Success Built on Respect

Diana Rupert Livingston ’71 set forth a vision as general manager of a QVC call center that opened in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in 1999. Co-worker Tom Yurkovich still has those words hanging on his office bulletin board: “Create an environment where people feel valued, want to come to work, and feel time here is well spent.” “It’s how we treat one another,” said Yurkovich, who credits Livingston with fostering an atmosphere of respect and truly caring about the people around her. “She has a sincere interest in understanding people. If you’re going to sit down and have a conversation with Diana, she is going to be interested in what you’re saying.” Livingston worked in two of the three domestic customer contact centers of the multinational home shopping network QVC before opening her own 1,200-employee QVC call center as general manager. A teacher of emotional intelligence and a consummate volunteer recognized with the 2008 Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush, … [Read more...]

Ad Man Takes Station Art Deco

When John Anstey ’93 told people he planned to renovate a boarded up 1950s gas station into the headquarters for his Roanoke advertising firm, he received one of two reactions. “They would either say ‘You’re crazy’ or ‘You’re a visionary,’ ” Anstey said with a chuckle. “And there were various points along the process where I had both feelings.” Anstey has always loved old buildings. But the idea for the dramatic transformation from dilapidated gas station to art deco office space likely had its beginnings in an elective class the English major took at Mary Washington. That historic preservation class, taught by Associate Professor Gary Stanton, piqued Anstey’s interest in preserving the past. The textbook featured a former gas station that had been converted into a visitors center. “That was probably in the back of my mind during this whole process,” Anstey said. The building transformation took about six months once construction began. Before the first brick was moved, … [Read more...]

Couple Stays Up In the Air

After years as a circus acrobat, Mark Pieklo ’94 still feels the pressures of putting on a show – the glare of the spotlight, the eyes of the crowd, the need to nail every performance. “Imagine all that, only you have to do backflips at the same time,” said Pieklo, a longtime aerialist with the French contemporary circus Cirque Plume. In Boy Throws Girl, the act he performs with his wife, Laura Smith, Pieklo must climb to a perch high above the circus floor, toss a somersaulting Smith into the air, and catch her again. And they do it all without safety lines. Taking chances comes naturally for Pieklo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in math from Mary Washington but bypassed a conventional career, opting instead to audition for the National Circus School in Montreal. Two decades later, he’s still flipping, twisting, and bouncing his way into audience members’ hearts. But to realize his dream, Pieklo – now 41 and the father of twin toddlers – would turn once again to his alma … [Read more...]

Army Major Tackles Animal Diseases

As a child, Karyn Havas ’01 wanted to help sick animals the way some kids long to fight fires or put away bad guys. She thought veterinary medicine meant spending days with cuddly creatures like her pet guinea pig − not the study of diseases like brucellosis or Rift Valley fever. Havas got a job at a dairy farm while in high school in Pennsylvania. There was nothing cuddly about it, and she loved it. After graduation, she chose to study biology at the University of Mary Washington and spent summers and breaks working on a horse farm and in an animal hospital. Those educational and work experiences, Havas said, solidified her desire to become a veterinarian. Havas set goals and made plans. “I always have a plan,” she said with a laugh. After graduating from UMW, she completed Cornell Veterinary School on an Army scholarship. In 2011, she earned a Ph.D. in veterinary epidemiology from Colorado State University. Today she is a major in the Army, putting her skills and education to … [Read more...]