Loving Life in Community

By Kristin Davis In the decade after Alyssa Martin ’96 graduated from Mary Washington College with a degree in economics and Spanish, life took a series of unexpected turns. She left graduate school after a semester, moved to Colorado, and worked odd jobs before becoming a certified professional midwife. She loved her calling, but not the toll it took. She worked all the time just to pay the bills, and it was nearly impossible to schedule time off. By 2006, she felt unfulfilled and disillusioned. “I knew that wasn’t sustainable or how I wanted to live in the world,” Martin said. “I wondered if there was a way for me to find more balance in life.” The answer was in a magazine article about a place called Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, a 280-acre commune in Rutledge, Missouri, devoted to sustainable living. Members live independently but agree to community rules, like building their homes using alternative techniques and powering them with renewable energy. They grow their food and own … [Read more...]

Photographer Captures Life

By Laura Moyer At first, artist Mary Jane Condon Bohlen ’94 had to find fellow breast cancer survivors who’d let her photograph them – chest scars exposed – for her book about life after diagnosis. But as word of the project circulated, women started asking to be included. They were proud of their resilient bodies and eager to share stories about how surviving breast cancer changed them inside and out. The result is Bosom Buddies, a book of powerful photographs, essays, and poems celebrating determination and grace. Bohlen is donating half the proceeds of the recently self-published book to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She’s been involved with the center since 2008, when she and husband Bob moved back to her native New England after almost 30 years in the Fredericksburg area. The move north happened soon after Bohlen’s second breast cancer diagnosis.  She wanted to be closer to family, and the diagnosis, 16 years after her first … [Read more...]

An Accidental Journalist

By Edie Gross Chris Gay ’84 had earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Mary Washington when he decided to follow up with a master’s in public administration at George Mason. To pay for it, he answered an ad he found on a campus job board for a reporter at a Prince William County newspaper. “If there’d been another job on that job board, I might have done something else,” Gay said. Instead, he parlayed that initial newsroom gig into a job in Hong Kong – and ultimately, a 30-year journalism career. “I just sort of backed into journalism,” said Gay, who put his advanced degree on hold. “The job became full time, and I just sort of forgot about school.” Now an editor at The Wall Street Journal in New York, Gay spent the better part of a decade in Hong Kong, writing and editing for the Journal’s Asia edition as well as for Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia’s version of The Economist. He also spent nearly two years in Tokyo at Knight-Ridder Financial … [Read more...]

Swimmer Stays in Sync

By Erica Jackson Curran After 20 seasons as William & Mary’s synchronized swimming team coach, Barbara Gordon McNamee ’59 is a fixture of the school’s aquatics center. But long before she coached Tribe Synchro, she was a member of the Mary Washington College synchronized swimming team. At 78, McNamee has been involved in the sport for most of her life, serving as a coach for multiple teams, a top-level executive with organizations like U.S. Synchronized Swimming, and a judge at international events, including the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when she found herself heading in another direction. “I was a competitive swimmer, and my coach always told me that he did not understand how someone with such a beautiful stroke could be so slow,” she remembered of her high school days when her family lived in Panama’s Canal Zone. Determined to stay in the water, she knew she’d found her niche when she saw her first synchro demo at the Pan … [Read more...]

Historian Wins Coveted Guggenheim-Lehrman

David Preston ’94 received the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History for Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution, published in 2015 by Oxford University Press. The prize, which includes a $50,000 award, recognizes the most outstanding book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year. Preston is its third recipient. Braddock’s Defeat explores the disastrous fate of British regulars and American Colonial troops in Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War. It challenges the stale portrait of Gen. Edward Braddock as an arrogant European officer who refused to adapt to conditions in the New World. It also shows how the French and Indian coalition achieved victory through diplomacy, tactics, and leadership. Preston is the Westvaco Professor of National Security Studies at The Citadel in Charleston, where he teaches cadets and officer candidates about U.S. military history and early American … [Read more...]

Cedric Rucker Named Living Legacy

Cedric Rucker ’81, UMW’s associate vice president for student affairs and dean of student life, was named a Living Legacy by Richmond Public Schools. Rucker, a 1977 graduate of the city’s John Marshall High School, received the honor in an April 29 ceremony that also recognized Richmond public school alumni Willie Lanier, a retired NFL linebacker, and Henry L. Marsh, a retired state senator. Rucker was recognized as an inspirational leader who exemplifies an extraordinary life.  The school system “prepared us to work hard, and to imagine a world anew,” Rucker said. He cited his parents and his grandparents as inspirational foundations, and he pointed to UMW alumni in the audience as innovative leaders. “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,” he said, “and we have a responsibility to uplift the next generation.” Known for his infectious laugh and bow tie collection, Rucker has spent more than three decades at Mary Washington. Though he was not the first … [Read more...]

Fey’s the Ultimate

The U.S. Women’s Ultimate Team swept away the competition at this summer’s World Ultimate and Guts Championships, and Jenny Fey ’07 had a lot to do with it. The American women took gold in the tournament, held June 18-25 in London, dominating a field of 26 teams from around the world. Fey had nine assists and six goals over 10 games. Fey started playing Ultimate, a flying-disc game, as a high school student in Arlington, Virginia. She continued during her years at Mary Washington, where she majored in English. Fey has played for two-time national champion club D.C. Scandal since 2009. She is on the board of the Youth Ultimate League of Arlington. Off the field, Fey teaches English and social studies at an independent school in Northern Virginia. … [Read more...]

Web Fests Do Series A Solid

You might say Solid 8 got its start when theater majors Magan Carrigan and Taylor Williams met freshman year. The 2011 graduates went on to produce, write, and star in the web comedy series they released in February 2016. Within weeks, decider.com recommended the 10-episode first season, and later in the year Solid 8 was an official selection at the Brooklyn, Austin, and Miami web fests. Season one finds protagonist Nicki, played by Carrigan, trying to break into New York’s theater and film scene, hitting obstacle after obstacle –many of her own making – and tenaciously staying in the game. In one of many nods to the couple’s real life, Williams plays Nicki’s playwright boyfriend, Dylan. After graduating from UMW, Carrigan and Williams moved to New York City and completed master of fine arts degrees at Actors Studio Drama School, Williams in playwriting and Carrigan in acting. They founded Solid 8 Productions and launched an Indiegogo campaign that funded the web series. UMW … [Read more...]

Retro Tech Is Must-Watch TV

AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, the brainchild of Christopher C. Rogers ’05 and creative partner Christopher Cantwell, got great press leading up to its third season premiere in August. The New York Times headlined Halt in its “What You Should Watch” column. The Atlantic called it “one of TV’s most elegantly crafted shows.” And Variety gushed that the ’80s-era tech drama is “both a retro pleasure and a forward-looking gem.” The Emmy-nominated series follows a fictional startup as it tries to compete with the corporate behemoths of the computer boom. Halt and Catch Fire’s first season aired in 2014 and won the 2014 Critics’ Choice TV Award for Most Exciting New Series. Rogers, a Winchester native, has been writing for more than a decade. After graduating with a history degree from UMW, he worked as a researcher at The Atlantic in Washington, D.C. He headed to Los Angeles, worked as a research editor for Condé Nast’s Architectural Digest, and studied screenwriting at the Writers … [Read more...]

Creative Thinking Leads to Ad Age Honor

Joseph “Fitz” Maro ’11 is among 11 global “Creatives You Should Know” for 2016, chosen by Advertising Age magazine. As the senior innovation strategist for digital ad agency 360i New York, Maro was recognized along with the agency’s vice president for innovation and technology, Layne Harris. Maro and Harris are co-founders of their company’s Innovation Lab, developing the technology to execute 360i’s ideas. They enabled the Canon Photo Coach ad campaign, whose digital billboards gave real-time information to help passers-by take perfect pictures. They also executed a campaign for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation promoting Adaptoys, which allow those with paralysis to play familiar games with their families. It’s not the first major recognition for Maro, who majored in business administration at UMW. He was named a “Fearless Thinker” by the communications industry magazine Campaign U.S. and earned a trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June … [Read more...]