Bennett Broke Gender Barriers in Banking

By Edie Gross Inspired by the pictures she saw in her parents’ National Geographic magazines, Barbara Bennett ’68 had been fascinated with Latin America since she was 8 years old. And though she wasn’t entirely sure what career she’d pursue when she arrived at Mary Washington College in 1965, she was 100 percent certain it would take her to Spanish-speaking countries – she would see to that! The New Jersey native applied to Mary Washington because the school had a residence hall, now Marye House, where students immersed themselves in the Spanish language beyond the classroom. “I just dove into the Spanish House environment,” said Bennett, who went by Barbie in those days. “We all tried to speak Spanish as much as possible, but . . . the Marines from Quantico provided us with many diversions!” When she studied abroad in Madrid her junior year, she refused to speak English to any of her classmates. She noted that she often skipped class to travel around the country and to … [Read more...]

Judge Gratified When Offenders Reform

By Edie Gross In courtrooms throughout southern Virginia, Circuit Court Judge Kimberley Slayton White ’85 regularly  witnesses the sad consequences of the country’s opioid epidemic. But once in a while White receives letters from former defendants, thanking her for the lectures that set them on the right path or the diversionary sentencing that provided a second chance. “That’s one of my favorite days, when I can dismiss a felony charge because they’ve done what they were supposed to do,” White said. “Or they’ve gone bed to bed, from jail to a treatment program, and they’ve come back to court and they look like a different person.” Long before White became the first woman to serve as a judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit, she served on Mary Washington’s Judicial Council, chairing it her senior year. She initially visited campus because her father’s cousin, William Anderson, was an executive vice president at the college; Anderson would shortly become its president, and its … [Read more...]

Businessman’s Got the Drive

By Edie Gross A first-year seminar on civil rights activist James Farmer was the highlight of freshman year for Charles Reed Jr. ’11. Before the class, Reed knew very little about Farmer, who co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), organized the 1961 Freedom Ride through the South to protest segregated public transportation, and taught history and American studies at Mary Washington from 1985 to 1998. “Come to find out he was a civil rights pioneer and a force to be reckoned with, and he actually taught at the university. I thought, ‘I have to get in on that,’ ” Reed said. “That played a huge part in me contributing my time to issues of social justice.” Among a host of other activities at UMW, Reed served as president of the Black Student Association, vice president of Brothers of a New Direction (BOND), a member of Students Educating and Empowering for Diversity (SEED), and a student aide at the James Farmer Multicultural Center. He capped off his senior year by … [Read more...]

Music Festival Helps Medical Care Go Down

By Edie Gross As a student at Mary Washington, Andrew Ward ’01 scurried up and down Campus Walk, handing out flyers and encouraging his classmates to attend student-organized shows at the run-down but beloved amphitheater. He and his circle of music and theater fans hoped that students who eschewed productions at the more professional on-campus venues, like Klein Theatre and Dodd Auditorium, would embrace shows “run by a bunch of derelicts like us – and they did,” recalled Ward. The religion and philosophy major, who has earned three advanced degrees since then, said he’s used that same grassroots approach to organizing the iKnow Concert Series. It attracts thousands of music fans each year to what is billed as the largest free music festival in Uganda while simultaneously providing complimentary health services, most notably HIV testing. “There are definitely elements of the amphitheater onstage in Uganda,” said Ward, who launched the festival in 2014 in Kabale, Uganda, the … [Read more...]