In 2013, Dean Richard Finkelstein recognized an opportunity to leverage the University’s Freshman Hall (Virginia) President; Student Government Presidentnetwork of alumni as a valuable resource with which to expand and articulate the value of a University of Mary Washington education and degree, in terms of reputation, student opportunities, career choices, and personal happiness and fulfillment after graduation. Thus, the CAS Advisory Board was established from UMW / MWC alumni who had achieved high levels of personal and professional achievement within industry, government and academia. These individuals continue to meet quarterly with the goal of looking at existing and envisioned programs within the College of Arts and Sciences, applying real-world perspective and experience, and providing advisory services with regard to how and where the College could improve and effectively articulate the superior value of the College.
Meet the Alumni Board Members:
At UMW: Majored in Computer Sciences, Masters in Information Systems
Crew Team at UMW, After graduation assistant coach of UMW Crew, current Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
Current Position: Director of Technology, Tech Wizards
My time at UMW allowed me to make lifetime friends, prepared me for a career in Computer Science, and facilitated meeting my wife, so I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! UMW’s liberal arts education prepared me for a career where I feel prepared to accomplish any task, and allows me to be successful at whatever endeavor I tackle, including manage multiple projects primarily utilizing virtual reality and video game engines to create training applications for the navy, and coming back to UMW to teach computer science as an adjunct. The professors I had, especially in Computer Science, Art, and Speech, were invaluable!
Sarah E. Amick, ’03
At UMW: Majored in English
Simpson Library student employee, Phonathon, MWC Ambassadors, Hall Council, Chorus, Baptist Student Union
Current Position: Administrative Assistant at VBH Foundation, LifeSpire of Virginia
Previously worked at VCU Libraries and Simpson Library, UMW Libraries
I love everything about Mary Washington, especially my time there as student living on campus all 4 years. One of my favorite classes was my English Senior Seminar course with Professor Mary Rigsby. One of my many favorite spots to be on campus is under the trees lining Ball Circle. I also love the mysterious and magical feeling of the pathway, bridge, and staircase leading up to Melchers, DuPont, and Pollard from Campus Walk near the Eagle’s Nest. My newest favorite spot is the Zen Garden on the way to the Amphitheater!
Mary Washington is such a special, welcoming, beautiful, comfortable, and memorable place to call home as a student and as an alum forever!
Dee Dee Becker, ’86
Virginia Beach, VA
At UMW: Majored in Psychology
Student Affairs – served as an RA
Current Position: President Becker Communications Dee Dee is a PR and crisis management consultant. Ask her about the time a Navy jet crashed in Virginia Beach (all survived), or when a hospital patient caused a shocking stir with a fake bomb threat – and present day, how she manages critical online coronavirus conversations for hospitals and health systems – her most powerful exercises in crisis management. Dee Dee also serves as a Facebook community partner, lead admin for the Virginia Tech Parents Facebook group and moderator for the nationally acclaimed and award-winning Grown and Flown Parents group. She is wildly exhilarated by sharing (and commiserating in!) the wiles and trials of other “Grown and Flown” parents – as the oldest of six girls, she never lacks inspiration for an entertaining story.
Through outstanding faculty and lifelong college friendships, my time at Mary Washington taught me about the importance of forging relationships and building community, no matter how large or small. My memories are strong, and I highly value the education and experiences I received there. Mary Washington is the perfect place for students to grow and thrive in a liberal arts and science university.
Linda Blakemore ’84
At UMW: Majored in Business Administration
Played Field Hockey
Current Position: President and CEO of The Gemini 3 Group, Inc.
Beth Craig ’77
At UMW: Majored in International Relations
President of Honor Council, member of the Honor Council, participated in Model United Nations, French Club
Current Position: Retired Senior Executive from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
I loved Mary Washington. For me, it was the perfect balance of welcoming environment, challenging academics, and leadership opportunities. I made friends for a life time. I loved the small class sizes and how my professors believed in me and pushed me to work harder and be better than I thought I could!
I was on the Honor Council as a class representative for my first three years and then as the President my senior year. I felt truly supported by the Honor Council Faculty Advisor and by my fellow class representatives. What an opportunity to learn and work together. It was certainly an experience that you can get at only a very few schools!
Trevor S. Daubenspeck ‘08
At UMW: Majored in Economics
SGA Student Senate; President of the Film Production Club; Economics Honor Society (Omicron Delta Epsilon); Economics Club; Hall Council
Current Position: Finance & Accounting Manager at Sands Anderson PC
Previously worked as Energy Analyst at ICF International; Finance Manager at LeClairRyan
One of my favorite classes was Law & Economics with Professor Humphrey during my Sophomore year. I still had not declared a major and Prof. Humphrey had just arrived to UMW so both he and his students were really exploring the subject matter. The mix of students in the class was fantastic across all levels of economic thought with some amazing discussions and debates. This class cemented my love for Economics and likely changed my entire life trajectory as a result.
UMW provides such a different experience that is built around students and the educational experience that you do not receive at most other institutions. As a student you get to enjoy learning in a collaborative, supportive environment while still knowing you are attaching yourself to a network that keeps growing and expanding past graduating.
Darnell Horio DeMasters ’84
At UMW: Majored in Psychology and Sociology
Current Position: Vice President, Federal Government Affairs; WEC Energy Group
Mary Washington was the perfect school at the perfect time since my parents moved to Europe after my high school gradation. The size of the school and student body were perfect for that time in my life … far less intimidating than a larger school with a smaller, more intimate student body. I lived on campus all four years, loved the campus and social life, served on Class Council which allowed me to get to know many of my classmates and schoolmates, and made lifelong friends. I will always cherish my Mary Washington days and greatly appreciate the education I received, both inside the classroom and beyond.
Susan Leavitt, ’83
At UMW: Majored in Economics, Minor in French Literature
Honor Committee, played Field Hockey and Lacrosse
Current Position: McEnearney Associates, Inc.
Professor to student ratio is so low …. my professors remembered me and wrote Grad school recommendations 15 years after graduation. My major had little to do with my career path – I left school and went to NYC to work on Wall Street. Mary Washington gave me the confidence, communication skills, and determination to make my path in finance. I created a position for myself on Wall Street by soliciting the US based foreign banks using my language skills and cultural knowledge to secure their confidence. Wall Street evolved into a career in real estate – which is using my same skills set of communication, the ability to weigh risks and probable outcomes, and a firm grasp of pricing analysis. I credit Mary Washington College with preparing me for the business world.
AT UMW: BLS ~ Business Accounting
Current Position: Workforce Analyst and Military Liaison Director
The faculty was amazing, their industry expertise and approachable leadership allowed us to learn first hand about the chosen profession and industry of our dreams. I received offers from major accounting firms and the FBI, but I returned to active duty in the U.S. Marines. I’m truly appreciative for the opportunity and guidance UMW provided.
My education at Mary Washington has allowed me to be a Comptroller Chief, Tax Director, Executive Director, and Entrepreneur thanks to the quality education I received.
Mary MacPherson, ’71
At UMW: Majored in American Studies
President (Virginia Hall), played Lacrosse
Current Position: President M2Works LLC and President & CEO, Slovak-American Foundation
Even decades later, my memories of Mary Washington often emerge, especially now in turbulent political times where our voices are so important. American Studies was the ultimate liberal arts major and provided me the broadest possible perspective and lens into our global world. I have had the opportunity to travel and work in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe as well as the US, and know that a good part of my interest in new adventures came from the approach to learning and exploring that I embraced at Mary Wash.
I love being involved with the CAS alumni board and it has reconnected me to the campus and new and old friends.
So honored to have received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2011.
Kathleen O’Neill, ’70
At UMW: Majored in American Studies
Freshman Hall (Virginia) President; Student Government President
Current Position: Discerning Ways LLC Principal
Legal Career in Airline / Travel Industry approachable
The breadth of experiences open to women at that time at Mary Washington was of great importance (the college did not become co-educational until after I graduated). Whether it was editing the school newspaper, writing for the literary magazine, sports or student government—all doors were open. Without those opportunities, my goals would have been smaller and, perhaps, my efforts reduced.
The academic curriculum was of high quality, with engaged and supportive faculty members, and it remains a hallmark. This provided me with both the knowledge and the skills – interpersonal, organizational, verbal and writing– necessary for my professional career and my personal growth. I am a firm believer in the value of a small, liberal arts education. UMW continues to exemplify the best of such programs.
Finally, when looking back, I am filled with thankfulness, knowing that the friendships made back then continue to be among the most important in my life.
Cassandra Pierandri, ’10
AT UMW: Majored in Geography
Other activities while at UMW – Washington Guide, SGA Student Senate, and Orientation Leader
Current Position: Executive Assistant, SigEp National Housing
I chose Mary Washington for the small, tight-knit community, the outstanding faculty and hands-on academic programs, and not to mention the beautiful campus setting. Mary Washington will always have such a special place in my heart. It is where many lifelong friendships began for me, it is where I met my husband, and where I began my career. I am so proud to be a small part of this place, and I look forward to Mary Washington’s bright future ahead.
AT UMW: Majored in History
History Department Student Representative, The Bullet
Current Position: Prints and Photographs Collection Specialist, Library of Virginia
I had heard horror stories of History 299: Historiography. All potential history majors had to take that class before they could declare their major. I learned very quickly that the class was a means to weed out those who didn’t understand that majoring in history was more than just remembering dates/events, it was intense research and writing and analyzing facts. My class started with 9 people and we had 6 by the end of the semester. Our professor was tough and she demanded a lot out of her students. It was not uncommon to get a paper back covered in red pen. She pushed us to really focus on our writing and public speaking skills and would require us to record our presentations at the Speaking Center prior to giving them in class so she could compare how we improved. The course load was demanding and the class was very stressful. A classmate made us t-shirts at the end of the semester that said “I SURVIVED HIST 299!” I was never so happy to see the end of the semester as I was that year. For the rest of my time at Mary Washington and in the years since I have realized how foundational that class was to making me a better writer, researcher, and public speaker. When it came time to write my senior thesis and my advisor asked me tighten my focus half-way through, I remembered my Historiography professor and the stories she told about her time in grad school and I thought, “if she can do it, I can it!” I ended up winning the Joseph C. Vance award that year for best senior thesis.
The small class sizes really build a sense of community. It’s not uncommon, particularly in your major, to have the same group of students in many of your classes.
Jay Sinha, ’07
AT UMW: Majored in Political Science
Student Government Association – President, S.E.E.D. – Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Class Council – Vice President, Student Senate, Student Aid – J. Farmer Multicultural Center, Hai Hung Foundation Scholarship Recipient, Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership recipient
Current Position: Compliance Counsel-Information Security at Verizon Business Group
Served on Presidential Search Committee for President Troy Paino, 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient, regular alumni speaker at Destination UMW, drafted Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Job Guides for current UMW students, Founder of UMW Legal Alumni Network, Alumni Association Board of Directors (two terms), UMW delivers on the promise of opportunity – and having enjoyed the opportunities that UMW provided me with, I’m grateful to serve on a Board that seeks to preserve and enlarge those opportunities for the future.
Catherine E. Woteki, ’69
AT UMW: Majored in Biology and Chemistry
Current Position: Iowa State University
List of favorites at UMW:
Spot: The lab!
Classes: Biology, Chemistry, and Drama
Why a student should come to Mary Washington: A great education!