2020 Graduate Highlights

“Her motivation to find success is unmatched,” said Mary Clay Thomas, professor of social work, about Jaquelin Rosas ’20. 

“I see such leadership potential in her,” said Rachel Potter, dean of the College of Education, about JaNell Chavis BA ’19, MAT ’20. 

“I have no doubt that he will bring expertise and joy to his field,” said Sharon Barnes, director of MBU’s center in Roanoke, about Kelly Dowd ’20.

As the university prepares to bid farewell to the Class of 2020, these words seem to encapsulate the entire MBU family’s pride and joy in every graduate’s achievements. Take a look at several members of #MBU20 and their stories of determination, creativity, and excellence.  

Rhea Ambanta, international affairs major

A member of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, Rhea Ambanta ’20 also served as a peer mentor, subject tutor, and campus tour guide. Her post-graduation plans are to jump into the job market pursuing work in foreign affairs, while building her resume for officer training school.

“I have learned how to build my confidence as a leader and that I am capable of doing more than I thought I could do.”

Rhea Ambanta ’20

Gwen Barber, special education major

After seven years of work toward her BA, Gwen Barber ’20 is dedicating her degree to the memory of her son Owen, who passed away in April 2019 from a rare form of cancer at the age of 8. Barber is the inaugural recipient of MBU’s new Legacy Award, honoring great perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Living with her husband and son Grayson (pictured, left) in Ruckersville, she is a special education teaching assistant and plans to apply for a full teaching position after the pandemic.

“I am so proud that I was able to finish despite being older and working, as well as raising a family and losing a child. These events laid the groundwork for me to want more not only for me but, for my children as well.”

Gwen Barber ’20

Francesca Bergeret, economics and political science double major

As president of Pi Sigma Alpha, national political science honor society, at MBU, Francesca Bergeret ’20 spearheaded organizing and hosting bipartisan debate watch parties for the campus community throughout the year. Originally from Las Vegas, she will attend law school at Case Western Reserve University with scholarship support as a Hugo Grotius International Law fellow. 

“Moving forward, my goal is — as it has always been — to help as many people as possible.”

Francesca Bergeret ’20

JaNell Chavis, master of arts in teaching

After finishing her undergraduate degree in liberal arts and educational studies last year, JaNell Chavis BA ’19, MAT ’20 continued at Mary Baldwin to earn a master of arts in teaching and complete a graduate assistantship in the Office of Residence Life and Housing. Next fall, she will start her career as a kindergarten teacher at Falling Creek Elementary School in Chesterfield County.

“At MBU, my friends turned into my sisters, and the professors and advisors who have guided me throughout these four years have become lifelong mentors.”

JaNell Chavis BA ’19, MAT ’20

Kaylin Coe, criminal justice and sociology double major 

The most meaningful aspect of MBU for Kaylin Coe ’20 was forming strong bonds and friendships, both inside and outside the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership where she served as first captain (the commanding officer) during her senior year. Originally from Kissimmee, Florida, she will pursue a master’s of science in criminology from the University of Cincinnati after graduation with the hope of becoming a federal law enforcement agent.

“Having a tight-knit community, where I knew I was always supported and could receive advice whenever I needed it, was an amazing feeling.”

Kaylin Coe ’20

Dana Cromer, liberal arts and education major

A Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures minor, Dana Cromer BA ’20, MAT ’21 will combine her academic interests as she continues in the bachelor of arts/master of arts in teaching program. She hopes to become an English as a Second Language teacher and continue her commitment to educational access to all. From Louisa, she is a member of the Lambda of Virginia chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

“My time at Mary Baldwin has taught me so much. I learned to be more responsible and to be passionate about my education.”

Dana Cromer BA ’20, MAT ’21

Alexandra Curcio, health sciences major

Part of the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, Alexandra Curcio ’20 is MBU’s youngest graduate this year at 16. Being at the university during her teenage years made it doubly influential for her, as she found both academic opportunity and her first real jobs in the financial aid and admissions offices and as a tutor. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Curcio plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health and a career in epidemiology.

“I was just a sprout when I showed up at Mary Baldwin, and through ups and downs, hardships and victories, Mary Baldwin allowed me to flourish in ways I could never have imagined.”

Alexandra Curcio ’20

Deb Darrell, registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing

A charge nurse at a local assisted living facility, Deb Darrell ’20 helps ensure quality care for residents, while protecting them and fellow healthcare professionals during the pandemic. She plans to continue focusing on the geriatric population, having found a new calling in nursing after graduating from college in Texas, serving in the Air Force, and raising her family. Eventually she hopes to earn a master’s to teach the next generation of nurses about the profession’s value and responsibilities.

“I continue to love research, learning, and sharing knowledge. You’re never too old to pursue what you love.”

Deb Darrell ’20

Anthony DiNardo, history and English double major

In the fall, Anthony DiNardo ’20 will begin a PhD in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in late medieval and early modern religious thought and critical theory. It was an MBU class with Professor of History Mary Hill Cole that in particular opened the door to his future scholarly focus when he studied Tudor-Stuart history alongside Shakespeare and Performance students.

“It was a really enjoyable opportunity to cut my teeth academically, as well as to meet a vibrant group of emerging scholars with diverse and interesting perspectives.”

Anthony DiNardo ’20

Kelly Dowd, business administration and management major

A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Kelly Dowd ’20 immigrated to the United States in 2015. Prior to MBU, he took college classes in Nigeria and also worked in the fashion industry as a model. While earning his business degree, Dowd has worked full time, and his next step will be studying design leadership in the MA/MBA dual degree program at the Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art. 

“My core values are to look at the big picture, factor in structures, and appreciate the beauty of life.”

Kelly Dowd ’20

David Flores, master of science in physician assistant

From Silver Spring, Maryland, David Flores MSPA ’20 learned the value of hard work and diligence from his parents, both of whom are from El Salvador. His educational journey involved some trial and error, since he is the first person in his family to attend college, but he uses every experience, whether good or bad, as a way to learn how to create more innovative solutions to problems.

“My interest in becoming a primary care PA emanates from the passion I have for helping others. I will make proactive efforts to reach out to the community while providing resources to those in need.”

David Flores MSPA ’20

Mahalia Huba, biochemistry and performing arts (music) double major

In her first and second years as a Program for the Exceptionally Gifted student at MBU, Mahalia Huba ’20 became certified as an EMT and worked with the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad. Huba has split her time during her senior year between MBU and the University of Virginia, where she is a research lab technician at the Hirschi Lab in the Department of Cell Biology. She plans to attend an MD/PhD program after graduation.

“As a physician-scientist, I hope to be able to further scientific research while also working with medically underserved populations.”

Mahalia Huba ’20

Sarah Kauffman, registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing

This spring, Sarah Kauffman ’20 took her final class in the RN to BSN program remotely, all the way from Nicaragua. Kauffman is working in a remote clinic to expand her knowledge of rural healthcare and become more fluent in Spanish. Her nursing practice in rural Nicaragua comes with challenges, like lack of access to modern tools and equipment, but Kauffman is dedicated to thinking outside of the box to best help her patients.

“Having compassion for each patient that goes beyond his or her physical needs is a lifelong goal of mine as a nurse.”

Sarah Kauffman ’20

Jake McQuiggan, registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing

A nurse working in the intensive care unit dedicated to coronavirus treatment at the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System, Jake McQuiggan ’20 has endured physically and emotionally draining conditions as he cares for some of the sickest patients he has ever experienced. Collaboration among all healthcare providers and essential staff has been key to his unit’s resilience during the pandemic. Looking to the future, he plans to apply to acute care nurse practitioner school at UVA.

“The most meaningful thing about attending MBU was being able to email, text, or call my instructors with anything I needed. I felt like they got to know who I was.”

Jake McQuiggan ’20

Tammy Mongold, business major, and Madalyn Mongold, liberal arts and educational studies major

Mother Tammy and daughter Madalyn Mongold (l-r) are graduating together in the Class of 2020.

Tammy and Madalyn Mongold are more than 2020 classmates; they’re mother and daughter, and have shared many moments of their educational journey at MBU. They are the first members of their family to earn their bachelor’s degrees, and Madalyn’s younger brother, Dylan, also started Blue Ridge Community College this year. “For a semester, our whole household was in college,” Madalyn said. Madalyn is in the BA/MAT program, focusing on elementary education, and will return next fall to finish her master’s degree. Tammy is graduating with a double emphasis in accounting and human resources for her degree, and she hopes to pursue a position in the field after the pandemic. She currently works in a healthcare facility, and doesn’t want to leave her position during this critical time. “It was often difficult balancing being a single mother, a full-time job, and school,” she said. “I would like to think that I have shown my children the importance of education.”

“Madalyn’s going to be a great teacher one day, and I am proud of all she has accomplished at Mary Baldwin.”

Tammy Mongold ’20 

“I am really proud of my mom for finishing her degree. She is one of the most hardworking people I have ever met.”

Madalyn Mongold ’20

Kaitlin Moore, master of fine arts in Shakespeare and Performance

Originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia, Kaitlin Moore’s MFA ’20 favorite MBU memory is taking the Shakespeare 500 course with Professor Ralph Cohen. One of the first courses in the S&P program, students read all of Shakespeare’s plays in one semester, and then debate which is truly the greatest play for the final exam. After graduation, Moore will enter a PhD program in theatre as performance studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“The final exam for the Shakespeare 500 course will always stand out as the most fun and competitive exam I’ve ever participated in.”

Kaitlin Moore MFA ’20

Guadalupe Reyes, healthcare administration 

In addition to her studies, Guadalupe Reyes ’20 was an involved student leader on campus, completing internships with the Provost’s Office and Professor Roderic Owen, serving as a student representative on the Educational Policy Committee, and giving back through volunteer work with CASA for Children. After graduation, Reyes plans to gain experience in the healthcare field before pursuing her master of public health. 

“I have learned throughout my time at MBU that when I am confident in my ability to succeed, anything is possible.”

Guadalupe Reyes ’20

Jaquelin Rosas, social work

Spending four years in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at MBU, Jaquelin Rosas ’20 has built strong bonds and sisterhood with her fellow cadets, and has also found a family-like environment in her relationships with MBU professors who care about her and want her to succeed. Her post-graduation plans are to join the military as a second lieutenant, medical services officer, with the eventual goal of becoming a social work officer. 

“I loved all that MBU offered because it never limited me on what I could do.”

Jaquelin Rosas ’20

Ben Stovall and Samara Stovall, master of science in physician assistant

Husband and wife team Ben and Samara Stovall MSPA ’20 both wanted to be physician assistants (PA) before they even met. They got married after finishing their undergraduate education at Pepperdine University and attended the PA program together through MBU’s Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. After graduation, they hope to find jobs in the field of family medicine. 

“PA school is tough, so being able to go through it together has been great.”

Samara Stovall MSPA ’20

Bethany Taylor, chemistry

Bethany Taylor ’20 has traveled across the Pacific Ocean frequently, going between Staunton and Wales, where her family moved right before she started MBU. While her parents were overseas, MBU professors like her advisor Peter Ruiz Haas, professor of chemistry, helped provide support and advice. A talented chemist, teaching assistant, and tutor at Mary Baldwin, Taylor was recently awarded the 2020 Undergraduate Award for Excellence in Chemistry by a First Generation College Student from Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honorary Society for Women in Chemistry.

“Dr. Ruiz-Haas gave me so much confidence in my abilities as a young chemist, and that’s priceless.”

Bethany Taylor ’20

Camille Weeks, mathematics 

From Cincinnati, Ohio, Camille Weeks ’20 came to Mary Baldwin to attend the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. After she graduates, she’ll continue at MBU to earn her master of arts in teaching and next fall she’ll head into the classroom to student-teach, all at the young age of 17. 

“I got together with friends every Wednesday to do math homework together. We called it ‘Math Day,’ brought snacks, and listened to music. It made tough assignments more bearable.”

Camille Weeks ’20

Congratulations to all members of MBU’s Class of 2020 and their loved ones!