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Class notes: May 2020

Catch up with all the latest and greatest news from CHS alumni.
aerial view of the VCU logo on campus


Susan Ciconte (B.S.’93/H&S) completed an M.A. in history at the University of Nebraska in 2014. She maintains her interests and studies Native American history. She is also working on three memoirs: her work with Canada geese from 1994-2003; surviving Minnesota winters through slips, falls and fractures; and musings after having worked a brief stint at Wells Fargo. She continues to reside in Minneapolis, after hiking and working in New Mexico (2008-2014) and studying in Nebraska. But after too many Minnesota winters, she is considering a return to the mid-Atlantic area, maybe even Richmond, promoting VCU interests and student mentoring. She welcomes contact from VCU associates.

Sean Collins-Smith (B.A.’10/A; B.S.’10/MC; M.S.’12/MC) received the prize for best drama TV pilot at the Austin (Texas) Film Festival.

Anne Cooper-Chen, Ph.D. (M.S.’79/MC), a 2017 Alumni Star, has created a scholarship for a VCU master's student.

Kayla Diggs Brody (B.S.’10/H&S; Cert.’12/GPA; M.P.H.’12/M; Cert.’16/E) launched Richmond Mural Tours, a small business that offers guided walking tours of the murals in the Jackson Ward district. She plans to expand into Church Hill and Oregon Hill.

David Donaldson, Ed.D. (B.S.’85/MC), received an education doctorate degree from Immaculata University in March 2017.

L. Keith Dowler (B.S.’08/H&S; M.A.’09/H&S) joined Capital One in May 2019 and completed a six-year term as global chair of the International Association of Emergency Managers Certification Commission at the end of 2019.

Eric Edwards, M.D., Ph.D. (B.S.’02/H&S; Ph.D.’11/P; M.D.’13/M), and Frank Blondino, Ph.D. (B.S.’91/P; Ph.D.’95/P), were listed as inventors on a patent assigned to kaléo, a pharmaceutical company based in Richmond, Va. The patent concerns devices and methods for delivering opioid antagonists such as naloxone, which are drugs that block the effects of opioids and are often used to reverse overdoses.

Thomas Folke (B.S.’76/H&S) retired after teaching biology for 31 years.

Jessica Gordon, Ph.D. (B.A.’96/H&S; M.A.’00/H&S; Ph.D.’17/H&S), and Lucas Fritz (B.M.’11/A) founded The Broadberry Entertainment Group, which books live entertainment in the Richmond, Va., area, exclusively for venues including The Broadberry, The Camel, Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House Downtown and the historic Ashland Theatre and non-exclusively for other area venues.

LaToya Gray (B.A.’04/H&S) has been serving as an Advisory Council member of Richmond 300 for the past two years. The council is charged with drafting, providing counsel and engaging the Greater Richmond community on the city's comprehensive plan that will be issued this year.

Darrell Griffin, M.D. (B.S.’71/H&S; M.D.’75/M), retired from the State of Florida University System in December 2015 after 10 years each on faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine and the Florida State University College of Medicine.

Paul Liberti (B.A.’10/H&S; M.T.’14/E) joined Exit First Realty as a realtor.

Mark Mansfield (B.A.’76/H&S) is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, “Strangers Like You” (2008, revised 2018) and “Soul Barker” (2017). His poems have appeared in publications including The Adirondack Review, Anthropocene Poetry, Bayou, Blue Mesa Review, Canary, Deep South, The Evansville Review, Fourteen Hills, Gargoyle, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Iota, The Journal, Limestone, London Grip, Magma Poetry, Measure, Orbis, Potomac Review, Salt Hill Journal, Tulane Review, Unsplendid and Waccamaw. A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, he lives in upstate New York.

Rebecca Martin, Ph.D. (B.S.’09/H&S; Ph.D.’14/M), now an assistant professor in the VCU Health Department of Microbiology and Immunology, is studying a growing class of drugs that could augment therapy for many cancer patients. She hopes to use these drugs in combination with checkpoint inhibitors designed to harness the immune system to fight tumors.

Joan Mitchell (B.A.'78/H&S) began Mitchell Realty in Blacksburg, Va., as a broker/owner in 2018.

Roger Nicholson, Ph.D. (B.S.’68/H&S; Ph.D.’97/E), retired in 2013 after 40 years as a Presbyterian minister.

Melissa Stamp (B.S.’18/MC; Cert.’18/DVC) started her first full-time job in January 2020 as an asisstant account executive at public relations agency Edelman. In this position she supports the Taco Bell account and works with clients to promote their messaging on food, planet and employee initiatives.

Matthew Wall (B.S.’05/H&S; M.U.R.P.’08/GPA) is executive director at the Western States Seismic Policy Council in Sacramento, Calif.

Anna Webster (B.A.’17/H&S) writes: “The moral of our graduation speech was ‘You can do anything with an English degree.’ So now I write video games about vampires!”

Alumni and Faculty Books

Improving race relations

Charles Nathaniel Smith

In “Diversity: A Reality for America, Racism Still Its Nightmare,” Charles Nathaniel Smith (B.S.’76/H&S; M.S.’80/HP) proposes that if the public school system in America focused on the issue of race differently, white Americans and African Americans could interact and relate to one another in a more positive and significant way. The book also touches on similar themes surrounding the military and cultural institutions such as television.

Update us on what YOU'VE been up to since graduation.

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