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Spring 2018 Magazine

LETTER FROM THE SENIOR VICE PROVOST Fall 2017 was an exciting semester featuring dynamic programs, events and initiatives led by our talented staff providing countless opportunities for student interaction and community building. We are proud to share this inaugural magazine with you featuring some tremendously talented students, individuals assuming new leadership positions in the division and providing a snapshot of some of our recent accomplishments. We were intentional in choosing the name Reveal for our magazine, because at times, the tremendous work of our staff and students is unknown to members of our university community and beyond. My hope is that this magazine helps bring to light and reveal the essence of everything we do. It is humbling to be in a position to serve the university leading our division as we collectively strive to transform the lives of our students as they, in turn, transform our lives. With Gratitude,

Charles J. Klink, Ph.D. Senior Vice Provost of Student Affairs


Through our programs, services and facilities the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) champions holistic student development by fostering inclusive communities and providing dynamic, integrative learning experiences that prepare our students to be thoughtfully engaged contributors to the global community.


Educating all students to become innovative, courageous and socially engaged leaders.


VCU Division of Student Affairs fosters a community committed to excellence by upholding values that promote student success, diversity, integrity, wellness and community.

Credits Editor: Matthew Lovisa Assistant Editor: Logan Bogert Art Director: Emma CotĂŠ Contributors: Logan Bogert Tom Gresham Connie Kottmann Leila Ugincius Photographers: Chelsea Bailey Dave Brown Jessica Buchanan Lian Currie John DiJulio Allison Dyche Jenae Harrington Pat Kane Kevin Morley Anwar Muhammad Brian Nicholas Heather Nunes Zaid Shaikh Francis Stephens University Marketing University Student Commons and Activities VCU Recreational Sports

Virginia Commonwealth University Office of the Senior Vice Provost Division of Student Affairs 901 Floyd Ave. Box 843017 Richmond, VA 23284 Phone: (804) 828-1244 Fax: (804) 828-2180 Š2018, Virginia Commonwealth University an equal opportunity, affirmative action university


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Student Stories Campus leaders share “a day in the life”

Introducing New Leadership A look at new faces and roles


A Spirited Introduction to VCU


Virginia Commonwealth University Competed to be Named National Outdoor Champion

VCU’s newest Rams take part in New Student Convocation and Spirit Walk

Students, faculty and staff participated in events for the third year


RAM CAMP Combines Service Projects and Leadership Training for Freshmen Students Students engaged in community service, team building exercies and leadership trainings

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Far and Near VCU students in Richmond and Doha bond through Qatar Leadership Exchange

VCU Hosted Comedian Zach Anner for Disability Awareness Month Anner uses his comedy to deliver an inspirational message


Spotlights Department highlights and staff awards


STUDENT STORIES Campus leaders share “a day in the life” Stories by Logan Bogert

BUILDING A BRIDGE Meet Sarah Izabel, Undergraduate Representative to the Board of Visitors


Meet Eleanor Ritzman, Resident Assistant Junior Resident Assistant Eleanor Ritzman starts her day by checking emails from her residents and supervisors. Then, Ritzman checks her calendar for activities other than her classes, like a program or a staff meeting. On some days, Ritzman is on duty after housing hours, which means she’s on call for any resident who needs to get in touch with someone. Since July of 2016, Ritzman has been an RA for VCU. Currently an RA in Brandt Hall, Ritzman’s job is to enforce policy while creating an open and inclusive community for on-campus residents. “We create a variety of programs and events for students to attend,” Ritzman said. “By providing them with programs, resources, clubs and reassurance, we as RA’s can be the backbone of any troubling situation around VCU housing.” Ritzman also says that her greatest inspirations are the RA’s of her freshman year in GRC and that the best part of being an RA is building the close relationships with residents. “As RA’s, we try our best to ensure that our residents are happy and comfortable in their home away from home,” Ritzman said. 2 – SPRING 2018

As a nontraditional student, Sarah Izabel’s days are never the same. Izabel, a wife and mother, serves as the undergraduate representative to the Board of Visitors on top of taking her son to and from school, taking classes, studying and managing household responsibilities. In her duties as the undergraduate BOV student representative, Izabel is required to attend Academic and Health Affairs Committee meetings. “It is my responsibility to represent students’ interests and opinions during the meetings and share with the board the outstanding leadership activities that students and organizations have engaged in throughout the year,” Izabel said. Izabel has been part of many projects at VCU, but most recently traveled to VCU’s Qatar campus as part of the Qatar Leadership Exchange. “I believe VCU produces global thinkers through the program,” Izabel said. “The perspectives gathered through the leadership exchange allow VCU students to attest to our values of diversity and inclusion.” As part of her role, Izabel stays active as a leader at VCU and seeks opportunities to engage with students of various departments. She considers the role to be “a bridge between the students and the University’s highest leaders.” In addition to serving on the BOV, Izabel is also a research assistant, a student advisor for the Vice Provost Leadership Advisory Board, a member of the Honors College, president of Omicron Delta Kappa.


Meet Keith Zirkle, SGA Vice President of Graduate and Professional Students

I am always satisfied when we accomplish something that will be longlasting,

Student Government Association Vice President of Graduate and Professional Students Keith Zirkle says that the best advice he’s ever received is “climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world” -- and climbing mountains is just what Zirkle does for SGA. As the primary liaison for graduate and professional students to the VCU administration, Zirkle leads senate meetings for graduate and professional students and attends various meetings for SGA throughout the week.

“SGA has gone through a lot of branding this fall as this is the first year of the merged SGA,” Zirkle said. “I was heavily involved with the creation of a merged SGA, so it’s been great to see the student body represented as a whole and not as a campus.”

“It’s a balance of being reactive and proactive to student concerns,” Zirkle said. “This is typically through SGA

In the future, Zirkle hopes that the SGA continues to represent and advocate for students even after he graduates.

As Student Government Association president, Destinee’ Moragne is responsible for setting an agenda for SGA and making sure the SGA is accomplishing the goals set forth -something that involves a lot of time.


Meet Destinee’ Moragne, VCU SGA President

channels, but I tend to think holistically/ big picture when speaking on behalf of grad/professional students.” This year, the MCV campus SGA and Monroe Park SGA underwent a merger into one united SGA.

“The robust amount of meetings can be tough on my schedule, but they are rewarding because they allow for an easier flow of communication within the SGA,” Moragne said. With the support of the Division of Student Affairs, the SGA was able to complete numerous projects including sending monthly emails to the student body and continuing campus traditions like Midnight Breakfast. Moragne and the SGA also implemented several new programs and projects in

the fall. In partnership with University Student Commons and Activities, Ramscentive! is a program intended to promote student involvement within the community and in SGA. In the fall, the SGA granted 27 organizations the opportunity to receive $300 by completing the program requirements. The SGA also introduced Roundtables -- an opportunity for students to ask administration about various issues throughout VCU’s campus. The first Roundtable forum kicked off with Dr. Rao, president of VCU. Lastly, SGA hosted Ramsgiving in partnership with the Richmond City Council, VCU Athletics, VCU Greek Life, VCU DSA and VCU students. Ramsgiving brought Thanksgiving to more than 75 Richmond families.




Assistant Vice Provost and Executive Director for Residential Life and Housing

Interim Special Assistant to the Senior Vice Provost Education:

BA in Latin, University of Georgia; M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, University of Vermont


Student Activities Coordinator, University of Georgia; Service-Learning Coordinator, Georgia Perimeter College; Assistant & Associate Director, Office of Alumni & Career Services, University of Richmond

What would you like to accomplish in your new role? My hope is that in my new role, I can support Dr. Klink in his work as our Senior Vice Provost in a way that helps him become an even more effective leader for all members of the VCU community. In addition, I will work to move both student and Division staff concerns forward to a positive outcome, and jump into new and interesting projects as they emerge.

Why do you love working with VCU students? VCU students are some of the most intelligent, hard-working, dedicated, kind and interesting people I know! They are always up for a new and creative idea, they come to the defense of the defenseless and they work to enrich the lives of those around them. Who wouldn’t love to work with 30,000+ people like that every day?!

Be engaged in the world around you - learn, contribute, and “participate” in order to get the most out of life. will pass you by if you don’t engage with it.

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Education: BA in Communication, Truman State University; M.Ed in Education, Indiana University; Ph.D. in Education, Georgia Southern University Background:

Graduate Assistant for Residential Life, Indiana University; Resident Director, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Coordinator for Training and Residence Education, Texas Tech University; Assistant Director of University Housing for Residential Education, Georgia Southern University; Assistant Director of University Housing for Facilities, Georgia Southern University; Associate Director for Housing & Residence Life, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Director for Housing & Residence Life, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

What would you like to accomplish in your new role? Assisting in collaboration with a team of student focused professionals who are intentional and strategic around initiatives of student success, student leadership and student wellness. This includes looking for opportunities that allow for professional collaboration, student engagement and resource efficiencies. I think the work we do in student affairs is paramount in VCU’s quest to be the premier urban, public research institution and for overall student success.

Why do you love working with VCU students? They are amazing. They forge their own path and they look for ways to connect in nontraditional ways on a college campus. I really enjoy when I get to work with those students who are first-generation. At VCU, you can see how so many of our students view the educational process as an opportunity and a privilege. Students here do not take this experience for granted; they recognize that their success benefits them personally and also the larger communities they interact within. I have always described many of our VCU students as “givers” vs. “takers” in the educational experience they create. They are simply amazing.

DAVID GREENE Director of University Student Commons and Activities

GAVIN ROARK Director of Residential Life and Housing


BA in Political Science, University of MissouriKansas City; MA in Urban Leadership and Policy Studies in Higher Education, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Education: BS in Corporate Communication, Austin Peay State University; M.S. in Counselor Education, Mississippi State University


Background: Hall Director, Austin Peay State University; Residence Director, Mississippi State University; Residence Life Coordinator, Wake Forest University; Assistant Director, Florida State University; Senior Associate Director of Residential Life, Virginia Commonwealth University

Coordinator of LGBTQ Resource Center, Univeristy of Missouri-Kansas City; Interim Director of Student Life, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Student Life, Community College of Philadelphia

Why did you choose to come to VCU? While I am a country boy at heart, I love urban institutions and their missions to serve the communities around them. As an urban institution with an international reach, VCU gives me the opportunity to work with a very diverse population of students and ensure the work we do helps to impact the world we serve.

Why do you love working with VCU students? I love working with VCU students because they challenge me to bring my best self to every conversation. Many of them are fully engaged in the success of the University as well as their own successes. I feel our students want to be good people and have a lot of good causes. Those moments when you ask the right question or say the right thing that triggers an “aha” moment and you realize the work we do really matters.

Student engagement allows us the opportunity to help students to decide the type of local and global citizen they want to become.

What would you like to accomplish in your new role? I believe in the power of community building and the important role that living on campus has in a student’s experience. Through my role, I hope that I can help our on-campus students feel at home and supported in their academic pursuits. Our Residential Life and Housing mission is to “provide safe, inclusive and well-maintained facilities where we build intentional communities to empower residents in their academic excellence, citizenship and personal growth.” This mission highlights what we strive to complete on a daily basis for the residents in our halls. I want to see our office continue enhancing our various campus partnerships, residential leadership experiences, living learning communities and academic collaborations to better serve our residential population.

Why do you love working with VCU students? I am energized by the work I get to do on a daily basis. Not only do I get the opportunity to work with an extremely dedicated group of professionals, but I also get the opportunity to work with some amazing students. I see a great deal of Ram pride in our student body. During my time at VCU, I have seen campus traditions truly flourish. I enjoy attending student events where you really see and feel the pulse of the student body. Some of my VCU favorite events include: RAM CAMP, VCU Move-In, Welcome Week, Ram Spirit Walk, Qatar Day and the Intercultural Festival.


A SPIRITED INTRODUCTION TO VCU Story by Tom Gresham, University Public Affairs


irginia Commonwealth University’s newest Rams received a distinctively rowdy introduction to the university at the annual New Student Convocation and Spirit Walk, the traditional official welcome for incoming freshmen and transfer students at VCU.

At convocation, which was held in the Stuart C. Siegel Center, university leaders offered advice for navigating the years ahead, but the chief message overwhelmingly was one of excitement at the

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students’ arrival.“Welcome to VCU,” said Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs. “We’ve been waiting for you.” VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., called the convocation gathering the largest he has seen at the event. In all, more than 6,100 freshmen and transfer students started classes at VCU this fall. Rao urged students to seek out challenges during their time on campus.

“You are members of a learning community steeped in a long tradition of creativity with the immense drive to tackle the challenges that people face with unwavering tenacity,” Rao said. Destinee’ Moragne, president of the Monroe Park Campus Student Government Association, said falling down occasionally would be a part of the student experience, but “your mistakes don’t determine your path.” In fact, Rao said, mistakes will be some of the best opportunities for learning, noting

that astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “I love being wrong because that means in that instant I learned something new that day.” “If a world-renowned astrophysicist admits to make mistakes and being OK with it, you can, too,” Rao said. Hackett offered students a series of secrets to college success, such as going to class, getting to know faculty and putting in the hours of study necessary to excel. She also reminded students that they were surrounded by faculty, staff and fellow students ready to help. “We want for you to be successful,” she said. Rao said the incoming students will bring their own unique interests, drive and knowledge to VCU, helping the university community grow and thrive in new ways. “Every single one of us — myself included — are here to learn,” he said. “You inspire us to learn. While you will learn a lot at VCU, we’re

going to learn a lot from you. Through your scholarship, creativity and tenacity, you will shape the university and further VCU’s international reputation for being one of the greatest universities in the world. Even as undergraduates, you are the biggest part of what makes this university great.”

^ Top left: RA’s and other student organizations stood along the path of the Ram Spirit Walk, ready to cheer on the newest class of rams. Bottom left: Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority members cheer on freshmen as they complete the Ram Spirit Walk. Right: A student breakdances at the Welcome Block Party.

Following convocation, VCU cheerleaders and the Peppas, the university’s pep band, led new students on the Spirit Walk, traveling from the Siegel Center in a large crowd of black and gold down Harrison Street into the center of campus. Older students, alumni, faculty and staff lined the way and met the newcomers on campus for a block party with food and other fun. The convocation, Spirit Walk and block party served as a centerpiece for the university’s Welcome Week, a packed schedule of activities and events designed to help new students adapt to college life and the VCU campus.



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tudents, faculty, staff and alumni at Virginia Commonwealth University participated in a host of outdoor activities from Sept. 18 to Oct. 15 — that included hiking, kayaking, backpacking, bicycling and bird-watching — as the university competed to win the fourth annual Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. Hosted by the Outdoor Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to reconnecting millennials with the outdoors, and sponsored by REI, The North Face, Hydro Flask, and ENO, the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge pulled students from more than 90 universities off the couch and into the wilderness. To participate, students downloaded the campus challenge app, joined their university’s team, and logged their outdoor activities during the challenge to score points. Prizes for winners included a national title, free outdoor gear and bragging rights.

2017 was VCU’s third year competing in the campus challenge.

It’s important for students to disconnect from time to time from the hectic pace of college life. Richmond’s easily accessible outdoors provide a great way to do that,

said Joey Parent, assistant director for the Outdoor Adventure Program at VCU Recreational Sports.

In addition to the national outdoor champion, there were more than 30 other individual and regional awards up for grabs. The top winners received gear from REI and The North Face. Each sponsor also hosted a weekly challenge. The competition also served to highlight outdoor activities at campuses across the country.

To learn more about the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, visit and

“Before finding my love for the outdoors, I often felt quite helpless and stagnant. Through discovering the rock climbing community upon coming to college I found a new confidence in myself and my abilities,” said Bridget Condron, a senior at VCU. “I not only found a quietness and humility in nature, but also found awe for my own resiliency, kindness and strength.”




ore than 75 Virginia Commonwealth University faculty and staff representing more than 40 departments welcomed the newest VCU students to their new homes at the university’s annual House Calls program. House Calls, which took place in freshmen residence halls, provided faculty and staff a chance to interact with students in their new “homes” before the semester began. Faculty and staff, paired with a resident assistant, knocked on doors and distributed goodie bags while connecting with freshmen students. The program is hosted by Residential Life and Housing.

“The Residence Hall House Calls program is a great way to interact with students in their own homes,” said Megan Becker, associate director of residential life and the program leader for House Calls. 10 – SPRING 2018

“The purpose of this program is to utilize key faculty and administrators in providing additional outreach to residence hall students as well as assist students by addressing any questions or concerns they have about their experience at VCU.” Some students this year even met a special guest: Charles Klink, Ph.D., senior vice provost for student affairs. “We knew we were having house calls but we didn’t know we were going to have a special guest and also Rodney the Ram show up at our door,” said Luleit Shire, a freshman in the Department of Political Science and in the pre-pharmacy track. “[Meeting staff] definitely makes us feel much closer to the faculty because Welcome Week is a lot more about knowing each


Charles Klink and Rodney the Ram welcome a group of freshmen students during House Calls.

Klink was paired with resident assistant Eleanor Ritzman, a junior in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences. This was Ritzman’s second experience with the House Calls program. other. We don’t normally get to spend time with important faculty and people on campus. It was definitely a good surprise.” Klink agreed that the chance to welcome first-year students, talk with them in their place of residence and spend quality time listening to them is not an opportunity that happens often.

“I believe in the concept of meeting students where they are — sometimes this means meeting them where they are developmentally, educationally and at times, literally, where they live,” said Klink.

It is such a powerful statement that VCU faculty and staff take the time to let students know that we are here to support their success figuratively and literally.

Charles Klink, Ph.D., senior vice provost for student affairs.

“From this experience, I have learned what a tremendously talented RA staff we have, how committed faculty and staff are to the success of students and, most importantly, what a wonderful group of first-year students have chosen VCU as their new home away from home,” said Klink.

“I was really full of excitement to meet Dr. Klink,” said Ritzman. “I honestly think that being able to create these connections with not only VCU Residential Life but also the residents that come with it is just a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially in college.” One of Ritzman’s residents, freshman Leyla Zyoud, heard about the House Calls program directly from Ritzman. “At first I was kind of nervous because my RA said that Dr. Klink was coming,” said Zyoud. “The experience was nice. I thought that they were really friendly and it wasn’t overwhelming at all like I thought it would be.” In a week when many first-year students feel overwhelmed, the House Calls program aims to help them feel at ease as they settle into their new home. The program also provides a chance for resident assistants, like Ritzman, to serve as resources for students. “The fact that I’m able to work with these wonderful people as well as give them the resources that they give me to hand off to my residents is just something that is irreplaceable,” said Ritzman. “I’m really happy to be that resource for my students.”



Incoming freshmen try out the rock climbing wall at Cary Street Gym during RAM CAMP.

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ore than 640 Virginia Commonwealth University students spent their final week of summer vacation on campus where they engaged in community service, team building exercises and leadership trainings.

They attended RAM CAMP, a weeklong leadership experience that connected incoming freshmen to VCU traditions, campus resources and fellow students. Campers were divided into small groups and participated in various activities led by a VCU student leader. “We know that when the students feel more connected to campus and others, they tend to do better overall, not just at VCU, but also in the other areas of their life,” said Lisa Cooper, assistant director of residential life for leadership programs and RAM CAMP co-chair. “We work to create this through careful selection of all activities, sessions, presentations, small group time and service opportunities that are facilitated throughout the week.” RAM CAMP lasted four days. Campers were split into four groups, each led by a student director. Each day featured a morning and afternoon session, and explored different themes. “We did a little bit of everything,” said Allie Meagher, a senior in the School of the Arts and RAM CAMP student director. “On the first day, the students heard from several on-campus organizations that would benefit them throughout the year. They [also] participated in team-building activities and icebreakers with their small groups.” Students spent one of their mornings participating in service projects throughout the Richmond community. They cleaned up local parks, walked dogs at Richmond Animal Care and Control and volunteered with FeedMore Food Bank. That afternoon, they participated in a diversity session led by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs that focused on identity and how to be a better ally. Other activities at RAM CAMP included a fun break at G-Force Karts, and a visit to the Wellness Resource Center, where students discussed mindfulness and self-care tools to better their academic and leadership experiences.


RAM CAMP CONT. The students also explored campus and community recreation through the VCU Outdoor Adventure Program, hiking a local trail, biking a four-mile route through Richmond and climbing the rock wall inside Cary Street Gym. “One of the most memorable experiences I had at RAM CAMP would have to be the diversity seminar,” said freshman Vitoria Garcia. “It was an enlightening experience to discuss the inclusive environment at VCU. I learned about what our school and the Richmond community has to offer, as well as how to be an active ally for social justice groups. I loved the experiences I had at RAM CAMP and hope to serve as a RAM CAMP leader next year.” The students learned about other campus resources during presentations from University Academic Advising, the Global Education Office and VCU GLOBE. They also were treated to a “traditions night” social at Altria Theatre, hosted by Rowdy Rams and VCU Athletics and featuring VCU cheerleaders, dancers, athletes, coaches, the VCU pep band and Rodney the Ram. Allie Meagher, who attended RAM CAMP as an incoming freshman four years ago, said the week of activities helps students adjust to life on campus. “I’m an out-of-state student, and I came from a fairly small high school,” said Meagher. “RAM CAMP gave me that small community I needed to get acclimated to VCU. I’ve always been thankful for what RAM CAMP did for me my freshman year, which is why I’ve returned to the program every year to help give that experience to other incoming freshmen.” Like Meagher, many returning students applied to become a RAM CAMP leader or student director and serve as a mentor to new students. “I would recommend any student leader at VCU to consider becoming a RAM CAMP student director,” said Rachel Childs, a senior in the School of Allied Health Professions and RAM CAMP student director.

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Childs was one of the program’s first participants when RAM CAMP began in 2013. “I am so glad that I participated because it taught me how to be a leader among thousands of individuals,” said Childs. For many students who have gone through RAM CAMP, the term “opportunity” is used frequently as a way to describe what the experience means to them. “RAM CAMP is such an amazing program that provides a select group of freshmen many opportunities that other freshmen do not have access to,” said Alexis Taylor, a junior in the School of Nursing and RAM CAMP student director. “Freshmen have the chance to experience their first moments of college life with a great support system of leaders and directors to help guide them every step of the way.” So, what are the new opportunities for students next year? “That’s a secret,” said Cooper. “But I can tell you that we always go big when it comes to RAM CAMP so stayed tuned as we begin to plan for RAM CAMP 2018.”

^ Top left: Incoming freshmen participate in team-building activities during RAM CAMP. Top right: Christina Spohn from Recreational Sports leads a team-building activity at Cary Street Gym during RAM CAMP. Bottom right: RAM CAMP participants build strong bonds through small group and competitive activities.

Freshmen have the chance to experience their first moments of college life with a great support system of leaders and directors to help guide them every step of the way.

Alexis Taylor, junior in the School of Nursing



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here’s always a bit of culture shock when traveling abroad for the first time. Foreign tastes, aromas and sounds assail the senses. These unfamiliarities can even strike students of the same university when its campuses are in distant countries — such is the case at Virginia Commonwealth University, which has branch campuses in Richmond, Virginia, and Doha, Qatar. Yet none of these sensory differences proved the biggest shock for one VCUarts Qatar junior visiting Richmond this fall.

Exchange Program. Richmond students similarly visited Doha a few weeks earlier. Through the annual program, which is open to undergraduates as well as graduate and professional students, student ambassadors from each campus host the other’s delegation, getting to know each other in the process and what it’s like to be a student on the other side of the world. Each delegation tours its host campus, meeting with various student groups and faculty, while also learning about the surrounding city and culture.

Rather, Tayseer al Gailey was most amazed at how often Westerners take the stairs.

Zaid Shaikh, a junior in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering in the School of Engineering, was part of this year’s Richmond delegation visiting Qatar. As a freshman member of the VCU Emerging Leaders Program — a selective one-year scholarship program that recognizes and supports the development and engagement of emerging student leaders at the university — Shaikh had heard of the benefits of the leadership exchange program, but was not accepted the first year he applied.

“Americans love stairs,” the art history major said with a laugh. “You love walking, you love stairs. We don’t have people walking. We always use the elevators. We’re lazy people. … We choose to take the elevators.” Al Gailey was one of about 20 students to travel the roughly 7,000 miles from Doha to Richmond last week as part of VCU’s Qatar Leadership


A painting at the Fire Station, which showcases contemporary art, catches Richmond Student Sarah Izabel’s eye.

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So he stepped up his involvement in university activities and applied again.

“I really changed what I was doing at the time,” said Shaikh, who joined more organizations and volunteered with TedxVCU and the Office of Sustainability. To earn a spot in the exchange program, he knew he had to show he was involved on campus and cared about the community in addition to earning good grades. “[You’ve got to] make sure that you’re really going above and beyond the bare minimum of what’s required for your major,” he said. Participating in this year’s Qatar exchange program meant the world to him.

The hospitality, the culture and the sense of going somewhere new and experiencing leadership and [different] constructs than what we may have here — it’s a different life,

Charles Klink, Ph.D., senior vice provost for student affairs.

But not as different as he expected. Shaikh said that before the trip he had “bought into” the media’s depiction of the Middle East as a patriarchal society that doesn’t care about women. “It really surprised me that that’s not the reality, even though that’s the depictions that you might get from the media here,” he said. “They had such a strong focus on women’s empowerment and they’re building this whole Education City. We heard from Qatar Foundation and they were saying the idea is to empower women at top universities without having to leave the country … just to provide access to higher education for their women.”

^ Top: The Richmond delegation listens to a presentation about Qatar Foundation at its headquarters in Education City. Bottom: Richmond Student Hanan Kourtu enjoys a dhow cruise in the Arabian Gulf.

Touring Education City, the academic campus in Doha that comprises satellite campuses of eight international universities, was a big draw for Andrew Edward Bell, a graduate student in the School of the Arts.“Amazing things happen anytime someone puts that much money into an educational initiative,” Bell said. “The Qatar government has created gorgeous K-12 schools that feed into an extraordinary amalgam of universities including Georgetown, Weill Cornell [Medicine], Northwestern and VCUarts. I was really excited to see this educational utopia, and I was not disappointed.” Richmonders also had the opportunity to tour the Qatar Science and Technology Park, which provides office space, co-working spaces and business incubation for the companies on site.



“Not only does the government have such great educational initiatives, they have created a business park for fostering innovation and economic growth,” Bell said. “[The park] really blew me away. It was exciting to see that they not only promote education, but they are also thinking about what happens beyond graduation.” While in Qatar, the U.S. delegation presented a VCU Richmond Day, the equivalent of the annual VCU Qatar Day held on the Monroe Park Campus.


Top left: Richmond students don traditional Qatari garb with the help of Ghazal Raqeeb. Bottom left: The Richmond delegation pauses for a photo.

Instead of kebabs and rice, Richmond Day featured hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza, said Sarah Faheem, student activities and engagement officer at VCUarts Qatar. Richmond students also handed out VCU face tattoos and taught their counterparts some Ram cheers. In Richmond, the Qatari delegation held a special preview event called Majlis on the MCV Campus the day before the Qatar Day celebration. The smaller event, meant to include health sciences students in the celebration, featured authentic Mediterranean food, calligraphy, live music and a pair of falcons, which throughout the Middle East are embedded in the tradition of hunting and hawking and are considered extremely valuable.

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< Right: Richmond students Hanan Kourtu (left) and Mae Sefanie Finley (right) go for a ride on a camel.

experience is amazing and people come back changed with a lot of wisdom.”

The next day, Qatar Day featured the same attractions, as well as an annual fashion show, henna tattoos, Arabian perfumes and a photo booth where attendees could have their photos taken in authentic Qatari garb.

I’m excited for having people come to learn about the Qatari culture and realize that we’re not very different from people here,

said al Gailey, who manned the perfume table at Qatar Day.

VCUarts Qatar students Steffi Braganza and Zaki George also worked different stations during the celebration. This was the first trip to the United States for both students. Coming from a conservative family in India, Braga wasn’t even allowed out of her house alone before attending university. Convincing her parents to let go enough to allow her to attend school in Qatar was a huge step, she said. Now a sophomore studying graphic design, Braga has found the leadership exchange invaluable. “This is my first trip to the U.S.,” she said. “This is my first trip alone, without my family. So that’s what I was looking forward to — to get to this self-independent stage. … The

George said the trip cemented his plans to return to Richmond after graduating to pursue a master’s degree in art history. The Qatari delegation’s visit coincided with the seventh biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art. The visiting students were able to attend the VCU-sponsored event, which returned to the United States after 13 years, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Widely considered the preeminent conference on Islamic art and culture, the three-day international symposium featured leading scholars and curators of Islamic art and architecture, and dynamic contemporary artists from around the world. “The art symposium, I’m sure, will be helpful for my studies,” George said. This year’s conference, “Islamic Art: Past, Present and Future,” addressed a range of topics, including the ways in which Islamic art engages with contemporary politics, global capitalism, gender, religion and history, and how Western museums have approached collecting and curating the arts of the Islamic lands. The symposium, which came at the tail end of the Qatari students’ trip to Richmond, provided a fitting bookend to this year’s Qatar Leadership Exchange Program, itself an educational opportunity that helps participants view and understand the world in new ways. Reflecting on her experience, Anusheh Zaman, VCUarts Qatar SGA president, said the exchange allows students to hone their leadership skills and become better individuals in the process. “Don’t stick in your field,” she said. “Go beyond borders. You can learn so much from that.”


Anner signs copies of his book, “If At Birth You Don’t Succeed” for VCU students and staff following his presentation “When Life Gives You A Wheelchair”.


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Free copies of Zach Anner’s book were distributed to students and staff who attended the event.

nner, the author of “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed,” a memoir about his life with cerebral palsy, spoke at “One World, Infinite PossAbilities,” held in the University Student Commons Theatre and hosted and co-sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity. The Texas-based comedian won his own TV show through “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star” in 2011. His show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, “Rollin’ With Zach,” featured his wheelchair travels. He currently writes for the ABC show “Speechless.”

Anner, who opened his presentation, “When Life Gives You A Wheelchair, 22 – SPRING 2018

Make Lemonade,” with one of his WorkoutWednesday videos, said he started giving presentations in 2011 and does between 10 and 20 a year. “I thought it was a way I could connect with people and tell some of the things in my story that I hadn’t been able to express yet,” Anner said. “I found that there was a gap in people with disabilities sharing their stories, and my path has been very unconventional. I wanted to maybe infuse my story with a bit of humor and show people there are different paths you can take.” Anner’s mother advocated for him when he was young, he said, and he was the first student with a disability to be mainstreamed in

his school district. He said his successes are largely due to people advocating for him before he could advocate for himself.

I am constantly reminded that I can’t do it alone. That’s true for everyone whether they realize it or not.

inclusion, a dedication to addressing disparities wherever they exist and an opportunity to explore and create in an environment of trust. Last spring, as an example, a new partnership between the Outdoor Adventure Program of VCU Recreational Sports and the Richmond-area nonprofit organization Sportable provided adaptive sports and recreational opportunities for people with physical and visual disabilities.

said Anner.

Anner focused his presentation on having a support system and asking for help when needed. He closed with a short excerpt from Chapter 15 of “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed.” Anner wrote the section, “Game Changer,” as a way to recognize his adaptive physical education teacher, Mrs. Fatta, who changed his outlook on his disability through sports. “I think the thing that stuck out to me the most was when he read out loud from his book about his P.E. teacher and how she was encouraging him so he would be pushed to meet her halfway and giving him a new perspective on life,” said Sana Masud, a junior in the School of the Arts who attended the event.

Anner is the first speaker to come to VCU for disability awareness month. Ian Kunkes, director of Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, says he hopes Anner’s presentation is the first of many. “I pitched a couple of different people secretly hoping that Zach would rise to the top and it was pretty unanimous as different offices started seeing the YouTube videos he’s done and some of his speeches — he’s somebody that could just really speak to what VCU is all about,” Kunkes said. “Comedy connects people of all abilities,” Anner said. “If I can make you laugh, we’re connected.”

The message of opportunity was woven throughout Anner’s presentation. It is also a focus of many VCU departments. One of VCU’s missions is to promote diversity that provides a climate of


SPOTLIGHTS See what happened around campus

Student Media Center Launches “SMC Talks”


Student Media Center

resenting a series of mediafocused workshops, the Student Media Center began “SMC Talks.” The workshops featured both professional guest speakers as well as on-campus faculty and staff and highlighted various aspects of the media industry – including photography, reporting, design, public relations and broadcast. The first talk was held on Sept. 28 and featured Joseph Jacob, a photojournalist, videographer and public affairs specialist with the U.S. Marines. The SMC Talks workshop series will continue into the 2018 Spring semester and are open to current VCU students, faculty and staff.

Flu Vaccines Increase by More Than 11 Percent


University Student Health Services

ach year, students are able to receive free flu vaccine through University Student Health Services. This provides protection not only for the vaccinated student but also for the VCU community. We set a goal of increasing the number of students receiving the vaccine by five percent. Multiple off-site clinics were offered in a variety of locations on both campuses to increase student access. Students were also entered into a drawing for free promotional items. As the semester ended, 3,946 students received the flu vaccine, an increase of more than 11 percent.

Dean of Students Office Assists More Students

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24 – SPRING 2018

Joseph Jacob, a photojournalist, videographer and public affairs specialist with the U.S. Marines, gives direction to a student during the first SMC talk.

Dean of Students Office

here was an increase in the number of students who met with the Dean of Students Office seeking divisional and university-wide assistance. There are many significant factors that contributed to this increase including presentations to faculty, information provided to parents and students at orientation sessions, meetings and programs with student groups and involvement with divisional and university-wide events.

Hip-Hop Takes Over VCU


Office of Multicultural Affairs

rom Sept. 12 - Sept. 15, hip-hop took over Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus. The inaugural Hip-Hop Summit, hosted by VCU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, featured four days of motivational speakers and hip-hop icons. The week began with a Teach In with Raymond Patton and ended with the Art of Noise with Kelli Lemon, Mad Skillz and DJ Lonnie B.


A full room of students gather to hear inspiration from hip-hop icons to kick off the inaugural Hip-Hop Summit.

New Transfer Leadership Program University Student


Commons and Activities

niversity Student Commons and Activities’ Student Leadership Center piloted a semester long transfer student leadership program. Recognizing the large number of students who identify as transfers at VCU, this cohort program was created to help students explore their leadership capacity and to provide an additional opportunity for these students to find their community on campus. Over the course of six sessions, students explored their leadership style through a high ropes course and workshops

grounded in The Student Leadership Challenge model both on and off campus. The sessions were led by staff from the Student Leadership Center and special guests from across campus.

A cohort program was created to help students explore leadership and find their community on campus.


UCS promotes positive mental health on campus

Do the Stall Seat Journals make a difference? Research says...Yes!



tudent Affairs, through University Counseling Services, is a part of the “JED Campus” initiative. The Jed Foundation is designed to promote emotional well-being and mental health on campus and in doing so, help prevent the two leading causes of death in young adults — unintentional injuries, including those caused by prescription drug overdoses or alcohol poisoning, and suicide. In strategic partnership with JED, UCS along with Housing, VCU Police, Athletics, Student Affairs and academic departments are working to help create positive, lasting and systemic change in the campus community to prevent suicides and promote the overall positive mental health of the VCU community.

Wellness Resource Center

pit for Science researchers in VCU’s College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute (COBE), undergraduate students and The Wellness Resource Center staff worked together to analyze data from 4,172 VCU students. They found that campaign readership was associated with more accurate perceptions of peer alcohol use, which in turn, was associated with self-reported lower number of drinks per sitting and experiencing fewer blackouts. Findings were just published in the Journal of American College Health 21 Nov 2017.

Suit Yourself


VCU Career Services

tudents who need professional clothing for an upcoming interview or career fair may shop the “Suit Yourself Closet” of new or gently worn clothing and select a complete ensemble from items donated by local businesses or alumni. There is no cost to shop, and students may keep the clothing for future use. During the fall semester, 78 students utilized the Suit Yourself Closet and this spring, VCU Career Services, JCPenney and the National Association of Black Accountants will be co-hosting a Suit-Up event.


A student tries on professional clothing that is available for students through Career Services “Suit Yourself” closet. 26 – SPRING 2018

University Counseling Services

Students took photos with Rodney to promote student code of conduct and academic integrity.


VCU Emphasizes Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity


Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity

he Office ofStudent Conduct and Academic Integrity hosted two theme weeks to show the importance of knowing VCU’s student code of conduct and having academic integrity. Student Code of Conduct Awareness Week, hosted Sept. 25 - 29, highlighted a week of events that included a mix and mingle luncheon with representatives from the university and a panel discussion on civility, respect and social justice. Academic Integrity Awareness Week featured events including a forum on stress and how it affects decision making and a screening of the movie “(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies.”

This course made me realize who I am as a leader and what steps I can take in order to ensure that I am doing my best as a student, leader, friend and citizen.

Lauren Brocious, first-year VCU LEAD student

Social Justice and Leadership Course Piloted by VCU LEAD



CU LEAD piloted a special topics course titled “Social Justice and Leadership.” The course was a unique partnership between the University of Richmond Jepson School of Leadership Studies and VCU LEAD, with six students from VCU participating and approximately 20 from UR. The course explored theories of justice and social responsibility with an emphasis on leadership and how Americans can address the needs of vulnerable communities.


STAFF AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS Some of our staff accomplishments this past semester

Hannah Kotarski Graduate Assistant for Fitness at Recreational Sports Awarded the NIRSA Foundation Scholarship.

Andrea Becker Associate Director of Residential Initiatives Appointed to the Southeastern Association of Housing Officers Executive Board and Governing Council as the Director of Committees.

Connie Kottmann Recreational Sports Assistant Director of Marketing Appointed to the NIRSA Marketing Community of Practice, NIRSA Region 2 (Southeast) Communication Team and co-chair for the 2018 Collegiate Marketing Institute.

Allison Dyche Director of Student Media

Kimberly Matthews, Ph.D.

Appointed to the board of the College

VCU LEAD Instructor

Media Association to serve in the role of Vice President of Member Services.

Selected as a finalist in the 2017 Best Book Awards for her book “Images of Modern America: The Richmond Crusade for Voters.

Linda Hancock, Ph.D. Director of The Well Published the article “Assessing the Association Between E-Cigarette Use and Exposure to Social Media in College Students: A Cross-Sectional Study, Substance Use & Misuse.

Derek Hottell, Ph.D. Director of Recreational Sports Appointed to the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Honor Award Committee (NIRSA), NIRSA Research & Assessment Committee and NIRSA Assembly. Hottell’s article “Racialized aggressions and social media on campus” was published in the Journal of College Student Development.

28 – SPRING 2018

Heather Nunes Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement Assistant Director Awarded for serving as Association of College Unions International Student Programs Team Leader (2015-2017).

Donte Sharpe Coordinator for Student Governance Awarded the First-Time Attendee Mid-Level Scholarship through National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

DEPARTMENT LISTING Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Residential Life and Housing

University Student Health Services

901 Floyd Ave. Sitterding House (804) 828-1244

301 W. Cary St. Cary and Belvidere Residential College (804) 828-7666

1300 W. Broad St., 2nd Floor (804) 828-8828

Dean of Students Office 901 Floyd Ave. Sitterding House (804) 828-1244 1110 E. Broad St. Hunton Student Center (804) 828-2110

Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity 907 Floyd Ave., Room 018 University Student Commons (804) 828-2253

Student Media Center Office of Multicultural Student Affairs 907 Floyd Ave., Room 215 University Student Commons (804) 828-6672

Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity 809 W. Broad Street, 2nd Floor (804) 828-1963

Recreational Sports 101 S. Linden St. Cary Street Gym (804) 827-1100 MCV Campus Recreation and Aquatic Center 900 Turpin St. (804) 828-6100

817 W. Broad St. (804) 828-1058

Technology Support Services 809 W. Broad St. (804) 828-8943

1000 E. Marshall St. VMI Building, Room 305 (804) 828-9220

University Student Commons and Activities 907 Floyd Ave., Room 104 University Student Commons (804) 828-6500 1110 E. Broad St. Hunton Student Center (804) 828-2110 900 Turpin St. Larrick Student Center

The Wellness Resource Center 815 S. Cathedral Pl. (804) 828-9355

University Counseling Services

VCU Career Services

907 Floyd Ave., Room 238 University Student Commons (804) 828-6200

907 Floyd Ave., Room 143 University Student Commons (804) 828-1645

1000 E. Marshall St. VMI Building, Room 412 (804) 828-3964

VCU LEAD 1000 W. Grace St. Grace and Broad Residence Center 1 (804) 827-5323

Reveal - Spring 2018  

This is the inaugural magazine for Virginia Commonwealth University's Division of Student Affairs. The magazine features a snapshot of some...

Reveal - Spring 2018  

This is the inaugural magazine for Virginia Commonwealth University's Division of Student Affairs. The magazine features a snapshot of some...