Class of 2017: Sisterhood Sees These First-Generation Students to Graduation

Posted: May 17, 2017, 12:00am

Shontell and Tonyette White, 22 and 26 respectively, will walk the Lawn Sunday as part of the Class of 2017. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)Four years – and little else – separate these two sisters. This Sunday, Tonyette White will pass the baton to her younger sister, Shontell, when they both walk the Lawn as graduates of the University of Virginia. The elder sister is earning a Master of Education degree in counselor education from the Curry School of Education. Shontell will enter that program in August; for now, she is earning a B.A. in sociology from the College of Arts & Sciences and a B.S. in education, youth and social innovation from the Curry School. (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Jane Kelly)

This A Capella Group Fuses English and Hindi Music, with Amazing Results

Posted: May 10, 2017, 12:00am

A capella group EktaalThe University of Virginia community loves a capella music. From the classiness of the Virginia Gentlemen to the robe-wearing Hullabahoos, all-vocal musical groups abound on Grounds and make student life more interesting with their own unique flair. Even in this diverse community, one group stands out from the rest. Founded in 1999, Ektaal is the University's only South Asian-American fusion a cappella group. (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Abigail Lague)

Class of 2017: Daughter of Undocumented Immigrants Made UVA a Better Place

Posted: May 9, 2017, 12:00am

Erika Hernandez portraitKnowing what it’s like to be an outsider has always informed Erika Fernandez’s navigation. As the daughter of undocumented immigrants from Bolivia. As an out-of-stater, even in a place where she’d spent nearly her entire life. But nestling within the close orbit of her family – and having a nose-to-the-grindstone mentality, like her parents – has always kept her on course, she said, leading the now-24-year-old to success beyond even her own lofty ambitions. (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Christine Phelan Kueter) In May, she will graduate from the University of Virginia School of Nursing and head for a job at the prestigious Mayo C


Class of 2017: Uskavitch Improved Student Experience for Black Men at UVA

Posted: May 5, 2017, 12:00am

Students playing in the snow – that’s what sold Nashville native Jacob Uskavitch on coming to the University of Virginia (and not his parents, who are both UVA alumni). A March snowstorm four years ago coincided with his visit for Days on the Lawn, an open house for prospective Wahoos offered admission. He saw students enjoying themselves outside as they trudged to and from classes, which were not cancelled, he said. Over the years, Uskavitch has excelled as an active, successful student, from serving as chair of the Black Presidents Council, a coalition of African-American student leaders, to mentoring young students at Clark Elementary School. He explored a variety of activities, especially those that emphasize a sense of belonging and paths to success for black male students on Grounds. (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Anne E. Bromley)

Letter from VP-CODE (April 2017 Edition of Our Grounds: Dimensions of Diversity)

Posted: April 17, 2017, 11:36am

Greetings Friends,

As we approach the end of the spring semester, I would like to take the opportunity to review with you initiatives from the past few months.

The Community MLK Celebration in January was a great success.  Many thanks to all who attended and supported the events.  Below, you will find an article highlighting Anita Hill’s keynote address.

In February, the Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution recognizing March 3rd as “Liberation and Freedom Day.”  On that day in 1865, 14,000 enslaved members of Charlottesville and Albemarle County were freed.  For the first observance of this historic day, members of the Charlottesville and University communities came together at the University chapel to commemorate the moment the bells were rung across the city, announcing freedom of the enslaved.  Following the service at the chapel, many marched to the Jefferson School where the celebration continued. 

At the end of March, a luncheon was held to honor the 2017 recipients of the John T. Casteen III Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Leadership Award.  This year’s award went to Attiya Latif and Dr. Randolph Canterbury.  Attiya, a third year student, has distinguished herself across Grounds for her commitment to improving the University’s climate.  Dr. Canterbury, currently the senior associate dean for education in the School of Medicine, is known for his passion for diversity and the role he played in improving the admissions process.  For a full list of their accomplishments, please see the attached article, “Change Agents with Compassion: Student, Medical Dean Awarded for Diversity.”

On April 1st, students from nine partner schools as well as community colleges in the region presented their STEM research projects and participated in a graduate school recruitment fair at the 10th annual Virginia-North Carolina Alliance Undergraduate Research Symposium held at partner school St. Augustine’s University.  The National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (NSF-LSAMP) program continues to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who earn STEM degrees throughout the country.  The VA-NC Alliance is near the end of its tenth year and has made significant progress with a 156% increase in STEM degrees obtained by underrepresented minorities graduating from its partner schools over the course of our first two phases.  A third phase grant proposal has been submitted to the NSF.

Over the past year, the design team for the Memorial of Enslaved Laborers has been meeting with members of the UVA and Charlottesville communities to develop a concept for the memorial.  Multiple public forums were held to gather ideas and receive feedback on potential designs.  Earlier this month, the President's Commission on Slavery and the University unanimously approved the current design, which will be presented to the Board of Visitors this summer.  If you would like to contribute towards making the memorial a reality on Grounds, please visit this webpage.

The articles below feature more news related to diversity, equity, and inclusion on Grounds.  I wish you all a healthy and productive spring and summer.


Martin L. Martin, M.D.

Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity

Professor of Emergency Medicine