurate, but some factors, like the to saving the lives of domesticated animals and wildlife, presence of a fence at a road kill site, required measurement in mitigation could help prevent costly damage to vehicles. the field. However, only having to measure a few variables in “I never expected this at all,” Smith said when asked the field cut down on the time factor. about doing a mathematics research project on road kill. “I “It will save us a lot of time and manpower using the never thought I’d be in this situation. My mom makes jokes computer to get these variables,” Vance said. “It means we and tells me that I look at dead animals all day. My friends can use technology to facilitate analysis so we don’t have to be don’t bat an eyelash. It’s just what I do.” out in the field collecting 10 variables. We can collect most Smith presented her work at the National Council of variables on the computer.” Undergraduate Research conference at Asheville in April. Vance and Smith plan to turn their focus toward Vance, associate professor of mathematics, conducts the studying whether culverts in some areas actually allow road kill survey, which means he drives from Richlands to animals to safely cross roads. Finding certain roadkill Wise twice a week looking for road kill. He drives 45 miles hotspots and studying whether those areas have blocked per hour on one trip and 55 miles per hour on the second culverts or sharp riprap rock along the roadway could result trip. He received a permit from the Virginia Department of in more animal fatalities. In addition, some areas could be Transportation to conduct research along the route. He is studied to see if small fences placed in strategic areas could easy to spot along the route because he wears an orange safety encourage animals to use culverts for passage rather than vest and has a traffic safety light on his vehicle. crossing roads. “Six or eight people stop me on the road because they Smith officially presented her research on the Use notice what I’m doing,” he said. of Google Maps and Street View to Facilitate Analysis in Motorists who frequent parts of Route 609, Route 19 Wildlife Vehicle Collision Study at the NCUR conference at and U.S. 58 to the top of Tacoma Mountain often see Vance University of North Carolina-Asheville.


Manassas resident Gabriella Smith always knew that teaching mathematics was the right career path for

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Wagner researches controversial extraction method Fracking, the process of using a high pressure water mixture to force the release of gas from underground rocks, has an economic benefit, but it also comes at an environmental cost, UVa-Wise student Javier Wagner found as part of his undergraduate research project. Wagner said everyone likes cheap gasoline, but the economics major said “other” costs are associated with less expensive gas extraction. The fracking process, which has been under media and environmental scrutiny lately, uses a combination of water, sand and many chemicals in the injection process. The injection of the water mixture allows the gas to flow out of the rocks to the head of a gas well. Wagner’s research has revealed that the injection mixture or flowback can remain in rock formations, be reused or partially cleaned and disposed. The problem is that the chemicals used in the fluid are often kept secret by gas companies. Some of the known chemicals are known to cause cancer. In addition, Wagner noted that contamination occurs if the fluid is spilled at the site, in transport, or if the casings fail underground. According to Wagner, his research revealed that 225 spills occurred in a six-year period prior in an initial study. Human error, equipment failure and container failure were often cited as the cause for spills. The spills endanger human health, basic wellbeing, tourism, outdoor recreation and other quality of life issues, he said. However, Wagner said his research also revealed that fracking has created thousands of jobs in several states, and those jobs carry a big economic impact. Wages are high in the gas industry and tax revenues get a boost, he added. “More than 100,000 people would be out of a job in Texas alone if fracking was suddenly stopped,” he said. Other states would see a loss of jobs if fracking was abolished, but some states, such as New York, would not take much of an economic hit, he told the crowd. Wagner’s research revealed that not enough is known now about the full effects of the chemicals used in fracking. He also learned that there have not been enough studies on the chemicals used as well. “We need to know what the chemicals are and what they are doing to our health,” he said. Wagner said his research has led him to believe that the proper rules governing fracking should be set and that any legislation crafted should be based on evidence rather than speculation or politics. Any loopholes should be shut tight, he said, and enforcement must be effective. He concluded that the fracking industry should move cautiously forward because to stop it suddenly would hurt the economy.

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STREAM to encourage females to pursue science, related careers

The statistics are stark. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, nearly 47 percent of the nation’s workforce is made up of women but only half of that number work in STEM-related careers. The same report shows that slightly over 15 percent of chemical engineers are women. The percentage drops to just above 7 percent for computer network jobs. Another study shows that media depicts men as STEM professionals at a ratio of 5 to 1. Although shows such as CSI have created a small uptick in portrayals of women in scientific careers, most youngsters in a survey drew a male in lab coat when asked to draw a scientist. At UVa-Wise, faculty members Madelynn Shell and Alexandra Reynolds are working to encourage women to consider careers in science, technology, research, engineering and mathematics. Known as STREAM, the group, while in the early stages of development, has goals to move students into leadership roles, gather 10 UVa-Wise Magazine

ideas for workshops for a Girl’s Day in STEM event for local sixth grade girls, bring in speakers from on or off campus to share stories and advice about the obstacles females face when pursuing male dominated careers. “We want to provide a group for students to learn about gender disparities that we see in STEM careers,” Reynolds said during a spring organizational meeting. “We want to discuss work life balance, discrimination and to share what we experienced in our own careers. We want to provide support and guidance.” Other topics STREAM wants to offer advice on include tips on how to negotiate a salary, how to recognize illegal questions asked in job interviews, the best time to start a family and a wide range of topics. The idea is to have the community and campus take part in the process. Shell expects a large number of UVa-Wise faculty will help in the effort. Reynolds agreed.

“We all have different backgrounds,” Reynolds said. “We have a good opportunity for mentorship. We want students to know that they can come to us with any issues. It’s a mentorship group.” Shell and Reynolds want STREAM to be student-run, and they believe Girl’s Day will provide UVa-Wise students with plenty of opportunities to inspire young girls to give STEM a try. The students from some neighboring counties, including Wise County and the city of Norton, would come to campus for a day of learning and fun. The workshops would be hands on and would offer encouragement to young girls who may be timid about STEM or have an avid interest already. Additional STREAM meetings will be scheduled as organizers begin to move forward on their initial plans. Shell and Reynolds are encouraged by the enthusiasm they have received from others on campus in support of STREAM.

LOVELACE SOCIETY BATTLES LABELS Ada Lovelace, a mid-nineteenth century mathematician, laid the foundation of modern computing when she visualized many of its fundamental concepts and gained widespread recognition as the first computer programmer. Men dominate the computer programming field today, but a group at UVa-Wise hopes to encourage more women to consider a career that Lovelace herself would also encourage. The Lovelace Society, a group of mainly women studying computer science, software engineering and management information systems on campus, was formed by Professor Daniel Ray as a way to bring women in the department together to offer mutual support and also encourage a more diversified cohort of scholars to pursue those fields of study. Ray said stereotypes portray people in the field as white, male and socially awkward nerds. Those portrayals cause many to believe they should not even consider a career around computers and programming. “This is especially true for women where even those with a recognized and expressed interest in computer science may find themselves swimming upstream against a wave of negative expectations from their colleagues, bosses, friends and family,” he said. Computer science is positioned to shape the world, Ray explained, because professionals design tomorrow’s technology and have a direct hand in

how the world functions and what can and cannot be done by certain people. Ray believes that the world needs the best students to pursue those careers. “Many of those students ought, by right, to be women,” Ray added. “We need to have the widest and most diverse input from the most intelligent people with a variety of perspectives if we are going to make the best future possible. The Lovelace Society provides a chance for women to reaffirm their place among technological innovators by letting students see first hand that this is an area of academics for people just like them.” Katie Sutherland, a senior majoring in computer science, is one of a handful of women on campus who stepped boldly over those damaging stereotypes. The Clintwood, Virginia native has gathered sobering statistics that show that women nationwide earn only 18 percent of undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees. “I think the issues facing women in computer science begin before you decide to major in it,” she explained. “Computer science is basically applied math, but girls in middle school and high school tend to lose interest in math.” Sutherland believes that young girls who keep telling themselves that math is too hard or boring tend to eventually believe the negative talk. She points to t-shirts in stores and with online retailers that carry slogans that reinforce the dangerous myths. The same is said when girls are encouraged to pay attention to

looks and beauty while boys are urged to pursue technology and computer games. Sutherland recalls taking Introduction to Programming, a challenging class for males and females. It was difficult and many of her classmates never took another course in that discipline, but she and a few others, including women, decided to continue the field of study. “It would be very easy to simply say ‘this isn’t for me’ and move on, and on top of that, most of the other students are men and there are no female computer science professors,” she said. And Sutherland has experienced the real prejudice that women experience when others, especially men, ask a male for computer help, even when a qualified female is on hand to assist. She wants groups like the Lovelace Society to work to stop those prejudices from happening. “I want the Lovelace Society to become the role model for women interested in computer science at UVa-Wise,” she said. “I want us to be a group of smart, strong women who can look at one another in friendship and say ‘I got through this, you can too,’ and it will be worth it.” Ray has lofty goals as well. “For our College, in the short term, the Lovelace Society means fighting negative stereotypes, empowering students and positively influencing the future for all people in our region and abroad,” Ray said. We can do this by placing the tools of change in the hands of those most intimately familiar with the problems that need solving.” Spring/Summer 2016 11


Day of Service

The sixth annual Cavaliers Care: A Day of Service drew more than 250 students, faculty, staff and alumni together with community members on various projects to spruce up the community and work on projects that make a difference. The day began with a breakfast sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Wise, a service organization that has been involved with Day of Service since it began in 2011. Cavaliers joined the community on campus beautification, clean-up along Darden Drive, the making of pet blankets for local animal rescue organizations, and basic work at Camp Bethel, local youth athletics fields and on projects downtown. “I look forward to the day of service each year because the SGA purchases mulch for the town of wise and cleans up the flower beds,” Student Government Association

President Shannon Walker said. “The excitement that each member brings to volunteer that morning is so powerful and giving back to the community we all call home is so rewarding.” 12 UVa-Wise Magazine

Raising the Career Curtain Theater students are often asked how they will earn a living with a performing arts degree. UVa-Wise students who attended the Southeastern Theater Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina can easily answer that question. The six students saw dazzling opportunities in marketing, box office management, costume, directing, lighting design, performance, teaching, set design, sound design, stage management and technical theater. They also gained valuable networking skills as they met dozens of potential employers. Workshops also supplemented the lessons they have already learned at UVa-Wise. “The sheer amount of people interested in technical aspects of theater was staggering,” said Heather Marchant, a May graduate from Marion, Virginia who honed her skills in sound design during her time on campus. “Over 200 exhibitors were there for design, and they were all eager to work with young people.” SETC offers resources to help boost careers in the theater arts, especially young artists, veteran artists and those who opt for teaching careers. The Wise students raised funds to attend by organizing a dinner theater, stage readings and other activities. Damien Holmes, a May graduate, said the event was bigger than the students anticipated.

“It’s not a dying art,” the Lynchburg, Virginia native said. “There is still a lot of interest in theater. It was refreshing because we hear such negative comments on social media about what we do in theater. We make the most of it, and it was good to see people are still out there pushing and getting through it all.” Recent graduate Robert Torres, a Hampton, Virginia resident, was impressed by the quality of the workshops offered on scenery, acting, technical areas and directing. He found the job skills workshops extremely helpful. “There were several interview and audition workshops,” he said. “The resume and portfolio sessions were all good and helpful for us ready to land a career. I took workshops in Arabic and Scottish dialect and sounds in combat.” Torres was also intrigued with workshops on monologues, acting and social issue sessions on gender in theater. “It was good to hear that what I am learning about acting is very valuable,” he said. “At a small school, you worry that there are not enough specific classes, but I learned at SETC that people in theater wear many hats, and that is what we do here. We learn how to do theater here.” Nathan Clark, a resident of Richmond, Virginia, is interested in stage and set design. He was impressed with the number of experts on those subjects who offered help and insights.

“All those experts under one roof were sharing how they solved common problems, the same problems that we see in our theater was eye opening,” he said. “It was good to know that big, professional theater has the same exact problems.” Nikki Thomas, a May graduate, said the job opportunities were not limited to standard theater. She is interested in the electronic side of shows in general and said the job fair portion of the conference was invaluable. Jacy Burdette, a junior from Clifton Forge, Virginia, will graduate next year with a degree in theater education. She completed her observation portion of student teaching in the spring and what she saw in the classroom convinced her that she is on the right career path. “Teaching has a service element that I wasn’t expecting,” she said. “It has uprooted me a lot and made me think about things.” While at SETC, Burdette spoke with the heads of several children’s theater organizations and schools. She learned how to start a theater program without major funding, how to operate on a budget and how to grow a theater department. She was particularly interested in a workshop about starting a scholarship program for youth theater. “There are so many opportunities out there,” she said.

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Happy Birthday Mr. Jefferson

Mr. Jefferson’s annual Birthday Bash, known simply as Founder’s Day, brought students, faculty, staff and alumni together in the Betty Gilliam Sculpture Garden for an afternoon of food and fun. The day began at 11 a.m. with a picnic lunch and the crowd quickly grew until the festivities officially began at 1 p.m. In addition to the usual fare of picnic food, Smiddy and the Highland Winds entertained those attending the big event. To celebrate Mr. Jefferson’s 273rd trip around the sun, organizers sponsored a photo booth table with a variety of Colonial Era wigs and other accouterments so the crowd could get into the Founder’s Day spirit and pose for selfies. The photo booth proved successful and the pics were quickly shared on social media. Chancellor Donna P. Henry welcomed the guests and provided some history of Founder’s Day. “Today we are celebrating the 273rd birthday of Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia who was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia,” Henry said. Henry spoke about Jefferson’s work to create the University and of his passion for architecture and public education. “We are also commemorating the founding of this College, a later manifestation of Mr. Jefferson’s dream,” Henry added. “Our College dream began at the Wise Inn where Sam 14 UVa-Wise Magazine

Crockett, a U.Va. extension agent, stopped to have dinner one snowy evening in December 1953 and joined in a conversation with Lois Tracey and Mary Thompson. The women made a strong case to him that Southwest Virginia needed a college.” Henry explained that the talks expanded to include state lawmakers, local officials and others. “The rest is history,” Henry said. “Less than nine months later, on Sept. 13, 1954, Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia opened its doors. And look at us today. We are a growing, public, liberal arts college meeting the needs of our students, our region and the Commonwealth.” The event ended with the Jefferson trivia contest where 12 students and Smiddy competed for a Galaxy tablet. The contest proved competitive as the students answered various questions about University founder Jefferson and his service to the nation and his native Virginia. After a fierce challenge, Rebekah Shupe and Sass Sloce survived several tiebreakers and were awarded tablets. The Office of the Chancellor, Alumni Association and the UVa-Wise SGA sponsored Founder’s Day. “The event was great,” SGA President Shannon Walker said. “I was so excited to have the student involvement that we did. They all must have studied TJ facts beforehand.”

Spring/Summer 2016 15


A glimpse of the treasures and trinkets found in faculty and staff offices


A safe landing

For those wanting to shoot for the stars, Marla Weitzman’s office could be a step on that journey. Signage strategically placed between windows lets visitors know they have reached the moon base, an area where students feel comfortable venting and expressing their views in a nonjudgmental environment. “About two years ago, students were hanging out in my office, doing Homework and getting advice,” Weitzman, a professor of English, said. “They thought of it as home base.” Eventually, students made a sign to stake out their territory to let Weitzman know her office had been designated as their base.

By Lanna Monday

something personal that I can jump in and maybe help them.” She says that the reason she is at the College is because she loves her students and that they comfort her as well. “They made me feel good about the work that I do,” she said. “I get positive reinforcement from it.” All of shapes on the sign are symbolic. The moon is their home and the ‘not allowed’ icon stands for non-judgmental. The Saturn ring stands for the friendship circle and the smaller planet has one dot for each of the eight original group of students. Students also gave a hat with moon “It reminds me of my connection base and non-judgmental wording to serve to my students,” said Weitzman. “It as a reminder. Even though many of the makes me feel good that they like to be original group of students have graduated, around. We talk about school stuff and personal stuff. They talk to each other and the circle of friends continues to grow each sometimes I will hear them talking about year in Weitzman’s office.


Those who have spent time in the Wyllie Library quickly become familiar with Director Robin Benke. Benke, who has been with the College for 38 years, is heavily involved in many student service activities and is an Honor Court faculty advisor. In addition to his work on campus, he is involved in community activities. Benke has supported students in countless ways throughout the years and the many awards adorning his shelves pay homage to it. “When I was driving up Coeburn Mountain all those years ago, I couldn’t 16 UVa-Wise Magazine

have imagined that I would have had such a long career sustained at what was then Clinch Valley College,” said Benke. “But my time here has been wonderful.” Benke was born on a naval base in Trinidad where his father was stationed. His father was transferred to Washington D.C. and Benke spent his teenage years in Springfield, Virginia. He completed his B.A. in history at Hampden-Sydney College and earned his Master of Library Science at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Benke had always been attracted to small schools and knew that’s where he wanted to have a career. “It was a perfect fit,” said Benke. “It was like serendipity. I wanted to be involved and be a part of a small campus.” Benke has performed countless roles from acting as chaperone for the Thursday night dances in the old cafeteria to fraternity advisor for Phi

Lambda Pi, and on three occasions accompanying the flag football team to a national tournament in New Orleans. “I believe faculty should be involved and give back something to the College,” he said. “So, the very favorite things I have on my bookshelf are the awards I have received in acknowledgement of my work with students as both an educator and mentor.” Among those honors is The Buck Henson Student Life Appreciation Award, presented to Benke in 1999 in recognition for service to students. Benke also received the Outstanding Service Award in 1998. “The Media Educator of the Year Award was presented to me by the Virginia Educational Media Association for my contribution to the profession of librarianship and the education of future librarians,” he said. “I am very proud that our Library Media Program has now expanded and is offered across the Commonwealth,” he said.

A good sport

Many a sports player and fan has felt right at home visiting Joe Kiser’s office in the Resource Center.

Kiser’s own love for sports is apparent from placement of some of his favorite items. On the front of Kiser’s desk sits a baseball he found during one of the construction projects. “It’s kind of like a paperweight and most people come in, sit there and play with it because they like to talk with their hands and it keeps their hands occupied,” said Kiser, director of College Services. “I found it during one of the construction projects and picked it up while we were walking. I brought it back to the office and it has just been something that everyone likes to toss up and down. I’ve kept it as a good little conversation piece when folks visit.” On a file cabinet next to Kiser’s intramural hall of fame plaque sits an autographed miniature volleyball. “The volleyball is one of my favorites because it came from the team and all

FLOWER POWER It’s not often Sharona Burke, administrative assistant for facilities management, has visitors at the physical plant, but when she does, whimsy can be found in the most unusual of places. Among her many favorite family photos are trinkets from co-workers including a solar-powered dancing butterfly flower wrapped with the message, TGYF – Thank God You’re Fabulous. Burke, an eight-year veteran of the College, has been the recipient of many little gifts for at least five of those years. Among many of the unusual gifts are a mummified lizard in the bathroom, a baby snake underneath paperwork on her desk and some unusual coasters with birds and interesting phrases on them. “I’ve kept this solar-powered flower out in the office because a certain employee, not to be named, likes to leave cute small surprises, and I appreciate it,” said Burke. “I’ve had my flower for about two years and it makes me happy. The particular employee who gave me this is very thoughtful and has a good sense of humor. We’re like that up here.

Sometimes it’s little things like that keep us smiling. And, around the holidays the same employee will leave funny little

things out for us to find.” Burke says that they don’t normally decorate the office over the holidays, but one year she walked in to find mistletoe hanging over her desk. She also finds lots of post-it notes with handwritten scribbles on them.

of the players signed it,” he said.“They gave several away on campus, but when Coach Dallaman came in to give me mine, it was because he was thankful for how I had handled a bus breakdown situation. For him to come in and show some appreciation was nice because we don’t get that a lot.” Kiser’s love for sports runs deep. “Baseball is my favorite sport. As a student it’s what I tried to come to the College as a walk-on with Coach Banner, but I never got to play the first collegiate game. I broke my ankle before the first game and had to have surgery. It knocked me out of ever playing.” Outside of playing intramural sports for 20 years, Kiser continues takes great pride in having the opportunity to stay involved in an administrative capacity with College athletics in purchasing, travel and budgets. It keeps him engaged and is a positive part of his daily routine.

“I am a big fan of post it notes and I change my hair color a lot, so one of the employees will leave notes with nicknames for my hair color,” she said. “One was once labeled ‘Trixie-Delight’ and a different time, when I had blond and red highlights, someone left a note telling me I had been dubbed ‘Strawberry Shortcake.’ “ A small solar dancing scarecrow sits on a desk in the neighboring office was left as a gift for the housekeeping foreperson. “The little scarecrow on her desk came last fall and I’d had mine for at least two years,” said Burke. “I have no idea where the secret pal finds these things, but the employee must have felt we both needed one. I don’t have a lot of office stuff up here, but I just like to display it. The thought means a lot.” Burke pointed out how nice it is to have positive morale in the office and said the little surprises help a lot. Before the office was remodeled, Burke noted that visitors didn’t see many personal items, but now with a more open area, she is proud to show off the many things that keep her spirits up during the work day including her flower power.

Spring/Summer 2016 17



Colleges and universities have traditionally been an economic driver for communities. They add to the local payroll and creating a fresh supply of skilled workers each year, but there are other ways higher education institutions boost the economy.  Young companies and businesses benefit from the research that faculty and students do to help develop new products or to create the right technology to ease a startup company’s work. And when the word spreads, other companies may be enticed to locate to a region that houses a college that is willing to share its resources in order to help a company and ultimately a region.

18 UVa-Wise Magazine

When the model works, new jobs can spring up, and many of those positions go to graduates of that particular college or university. UVa-Wise has long done its part for economic growth in Southwest Virginia, but the College is now literally testing the waters by pairing highly knowledgeable faculty and eager, sharp students with a local industry. The company is on the verge of a successful growth spurt. Micronic Technologies, a woman-owned company that has developed MicroDesal, a system that can purify wastewater from any source, is a shining example of how a college and a startup company can work together to benefit a region and its people. Karen Sorber, founder and CEO of the company, has hired several UVa-Wise graduates and hopes to employ more in the near future as the company prepares to take the next step from its research and development stage to actual production. The company has received $3 million in grant funding and holds several patents on its water purification systems. The system mechanically evaporates water with a tornado action at such a high velocity that impurities and contaminants are removed. The technology shows great promise. Sorber said UVa-Wise was its first partner when the College and the company successfully received a $2 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission in 2014. Sorber moved the company from Northern Virginia to Wise County because of the strong support the company received from county leaders, economic development officials and UVa-Wise. The company is working closely with faculty members and some of their students in a variety of areas as it inches closer to production. Professor Wally Smith provides help with his expertise on amphibians as environmental health indications. Professor Bob VanGundy brings experience in oil and gas exploration and in geology. Professor Zafar Khan offers expertise in environmental economics and with resolving environmental challenges in developing regions. Professor Floyd Beckford shares his knowledge of inorganic chemistry and instrumental analysis and environmental chemistry. Professor Lucien Undreiu brings his physics expertise and Professor James Vance adds his knowledge of research modeling and mathematics skills to the mix. Ira Weissberger provides software engineering and computer science knowledge. Sorber explains that UVa-Wise faculty and students conduct water quality testing, following Environmental Protection Agency chain of custody protocols, and establish standard testing schedules

and reports. In addition, the faculty conducts modeling and simulations, including collecting and evaluating data from high-speed video camera and model performance to optimize for scaling and commercialization of its product. As Micronic’s partner in the $2 million Virginia Tobacco Commission grant, the faculty also develops a tracking system to meet the company’s needs and conducts environmental and economic analysis as well as a return on investment related to market opportunities. And the company is getting noticed. Micronic took part in a national water summit sponsored by the White House as part of the United Nation’s World Water Day. At the summit, Micronic agreed to provide its water purification system at a lower cost to provide “secure, safe, potable water to small, remote communities” around the world and in the U.S. And GE Oil and Gas and Statoil awarded Micronic an award in the energy companies’ Open Innovation Challenge. “The GE award was a huge thing,” Sorber said. “It would not have happened if we hadn’t come here to Wise County. The College’s backing on the Tobacco Commission proposal was vital. What the College is doing is adding value to us in terms of research and related assistance.” It’s been a good couple of years for Sorber and her company. “Economic development is about bringing jobs to the area,” Sorber said. “We have added seven employees here and I could add four more soon.” One of the first hires at Micronic was Brianna Stallard, a UVa-Wise alumnae who asked to work as an intern when she learned Micronic was relocating to Wise County. Stallard was later hired full time and is a key part of the organization. “I love my job,” Stallard said. “As a project assistant, I have my hands in every aspect of the company. I like to be involved.” Stallard said she enjoys working with her former professors and with the student interns as well. “It’s a win-win situation for us and the College,” she said. Travis Deel, a software engineering and art graduate, worked in a big box lumber and hardware store for six years, including during his time at UVaWise. He landed a job as software engineer with Micronic and could not be happier. “It’s fun to work for a startup company,” Deel said. “There are always plenty of things to do.” Spring/Summer 2016 19


Deel is proud to see his alma mater partner with companies for economic development. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “I’ve actually been in meetings with my former professors as peers. It’s good to see the direction the College is going, especially in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math),” he said. Stallard and Deel also work closely

20 UVa-Wise Magazine

with University of Virginia alumnae Andrea Parra, a mechanical engineer. Parra said she enjoys working for a startup company because employees all pitch in and do what needs doing. “I also do some graphic designing, writing and I’m learning to weld,” Parra said. “There is something to be said about working for a small company. William Bott, a chemist and UVa-

Wise alumnus, is the latest hire. Sorber hopes the company can begin manufacturing operations in 2017. The company and Wise County are working together to create a mutually beneficial partnership so the product can be made locally. For more information, visit

Boosting the Economy Shannon Blevins, associate vice chancellor for economic development and engagement, resolutely believes that Southwest Virginia is vehemently working to reinvent itself in response to a troublesome economic downturn, but she is encouraged that UVa-Wise is at the heart of the revitalization effort. Economic development is not new to the College. Its Office of Economic Development opened in 2007 with Blevins at the helm. The College has made a coordinated effort to match resources and assets with the region and employers. The efforts intensified about three years ago when Chancellor Donna P. Henry made economic development a priority. “Chancellor Henry has made economic development a cornerstone of her chancellorship,” Blevins said. “Nearly 10 years ago, we set out to prove that a small, public liberal arts college was relevant to economic development and now, increasingly, the College is looked to for regional economic development leadership.” Blevins explained that the College has dozens of initiatives to help the region in the areas of health, education and economic development. “We firmly believe that this is the growth model that will help diversify and grow our region’s economy,” she said. “It provides an excellent framework for us to engage the expertise and research interests of our faculty and help us leverage the relationship we have with the University of Virginia and other colleges and universities across Virginia.” Blevins outlined many of those efforts, including three regional blueprints for strategies to improve health and the overall economy and to foster entrepreneurship in the region. “As soon as the Entrepreneurship Blueprint was published in 2012, we organized a steering team of 20 agencies and organizations to implement the strategies,” she said. “For the

first time in our region, all of the entities supporting small business and entrepreneurship began communicating and collaborating,” she added. “We supported more than 350 entrepreneurs by connecting them to resources and are building a strong pipeline to existing resources such as the Small Business Development Centers and funders in the region,” Blevins said. Through it all, UVa-Wise continues to work with others in the region to recruit prospective businesses and industry. “We were instrumental in recruiting Micronic Technologies, a water treatment technology company to Wise and received our first research and development grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission in 2014,” Blevins said. “Our goal is to assist the company in commercializing their technology through successful deployment of field pilots” Chancellor Henry quickly traveled to Sterling, Virginia to do a technical due diligence on Micronic, and the partnership has flourished. Seven faculty members and eight students are working on the Micronic project. Some are working in the water quality area, some work with the water sample tracking system software development, while others are working on modeling and simulation. “The company has already doubled in size and hired three UVa-Wise alums as well as one U.Va mechanical engineering graduate,” she said. “We also introduced the company to U.Va mechanical engineering professors who had just the right

expertise to assist with their project.” Other initiatives include working with a major telecommunications company that is working to open an operation in the region. In addition, the College is working with local community colleges to develop a cyber security workforce strategy that is similar to efforts in the region about a decade ago when CGI and Northrop Grumman came to the region. “A critical support model we provide to employers who are new to Southwest Virginia is our launch initiative,” she said. “It is important that we help companies new to our region to acclimate and develop meaningful relationships as soon as possible in order to accelerate their growth,” Blevins added. The College’s most recent effort to boost economic growth was to host a regional economic forum in the David J. Prior Center on campus. The successful forum brought together more than 300 people who are working on economic development, including leaders in health, business, community development and education, to build a strategy to move the region forward. They wil gather again a couple months to develop an action plan. Blevins said it is clear that the region has momentum, and the initiatives the College is undertaking demonstrates the deep commitment to the College’s mission to make the region a better place.

Spring/Summer 2016 21

Software engineering majors develop app T he temptation to check email while driving is strong when a mobile devise emits that familiar alert tone. Four UVaWise students have created a mobile app that will let drivers give in to that temptation in a safe way. Iris, an Android app developed by software engineering seniors as their capstone project, will read Google Mail to drivers who have installed the app on their mobile phones or tablets. The app works well and the students hope to soon have the product on Google Play once all the proper paperwork and related tasks are done. Bryan Smith of Weber City, Virginia explained that the app gets its name from Iris, the Greek messenger to the gods. And just like Iris of ancient lore, the Iris app will read the incoming messages. Professor Abrar Qureshi, advisor for the capstone project, said the students started working on the app by working on a single email account, then moved on to multiple accounts. The students then worked further on functionality such as making it easier to keep or delete an email. Large buttons were also put in place to make it easier to use when deciding whether to discard or keep an email that Iris has read to the recipient. Derek Ouzia of Algeria said working on the app was extremely interesting and beneficial on many levels. He and his fellow students were able to apply what they have learned in the classroom and software engineering labs to the real world. “It gives us a good idea of the job itself and what to expect in the business world,” Ouzia said. Scott Arnette, a Wise, Virginia resident, explained that the overall customer experience was always on the minds of the developers. “You really want to aim to please the customer as much as possible,” he said. “It gives you a chance to apply what you’ve learned and a chance to work as a team.” Teamwork has been a central theme for the group. They have been taking the same classes together for a few years and have learned to work well together. “Teamwork is critical,” Smith said. “If you are not working as a team, you will pretty much fail. We play off of each others’ strengths.” The students also believe the teamwork dispels the stereotype that software engineers are socially awkward. Student Joseph LaCava is also a member of the team, but was unavailable for an interview. “It is the complete opposite,” Smith said. 22 UVa-Wise Magazine

Qureshi always stressed the need to hone communication skills, and his students agree that the ability to effectively talk to others is vital. “Seventy-five percent of the time is spent in communication,” Qureshi said. “It all starts with understanding the customers and what the customer wants and needs.” The students agree that a liberal arts education combined with their software engineering and computer science courses have given them the proper mix of instruction. The liberal arts classes allowed them to understand how important it is to make a product that is more creative and pleasing in general. Graphic design courses were also a plus. “Too much software engineering would get boring,” Ouzia said. The next step for the students is to see what happens when Iris is available for download and purchase on Google Play.

Spring/Summer 2016 23


Fourteen new endowed scholarships were announced during the 25th annual Scholarship Luncheon

The Anonymous Scholarship Fund, when fully funded, will provide scholarships to students majoring in a natural science with preference given to those majoring in chemistry. The Velma Lee Asbury and Kenneth P. Asbury Scholarship was established by Dawn Asbury Gilbert, a member of the College’s Class of 1982, in memory and honor of her parents. The fund will provide scholarships for worthy and deserving students attending the College at Wise. The Lindsey and Lillie Craft Scholarship Fund was established by Amarylis “Amy” C. Rolen, a member of the College’s Class of 1960 in honor and memory of her beloved parents, Lindsey and Lillie Craft, to provide scholarships for students from Wise County, Virginia attending the College at Wise.

24 UVa-Wise Magazine

Preference will be given to those who are pursuing a degree in Education. The Chief Poly I. Emenike, Ph.D. Scholarship, established by Don Green, a member of the College’s Class of 1961 and executive director of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, will provide assistance to worthy and deserving students with preference for students coming from Africa. The Donna Hale Scholarship was established by an anonymous donor in honor of faculty member Donna Hale, a member of the College’s Class of 1971. The scholarship will be awarded to students from Buchanan County, with merit being the first priority and need the second. The Charlie R. and Brenda Jill Jessee Athletic Scholarship, established by Charlie and Jill Jessee, both alumni of the College and members of the College’s

Class of 1962, will benefit deserving students participating on the football team who are domiciled in and are bona fide residents of Southwest Virginia. The N. Brent Kennedy Scholarship in Appalachian Studies, established by UVa-Wise faculty Tom Costa and Brian McKnight and friends in honor of N. Brent Kennedy, a 1973 graduate of the College at Wise, will provide scholarships to rising juniors or seniors minoring in Appalachian studies, with preference given to students majoring in history and who demonstrate outstanding ability in their studies. Preference will also be given to students from Southwest Virginia. The Lonesome Pine Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship was established by the auxiliary’s finance committee, which includes Paxton Allgyer, Patricia Bowden,

Sallyann Dunton, and Virginia Meador. The scholarship will be awarded to worthy and deserving students pursuing a degree that will lead to a career in the medical field. First priority will be given to eligible students from Big Stone Gap, Virginia, second priority to a Wise County, Virginia student, and third priority to a Lee County, Virginia student. The Catherine J. Mahony Scholarship Fund in Literature was established by professor emeritus Richard Peake in honor of his friend and former colleague. Faculty members Gillian Huang-Tiller, Sheila McNulty and Cyndi Newlon are helping with the effort. Scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate an interest in creative arts and literature, with preference given to English majors. The Becky Seay Matney ’84, Josh Barker ’14 and Brandon Matney ’04 Cavalier Scholarship, established by John Matney, will be used to provide scholarships for worthy and deserving students that participate in intercollegiate athletics. Preference will be given to students from Washington County, Virginia and Wise County, Virginia. The Roger McClellan Coeburn High School Scholarship Fund, established by Roger McClellan, a member of the

College’s Class of 1965, will be awarded to worthy and deserving students with first priority given to students graduating from Eastside High School in Coeburn, Virginia. If no student is eligible, then eligibility may be expanded to include students from Buchanan County, Dickenson County, Lee County, Scott County and Wise County, Virginia. The Shelcy Mullins, Sr. Virginia Kentucky Fair Scholarship was established by grandson Lawton Mullins, a member of the College’s Class of 2004, son Shelcy Mullins Jr., family and friends to honor and memorialize Shelcy Mullins, Sr., a lifelong resident of Wise County who was former Sheriff, businessman and a passionate volunteer for the Virginia Kentucky District

Fair where he served 54 years and as chairman for 25 years. Preference will be given to students majoring in administration of justice, business administration or students participating in intercollegiate athletics. Former friends, students and colleagues of Dana Sample, a former history faculty member who died from cancer in 2007, are establishing the Dana Sample Travel Scholarship. The fund will be awarded to students participating in international travel. The Stump Family-Believe! Scholarship, was established by Judge Robert Stump and Alice Stump to provide scholarships to worthy and deserving students from Southwest Virginia who have a disability.

Scholarships bring opportunities Lucas Holcomb, a senior nursing student, said the scholarships he received from generous donors gave him the opportunity to pursue a degree in the right environment. Holcomb, a Big Stone Gap native, was the student speaker during the 25th annual Scholarship Luncheon, an event that brings donors together with the students they have helped over the years. The tennis player told his fellow students and the benefactors that several colleges offered him scholarships for both academics and athletics, and he made some visits and weighed his options. UVaWise tipped the scales. “With the irresistible offer that I received, thanks to the generous donors in this room, and the words of wisdom

offered by my older brother, I chose to enroll here,” he said. “As most freshmen, I had no clue what classes I wanted to take and I definitely was clueless when it came down to what I wanted to do as my career choice.” The College and his brother, Zack, an alumnus who is attending medical school at Duke University, came through again for Holcomb. He chose nursing and has not looked back, even though he admits chemistry was a bear. In nursing, he has visited cancer centers, nursing home and plenty of healthcare facilities. He has enjoyed the interaction. “I love getting out and making a difference,” he said. “Even if that difference is just brightening one person’s day by making them laugh. “I always try to wear a smile and give

the effort to do the small things. That is one thing that is really stressed here at UVa-Wise, especially in the nursing program. We are not the largest college, but we are all a family.” Holcomb said the four years he has spent on campus are forever treasured. He made lifelong friends, played sports, represented his college and made a difference in the community. Generous donors made all those things possible. “The scholarships I received provided the money and aid I needed to allow me to focus solely on academics,” he said. “As an athlete, I know several of us wouldn’t have had the opportunity that has been presented to us here at Wise in order to compete on the NCAA level, and for that, I thank you.” Spring/Summer 2016 25


Newly Endowed Scholarship Funds recognized at the 2016 Scholarship Luncheon Velma Lee Asbury and Kenneth P. Asbury Scholarship Dawn A. Gilbert ’82

Catherine J. Mahony Scholarship Fund in Literature Richard H. Peake, Ph.D.

Lindsey and Lillie Craft Scholarship Amy C. Rolen ’60

Becky Seay Matney ’84, Josh Barker ’14 and Brandon Matney ’04 Cavalier Scholarship John K. Matney

Chief Poly I. Emenike, Ph.D. Scholarship Don M. Green ’61 Donna Hale Scholarship Anonymous Charlie R. and Brenda Jill Jessee Athletic Scholarship Charlie R. Jessee ’62 Jill Jessee ’62 N. Brent Kennedy Scholarship in Appalachian Studies Tom M. Costa, Ph.D. Mr. Brian D. McKnight Lonesome Pine Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship Auxiliary to Lonesome Pine Hospital 26 UVa-Wise Magazine

Roger McClellan Coeburn High School Scholarship Fund Roger McClellan ’65 Shelcy Mullins, Sr. Virginia Kentucky Fair Scholarship Lawton Mullins ’04 Shelcy Mullins, Jr. Dana Sample Travel Scholarship Tom M. Costa, Ph.D. Joshua V. Justice ’07 Ella M. Smith-Justice ’04 The Stump Family-Believe! Scholarship Judge J. Robert Stump Alice M. Stump

Changing Lives

Five receive Tice Awards Five students were honored with the Tice Total Achievement Awards, presented to students who honor and encourage family values, community service, cooperation, creativity and scholarship. The students were nominated by a faculty or staff member and were selected by the Tice Award Committee. The $1,000 award is made possible through a generous endowment created by Dr. Frederick Gordon Tice, a 1939 alumnus of the University of Virginia. Samantha Edge, a Roanoke, Virginia resident, is called an exemplary role model to her fellow teammates on the Cavalier volleyball team and volunteers to help others on the team outside of practice as needed. She represents the team on the Student Athlete Advisory Council and has participated in many community service activities, including Operation Christmas Child, Day of Service and in other youth projects on campus. She also participates in a service project called Elves for Elders, and she is a student worker in the Sports Information Office. She is majoring in mathematics with a minor in accounting. William Farmer, a Hillsville, Virginia resident, has distinguished himself on campus as a talented musician and an outstanding music major. He spends much of his time practicing or rehearsing and performing with a number of musical groups, including the Marching Highland Cavaliers, the Highland Winds, the Wind Ensemble, the Wise Guys, the Jazz Ensemble, Brass Quintet and the Trumpet Ensemble. He serves as a leader in his church youth group and has participated in several mission trips to assist those less fortunate. On campus, he performs for his Bible study group and he is a member of the National Association for Music Education and a founding member of the Colony of Phi Mu Alpha.

Jacob Hurd, a resident of Clintwood, Virginia, is a first generation college student who was involved with the Upward Bound program, which introduced him to a number of resources, such as Student Support Services, that inspired a remarkable transformation in him. Hurd is involved in several organizations such as the Honor Court, Student Activities Board, Expedition and the Intramural program. He has been inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success. He is majoring in sociology and minoring in administration of justice. Amon Patterson has distinguished herself as a role model and leader among the closeknit community that she has developed in the residence hall in which she serves as a resident advisor. She is often found mediating conflicts while setting a respectful environment in which to resolve differences. Her residents have told others that she has developed a family atmosphere that has helped them flourish as young adults tackling challenging aspects of student life. At her home in Richmond, Virginia, she serves as a volunteer at the local library. She has a heart for service and a desire to help others meet their potential. She is majoring in psychology and plans to pursue a graduate degree in counseling studies. Vivian Vu, a resident of Northern Virginia, has a deep commitment to family values, faith and community involvement. She is involved with St. Anthony Catholic Church in Norton where she teaches Sunday school. She is a software engineering major and is involved in the Catholic Campus Ministries, Hands Helping Paws and the Lovelace Society. She is a student worker and intern for the director and assistant director of administrative systems in the Office of Information Technology.

Graduating students with the least amount of debt possible is incredibly important to The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and scholarship support enhances the College’s ability to meet this top priority. More than 80 percent of UVaWise students qualify for financial aid, one of the highest percentages in Virginia. The implications of scholarship support are huge – not only for the students themselves, but for the community, our region, our Commonwealth and our nation. Establishing a named, endowed scholarship fund requires a financial investment that pays great dividends well into the future. To learn more about how easy it is to establish an endowed scholarship fund, please contact Vice Chancellor for Development & College Relations Bob Bragg (276) 3761057 or or Senior Director of Development Valerie Lawson (276) 376-4523 or in Office of Development.


1485 Students received Financial Aid 175 Endowed Funds Awarded to $2.5 Million in Scholarships Awarded


Tuition and Fees = $9,539.00 per year Average on campus Room & board = $5,820.00 per year

Changing one student’s life = PRICELESS! Spring/Summer 2016 27



Students who have worked hard through Jonathan Bailey, a freshman from high school often have good choices to Suffolk, Virginia, also wants to study make when it comes to picking a college or for a career as a physician’s assistant. The university. Their academic standing often baseball player found out he was getting the brings hefty scholarships, but the high costs scholarship when his high school coach got of higher education can still be daunting. the news. When students are faced with a “Financially, it helps me out,” he said. tough choice about which college to attend, a little extra incentive can make all the difference. At UVa-Wise, the Chancellor’s Scholarship has often helped the region’s only four-year public college emerge as the best fit. Desiree Napier, a Lee County native, was considering a handful of colleges, but she chose UVa-Wise after she learned she had received the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship. The freshman said a visit from Rusty Necessary, vice chancellor for enrollment management, made the choice easy. “He came to my high school and told me I could go tuition free after he looked at all my transcripts,” the psychology major who wants to be a physician’s assistant said. “I thought of Abby Church going somewhere else, but when he told “I don’t have to take out as many loans and me the good news, I decided to go to that means I can build my life sooner. It has Wise. I like the environment here and helped my parents out as well.” I like that it is a small college. You know Bailey also enjoys the small campus and everyone on campus.” its family feel. “The professors know me on a first name basis and they are active in my academic life,” he said. “Everybody here has a good chance of getting what they need as long as they ask for it.” Jordan Kern, a Coeburn, Virginia native, was one of the first students to participate in the Early College Academy, a program that puts qualified high school students in the college classroom. He is enrolled full time at UVa-Wise and already has enough credits to be classified as a junior. “The Chancellor’s Scholarship is how I am getting to go to college,” he said. “It covers all of the tuition and most of the books. I also like that I’m just not a Jonathan Bailey 28 UVa-Wise Magazine

number here. I know all of my professors on a one on one basis.” The history major wants to complete a graduate degree, pursue a doctorate and teach at a college. Gate City resident Evan Baker is eyeing a degree in administration of justice, but is still looking at other options. He found out he was getting the scholarship when he got an email from Necessary. “I was ecstatic,” he said. “It’s a lot of money and it has helped tremendously. It has eased a lot of burden from my parents, and that’s a big thing for me.” Baker said the scholarship is a major reason he chose UVa-Wise. “I was taking a lot of dual enrollment classes in high school, but it is a lot different here on campus,” he said. “Living on my own was different for a little bit, but I adjusted pretty well. I like the atmosphere here on campus. I like that it is a smaller school and that I know faces when I walk around campus.” Abby Church, a freshmen from Wise, Virginia, clearly remembers when she learned she had garnered the Chancellor’s Scholarship. She received the news during awards day at Central High. “Several people from my high school were going to UVa-Wise and many of them found out they were getting the Crockett Scholarship,” she said. “I was worried because I did not hear my name, but then I found out I was getting the Chancellor’s Scholarship. It sealed the deal and was the icing on the cake.” Church had been considering a private college and a university in neighboring Tennessee. She believes she made the wise choice. “I’m getting a better education here than at the other ones for a more reasonable price,” she said. “Once you get here, you realize there is a lot of things about UVa-Wise that you didn’t know about, even though the College is in your own back yard.” More than a dozen students on campus receive the Chancellor’s Scholarship, which is made possible b y donations from generous benefactors.

President Sullivan garners Crockett award University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan has strengthened the relationship between the University and its College at Wise by advocating for the small liberal arts school in Richmond and beyond, encouraging interaction between the two institutions, and by serving as trusted counsel to its senior leadership. For those reasons and more, UVaWise Chancellor Donna P. Henry presented President Sullivan with the Samuel R. Crockett Award, an honor bestowed upon a University official who has worked hard to strengthen the relationship between the grounds at Charlottesville and the campus in Wise. Chancellor Henry presented the award to President Sullivan during the May 6 Board of Visitors Meeting on

the Committee on The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. President Sullivan strengthened the relationship in many ways, including supporting BOV travel to Wise so members have an opportunity to know the College, attended the SACSCOC onsite visit and last month’s State Council of Higher Education for Virginia meeting, and in other numerous ways. “It is in the spirit of Samuel Crockett and his strong relationships with our peers at U.Va that this award is given to recognize someone who has worked hard to strengthen the relationship between the University and the College,” Henry noted. Chancellor Henry said she and others at Wise know they can reach

out to President Sullivan or her staff at any time for advice or to share critical information. “During my tenure as chancellor, President Sullivan has been an invaluable leader, a trusted advisor and a tremendous supporter of the College,” Henry said. “She orchestrated the announcement of my chancellorship and fully participated in my inauguration. She has visited the College on many occasions. She regularly attends our fall convocation to welcome new students, even greeting a monkey and snake at the petting zoo.” Henry noted that while the College, the University’s only off-grounds division is hours away by car, UVaWise is never far from President Sullivan’s mind.

About Samuel R. Crockett

Crockett, a University administrator, was snowbound at the Inn at Wise one night in December 1953 when three local women sparked the idea of opening a public college in far Southwest Virginia. Crockett and others went to work and the College opened its doors six months later.

Spring/Summer 2016 29

STUDY ABROAD “The most important discovery I have experienced on this trip is self-discovery,” blogged Sara Lamb during her trip to Chile. “The last two years I feel like I’ve been lost in life…For the duration of my stay in Chile, I have learned to slow down and enjoy something because it will eventually end…This trip has taught me a lot about myself. I’m actually more confident, independent, and adventurous than I remember myself.”


In May of 2015, Jen Murray, history professor, guided students on a 16-day trip covering the Western Front. The trip began in London with visits to the Cabinet War Room, Grosvenor Square, Imperial War Museum and the Churchill Museum. Following the Allied Campaign of 1944-45, participants ferried across the English Channel to Caen, France to explore Normandy beaches. The group then visited Bastogne, Belgium, site of Battle of the Bulge and the tour concluded in Germany with visits to Berlin, Munich, Dachu, the Nazi concentration camp, Salzburg and Hitler’s meeting house, the Eagle’s Nest.



May 15-28, 2016, David F. Fernandez-Diaz, assistant professor of Hispanic Philology, guided students throughout the cities of Salamanca, Toledo, Segovia and Avila in Spain. “We stayed in the center of Madrid in the Plaza Mayor,” said Rhonda Bentley, academic administration assistant and tour member. “We saw the major sites, museums and cathedrals that each of the four cities were most famous for. We also went to a bullfight! Dr. Fernandez spent a considerable amount of time planning a great adventure that was educational but also beautiful and fun-filled. “

Under the guidance of Witold Wolny and as a direct consequence of the College’s newest sister agreement with the Universidad de los Andes in Santiago de Chile, UANDES organized a program on Chilean future, politics, history and education while waiving program fees to UVa-Wise students. Students took classes Jan. 2-17, 2016 with students from Chile, Brazil and the U.S. While classes were delivered in English, students also took additional Spanish classes according to their level. “More business today, we had a very interesting lecture today about the poverty in Chile,” said student Kaitlynn Davis in her traveling journal. “It was dope, for lack of better words. It was something I think we all needed to listen to. Then later on we had our cultural presentations I learned that everyone had a sense of patriotism, that I am obviously missing.” The program also included guided visits to the Moneda Presidential Palace, Pablo Neruda museum, Santa Lucia Hill, Startup Chile, opera of Santiago or Castillero del Diablo vineyards, Valparaiso, and Vina del Mar beach. Students stayed with Chilean families in order to experience the Chilean lifestyle complete with authentic food and Spanish language.

30 UVa-Wise Magazine


Thirteen UVa-Wise Nursing students and four volunteers traveled to Belize on a medical mission March 5-13, 2016 sponsored by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and the College nursing program.


Many international trips are anticipated for the upcoming academic year:

Spain Chile London Italy Belize Luxembourg

May 2017 Jan. 2017 May 2017 May 2017 Spring 2016 TBA Spring/Summer 2016 31


Benefactor of the Year

Vice Chancellor Bob Bragg presented the awards on Saturday, Nov. 7, during the annual Benefactors Celebration, held in the David J. Prior Convocation Center. Bragg said the Southwest Virginia Community Health Services Board operated five clinics in Big Stone Gap, Clintwood, Hanging Rock, Haysi and Wise for more than 40 years. “These healthcare facilities filled a critical role in this region at a time when it was needed the most,” Bragg said. “With consolidation of many healthcare facilities, four of the five clinics have since closed and one was sold.” Members of the board were on the UVa-Wise campus last summer to finalize a generous gift to the College. The Southwest Virginia Medical Clinics Scholarship Fund will be awarded to medical students based on financial need and academic achievement. “As they were beginning to conduct the final business of the medical clinics, they all agreed that they wanted to use what was left of the operational budgets of the five clinics to support the education of students who were pursuing medical-related degrees,” Bragg said. “It was a logical choice to make an investment at the College at Wise. Their hope is that they will help to educate students who will return to serve the medical needs in the area for years to come.” Dr. Kurtz Alderman and Larry Greear accepted the award on behalf of the board. Alderman said the College has made great strides over the years and has had a major role in improving education to the entire region. “The College has meant so much to the area, even from the days it was Clinch Valley College,” Alderman said. “You can’t believe what it has contributed to education in Southwest Virginia. Being a full-fledged division of the University of Virginia and offering students a great education without a lot of trailing debt makes it a little gem that was once pretty well hidden, but when it broke out it broke out big.” 32 UVa-Wise Magazine

Fran Hunt, Volunteer of the Year Hunt, a 1980 graduate of then Clinch Valley College, was named Volunteer of the Year for his unwavering dedication to his alma mater. Hunt, who received a degree in business and public administration, is president of Hunt Commercial Properties Group, Inc., a corporate real estate company in Newport News, Virginia. “Fran’s journey to Wise and his commitment since graduating have led up to his being honored tonight with this prestigious award,” Bragg said. “While in college, Fran was a member of Tau Beta Chi local fraternity, serving as president. He was also a charter member of the Pi Kappa Epsilon Epsilon Chapter, serving in leadership roles as warden and archon.” Hunt is also a member of the UVa-Wise Foundation Board, an at-large member of the Alumni Association, and he organized the first Senior Send-Off for entering freshmen from the Tidewater region. “He rallied alumni from the region to coordinate and staff the event, reserved the facility and worked with the College to have alumni and admissions staff at the event,” Bragg said. “This is a great model for other clubs to follow and this interaction has already begun to build a strong tie between students and alumni.” In accepting the award, Hunt expressed his deep love for his alma mater and the region that he called home during his years in Wise.

Spring/Summer 2016 33



The University of Virginia’s College at Wise hired Dane Damron as head football coach on Dec. 17, 2015. Damron coached the last seven seasons at Eastern Kentucky University, including the last five as the school’s offensive coordinator. He becomes the fourth head coach in the 25-year history of the Highland Cavalier football program. “We are excited Dane Damron agreed to become our next head coach,” said Director of Athletics Danny Sterling. “Coach Damron brings a proven, successful, high-powered offense to UVa-Wise. We are going to be an exciting and entertaining football team.” Damron, a 22-year coaching veteran is known for his offensive prowess. A year ago, Damron’s offense set a NCAA FCS record for offensive snaps in a game with 123 against Murray State. In 2012, Eastern Kentucky averaged more than 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game. The Colonels rushed for at least 1,700 yards in each of Damron’s five years directing the offense. During Damron’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Eastern Kentucky posted at least six wins in all five seasons he oversaw the offense. The Colonels tallied eight wins in 2012 before posting nine victories in 2014. Overall, Damron’s teams recorded 69 wins and 47 losses during his collegiate coaching career. “I am very excited to be named the head football coach at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. The professionalism and leadership that Chancellor Donna P. Henry, Director of Athletics Danny Sterling, and the entire UVa-Wise community have shown my wife and me has been outstanding,” said Damron. “I look forward to working with Chancellor Henry and Mr. Sterling as we build a football program that will represent not only our great College, but also the town of Wise and all of Southwest Virginia.” A native of Grayson, Kentucky, Damron began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky. Following a stint at Morehead State, he became the offensive coordinator at George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Florida. Later, he moved on to Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland where the school reached previously unchartered waters on the football field. The Braves won their first playoff game in school history and advanced to the regional finals in each of Damron’s last two seasons as head coach. Following his time in Florida, the coach returned to his native state of Kentucky to become the head coach at Boyd County High School in Ashland, Kentucky. Damron’s track record of success continued with the Lions as they won a playoff game in three consecutive seasons. The coach returned to the 34 UVa-Wise Magazine

collegiate ranks in 2007 when he accepted the head coaching position at Kentucky Christian University. The 2008 season marked the first-ever varsity football team in Kentucky Christian history. Damron played collegiate football at Georgetown College (Ky.) where he aided the Tigers to the 1991 NAIA National Championship. A two-time All-American, the quarterback is enshrined in Georgetown’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “Our football program will be built on hard work, every day will be about competition. Our young men and their coaches will embrace their roles as leaders on and off campus and they will understand the responsibility that comes with being a member of the UVa-Wise community,” remarked UVa-Wise’s new coach. UVa-Wise used Parker Executive Search to assist in the hiring of its new football coach. A well respected agency, the use of Parker Search exemplifies the commitment the College is making to athletics and the football program. “I am thrilled for Coach Damron to join the UVa-Wise Cavalier family and lead our football program,” Chancellor Henry stated. “Parker Search was invaluable in connecting us with a large and qualified pool of talented candidates. Coach Damron and his family will be a great asset to our College and the Wise community.” Damron obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance from Georgetown College before later earning a master’s degree in sport administration from Eastern Kentucky.

Meet the football assistant coaches Klay Koester has been named offensive coordinator while Shap Boyd has assumed defensive coordinator duties. Southwest Virginia native Mike Compton will coach the offensive line, Joey Fitzgerald will guide the wide receivers, Wes McDermott will oversee inside linebackers and Nick Rosser will serve as outside linebackers coach. Additionally, Phil Robbins was named chief of staff. Koester comes to the College after spending last season as the offensive coordinator at Cumberland University (Tenn.). A year ago, Koester’s offense averaged 27.5 points per game while rushing for 182.6 yards per contest. Prior to coming to Cumberland, Koester spent five seasons as wide receivers and tight ends coach at his alma mater, Eastern Kentucky University. The Colonels played in the NCAA FCS Playoffs twice in the five seasons, including 2014 when EKU finished 9-4 overall, averaging 31.2 points per game and over 400 yards per game in total offense. Compton comes to the College after spending last season at fellow Mountain East Conference institution Concord University. Prior to working at Concord, Compton spent two seasons each at Fairmont State and Bluefield College directing the offensive line. Compton was a standout offensive lineman at West Virginia University from 1989-92. He was a three-year starter at center and was a consensus All-America selection as a senior in 1992. Compton was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round (68th overall pick) in 1993. He spent his first eight seasons with the Lions, which included blocking for Barry Sanders during his 2,053-yard rushing season in 1997. He then spent three seasons with the New England Patriots from 2001-04 and was a member of two Super Bowl winning teams in 2001 and 2003. He finished his 12-year NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005. Fitzgerald comes to UVa-Wise after spending last season at Eastern Kentucky University. Serving as tight ends coach at EKU, Fitzgerald worked with an offense that averaged 30.3 points per game. Starting tight end Ben Madon had the strongest season of his collegiate career under Fitzgerald’s guidance as he led the team with 456 receiving yards. Madon was a first-team all-conference honoree and was named Offensive Team MVP, following the season. Previously, the coach spent two seasons at South Eastern Conference member Mississippi State. He served as the Bulldogs’ offensive graduate assistant coach from May 2013 to April 2015. Fitzgerald was promoted to offensive quality control coach before leaving to join the EKU staff. 
A three-time all-conference honoree, McDermott was named the Pioneer Football League’s Defensive Player of the Year at Morehead State in 2009. That same season he earned AP Third-Team All-America acclaim. He finished

his collegiate career with 316 tackles, including 48 stops for loss. He finished his career 19th in FCS history in TFLs and 24th in TFLs per game. McDermott spent time with three Indoor Football League Teams – the La Crosse (Wis.) Spartans, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Titans and Allen (Texas) Wranglers. Previously, Rosser worked at King George High School in King George where he spent time as the strength and conditioning coach, special teams coordinator, running backs coach, wide receivers coach and defensive backs coach. Rosser played collegiately at James Madison and lettered for the Dukes in 2000. The coach graduated from James Madison with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2003. Robbins has spent the last five years as the program’s equipment manager. In his current capacity, he will oversee day-to-day operations of the football program while assisting with travel, budget and high school relations. He spent 45 years coaching football in Virginia, serving as the head football and track and field coach at John Battle, Christiansburg and Powell Valley High Schools. The longest tenure was at Powell Valley where in 28 years he won 15 district, 15 regional and seven state titles while finishing state runner up in 2004 as the football coach. Robbins also won a pair of state track crowns in 1994 and 2002. Robbins retired in 2010 with 307 victories, ranking top five in Virginia history.

Spring/Summer 2016 35


Coffman Highlights UVa-Wise Student-Athlete Awards

The UVa-Wise Athletic Department announced its yearly student-athlete awards at the annual spring banquet on April 21. Redshirt senior baseball player Ben Coffman was named Cavalier of the Year and senior basketball player Matt Day and junior volleyball player Karley Allen earned Male and Female Athlete of the Year. Men’s cross country took home Team of the Year honors while Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Meghan Dennehy was tabbed Coach of the Year. Current Assistant Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Jon South was honored with the Outstanding Service Award for his consistent dedication and longtime service to UVa-Wise Athletics. Coffman, an outfielder, elected to redshirt to be eligible during the Cavaliers’ first season of NCAA eligibility in 2016. The Fort Hood, Texas native has made the most of his senior season as he leads the team in doubles (16), slugging percentage (.486) and RBIs (38), while second in hits (47). Coffman is regarded as the ultimate teammate as he mentors teammates both on and off the field. 36 UVa-Wise Magazine

Coffman is a double major in business administration and sport management. Day, a native of Buckhorn, Kentucky, had one of the best individual basketball seasons in school history. The forward averaged a double-double his senior year at 22.7 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per contest, recording a doubledouble in 16 different games. Scoring an impressive 658 total points in his final season, Day grabbed 307 rebounds and moved into sixth place on UVaWise’s all-time scoring list with 1,627 career points. On Feb. 25, Day etched his named into the UVa-Wise and MEC record books when he scored a single-game record 49 points in a Cavs 102-89 home win over West Virginia State. In that contest, Day hit 24 of 27 free throws for both a MEC and school record in foul shot makes and attempts. Day was just one of five players in all of NCAA Division II to score 49 points or more in a single game, furthermore, his outing was the 13th-most points scored by a men’s basketball player in all NCAA divisions (I, II, III) this year. Allen led UVa-Wise on the volleyball court this past fall and became the first Cav to ever reach the 1,000 career mark in both digs and kills back on Oct. 24 when she recorded her 1,000th dig during a 3-0 sweep at Glenville State. The Lanexa, Virginia native was named All-MEC First Team, NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA) First-Team All-Atlantic Region, American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Atlantic Region honorable mention and Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) College Division AllState Volleyball Second Team. It was the second consecutive year Allen was named All-MEC First Team and D2CCA FirstTeam All-Atlantic Region.

After three seasons of play, Allen ranks third all-time on UVa-Wise’s career kills list (1,290) and is fourth in school history in digs (1,130). The UVa-Wise men’s cross country team had a remarkable season this past fall, tying for a fourth-place team finish at the MEC Cross Country Championship 8K race. Although the Cavs were edged by Wheeling Jesuit University for fourth place, UVa-Wise captured fifth and placed two runners in the top 10 as junior Shaquon Wilkins finished fifth and junior William Young ninth. Both Wilkins and Young earned All-MEC First Team accolades to give the men’s cross country team the distinction of being the only UVa-Wise team this year with a pair of first-team all-conference performers. Under the guidance of Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach Donald Leech, the running squad became the first UVa-Wise athletic team to compete in a NCAA postseason event when they advanced to the NCAA Atlantic Regional meet and posted a team finish. Competing against the best runners and teams in the region, Wilkins led the Cavs in the 10,000-meter race by finishing 61st out of 134 total runners. Dennehy’s women’s lacrosse program exceeded all expectations in the team’s inaugural season of 2015. The Cavaliers claimed three wins, including a 10-9 overtime victory at Notre Dame College en route to a berth in the MEC Tournament. For her efforts, Dennehy was named MEC Coach of the Year by her peers following the ’15 campaign. The then firstyear head coach stated “I am so grateful for the experience to coach lacrosse at UVa-Wise. This school and this team help me fully understand what coaching is all about,” after learning she had been named conference coach of the year. A native of Pound, South’s career in the athletic department began as a student assistant in 1989. Over his 26-year career, South ’92 has served as an assistant coach for the sports of men’s tennis, women’s tennis and women’s basketball while also serving as the compliance coordinator and as an assistant in the athletic media relations department.

Helton nets S

Hall of Fame


arah Helton, who finished her UVa-Wise basketball career with 2,316 points and All-America accolades, become the eleventh women’s basketball player or coach to be inducted in the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame A member of the team that advanced to the national tournament 10 years ago for the only time in program history by claiming the 2006 Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament crown, Helton attended J.J. Kelly High School from 1999-2002 where she led the school to its first girls basketball state championship. Helton scored 1,524 career points, had 912 career rebounds and 415 steals during her prep career. She ended her senior year as a two-time Group A First-Team All-State player and in 2002 she was named Virginia’s Group A Co-Player of the Year. She also lettered in track and field her junior and senior years and won the individual high jump state championship as a senior. In early spring of 2003 Helton decided to play for the Highland Cavaliers. She was a four-year starter and letter winner. The forward also had over 1,000 career rebounds and 332 career steals and was a three-year captain. In 2003 Helton was the AAC Freshman of the Year as well as a Third-Team All-Conference honoree. In 2004 she was voted Second-Team All-Conference. In 2005, she was named First-Team All-Conference and Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. Additionally, Helton was voted Third-team AllAmerican. In 2006, she was again voted First-Team All-Conference while picking up her second All-American award by being named Honorable Mention All-American. Helton ended her career with the most points and made field goals in program history. Helton was awarded ESPN The Magazine Women’s Basketball Academic All-American Team--College Division, Second Team; and was named National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American Athlete of the Year in 2005. While attending UVa-Wise, Helton received a degree in business administration, and also graduated from the teaching education program, concentrating in business education. Helton graduated in May 2007 and began teaching at Patrick Henry High School in August 2008, where she presently remains. She is a business education instructor teaching web design, business management and Information Technology fundamentals courses. Professionally, Helton has been involved in a variety of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, specifically those in Information Technology. One of the most noteworthy is a partnership with the AITES grant and affiliation with the National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech. This grant addresses the under-representation of females in IT in the southwest Virginia area, as well as addressing gender stereotypes and IT career / educational opportunities in our area. Helton is the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) sponsor at Patrick Henry High School as well.

Spring/Summer 2016 37


Cole, Donahue and Marshall Highlight All-MEC Selections UVa-Wise placed Rachel Cole, Lauren Donahue and Hannah Marshall on the 2016 Women’s Lacrosse All-MEC First-Team as the awards were announced by the conference office April 27. In addition to its three first-team performers, the Cavaliers also placed Emily Henneberry and Melanie Reilly on the conference’s second-team. UVaWise’s Catherine Dina and Jessica Apgar were named Honorable Mention All-MEC, Apgar, Henneberry and Dina joined teammate McKayla Grasham on the league’s All-Freshman squad. The First-Team All-MEC selection is the first all-conference award in the collegiate career of Cole. The Flower Mound, Texas native led UVa-Wise with 41 points (25 goals, 16 assists) while also leading the club with 69 draw controls. The sophomore ranked top five in the MEC in draw controls per game, assists per game and gamewinning goals. The former Edward S. Marcus High School standout recorded multiple points in 11 of her team’s 15 games in the regular season. A year after being a Second-Team All-MEC honoree, Donahue earned First-Team All-MEC honors as a sophomore. A solid defender, Donahue amassed 25 groundballs and 14 caused

turnovers in her second collegiate campaign. The Mountain View High School graduate played in and started all 15 games for the Cavs during the regular season. For the second consecutive season, Marshall earned First-Team All-MEC acclaim to become the first player in program history to achieve First-Team All-MEC honors in back-to-back years. In 2016, the Atlanta native registered 21 goals, seven assists, 25 groundballs, 20 caused turnovers and 22 draw controls. The former Peachtree Ridge High School star enters this weekend’s MEC Tournament having scored at least one goal in nine consecutive games. Her 1.33 caused turnovers per game ranks fourth in the MEC. Henneberry earned second-team status following her first collegiate season. The Chesterfield native finished second on the team in goals (25) and third in assists (13). The Cosby High School graduate has posted multiple points in seven of her last eight games, including three in a row heading into the league tournament. Reilly is a second-team all-league honoree for the second consecutive season. The Chesapeake native led all MEC goalies in goals against average (8.33) and save percentage (.510). The

sophomore also finished sixth in the league in saves per game (8.67). The Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School star recorded a shutout on Feb. 27 at the University of the Cumberlands and has registered double digit saves on five occasions in 2016. Her .510 save percentage ranks 10th nationally among all NCAA Division II goalies. A native of Alexandria, Dina tallied 37 points (21 goals, 16 assists) while also collecting 20 groundballs as she appeared in all of UVa-Wise’s 15 games. The former Thomas Edison High School player has recorded at least two goals in eight games in 2016. Apgar led the team and ranked fourth in the MEC in groundballs per game at 3.13. The Elliston native’s 47 groundballs leads UVa-Wise and ranks second in the conference. The Salem High School graduate added 12 caused turnovers and 12 draw controls in her inaugural collegiate season en route to Honorable Mention and All-Freshman Team acclaim. Grasham collected 33 groundballs and 21 draw controls en route to making the All-MEC All-Freshman squad. The Baltimore native has scored at least one goal in every game of her collegiate career and finished her freshman campaign with 28 goals.

Blai r gets accolades

38 UVa-Wise Magazine

Junior linebacker Zachary Blair has been named Honorable Mention AllAmerican by the Don Hansen All-America Committee. The Front Royal resident led all of NCAA Division II in tackles for loss with 28.5 and was named First-Team AllMEC and Second-Team All-Super Region I. The former Skyline High School standout was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Roanoke Times and was a finalist for the Dudley Award, which is awarded annually to Virginia’s top small-college football player. Blair was also a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award and a second-team all-region honoree by Don Hansen. Blair led his team and finished second in the conference with 119 tackles while posting a team-best 5.5 sacks. He was named Defensive Player of the Week by the MEC following UVa-Wise’s 24-19 victory over Urbana University on Halloween. Through three seasons, Blair has tallied 260 tackles and 58 tackles for loss. He finished top 16 nationally in four separate defensive categories in 2015.

Hernandez and Brandts MEN’S TENNIS TRIO EARNS Earn All-Mountain East ALL-MOUNTAIN EAST Conference Honors CONFERENCE HONORS

Senior second baseman Alexa Hernandez and redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Brandts were both named All-Mountain East Conference Second Team as announced by the league office April 28, in conjunction with the conference’s softball awards. Hernandez, a native of Woodbridge, Virginia (Woodbridge H.S.), picked up her second All-MEC honor after being named to the second team in 2014. This year the senior was second on the team in batting with a .312 average during the regular season, and led the Cavs in both stolen bases and sacrifice bunts. The second baseman fielded nine double plays for third-most in the conference and recorded the second-most doubles for the Cavs this season. Hernandez also tallied the third-most hits (49) and runs scored (23) for UVa-Wise this year. Holding a .965 fielding percentage and .452 slugging percentage throughout the regular season, Hernandez collected 23 RBI and four home runs. She made 112 put outs and assisted on 83 others while being one of four UVa-Wise players to compete in all 53 games during the regular season. After being named 2014 MEC Pitcher of the Year and then having to redshirt last season, Brandts earned a teamleading 14 wins inside the circle for UVa-Wise and picked up two saves during the regular season. The King George, Virginia (King George H.S.), native led the Cavs’ pitching and was second in the MEC in saves, while ranking in the top 10 in wins, strikeouts, ERA and innings pitched. The starting pitcher went 14-9 with a pair of saves during the regular season as she held a 2.37 ERA after 29 game appearances and 22 starts. Brandts tossed two shutouts in the regular season and struck out 93 batters in 153.1 innings pitched, holding opponents to a .274 batting average. It was Brandts’ second All-MEC honor after she earned first-team accolades in 2014 as well. The all-conference teams and individual awards were selected by a vote of the league’s head coaches.

UVa-Wise men’s tennis senior Vladyslav Akimenko, senior Oleg Kopychenko and sophomore Andrii Rutnytskyi were named AllMountain East Conference, the league office announced April 21. Akimenko earned All-MEC First Team honors, while Kopychenko and Rutnytskyi were each named All-MEC Second Team. It was the third all-conference honor Akimenko had earned during his career at UVa-Wise, the senior was named All-MEC First Team in 2014 and All-Mid-South Conference honorable mention in 2013. For the second-consecutive year Rutnytskyi claimed secondteam honors after being named MEC Freshman of the Year in 2015. A native of Donetsk, Ukraine, Akimenko went 7-5 overall this spring at No. 1 singles and completed MEC play with a 4-3 league mark. Akimenko teamed with Rutnytskyi for an 8-4 record in dual matches at the top doubles spot. The duo went 5-2 in conference matches and knocked off the No. 1 doubles team of regionallyranked and MEC regular-season champion West Virginia Wesleyan back on March 5 in Wise. Akimenko and Rutnytskyi earned the 8-5 win over the Bobcats’ Nathan Sabate and Ferran Berga, who are currently ranked ninth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Atlantic Region. The righty won six of his last seven singles and doubles matches during the regular season, including four out of five MEC matches. His lone loss in singles during that stretch came against West Liberty’s Baptiste Perrin, who is the seventh-ranked singles player in the ITA Atlantic Region. Kopychenko, a native of Simferopol, Ukraine, finished the regular season with a 9-9 overall singles record that included a 7-5 mark at No. 3 singles. The senior went 4-3 in MEC singles matches and won a total of six doubles matches this season. Teaming with sophomore Noah Aldridge (Pennington Gap, Va.) at second doubles for the last four matches of the regular season, the tandem went 2-2 and was on a two-match win streak heading into the MEC Tournament. Kopychenko won four out of his last five singles matches in the regular season with his lone loss coming against West Liberty’s Andrew Ponder, who was ranked 18th in the ITA Atlantic Region. Rutnytskyi also posted a 9-9 overall singles record during the regular season, including a 3-3 mark at the top spot and a 6-6 record at No. 2 singles. The Odessa, Ukraine, native went 3-4 in MEC singles matches and won five of his last seven singles contests before postseason play. In doubles, Rutnytskyi was 11-7 overall at the No. 1 position and teamed with Akimenko to go 8-4 this spring. Rutnytskyi and Akimenko finished league play with a 5-2 No. 1 doubles mark that included a win over MEC regular-season champion West Virginia Wesleyan’s regionally-ranked doubles duo of Sabate and Berga. The sophomore won six of his last seven regular-season doubles matches, including four out of five conference matches.

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WORDS OF ADVICE TO CLASS OF 2016 The 310 graduates who participated in Commencement 2016 at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise received a hefty share of kudos and plenty of advice from College and University of Virginia officials and fellow students in front of a packed crowd in the David J. Prior Convocation Center. Chancellor Donna P. Henry reminded those gathered that UVaWise alumni are “leaders in medicine, business, law, politics, education, community service, military service, science, the arts and essentially every walk of life.” She said the Class of 2016 is well prepared to join the College’s more than 10,000 alumni. “You have a promising future ahead,” Chancellor Henry said. “You have choices to make and much work to do. So, graduates…explore and endeavor to make sound choices. Shoulder the necessary responsibilities and lead yourself, your colleagues and your community in making a better world.” University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan said the University and the College at Wise are connected in many ways, perhaps most importantly by a shared commitment to the values of academic excellence,

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honor, integrity and respect. “As you leave here as newly-minted college graduates, I hope you will carry with you the values that you have learned,” President Sullivan said. “In the years ahead, you will experience moments when it might be easier to keep quiet when truth is obscured, to argue the easy point rather than the true point or to follow blindly rather than sticking to your convictions.” She encouraged the graduates to remember, when those moments arise, to the values they learned at UVa-Wise to guide them as they navigate the future. The University’s Vice Rector Rusty Conner said the Class of 2016 has learned to analyze and prioritize information and to think critically. They have also learned to work across disciplines and to work together to arrive at fully informed and ethical decisions. “As you leave this campus to take on new challenges, you take with you the accumulated wisdom and advice of all the teachers, advisors and mentors who have shaped your life and learning at UVa-Wise,” he said. “You can face the future with confidence because of the excellent education you have received at UVa-Wise.”

Student Government Association President Shannon Walker told her fellow graduates that time has flown by during their years on campus. “It’s frightening, but what makes it easier is that UVa-Wise has built us,” Walker said. “We have been built into leaders in the classroom, leaders in society and leaders in our own lives. We were built to think critically and challenge our own thoughts. We have been built to speak up when something is not right. We have been built into a Cavalier family and that is something we will always have.” Madison Ray, the Class of 2016 Honorary Speaker, reminded her fellow graduates that life is not static. “So let’s not get caught up in the thought that whatever we’ve studied or hope to do as a career is all that we will do or all we will be our whole life,” she said. She said what a person does as a career and who they are as a person are separate things. It is good if a person can find a way to combine the two but that is not always a guarantee. “This is only one tiny piece in the puzzle, there are even greater things to come,” she said.

Shumaker says communication is key to success A retired Navy admiral who spent eight years, three in solitary confinement, in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, told the UVa-Wise Class of 2016 that communication was a lifeline for him and his fellow Vietnam prisoners of war and communication will be a major key to the new graduates’ success. Rear Admiral Robert Shumaker, whose story is told in the captivating book “Defiant,” helped create a now famous secret code so prisoners could stealthily communicate through thick prison walls. Shumaker had plenty of time to reflect on life and other matters during his confinement in Vietnam, and he came to several realizations. “People have a basic need to communicate with other human beings in order to exchange ideas and knowledge and even to simply find companionship,” he told the more than 4,000 people who gathered in the David J. Prior Convocation Center for the graduation ceremony. “We were forbidden to communicate with the other prisoners, but we outfoxed them by developing what we called the tap code. You’d be surprised at the amount of information that flowed through those walls at the slow speed of about four words per minute. You don’t need 10 gigabytes of uplink to get a message across.” Shumaker taught French at a rate of five words per day to his friend in the next cell by using the slow but steady tap code. The friend used the same code to teach Shumaker to play chess. He and another prisoner of war calculated the twelfth root of the number two over a three-week period using the tap code. “What I’m trying to tell you is that communication is very important in all the experiences you will encounter,” Shumaker said to the 310 students who participated in the commencement exercise. “We all need to share our

knowledge. You’ll find that by sharing what you know with someone else, you’ll reap a dividend that’s even larger in gratitude, enhancement of your own knowledge, friendship and selfsatisfaction” Shumaker, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who flew the F8 Crusader fighter jet and was a finalist in NASA’s Apollo program, said communication skills helped him advance along his career path. He recounted how he worked hard to improve his verbal and written communication skills early on in his career. “People who have brilliant ideas without the ability to express these ideas or to initiate action on them will simply become frustrated and fail to achieve their goals,” he said. The American hero also offered the graduates some advice for making it through trying times in the nation. “Our nation is still strong because it values the capabilities of the individual, it encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, it promotes equality before the law, and it forcefully defends freedom,” he said. “In my prison experience, I lost my freedom for a long time, but now having regained it, it’s my most cherished

treasure. It’s worth defending, and that job is soon to be in your hands.” He also reminded the graduates that the world has changed in his lifetime and will change in their lifetimes as well. “So you must be willing to accept whatever changes might take place and you should try to lead this evolution with the analytical skills you’ve recently acquired here at UVa-Wise,” he said. Shumaker also had an opportunity during the commencement ceremony to see five graduates of the College’s Army ROTC program, Whitney Elaine Carico, Victoria Ellen Carter, Devin Johnathan Cash, Johnathan Blaine Kelly and Tyler Stone Ramsey, officially commissioned as second lieutenants.

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Nikki Thomas, an inaugural “Smiddy,� was the first student mascot to reveal her identify at Commencement 2016 by wearing the yellow hands as she received her diploma. The students who serve as mascots are required to work out with the training coach, maintain good grades and be able tospend many hours at sporting events, parades and other public engagements.

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The UVa-Wise nursing program graduates participated in the annual pinning ceremony on Friday, May 6. A pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of newly graduated nurses into the profession.

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Taylor researches Eastern Hellbender


Ashlee Taylor, a senior biology major, has had some good academic days at UVa-Wise, but it would be hard to top the day she had on Friday, Dec. 4. The Honaker resident learned she had been accepted to Salus University’s optometry school, had an excellent interview at Indiana University School of Optometry, and was selected to present her research at the Virginia Academy of Science in Richmond. “It was really a good day for me,” she said. The exciting Friday was the culmination of years of hard work for Taylor, who graduated from UVa-Wise in May. She has accepted admission to Indiana University Optometry School and will begin there in the fall. The “Research Showcase at the Statehouse,” sponsored by the Virginia Academy of Science, gives undergraduate students in Virginia an opportunity to show lawmakers and others the results of their research. Students who were selected to participate will present their research to state lawmakers and be introduced to legislative committees that handle science affairs in the House of Delegates and the state Senate. Taylor’s research is on the Eastern Hellbender, North America’s largest aquatic salamander. The salamander can grow up to two feet in length and is often called a waterdog or grampus. The hellbender is declining in population, especially in Southwest Virginia, and Taylor’s research involves a recent survey and water sampling to learn more about the species. She became interested in the hellbender while studying conservation biology in Professor Wally Smith’s class. “The Smithsonian got in touch with Professor Smith about the hellbender and asked him to do water samples,” Taylor explained. “The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries got involved, and Professor Smith asked if we’d like to help.” The students divvied up the research tasks so each could do a research paper on the topic. Smith set up a website for the project. Taylor was looking for a Fellowship in Natural Science project and asked if the hellbender research would qualify. It did, and she started work over the summer. Taylor said there was a lack of survey data on hellbenders in parts of Southwest Virginia, but that did not mean the species is not in the region. A survey conducted as part of the research informed Taylor that many local residents age 40 and up reported having seen hellbenders in local streams, but younger residents have never seen one. The survey asked local residents who have seen a hellbender to help the research project narrow its focus to certain areas. Armed with survey results, Taylor and others hit the streams in search of signs of the elusive hellbender. They also took water samples to find DNA that would confirm whether the species is still in Southwest Virginia. “We did flip rocks over the summer,” she said. “We didn’t see any, but we found DNA evidence that they are in the region.” Taylor said the research proved that hellbenders remain in the region, but because of the declining population, the exact areas where DNA evidence was found will not be made public in order to protect the species. “I learned a lot about scientific research techniques, water sampling and other things,” she said. “I had good interaction with people who took the survey, and it taught me a lot about social science and ways to ask questions.” Taylor enjoyed sharing her research in Richmond. “It is very exciting,” she said. “I am grateful to have the opportunity.”

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Clevingers took bold steps to pursue education Ryan Clevinger worked hard as an officer for the Virginia Department of Corrections. He had a good salary, state benefits, and was well on his way to building a comfortable life, but something was missing. The Haysi native wanted a college degree. He enrolled at UVa-Wise in 2009, but left when he landed the DOC position. The power of education had a strong pull and he developed a plan… in many ways a scary plan…and took a terrifying step toward a diploma. Katie Clevinger, his wife, enrolled at Wise a month after the couple married. The pull of the pursuit of education intensified to the point in which he decided to leave the DOC. He joined his wife at the College in 2013, but it was not an easy journey. “I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I earned a degree,” he said. “I would not have felt whole without it. We decided that we were going to move our mobile home to Wise and go back to school.” A collector of vehicles, which includes cars, trucks, motorcycles and the whole works, he made a tough decision to

part with all of his “toys.” “We pretty much sold everything and we made the big move,” he said. “We made the move in May 2013 and I started college in August 2013. To make ends meet, the couple landed jobs at McDonald’s that summer to get their financial house in good shape before fall semester. The move from an official DOC uniform to fry cook togs took some getting used to, he said. “It was a hard pill to swallow to go from working at the prison to McDonald’s,” he said. “I saw people come in that I had gone to school with and I’d try to hide.” He was not ashamed of his new job, but he would see their expressions when they saw him and he knew they thought he had made a horrible mistake. He admits thinking the same thing himself. He had strong doubts, but the pull for a degree was even stronger, and it made him more deeply determined. “It ended up just pushing me to prove them wrong even more,” he said. “I knew deep down that I was going to make this work, but I was scared.”

His wife, a Clintwood native, admits she was also scared at times. “I was nervous at the beginning,” she said. “I was worried about not having health insurance anymore and that we would not have the income that we were used to making.” There was one thing that he was not worried about at all, and that was that his wife would have no trouble with the academic rigors of college. He was not so sure of his own chances. “I knew she wouldn’t have any trouble graduating, but I was worried about me,” he said with a smile. “I lollygagged around a lot my first time here, but then I got my act together.” The couple settled in and worked hard. He decided to major in communication and she opted to pursue a teaching career. But life has a way of making things interesting. The Clevingers found out in May 2015 that they were going to be parents. The news came right after they, in a money-saving move, traded their SUV for a small economy car. “It took me a whole semester to get my schedule figured out so I could have a baby and go to school at the same time,” she recalled. “Professor Jewell Askins and Professor Andy Cox helped me out.” The Clevingers said all their professors worked with them when possible to ensure they were able to juggle the roles of students and soonto-be parents. Little Addison Clevinger arrived a few months ago and her proud father purchased her a tiny cap and gown to wear when she attended the commencement ceremony. On May 7, the Clevingers received their degrees. He has secured a job with Crutchfield, and she will finish student teaching in the fall. “It’s surreal,” he said. “It was definitely worth it.”

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Nauss nabs Chancellor’s Medal Jack Nauss ’16 knows a lot about pond scum, and that’s a long story worth telling. It all started when he began working with Bruce Cahoon, the Buchanan Endowed Chair in Biology, to learn how to process tissue cultures. In search of a Fellowship in Natural Science project, Nauss began collecting the green algae found in the campus lake. The species, known as Chara vulgaris, was gathered and Nauss and Cahoon established a subculture in the greenhouse and extracted DNA and RNA and sent it to the University of Virginia for sequencing. Nauss, who will enroll at the Pittsburg School of Dental Medicine in the fall, assembled tens of millions of DNA sequences to reconstruct the plastid and mitochondrial genomes, verified the identity of the alga and then comparing the DNA sequences to sequences derived from RNA to determine whether or not RNA editing was occurring. Nauss, a North Carolina native who grew up in Wise, Virginia, found that sequence analysis and high-resolution melt analysis confirmed that editing of RNA was occurring within the chloroplasts. Cahoon said it is the first study to show evidence of RNA editing in green algae, and provides another evolutionary link between the protist and plant kingdoms. “I was surprised we found RNA editing in our samples,” Nauss said. “Up until this point, RNA editing had only been found in higher plants and others that evolved from green algae.” Looking back, Nauss understands the benefits of undergraduate research, especially at a liberal arts college. “I found out that doing research allows you to ask questions, to come up with probable answers and to stay

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committed to the entire process,” he said. “It teaches you the process.” As for the liberal arts, Nauss admits he was not always thrilled to take non-science courses, but said he sees value in the classes now. “It is necessary for people to develop the ability to communicate with people from all different kinds of fields and to have an understanding of all those fields of study,” he said. It was while at UVa-Wise that Nauss discovered his future career. He volunteered at the Remote Area Medical free clinic one summer and worked closely with Mission of Mercy, a Virginia dental organization. He had met with MOM at Virginia Commonwealth University previously and learned of the group and its work with RAM. “It was an incredible experience,” he said. “I found out that dentistry is natural for me. It was natural to interact with the patients. I also found out that dentistry makes me incredibly excited. It is my niche.” Nauss, who is also a competitive bodybuilder, won the Chancellor’s Medal for his research. He said bodybuilding provides the same discipline that is required for success in college, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and healthcare. “Bodybuilding was my outlet when I was younger,” he explained. “It taught me to depend on myself and to be committed to something that was not short term. It taught me to have faith in a process and to dream of an outcome.” Nauss will embark on his long-term dream when he moves to Pennsylvania this fall for dental school.

Duncan researches public history project

Forrest Duncan, a 2016 graduate with a degree in history and theater, found a way to merge both disciplines into a research project that examined the status and treatment of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. Duncan, a Virginia Beach, Virginia native, understands the importance of public history, a field in which historians work for and with the public in archives, museums, historical sites, on public policy and with journalists to practice history outside of the academic world. His research on a barely uncovered portion of history led him to investigate the topic further, and he used his research to develop a second project. He adapted and performed Doug Wright’s one-man play called “I Am My Own Wife,” based on the life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transvestite who survived the Nazi regime and the German Democratic Republic under control of the Soviet Union. Duncan played 20 characters in the play. He used small physical changes to distinguish between the characters. He worked to make it less about acting and more about storytelling. “Representing history on the stage must be done accurately,” Duncan said. “You want to tell a story that is true to life, and that’s where my research came in and was so important. This is a form of public history and public history is the way we communicate history to the public.” The play was the vehicle Duncan used to inform the public about this little known part of history. It helped give a voice to the people who were voiceless, he said. “The arts just have a way of communicating with people in an emotional way that lecturing cannot do,” Duncan explained. Duncan’s original research was to be on forgotten victims of the Holocaust, which led him to discover that there was actually little work out there on the impact Nazi Germany had on homosexuals. His research led him to examine the modern masculinity the Nazi Party touted and the freedom homosexuals had in the German Weimar Republic that was so threatening to the Nazi beliefs. The stark contrast challenged the Nazi notions and was considered dangerous. “The triumph of Nazi Germany lay in its masculinity,” Duncan explained. “Therefore, homosexuals must be cleansed or rehabilitated in order to make the new Germany properly dominant.” The infamous Night of the Long Knives and the use of Germany’s deliberately vague law prohibiting homosexuality led to a successful purge and the full persecution of homosexual men began. They were sent to concentration camps and were forced to labor until they collapsed. While it was difficult to truly identify a homosexual by appearance, some were betrayed by loved ones or though coercion. Some successfully avoided persecution.

Duncan researched written accounts of survivors, but they were few. He also found disturbing evidence that the same slurs used by the Nazis are still being used today in the United States as well as other nations. He visited the Holocaust Museum and noted that there are some mentions of homosexuals in concentration camps, but not a lot. “It’s still going on, even though we have made progress,” Duncan said. “Nowadays there is more equality but by no means is it equal. The conversation is beginning but we have a long way to go. It is still happening. The fight is not done.” Duncan concluded that the victims would have led better lives if they had simply been forgotten as victims of the Holocaust. “Instead of mere ignorance, the general public attacked and continued to abuse homosexual survivors of the Holocaust,” he said adding that the ill treatment continued under Soviet Control of the German Democratic Republic but lessened two decades before the Berlin Wall fell. He also concluded that more academic work is needed on the topic, and he vowed to advocate for that research. “This is not an issue that has really been taken up in academia,” Duncan said. “It needs to be.” Spring/Summer 2016 47



Brad Lutz, a member of the Class of 2000, garnered national media attention, got a surprise visit from former NFL player Brett Favre and spent five days enjoying the Super Bowl 50 celebration. Those special treats were made available to the high school football coach because of his work to teach his players the true meaning of sacrifice. Lutz, head coach at Broadway High School, started a tradition of dedicating each game to a different soldier who was killed in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. His decision to honor the fallen heroes came after Army Specialist Clarence Adams III was killed in 2004 in Iraq. Adams and Lutz were teammates at Varina High in Richmond, Virginia. One year after Lutz began his coaching career at Broadway, a local man was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Army specialist Brian “Bucky” Anderson was an all-district football player and a two time state wrestling champion at Broadway High. Although Lutz did not know Anderson, he was determined to honor the hometown hero. “After Bucky’s death, our football team played in our first Soldier Tribute Game,” Lutz said. “While we continued to play in honor of a soldier each week, we wanted to do something special to honor Bucky.” The Soldier Tribute Game is a special event that includes special military themes. Some of the themes include custom soldier tribute uniforms, members of the Patriot Guard escorting the team to the field and members of Anderson’s platoon join the team each year to help pay tribute. Adams’ family has also joined to help pay tribute and there is a special pre-game dinner the night before the game. “The dinner includes a message from Bucky’s platoon leader, Captain John Bear, who has traveled from Fort Drum, New York, Fort Benning, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to join us,” he said. “During dinner, Captain Bear shares the tradition of the fallen soldier table with our team. He also shares a message with our team about the type of soldier Bucky was. It is a powerful experience for everyone in attendance.” Lutz explained that the Soldier Tribute Game is always the last home game of the regular season. Along with all of the special activities for the players, coaches, and fans to enjoy, there is a special tradition that takes place in the locker room, before the game. “Each year, our coaching staff recognizes one player, who shares some of the same strong qualities that Bucky possessed,” Lutz said. “That player earns the honor of wearing the #21 48 UVa-Wise Magazine

jersey. Bucky’s number was #21. Captain Bear makes the presentation to that player just minutes before kick-off. It is truly a special honor.” Mrs. Anderson, Bucky’s mother, entered the football team in a competition called “Together We Make Football.” The campaign, created by the NFL and the Today Show, featured inspiring stories of how football has touched people’s lives. Lutz and Mrs. Anderson were one of five finalist selected from over 3,500 entries, with the winner receiving a trip to Super Bowl 50.

“Mrs. Anderson entered us in the competition because of our weekly tributes, our Soldier Tribute Game, and the impact the football program has made on the Anderson family,” Lutz said. NFL Films contacted Lutz about filming the tribute game. They filmed Thursday’s pre-game dinner and Friday’s game. In two days, they filmed every aspect of the tribute game. After the season ended, NFL Films returned for two more days of filming. The filming included coach and player interviews. They also filmed around campus and the town of Broadway. In early December, NFL Films returned to film one more day. “This time, they wanted to film Mrs. Anderson and me at her home watching one of the NFL games,” Lutz said. “At the time, we didn’t have any idea that we were in for the biggest surprise of the experience. While sitting in Mrs. Anderson’s living room, former Green Bay Packer Brett Favre walked into the room and told us we were selected as finalists for the “Together We Make Football” contest. Needless to say, we were both excited and overwhelmed at the same time. Brett also informed us that we would be going to New York to be on the Today Show, where we would have a chance to win tickets to Super Bowl 50.” The Today Show aired

the story as one of five finalist and Lutz and Mrs. Anderson appeared on the show with the other finalists. All five finalists got to go to Super Bowl 50. “In February, the NFL flew us to San Francisco for a five day Super Bowl 50 experience,” he said. “During our time there, we went to The NFL Experience Park, Super Bowl City, the NFL Legends Lounge, the ESPN set, and even walked the red carpet at the NFL Honors Show. During the entire week, we were able to meet numerous NFL greats. On the day of the Super Bowl, we attended the NFL Tailgate Party, which included a concert from Sam Hunt and Seal, and our seats were incredible. Before the game, the NFL allowed us to hang out for 45 minutes on the field, where we were surrounded by the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame class, numerous current players, and celebrities, which included Usher. After the game, we were on the field for the trophy presentation and were able to spend more time with NFL Films.” “It’s hard to describe how special this experience was for the Anderson family, Lutz family, and the Broadway Football family. It was a very exciting three months for all of us,” Lutz said. “The NFL and the Today Show blessed us with the opportunity to tell the story of Army Specialist Brian “Bucky” Anderson to the entire country. That continues to be the best part of this experience.” While Lutz said he is grateful to the NFL, Today Show, and the Anderson family for providing the unbelievable experience, he is even more grateful for the relationship and inspiration that his fallen high school teammate provides him each day. “He is such a special part of what we do here at Broadway High School,” Lutz said. “Fallen heroes like Clarence and Bucky allow us to teach our players more about life and the pride and respect it takes to be productive leaders in our community. Those are the same lessons I learned from Coach Ramseyer and Coach Wasem at UVa-Wise.” Lutz and his wife, Christy Trent Lutz ’00, have two children, Bryson and Cannin. They live in Broadway, Virginia.

Videos can be viewed at the following websites: Today Show: together-we-make-football-honoring-brianbucky-anderson-594472515727?cid=zocTDYTW MF1710116 Football America: Our Families, starting at 27:27: watch?v=tRjZFPB-ZwM Super Bowl 50 footage shot by NFL Films:

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Carol Collier retired from counseling and has published five books to date. They include “An Appalachian Summer,” “River Dreams,” “Someone is Watching,” “Bokor,” and “Sonoma, Tales of a Twisted Vine,” which is a collection of short stories. She owns Sonoma Meadowlark Namesake, which is a vineyard in Sonoma, California, where she and her husband produced a small amount of commercial wine called Namesake Chardonnay. They live in Sonoma, California.

husband, Stephen, is employed with Hazeltree as a chief executive officer. They live in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Richard Ochs is employed with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association as the director of government affairs. Richard and his wife, Debbie, live in Ashburn, Virginia.


Wendy Jones is employed with Mountain States Health Alliance as the medical staff coordinator for Norton Community Hospital. She lives in Wise, Virginia.

in the Army National Guard. Emily and Joseph both attend Central High School. They live in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Bill Wendle is employed with UVa-Wise as the coordinator of special gifts and planned giving. Bill and his wife, Teresa, have five beautiful grandchildren, Jordyn, Alyson, Emma, Reaghan and Evan. They live in Wise, Virginia.



Carol Collier


Gail Banner McKee has retired from the law firm of E. Ray McKee Jr., Attorney. She lives in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama with her husband, Edward. Sammie Large Garnett is currently writing a children’s book about learning the alphabet as it relates to each branch of the military. Sammie and her husband, William, live in Murphy, North Carolina.


William Stokes Jr. is the executive director for the John Flannagan Water Authority. His wife, Toni Gilliam Stokes, is retired from Buchanan County School Systems. They live in Grundy, Virginia.


Jean Maier Casner is employed with Crescere, LLC as the managing partner. Her

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Bradley Sowden is employed with LG&E–KU Energy Systems in community and economic development. He lives in Richmond, Kentucky.


Kevin Minion is employed with Dickenson County Public Schools at Ridgeview High School as a mathematics teacher. He lives in Clintwood, Virginia.


Rebecca Stacy England and Mark England ’93 have two children, Jacob and Isabel. Rebecca earned a Master of Arts in Education from Georgia Southern University. She is employed with the Appalachian School of Law as an administrator for re-accreditation and special projects. Mark earned a Master of Science from Radford University. He is employed with Buchanan County Public Schools as a teacher. They live in Grundy, Virginia.


April Kelly Collins is employed with UVaWise as a senior accountant. She earned a Master of Arts in Business Administration with a specialization in accounting from King University. She has three children, Cody Collins ’15, Emily and Joseph. Cody is

Lincoln Memorial University in December 2014. Jessie and her husband, Chris, live in Butler, Tennessee.


Autumn Avalon Alvarez and Watson Martin were united in marriage on June 20, 2015 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Autumn serves as an at-large member of the UVa-Wise Alumni Board of Directors. She has three children, Isabella Alvarez, Hannah Alvarez and Lucas Maxey. Watson has two children, Jacob Martin and Wyatt Martin. They live in Roanoke, Virginia.

Wendle Grandchildren


Toni Myers Teeter is employed with DSST Stapleton High School as the assistant director of college placement. Toni and her husband, Dan, live in Denver, Colorado.

Mr. & Mrs Martin


Brian Hicks and his wife, Sherry, have two daughters, Kloe’ and Lilly. Brian is a therapeutic day counselor for Damascus Elementary School, where he also coaches football. They live in Damascus, Virginia.

Martin Family

’99 Brian Hicks & Family


Jessie Rutherford Laing is employed with Johnson County Schools as the assistant principal of Roan Creek Elementary School. She earned an educational specialist degree in instructional leadership from

Paul Altarez was promoted from his position with North American Spirits & Wine Brokerage (NASWB) of Virginia and West Virginia to the NASWB of Michigan as a vice president and general sales manager. He and his family live in Novi, Michigan. Stacy Dotson Baker is employed with Thompson & Litton as a technical office assistant. Stacy and her husband, Donald, live in Wise, Virginia.


Tonya Dell is employed with UVa-Wise in the center for teaching excellence. Tonya and her husband, Aaron, have a son, Luke. They live in Wise, Virginia.

employed with ESRI as an instructor. The couple and their daughter, Aurelia, live in Bristow, Virginia.

Gaston College as a writing center coordinator and English instructor. They live in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Jill Hughes Jessee and her husband, Dwight, have four children, Kate, Anna, Sarah and Thomas. Jill is employed with Wise County Public Schools. They live in Wise, Virginia.


Marlana WilliamsDuPriest and her husband, Todd live in Tampa, Florida. Marlana has one son, Harrison Williams.

’03 Tonya Large is employed with UVa-Wise as the office coordinator for housing and residence life. She lives in Coeburn, Virginia. Brandon Short and his wife, Rebecca, have three children, Owen, Dawson and Reid. They live in Wise, Virginia. Talitha Stanley and Michael Sarhan were united in marriage on April 14, 2013 in Folly Beach, South Carolina. Talitha is employed with PR @ Partners as an esthetician. Michael is

Tyler Giles is employed with New Peoples Bank as a vice president and commercial loan officer. He serves on the UVa-Wise College Board as the alumni representative and serves as treasurer for the UVa-Wise Alumni Association Board of Directors. Tyler lives in Norton, Virginia.

Tyler Giles


Samuel Jones earned a Master of Human Services from Liberty University in 2012. He is employed with Bristol’s Promise as a local buckle up for life program director. Samuel lives in Bristol, Virginia.

Mr. and Mrs. Sarhan

Jessica Wampler earned a Master of Education from Liberty University. She is employed with Lutheran Family Services of Virginia as a teacher. Linda lives in Wise, Virginia.

’07 Aurelia Sarhan

Jessee Children

Bank. Linda and her husband, Kelvin, have a son, Riley. They live in Bristol, Virginia.

Stephanie Tolliver and Cory Hyman were united in marriage on October 25, 2014 in historic downtown Gastonia, North Carolina. Stephanie earned a Master of Art in English from the University of Richmond in 2005. She is employed with

Mr. and Mrs. Hyman

Trevor Garner and his wife, Catrina Poole Garner, have two children, Mason 3 and Emersyn 1 ½. They live in Powhatan, Virginia.


Stephanie Carter is employed with Southwest Virginia Community Corrections as a probation officer. She lives in Wise, Virginia. Bonnie Short Bates and Jarod Bates ’07 have two children, Emaline 6 and Layla 5. Bonnie is the deputy clerk with Wise County Circuit Court and Jarod is employed with Asbury & Gilbert, P. C. They live in Wise, Virginia.


Michael Cole is employed with Wake Forest Baptist Hospital as a registered nurse. His wife, Rachel Allen Cole, is a pharmacist with Sam’s Club Pharmacy. They live in High Point, North Carolina. Dustin Hawkins is employed with Mountain States Health Alliance as a pharmacist. He lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. Jason Ryan and his wife, Jana, welcomed their son, Jase Robert Ryan, on December 21, 2015. They live in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Mason & Emersyn Garner

Candice Mullins is employed with Scott County Public Schools as an elementary art teacher. She lives in Nickelsville, Virginia. Justin Necessary is employed with Virginia Highlands Community College as an assistant professor. He earned a doctorate from Old Dominion University. Justin and his wife, Jessica, have a 1 year old son, Henry Xavier. They live in Wise, Virginia. Ryan Nutter and his wife, Emily, have a daughter, Madeline Jane. Ryan is a special education teacher with Marion Primary School. He also serves on the UVa-Wise Alumni Association Board of Directors. They live in Saltville, Virginia. Kari Osborne Albarado and her husband, Jonathan, welcomed their twin daughters, Marleigh Ray and Peyton Jean, on October 10, 2015. Marleigh weighed six pounds eleven ounces, and Peyton weighed five pounds ten ounces. They live in Commerce, Texas.

Jase Robert Ryan

Linda Toon Jeter is a benefits specialist with Highlands Union

Craig Richards is employed with Blue Ridge Bank as the director of risk management. Craig and his

Spring/Summer 2016 51

wife, Sarah, have a daughter, Riley. They live in Mt. Jackson, Virginia. Justin Sanders is employed with Eli Lilly and Company as a sales representative. Justin and his wife, Alishia Cox Sanders, live in Knoxville, Tennessee. Michael Sowdon is employed with Alpha Natural Resources as a safety manager. He has two children, Carter and Connor. Michael lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.



Zachary Bowen is employed with Wise County Redevelopment and Housing Authority as a finance director. He lives in Coeburn, Virginia.

Zach Bowen & Cindi Smoot ’09

Emahunn Campbell is employed with Washington and Lee University as an assistant professor of English. He lives in Lexington, Virginia. Cody Dalton was awarded first place for his sports column by the North Carolina Press Association (NCPA), making this his fifth NCPA award to date. He is employed with The Observer News Enterprise in Newton, North Carolina as a sports editor. Cody recently achieved one of his biggest career goals when he covered Super Bowl 50 for his newspaper. He lives in Newton, North Carolina. Jessica Roloff Compton and her husband, Travis, welcomed their daughter, Kylee Ann Compton, on May 29, 2015. Kylee weighed eight pounds six ounces. Jessica is employed with Family Preservation

52 UVa-Wise Magazine

Services as a therapeutic day treatment counselor. They live in Abingdon, Virginia. Jonathon Salyer and Britney Lawson Salyer ’09 were married in June 2009. They have two daughters, Rylie Jalyn 3 and Elise Alexandria 1 ½. Jonathon and Britney are both employed with Scott County Public Schools. Jonathon is a special education teacher and he coaches baseball and basketball for Gate City High School. Britney is a math teacher and she coaches volleyball and softball for Rye Cove High School. They live in Castlewood, Virginia.

Salyer Family


Simonetta Simmons Kusi and her husband, Charles, welcomed their son, Kwesi Kusi, in the fall of 2015. They live in Fairfax, Virginia. Cindi Smoot is employed with Wise County Redevelopment and Housing Authority. She is a member of the Wise Town Council, and serves on many

Brianna Sheppard Willis is the program coordinator for West Virginia University (WVU) Institute for Community and Rural Health, and an adjunct assistant professor for WVU School of Public Health Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. In 2008, she earned a Master of Arts in Psychology from East Tennessee State University (ETSU). She earned Brianna Sheppard Willis a Doctorate of Psychology in Experimental Concentration with a focus on Translational Psychology from East Tennessee State University in 2014 with specific training in identifying and addressing rural health disparities in Appalachia. Bri then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Pain Research at the University of Pittsburgh prior to starting her work at WVU to aid her career research goals of understanding the relationships between motivation, substance abuse and pain conditions and using this information to improve the well-being and quality of life for rural residents. She is a member of the West Virginia Rural Health Association policy committee, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Division for Rural Health and Recruitment, Rural Health Advisory Council, the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the National Rural Health Association, the American Pain Society, and the International Association for the Study of Pain. She is also the faculty advisor for WVU’s Rural Health Interest Group and Project REACH student groups, serves on the WVU Pre-Health Constituency Board, and the 2015 and 2016 West Virginia Rural Health Conference Planning Committees. Bri and her husband live in Morgantown, West Virginia. civic organizations throughout Wise County. She lives in Wise, Virginia. Melanie Sutherland Miller is employed with Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority-Tazewell as a corrections officer. Melanie and her husband, William, have two children, Mason Caldwell and Ava Miller. They live in Bluefield, Virginia. Lucinda Thomas is employed with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as an assistant manager. She lives in Weber City, Virginia.

Cody Dalton


Kelly Hunter Davidson and her husband,

Josh, welcomed their daughter, Emma Sunshine, on February 3, 2015. Emma weighed six pounds twelve ounces. Kelly earned a Master of Business Administration from Appalachian State University in 2011. She is employed with CGI Federal as a senior consultant. They live in Chilhowie, Virginia. Matthew Ferguson is married to Hannah Higgins Ferguson. They live in Church Hill, Tennessee. Nicole Fones is employed with Ashley Hall as a teacher. She lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Nancy Kamal is employed with Cornerstone RPO as a corporate recruiter. She lives in Henrico, Virginia.

Alicia Richards Schrank and her husband, Steven, welcomed their sons, Jaxon Steven and Jace Lewis, on January 5, 2016. Jaxon weighed six pounds and Jace weighed five pounds and thirteen ounces. They live in Bealeton, Virginia.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 2013. He is employed with Carilion Clinic as a healthcare statistician and measurement analyst. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia. Megan Griffith Yates is employed with Holston Valley Medical Center as a cardiac catheterization laboratory registered nurse. She has two children, Cambrie Ava and Tyde Parker. They live in Church Hill, Tennessee. Jessica Price is employed with Disney World as a front desk cashier at the All Star Resort. She lives in Winter Garden, Florida.

Jaxon and Jace Schrank

Lauren Snead and Matthew Cox were united in marriage on October 17, 2015 at the Vinton War Memorial in Vinton, Virginia. The bridesmaids were Alicia King Anderson ’07, Jill Barber Blankenship ’09, Hannah Ellis Hooker ’09, Christine Cantone Stewart ’11 and Hayley Barge ’12. Lauren is employed with Educational Travel Adventures as a group travel specialist. Matthew is a graduate of Bluefield College and is employed with Williams Supply Inc. Lauren and Matthew live in Roanoke, Virginia.

Texas A&M. He lives in Pennington Gap, Virginia.


Sheena Bowman Fields is employed with Highlands Community Services as a day treatment counselor. She and her husband, Noah, live in Lebanon, Virginia. Ashley Hall Chiaro is married to Vincent Chiaro. Ashley and her husband live in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Evan Nunery & The Richmond Men’s Chorus

Hannah Powers earned a Master of Education from Lee University. She is employed with Athens City Schools at Athens City Middle School as an exceptional learning instructional assistant. Hannah lives in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

Ashley Ryan is employed with POLITICO as a senior account management associate in Arlington, Virginia.


Alex Feemster is employed with Replay Sports N Training as a limited partner and lead instructor. He lives in Ashburn, Virginia. Shaina Hall is a graduate student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga pursuing an education specialist degree.

Evan Nunery is employed with Gateway Hyundai as a sales representative. He is a vocal instructor for Chester Performing Arts Studio and is a member of The Richmond Men’s Chorus. Evan lives in Chester, Virginia.

Lindsey Redwine is employed with Scott County Public Schools as a first grade teacher. She lives in Gate City, Virginia.

Mr. & Mrs. Chiaro

Tyler Mullins and Kendra Duty Mullins now live in Clinchco, Virginia.

Ashleigh Roenker and Billy Crawford were united in marriage on September 19, 2015 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The maids of honor were Kesha

Jose’ Ramos and Somer Agee welcomed their daughter, Adaline Grace Ramos, on November 2, 2015. Jose’ is employed with Ferrum College as an admissions counselor. They live in Stanleytown, Virginia.

Beach/Edwards wedding party

Mr. & Mrs Cox

Maximillian Ward is employed with Celia Clinton Elementary School as a special education teacher. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Robert M. Davis earned a Master of Public Administration and Policy and a graduate certificate in local government management from

Ramos Family

Aaron Stapleton is employed with the University of Tennessee’s Medical Center as a sales and patient care representative. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kevin Wilson is currently pursuing his master’s degree from

Erin Beach and Andy Edwards were united in marriage on May 16, 2015 in Abingdon, Virginia. The bridesmaids were Ciera Tolliver ’13, Shannon Howell ’14 and Heather Pearson ’15. The best man was Cody Edwards ’10 and the groomsmen were Allen Owens ’14, Joseph Barton ’13, Tyler Davis ’14 and Tyler Mullins ’12. Erin earned a Master of Education in Counselor Education from Clemson University in 2015. She is employed with Morehead State University as a hall director. Andy earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Clayton State University in 2015. He is employed with D&S Community Services as an employment specialist. They live in Morehead, Kentucky.

Spring/Summer 2016 53

Perrigan Rasnick ’13 and Allison Gross ’13, and the bridesmaid was Brittany Russell ’12. Ashleigh is employed with the Russell County Public Schools as a special education teacher. Billy is a coal miner. They live in Castlewood, Virginia.

employed with East Tennessee State University as an adjunct professor for the department of literature and language. Zachary lives in Jonesville, Virginia. Jordan Childress is employed with Radford University as an assistant director of athletics communications. He lives in Radford, Virginia. Shannon Elliott Miller is employed with Frontier Health as a case manager. She lives in Gate City, Virginia.

Mr. & Mrs Crawford



Hayley Bowman and Jared Dix were united in marriage on May 23, 2015 at the Memorial Chapel on the campus of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia. Hayley is employed with Washington County Public Schools as a special education teacher. Jared is employed with Dick’s Sporting Goods as the manager. They live in Abingdon, Virginia.

Mr. & Mrs. Dix

Zachary Canter earned a Master of Arts in English Literature from East Tennessee State University in May. He is

Zachary Canter

54 UVa-Wise Magazine

Medical Center of Mountain States Health Alliance. She lives in Wise, Virginia. Jessica Sturgill is employed with Wise County Public Schools at Central High School as a math teacher and as an assistant softball coach. She lives in Wise, Virginia. Idalina Walker is employed with Reston Association at The Walker Nature Center as a naturalist. She lives in Reston, Virginia.

Mario Jaramillo Avila is employed with Scott County Schools as a Spanish teacher. He became a United States Citizen in August, 2015. Mario lives in Dungannon, Virginia.

Maddison Couch is employed with Eastern Kentucky University as a graduate assistant. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Maggie Robinson is employed with UVa-Wise in the academic support center as the tutor connection coordinator. She lives in Wise, Virginia. Olivia Rowe is employed with NBN Infusions as a customer service representative. She was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the New Jersey Army National Guard in October 2015 and will be attending the Basic Officer Leadership Course for job training as a transportation officer. Olivia lives in New Jersey. Allison Sturgill is a registered nurse with Johnson City

Jim C. Lipps Jr. ’56 passed away on April 7, 2016. He lived in Wise, Virginia. James H. Gibson Sr. ’62 passed away on January 31, 2016. He lived in Dryden, Virginia. W. Daniel Robinson ’66 passed away on December 25, 2015. He lived in Forest, Virginia. Michael D. Wright ’72 passed away on January 27, 2016. He lived in Lebanon, Virginia. Evelyn C. Hensley ’74 passed away on February 14, 2016. She lived in Norton, Virginia. Roger F. Freeman ’75 passed away on October 1, 2015. He lived in Pound, Virginia.

Erin Kellam is employed with Barter Theatre as an assistant master electrician. She lives in Abingdon, Virginia.


In Memoriam

Idalina Walker

Clint Womack attended the Law Enforcement Academy and was an honor graduate. He is employed with the Kingsport Police Department as a patrol officer and lives in Church Hill, Tennessee.


Jeffery Bailey is employed with Business Information Systems as a programmer and software developer in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Melissa Bailey is employed with Business Information Systems as a subject matter expert and requirements gatherer in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Zachary Dotson is a minister of the gospel and divinity student at Puritan Reformed Seminary. Johnathan Kelly is employed with the Virginia Army National Guard as a transportation officer. Joseph LaCava is employed with Booz Allen Hamilton as a software engineer in Washington, D.C.

James Thomas Robinson Jr. ’75 passed away on March 16, 2016. He lived in Lebanon, Virginia. Danny Lee Hopkins ’76 passed away on March 2, 2016. He lived in Wise, Virginia. James K. Surber Jr. ’78 passed away on August 26, 2015. He lived in Durham, North Carolina. Scott V. Cooper ’82 passed away on March 16, 2016. He lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jackie Nash Colyer ’83 passed away on April 20, 2016. She lived in Wise, Virginia. Glenda Stanley Combs ’84 passed away on January 17, 2016. She lived in Clintwood, Virginia. Michael Wayne Barnette ’94 passed away on November 23, 2015. He lived in Castlewood, Virginia. Scott W. Taylor ’97 passed away on November 10, 2015. He lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The 21st annual Community Spring Swing

golf tournament was held on Friday, April 22, 2016 at the beautiful Lonesome Pine Country Club. The inclement weather forecasted, arrived in force as the 26 teams took to the course. Since its inception Norton Community Hospital of the Mountain States Health Alliance and UVa-Wise have partnered together to provide one of the regions’ top golf outings. Cavalier Pharmacy served as the luncheon sponsor. The rain held on for the first half of the day but the sun was shining by the end of tournament play, with our Championship Flight Winning team included Carroll Dale, Jimmy Riggs, Ralph Lawson and Allen Blanken with a score of 54. Special thank you to all of our team and hole sponsors for making the event a huge success. UVa-Wise Community Spring Swing Sponsored By Norton Community Hospital/Mountain States Health Alliance


1st Place Jimmy Riggs, Allen Blanken, Carroll Dale, Ralph Lawson 2nd Place Elpidio Capalad, James Hughes, Phil Lee and Charlie Beverly 3rd Place Donnie Rife, Danny Rife, Jake Copeland, Craig Copeland

First Flight

1st Place Brandon Bolling, Tyler Giles, William Ratliff, Doug Horne, Carroll Dale presenting 2nd Place Larry McReynolds, Tracy Stallard, Richard Quillen, Jason Pope 3rd Place Dwight Jessee, Robert England, Russell Cyphers, Jim Hughes

Second Flight

1st Place Rod Colyer, Valeri Colyer, Bobby Colyer, Blake Bruner, Carroll Dale presenting 2nd Place Cotton Stone, Travis McKinney, Clark Helton, Scott Meade 3rd Place Johnny Black, Gary Swiney, Lester Bowman, Martin Stanley

Spring/Summer 2016 55

UVa-Wise Professor Adams-Ramsey’s


art selected for international exhibition Suzanne Adams-Ramsey, professor of art at UVaWise, had a piece of her ceramics work accepted into a juried international exhibition, and caffeine provided the inspirational jolt for that particular piece of art. The ceramics piece Adams-Ramsey sculpted is a cheeky “travel” mug that was tapped by Josh DeWeese to be part of the International Cup 2016 exhibition. She was one of 35 artists selected from more than 200 high caliber ceramic works. DeWeese, a ceramic artist, is an assistant professor of art at Montana State University. DeWeese has exhibited and taught workshops internationally, and his work is included in numerous public and private collections. Adams-Ramsey’s travel cup is a colorful but nonfunctional cup with legs. It is the legs that make the cup thought provoking and funny. A coffee drinker,

56 UVa-Wise Magazine

Adams-Ramsey always has her functional travel cup at hand, and it became the inspiration for the “travel” cup piece. It all started when the students in her hand building ceramics class last fall were making simple pinch pot forms. “As a professor, I constantly press my students to think beyond the obvious answers to the project assignment, so on that particular morning, with a demo piece of clay in hand, I challenged them to think about just how far they could push the very basic, round shape of a pinch pot,” she said. “I began to demonstrate by paddling the malleable clay into a square, forming corners and a flat bottom. As a beginning studio lesson, the work was finished. The little round pot had very willingly morphed into a little square, so I sat it aside.” It was only later when was tidying the studio that she what she calls a seed of an idea took hold. She remembered her advice to her students, and she decided to elevate the stocky cup to something unexpected. It was also the normal time of day when she would think about having another cup of coffee. She recalls thinking about where she had put her usual travel cup when the inspiration hit. “The visual elements came together in my head as I held the little square pot, and I knew that it had to grow some legs and have sculpted feet,” she said. “ I thought it would be a funny play on words. Thankfully, juror Josh DeWeese thought so too!” Adams-Ramsey said she is excited that her work is part of such a prestigious juried show. “I am a maker of objects that express ideas,” she said. “I am happy just in the making, but even happier when others understand and appreciate the work. Having recently stepped down from my 14year stint as Visual and Performing Arts department chair, I very intentionally went back to the studio to rediscover my place as a practicing visual artist. I am thrilled with this change of direction in my professional career, and I am equally thrilled and gratified with this accomplishment.” The piece was exhibited Feb. 5-26 at the Clay Studio of Missoula.

U Va-Wise

R OF EVENTS A D N E L CA Aug. 23 Fall Convocation Homecoming 2016 Sept. 22 - EH440 in concert Sept. 23 - Silver Saber Spirit Contest, YAR - Reunion Sept. 24 - UVa-Wise vs. Glenville State Alumni Picnic, family carnival, 5th quarter alumni gathering Oct. 3 - 24th annual Cavalier Golf Classic at the Virginian Oct. 8 - Fall Break Dec. 9 - December Graduates Recognition Day


2016 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE DATE Sept. 1 Sept. 10 Sept. 17 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 6 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29 Nov. 5 Nov. 10

Opponent Tusculum College Notre Dame College (Ohio) Shepherd University Glenville State College West Virginia State University Concord University West Liberty University Fairmont State University Urbana University (Ohio) West Virginia Wesleyan College University of Charleston

* MEC Conference

 * * * * * * * * * *


Location Greeneville, Tenn. Wise, Va. Shepherdstown, W.Va. Wise, Va. Institute, W.Va. Wise, Va. West Liberty, W.Va. Wise, Va. Urbana, Ohio Wise, Va. Charleston, W.Va.

Time TBA TBA TBA 2 p.m. TBA 7 p.m. TBA 1 p.m. TBA 1 p.m. TBA

Spring/Summer 2016 57

ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED 1 College Avenue Wise, Virginia 24293

Non-Profit Organization U. S. Postage


New Library Opening Fall 2016 58 UVa-Wise Magazine

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