Making Change

Professor takes on-the-ground approach to economic development

Shawn Humphrey came to UMW seven years ago, 34 years old and a freshly minted associate professor, ready to teach his young charges what he calls the “very beautiful” theories of economics. “As economists, we try to create these mathematical models to explain why things are the way they are,” he said. What he didn’t bring was an answer for a sharp question asked by a few students in his first comparative economics class. They had been working in poor communities in Honduras, as part of Students Helping Honduras, SHH, a nonprofit group started at UMW by Shin Fujiyama ’07. The students wanted to know, how do we change the way things are? “They started challenging me,” Humphrey said. “They asked, ‘How do your lectures prepare me for helping others?’ I never had an answer for them. I was like, ‘Who are these people?’ ” In the same way that the experience in Honduras had changed the students, their question changed Humphrey. What distinguishes him as a teacher is his willingness … [Read more...]

Sadie’s Smile

Alumna turns a mother’s worst nightmare into help for disfigured children

As Sara Showalter Ablard ’92 skated with her daughter last August, she worried. None of the children at the roller-rink birthday party were wearing helmets, and management didn’t offer them. When Sadie fell and hit her head, Sara helped her up. When it happened again, Sara headed for the door. The party was just a bad memory by bedtime. After a bath and a story, Sara snuggled in close to “soak up some Sadie” and tucked her in tight. It would be the last time. At 5, Sadie had played violin, begun learning French, and taken up knitting. Sara wasn’t surprised when Sadie wanted to raise and release a butterfly; what caught the mother’s attention, though, was the look on her daughter’s face when the child realized the beautiful insect wasn’t coming back. Now butterflies remind Sara that Sadie won’t be coming back, either. “They’ll fly in front of my face and cling to me,” said Sara, a marriage and family therapist who lives in Purcellville, Va. “Maybe they were there before; … [Read more...]

By Degrees

UMW Graduates Class of 2012 in 101st Commencement

A beautiful May morning on Ball Circle can bring commencement memories to many Mary Washington alumni and put a spring in the step of the day’s class of graduates. Saturday, May 12, was such a day for the Class of 2012, with proud families looking on, beloved faculty on the dais, and President Richard V. Hurley shaking the hand of each scholar as he awarded the diplomas. This year, the man who coined the term “Millennial Generation” spoke at Saturday morning’s undergraduate commencement ceremony. Historian and best-selling author Neil Howe talked about the vast differences between the robed graduates and their parents. Considered an expert on the generations, he told the Millennial Generation graduates that they’ll never be like their Baby Boomer and Gen X parents – and that they are and will be equipped with everything they’ll need to cope with the challenges that surely will arise in their lifetimes. The author of Millennials Rising told the graduates, “That is [your] … [Read more...]