Classroom Experience Inspires a Career of Advocacy

Betsy Pfromm remains engaged in promoting
the importance of young 
children’s mental well-being.

By Emily BattleBetsy Pfromm ’71 says serendipity took her from sociology student to CEO of the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic, an organization that promotes the mental health of children and families in high-poverty areas of Central and South Los Angeles. But the twists and turns of her career can be tied to the first time she stepped into a classroom of crying 6-year-olds. Pfromm wasn’t sure what career she wanted when she graduated from what was then Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. But she felt the liberal arts background gained at MWC had given her a strong foundation. “More than anything, my critical-thinking skills were well-honed,” she said. With jobs scarce for sociology majors, she took a position as a first-grade teacher in a rural Virginia school. Many of her students came from impoverished households. Most had never been away from home in this era before universal kindergarten and Head Start. Pfromm saw enormous emotional needs, and she wanted … [Read more...]

Scholar Examines South African Activism

Dawne Curry’s research primarily focuses on resistance and the struggle for human rights.

By Edie Gross Raised in the tiny town of Kilmarnock on Virginia’s Northern Neck, Dawne Y. Curry ’90 was a shy teenager in search of a small-college experience when she arrived at Mary Washington as a freshman. It’s fair to say she’s come out of her shell. These days, Curry feels most at home in Johannesburg, South Africa, a bustling urban center of more than 9 million people – a fair number of whom she’s interviewed over the last 20 years while gathering stories of female empowerment and anti-apartheid activism. “I love talking to people and getting intimate stories of history and seeing how people shape or preserve their memories,” said Curry, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln history and ethnic studies professor spending the 2017-18 school year in South Africa as a Fulbright recipient. “It’s very important to me that the voices of Africans are heard in my work. How am I going to teach African history if I haven’t been here?” At Mary Washington, Curry majored in international … [Read more...]

Class Agent Is a Class Act – and Game Show Champ

In the opening minutes of The Wall, Shana Muhammad (left) and  cousin Jakia
Muhammad won $90,000. They left with more than
half a million.

By Kristin Davis Shana Muhammad ’06 wasn’t a crier or a gambler, but she found herself doing both. In front of her sat a contract, and in front of that, a TV camera recording each agonizing moment for an NBC game show called The Wall. It was a game of ability and chance, and Muhammad had plenty of the former. Before the episode ended Jan. 15, host Chris Hardwick called her the smartest contestant the show had ever had. If she signed the contract, she and her teammate would go home with at least $90,000. If she tore it up, she might lose it all – or win a whole lot more. It seemed improbable that Muhammad had ended up on a game show at all. She is, by her own account, conservative, the manager of a local grocery store in Washington, D.C. She works hard, pays her bills, and takes care of her family. Muhammad grew up in Northern Virginia, the daughter of a single mother who insisted she get a college degree. During her senior year of high school, Muhammad applied to six state … [Read more...]

Senior Thesis Leads to Civil War Book

Ryan Quint has parlayed his fascination with the Civil War to a job as a historian and a burgeoning career as an author. His first book, about the Battle of Monocacy, was recently published by Savas Beatie. Photo by Norm Shafer.

By Emily Battle It was a book that got Ryan Quint ’15 hooked on Civil War history as a child growing up in Maine. “When I was 8 or 9 years old, I read a book about a Civil War drummer boy,” Quint said. Quint was fascinated by the fact that kids his own age had played a role in the Civil War. Now Quint has a book of his own that he hopes will get others interested in learning about the war. Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864 was published in 2017 by Savas Beatie as part of the Emerging Civil War Series. These books are meant to be engaging and accessible reads for newcomers to Civil War history. Quint started writing appendices to other books in the series while he was still a student at UMW. This is the first book on which he has been the lead author. Its focus is the 1864 Battle of Monocacy, in which Confederates under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early defeated Union forces under Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace near Frederick, Maryland. Quint was able to write the book … [Read more...]