Graduating Seniors Illustrate Unique College Community

May 25, 2010

Among the 331 students who graduated from Mary Baldwin University on May 23, you could find an array of experiences, the multiple avenues to a degree, diverse interests, and varied cultures. Meet a few members of the Class of 2010:

Jeincy and Vanessa with Mary Clay ThomasREAL-WORLD READY: They went from enjoying hot meals at Hunt Dining Hall to cold showers in Central America … and loved every second of it. Social Work students Jeincy Paniagua and Vanessa Lancaster spent spring semester in El Progreso, Honduras, working with underprivileged children and families and putting into action what they’ve studied in textbooks and in the classroom. Their graduation will mark the first time students have received a bachelor’s of social work at Mary Baldwin. And their placement in Central America marked Mary Baldwin’s first international internship experience. The pioneering duo blogged their way through their work, as they learned how to be more culturally sensitive and take on leadership roles. Lancaster plans on finding a job in her hometown of San Diego before applying to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in social work. Paniagua, originally from Alexandria, is applying to AmeriCorps but also plans to pursue her master’s in social work.

Margie BivansAN MD OR MICHELANGELO?: Never underestimate the power of a liberal arts education. Since she was 7 years old, Margie Bivans was going to be a doctor. All that changed in May 2009 when Bivans, then a junior, took a course in art restoration. After that, the idea of four more years of medical school followed by seven years in residency began to sound unappealing. Learning more about Michelangelo and foreign languages, on the other hand, started to inspire her. And although the biology major spent her senior year studying the CB8 molecule and its potential in cancer research, Bivans spent much of May in Italy, immersed in Renaissance art and architecture. The Maryland native is a Global Honors Scholar, has been inducted into five honor societies (Alpha Lambda Delta, Beta Beta Beta, Iota Sigma Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa), was named Outstanding Biology Student of the Year, and received the Ulysse Desportes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Art History. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in fine art conservation.

Shaterika ParksShaterika Parks chose Mary Baldwin because of its competitive co-op nursing program, but the Healthcare Administration (HCA) major was why she stayed. Mary Baldwin’s HCA program is the only endowed undergraduate program of its kind in the United States and Canada. As a patient care technician on the psychiatric unit at Augusta Health, Parks spent her last semester in college learning what it takes to make it in the healthcare field. “I admitted patients and did phlebotomies, EKGs, and bladder scans,” said the Greensboro, North Carolina, native, who also assisted patients with their daily activities like bathing, eating, and walking. Active in the Mary Baldwin community, Parks was cultural support chairwoman and president of the Black Student Alliance and a member of Ajani and the economics honor society Omicron Delta Epsilon. She is a Global Honor Scholar and graduated cum laude.

Miranda UphoffWELL-ROUNDED TRIPLE THREAT: Miranda Uphoff has packed a lifetime of experiences into her four short years at Mary Baldwin. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Uphoff began her college career with an interest in political science, but a successful audition for a musical changed her plans: “I love the theatre; it’s my home. It’s such a welcoming environment, and [the cast and crew] were very accepting of my age.” The Theatre major and vocal performance minor was barely 14 when she entered Mary Baldwin’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG), giving her “a leg up” for her future career as an actor. “It’s never a bad thing to have more time on your hands, especially since youth is such a big part of acting,” said Uphoff, who, in addition to being a peer advisor and student director the college’s a cappella singing group, Madrigals, spends four to five hours in rehearsals every evening. Though she admits to needing more years of dancing under her belt to consider herself a true “triple-threat,” the 18-year-old is talented beyond her years in terms of overcoming obstacles. A diagnosis of chondrocarcoma in her shoulder, a type of bone cancer rarely found in young people, did not slow Uphoff’s resolve for Mary Baldwin success in the least. “I just didn’t have time to be torn-up about it,” she said. Two years and three surgeries later, Uphoff is a cancer-free Mary Baldwin senior ready to tackle the next item on her list: the New York acting scene. “I’ve spent some time there already; at first I thought I would be nervous and scared,” said Uphoff of her future home, “but my experience as a PEG has made me much more independent, an individual. I’ve gotten used to doing things on my own.”