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Student Highlights

tal simmons and her students standing in front of the museum of natural history

Four forensic science students—Claire Cartozzo, Triston Noble, Perla Santillan and Camille Zendzian—under the guidance of Tal Simmons, Ph.D., (Forensic Science) spent the weekend of November 22 at the Museum of Natural History conducting a meticulous inventory of the remains from the East Marshall Street Well. This was one of the final steps before the remains were returned to Richmond on November 25. The remains, most of whom were African or African Americans and who were almost certainly enslaved, were used as cadavers for anatomical and surgical training at what became the Medical College of Virginia, and then unceremoniously discarded in a well, also known as a “sink” or “limb pit.” They were discovered 25 years ago during construction of a medical sciences building on East Marshall Street.


Richmond Public Schools students drop off their written answers to trivia questions about

Students in the Spanish-English Translation and Interpretation Program in the School of World Studies assisted in the translation, proofing, editing and audio for “Toothpaste Millionaire” by Jean Merrill into Spanish for Read to Them One Richmond, One Book. The project was overseen by Indira Sultanic, Ph.D. (World Studies). The completed work was turned into an online version of the book and made available to students on the One Richmond One Book website. With more than 4,000 Spanish-speaking students in Richmond elementary schools, the translation was much appreciated by the Richmond Public School system.


kelley nguyen

Kelly Nguyen, a junior majoring in political science and in international studies within the School of World Studies, was selected as a Boren Scholar for the 2020-21 academic year. The Boren Scholarship provides funding for undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests that are underrepresented in study abroad. Nguyen will study Portuguese at the University of Florida and then in Maputo, Mozambique, where she will take language courses as well as courses related to the culture and traditions of Mozambique. After graduation, she plans to join the Peace Corps and then pursue a law degree to serve as an immigration lawyer.


Maryum Elnasseh, Naomi Ghahrai and Macy Pressley

Three College of Humanities and Sciences students were selected for the 2020 Critical Language Scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship funded by the U.S. Department of State for the study of 15 languages deemed critical to the United States’ diplomatic and security interests. Maryum Elnasseh, a senior majoring in journalism in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture and political science; Naomi Ghahrai, a sophomore majoring in chemistry; and Macy Pressley, a junior majoring in digital journalism in the Robertson School, were named 2020 Critical Language Scholars.


camp adventure 2020: indoors is the new outdoors

When the pandemic hit, summer internships and work opportunities for students quickly fizzled. Yet students in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture were not fazed—they created Camp ADventure. The camp, which took place in June and July of 2020, helped hundreds of students from across the world get hands-on advertising experience, garner new skills and network with professionals in the field, all through a lighthearted, virtual eight-week program. “Campers” from 60 colleges and universities worked in “bunks” as strategists, designers, account managers, writers and in other agency roles, collaborating remotely to solve a creative brief and develop a campaign for the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. More than 100 advertising industry professionals—including from Google, Disney, Edelman, Leo Burnett and Twitter—participated in the camp as presenters, mentors and counselors.


zuhayr shaikh

Zuhayr Shaikh, a senior majoring in biology, wanted to make a difference during his time in isolation. An email from a free clinic in his hometown, Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinics in Manassas, Va., provided the opportunity. The organization sent out a plea for interpreters after they transitioned to telehealth in March. Shaikh knew people who had the skills to provide interpretative services so he reached out to the clinic and offered to help. Soon, Shaikh had a spreadsheet with over a hundred names. He also reached out to the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to share his contact list. “Zuhayr has come into our lives at the perfect time,” said Michelle Taylor, director of membership support. “He has bolstered our volunteers, taken on the task of matching volunteers to clinics, and reaching out to other associations to join forces. He has been the one to truly move this project along.”


A facial approximation of Nesiur on display at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Mason Smith, an anthropology major who graduated from VCU in December, helped create a digital approximation of a face of a mummy, now on display at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Oh. The imagery was generated based off CT scan data recorded by VCU’s Virtual Curation Laboratory. “I decided I’d like to complete a modern facial approximation for [VCU’s] Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program last year,” Smith said. “[We set out to] digitally approximate what Nesiur, a 3,000- year-old female Egyptian mummy, may have looked like in life. I would have never expected it to go on exhibition, but I am so excited that my little project has come to life in such a big way.”


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