Class of 2013 leaving distinguished record of international and domestic service, entrepreneurship and research

May 8, 2013

Among the University of Richmond’s 945 bachelor’s, 76 master’s, 33 MBA and 145 juris doctor graduates May 11–12 will be a business student who is going to medical school, an entrepreneur who designs and sells clothing for women with scoliosis, a law student who helped a woman and her child escape domestic violence, and Fulbright and Pickering grant recipients.

Richmond alumna Amy O’Neill Richard, a senior advisor to the ambassador at large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons (TIP office) in the U.S. State Department, will speak at the main commencement, May 12 at 2 p.m. Justice Cleo Elaine Powell of the Supreme Court of Virginia will address the School of Law ceremony May 11 at 2 p.m., and Edward L. Ayers, award-winning historian of the American South and president of the university, will mark the 50th anniversary of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies when he speaks to its graduates May 11 at 9 a.m. All three ceremonies will be held in the Robins Center.

In a special recognition at the main ceremony, Richmond alumni and benefactors Carole M. Weinstein and Marcus M. Weinstein will receive The President’s Medal for their leadership in transforming the student experience and advancing academic excellence at the university.

Some of the outstanding graduates of the Class of 2013 include:

  • Sandra Zuniga Guzman of Bristow, Va., an Oldham Scholar and political science and international studies major. She has received a Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship to support her studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where she will concentrate on international economics and Latin American affairs. She will then begin a three-year commitment in the U.S. Foreign Service. Originally from Lima, Peru, she recently became a U.S. citizen. Guzman received the political science department’s Spencer Albright Booker Award and Phi Beta Kappa’s Robert E. Loving Book Award, both given to the student with the highest GPA. The Center for Progressive Leadership named her one of its top 40 young activists of 2010, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government named her one of the top 40 young policy leaders of 2011. A passionate human rights activist, she helped found the Roosevelt Institute on campus to empower young people as leaders and promote their ideas for change. She was active in Street Law, a joint law school-undergraduate program that teaches elementary law lessons to kids in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. She also is a Youth Leadership Institute national ambassador, a research associate with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and a Latin American political analyst for the television network Russia Today. She helped found Coderise, offering free computer programming courses and mentorship for high school students in several Latin American countries.
  • Aleah Goldin of Allentown, Pa., a Boatwright Scholar who majored in interdisciplinary studies with a global health focus. She plans to continue her research as a Fulbright Scholar to Mongolia in 2013–14 and then study medical anthropology at the graduate level. She has done research with faculty from psychology, leadership studies and anthropology, leading to a co-authored publication in a leading journal on cognitive science. She spent the summer of 2012 as a guest researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her paper on Mongolian traditional medicine, stemming from her study and research in Mongolia, won the student paper competition at the 2013 annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Association. One of her self-described personal highlights is that she “herded goats while living in a ger, a felt tent, in the steppe of Mongolia.”
  • Kadeem Fyffe of Durham, N.C., who came to the university with a desire to become a fashion designer, but wanted grounding in the liberal arts. A Boatwright and Oliver Hill Scholar, he developed his skills by combining a studio art major with courses in theatre and design, and mentorship from Johann Stegmeir, costume designer in the Department of Theatre and Dance. A summer research fellowship allowed him to travel to four fashion-related museum exhibits around the United States, which inspired the creation of a clothing collection as his senior thesis project. He also spent a semester studying in Milan, where he assisted with Milan Fashion Week. He has contributed a collection to the lifestyle brand Perfect Gentleman in collaboration with four other Richmond students, which is for sale at the boutique West Coast Kix in Richmond. He will continue his studies at Parsons The New School for Design.
  • Kassie Pollard of Nashville, Tenn., founder of Fushion Scoliosis Apparel, a company that designs clothes for women with scoliosis that can be worn with back braces. She knows the disease well, having been diagnosed with it at age 12. She began the business while taking Prof. Jeff Pollack’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship class. She wants her clothing line to help restore self-esteem and confidence in women suffering from the disease.
  • Jordan Silberg of Fogelsville, Pa., who presented research at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society and published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. President of Beta Gamma Sigma business honorary, Silberg will attend Temple University School of Medicine where he hopes to pursue a residency in ophthalmology. At Richmond, Silberg studied DNA and genome mutations.  
  • Samantha Van Putten of Concord, Mass., who attended the School for International Training in Kenya and Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, where she explored health and development. She also traveled to Burma and India to visit trafficking organizations in Calcutta. She plans to work at a Washington, D.C., consulting firm after graduation.
  • Laura Boorman of Charlotte, N.C., who led numerous service activities at the law school, including organizing the 2013 public interest auction. She was an articles editor on the Law Review and a John Marshall Scholar. She will receive the Carrico Center Pro Bono Certificate, primarily for her work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She is a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Richmond and for two years, has been a Merhige Center fellow, helping to organize major conferences. She received a Weinstein International Studies grant to conduct research on climate change in Belize, and she implemented a detailed research proposal on her own. 
  • Rebecca Johnson of Richmond, who spent two years working with the law school’s Family Law Clinic. She conducted a five-hour hearing that extricated a woman and her child from a life of domestic violence — the clinic’s biggest victory. 
  • Robert "Bob" Perrin of Richmond, who will receive a bachelor of liberal arts degree two days before he turns 67. He began working on the degree in 1964 at University College, now the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. He is the university’s oldest 2013 graduate and works for Thomson Reuters.
  • Michelle Harrigan of Manassas, Va., who will receive a bachelor of applied studies in emergency services management. She has worked for 22 years to earn the degree, after beginning a career as a stage manager in New York City. She switched careers in 1997, moving into disaster response with the American Red Cross. She now works as an emergency planner for Prince William County.
  • Djole (pronounced Joel-e) Hinic who is from Belgrade, Serbia, and attended Richmond on a Davis United World Scholarship. He used a summer research grant from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies to study the challenges faced by Serbian youth in the aftermath of the October 2000 revolution. At Richmond, he organized a Thanksgiving Motorcycle Ride to benefit the Dominion School for Autism. The idea came from a similar benefit he conducted in Serbia, dressing as Santa Claus on Christmas to ride through Belgrade to raise money for special needs children.
  • Kylie McCreesh of Perkasie, Pa., who will attend SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, Vt., to obtain a master’s degree in intercultural service, leadership and management. When she completes the academic component of the program, she will serve a 27-month practicum with the Peace Corps.

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