Making Waves

Sherry Farrington Green ’60 was strolling along a beach in Thailand in December 2004 when she turned to chat with someone over her shoulder. That’s when she saw the tsunami. “It’s not a wave. It’s a wall of water. You don’t even hear it. We started to run and I said, ‘We have to get up a tree,’ ” recalled Green, who was “hanging on like a monkey” about 25 feet in the air when that wall of water hit the shore. “I never thought I could shinny up a tree, but it’s amazing what you can do when you have to.” The tsunami claimed the lives of more than 230,000 people and injured another 125,000. Green was supposed to fly home the next day, but despite her close call - the water surged up to her chest while she clung to that tree - she was in no hurry to leave town. Instead, she packed her suitcase and made for the nearest hospital, where she volunteered for four days. “It was the most amazing and powerful experience of my life,” said Green, who’d always wanted to be a … [Read more...]

Bay Watch Gets Personal

When Thomas Parham ’86 came to the University of Mary Washington as an undergraduate, he was already an avid fisherman. By graduation, he’d turned that passion into a career. Parham, 50, is director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Tidewater Ecosystems Assessment office. After leaving Mary Washington with a degree in biology, Parham earned a master’s degree in oceanography from Old Dominion University in 1989. “I guess the common thread is that I love to fish,” he said. “I like to figure out where the fish are going to be.” Today Parham manages a network of water-quality monitors around the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. The bay’s health is getting better overall, he said, thanks to mandatory state water-quality goals. “We’re starting to see improvements in the bay’s watershed,” he said, noting that earlier voluntary goals failed. “The amount of polluted runoff is decreasing, and there are more underwater grasses.” Parham, who lives and works in … [Read more...]

Holding Patrick Henry’s Seat

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and Del. Hyland F. “Buddy” Fowler Jr. ’95 thought he might go fishing. Then U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor called and invited him to lunch. He’d have to indulge his passion for the outdoors another day. “If the House majority leader wants me to be somewhere, I’m marching,” said Fowler, who did plenty of that on the campaign trail last year. For months, he attended every fish fry and chicken pickin’ in Virginia’s 55th House District. Some days, he knocked on so many doors his knuckles ached. Those efforts paid off. When election results rolled in on Nov. 5, 2013, the Republican had garnered 57 percent of the votes, besting his Democratic and Libertarian opponents for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates – where Cantor got his start. “Fifteen thousand and some folks are pulling the lever for me. … It’s very humbling,” Fowler said. “I’m sitting in Patrick Henry’s seat in the legislature. To be representing that district, it’s a privilege and a … [Read more...]

The Dangers and Powers of Speech

Today Gerald Ndikintum, M.Ed. ’06 is an important figure in the Northern Virginia education community. But not too long ago - before he became an adjunct instructor in the UMW College of Education, before he was chair of the Fairfax County Public Schools Department of English for Speakers of Other Languages, and before he settled in the U.S. - Ndikintum was fighting for the rights of teachers and English speakers in Africa. A native of Cameroon, Ndikintum developed a love of language early on. He spent 11 years teaching in secondary The Dangers and Powers of Speech schools throughout Cameroon while acting as a teacher representative for a budding trade union. An advocate for the weak, he battled injustices aimed at teachers, women, children, and English speakers. Over time, he found himself getting more politically engaged. “It was particularly in my fight for teachers and English-speaking Cameroonians that I got very involved with the nascent multiparty politics in … [Read more...]