Graduates leave with distinguished record of service, scholarship and perseverance
May 3, 2012
When the University of Richmond graduates 1,073 bachelor’s, master’s and law students May 5-6, among them will be a computer science and business major who turned two internships with Google into a full-time job; twin sisters from Bulgaria, who have triple majors and will study comparative politics in graduate school; and a student with a passionate interest in human rights who will work for the Rwandan Supreme Court before joining the Peace Corps.
Commencement ceremonies for the schools of Law and Professional and Continuing Studies will be held May 5, and the main commencement ceremony for undergraduates and MBA students will be held May 6, both in the Robins Center. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will give the address at the main commencement, and Judge Roger L. Gregory, the first African American to hold a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, will address 151 graduates of the law school.
Graduates will support the university’s commitment to sustainability by wearing gowns made completely out of recycled plastic bottles. Recycling bins will be located in the Robins Center arena for collection of caps and gowns after the ceremony. In an effort to reduce paper use, all commencement-related printing, including programs, will be on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.
This year’s oldest and youngest graduates are both members of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Angie Pell, 72, of Rockville, Va., will receive a master of liberal arts degree. After careers as a teacher, medical office manager and paralegal, she hopes to teach at the community college level.
Jimmy Nickerson, 20, of Chesterfield, is the youngest graduate. A graduate of Thomas Dale High School in Chesterfield County, Nickerson will receive a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. He hopes eventually to attend law school.
Some of the other outstanding graduates of the Class of 2012 include:
- Yigit Aytan of Aydin, Turkey, a computer science and business major who will go to work for Google in Boston, after turning down opportunities with Facebook and other tech companies. He held competitive internships as a developer with Google after his sophomore and junior years.
- Ana and Bilyana Petrova, twin sisters from Bulgaria, who each triple majored in international studies (world politics and diplomacy), economics, and Latin American and Iberian studies. They overcame cultural differences and adversity to excel as Boatwright Scholars and Dean’s List students. Each received 10 A+ grades in courses ranging from calculus to Spanish. One professor says the “relentlessly intellectually curious sisters ask the most probing questions.” They studied abroad in Argentina at the academically challenging Universidad Torcuato de Tella. Next year, they plan to study comparative politics – Ana at University of Notre Dame and Bilyana at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Each received multi-year scholarships for graduate study.
- Ian Winters of Silver Spring, Md., a Beckman Scholar who will study genetics in the Ph.D. program at Stanford University. Nobel laureate Andrew Fire called Winters personally to notify him he was one of 15 selected for the program from 500 applications.
- Maria Sebastian of Boyds, Md., a double major in international studies and political science. Sebastian came to Richmond passionately interested in human rights and has not wavered. A fellowship last summer took her to India, and after graduation, she will work at the Supreme Court in Kigali, Rwanda, before joining the Peace Corps in January.
- Bryce Clark of North Palm Beach, Fla. When he was born, doctors told Clark’s parents that their son would never walk, talk, eat or breathe normally. He had countless surgeries as a child to correct his health problems, one of which left him visually impaired. At Richmond, he was on the Ethics Bowl team and was voted by his class as their representative for a speaking event. He is majoring in leadership studies and philosophy, and minoring in law and the liberal arts.
- Josie Senoga of Henrico, a Uganda native who grew up on two continents and plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy and human rights on a third (Australia). During an internship, she was able to reconnect with her home country by working with A Fair World, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of artisans in developing countries such as Uganda and Mozambique. She conducted interviews with craftsmen in those countries that will be featured in a book the organization will publish. Senoga double majored in leadership studies and psychology.
- Emily Nelson of Emerald Isle, N.C., a computer science and biochemistry-molecular biology double major, who will attend graduate school at Princeton. Nelson has conducted undergraduate research in both computer science and chemistry and spent last summer performing additional research at Princeton.
- Amani Morrison of Alexandria, Va., an American studies major with minors in English and creative writing. She will enter the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of African American Studies.
- Heather Thornton of Midlothian, Va., an international studies (world politics and diplomacy) major with a minor in Latin American and Iberian studies. She won a Rangel Fellowship for two years of graduate study at American University, preparing her for placement in the Foreign Service.
- Bridget Wiede of Katonah, N.Y. Wiede spent a year studying abroad at Oxford University and plans to return there next year to pursue a master’s degree in U.S. history. She analyzes history and politics from a leadership studies perspective. Her honors research and thesis on social activist Marcus Garvey grew out of her year abroad. She was on the 2011-12 Ethics Bowl team and has worked as a research assistant to leadership studies professor Terry Price in his work on ethics and morality. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree and become a professor. She is a leadership studies major and history minor.
- Diana Iovan of Romania, who will attend graduate school in chemistry at Harvard University. Winner of the Dave Evans Award, she double majored in chemistry and math.
- Francis-Cedric Martel of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Martel frequently started at forward for Richmond’s men’s basketball team the past four years and played on the Spider NCAA Sweet 16 team in March 2011. Martel will graduate with a degree in accounting, known among students as one of the toughest majors. He is bilingual, speaking French and English.
- Tiffannie Williams of Winter Garden, Fla. An accounting major, she won the Award of Achievement from the Virginia Society of CPAs and the Outstanding Student in International Business award.
- Lindsey Vann of Richmond. Ranked fifth in her class, Vann was articles editor of the University of Richmond Law Review and chaired the Moot Court board’s intra-scholastic competition. She was a finalist in the Carrico Moot Court competition and a teaching assistant for three law skills courses. Vann earned the prestigious CALI Award for making the top score in the class in six courses, while also serving as a research assistant for three professors. After graduation, she will clerk on the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and plans later to practice in the area of post-conviction capital defense.
- Suzanne Lim of Glen Allen, Va., who was a single mother to five daughters throughout law school.
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