Alumni News: Summer 2014

Washington Post Recognizes Alumnus for Distinguished Educational Leadership

Alumnus Andrew Davis ’03, principal at Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, Virginia, was recently honored by The Washington Post as one of the region’s best principals with a 2014 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.

The awards recognize those who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment.

Davis previously served as principal at Rolling Ridge Elementary School in Sterling, Virginia, and was recently recognized as the 2014 Loudon County Principal of the Year.

“I am truly honored to have been selected as Loudoun County’s Principal of the Year and as a recipient of The Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award,” said Davis. “The Rolling Ridge faculty and staff have worked passionately to meet the needs of the students that we serve. It is because of their dedicated efforts and the documented successes of our students that I was honored for this award. Despite the challenges of serving an incredibly diverse Title I school, they believed that our students could and would succeed! It is a huge privilege to lead such an inspirational group of educators!”

According to The Washington Post, Rolling Ridge was designated as a school in need of improvement in 2012, based on its state test performance. But the school met all of its federal testing goals in 2013. Nearly four in 10 students are learning English as a second language, and 62 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Davis has also served as assistant principal at Sterling Elementary School, and he has taught at the elementary level for both LCPS and Winchester Public Schools.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bridgewater College and a master’s degree in educational administration from Shenandoah University.

For more alumni news visit the July Alumni Class Notes Page here

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Faculty News: Summer 2014

Graduate Programs Librarian Rosemary Green, Ph.D., began a research project during her spring 2014 sabbatical focusing on Shenandoah University graduate students’ experiences with academic reading. She presented her preliminary findings in her paper “Reading in Graduate School: Students’ Perceptions and Practices” at the SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) Commons Conference in March in Savannah, Georgia. Dr. Green also presented a poster session titled “Integrating Reading, Writing, and Information Literacies” at the Virginia Library Association Conference at Williamsburg, Virginia.


Assistant Professor of Public Health Audra Gollenberg, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Sociology Kim Fendley, Ph.D.; and Health Director Lord Fairfax Health District Charles Devine are working with the newly mobilized Coalition to Curb Infant Mortality to collect information from pregnant women and mothers of young children in Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia, to determine best methods of outreach for health communications regarding safe infant sleep and other preventive measures. Alumna Katrina Daoud ’13, currently enrolled in the University of Michigan Master’s in Public Health program, and current public health student Paula Sorrentino ’15 will assist as research interns in the data collection and analysis process. Survey results will guide the coalition to plan targeted outreach efforts for future projects.


Associate Professor of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Brenda Murphy, Ph.D., spent the summer in Venice, Italy, working with the baroque string ensemble Interpreti Veneziani. She worked to create Italian-to-English translations of liner notes for the ensemble’s CDs, promotional materials and Web pages. She will continue to translate their monthly newsletters throughout the year.

Assistant Professor of Special Education Diane Painter, Ph.D., led a GEL trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, in May accompanied by alumnae Kauren Fritzius ’13 and Gina DeGaetano ’13 and doctoral students Antoinette Funk and Michele Sandy. The GEL group studied issues related to poverty, access to health care, education, transportation and employment. While in Hawaii, they attended and presented workshops and participated in round-table discussions at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Forum on Disability and Development, an initiative of the Division for Social Policy and Development.


Assistant Professor of Sport Management Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D., had an article, “Understanding Baseball Consumption via In-Home Gaming,” accepted to the Journal of Applied Sport Management in May 2014. Dr. Gawrysiak continued research on sport video games as a means of nontraditional sport consumption this summer and will begin research on sport video games as sport management pedagogy to develop an abstract for presentation next summer at the Eastern Academy of Management International Conference at Lima, Peru, in June 2015.

Associate Professor of Sport Management Brian J. Wigley, Ph.D., was named Outstanding Faculty Member during the Department of Athletics’ first-ever Buzzy Awards. Dr. Wigley is the coordinator of the Sport Management Division in the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business. He has taught on the faculty at Shenandoah University for 12 years. Wigley teaches sports ethics, sport consumer behavior and sport governance policy. He also serves as the university’s NCAA faculty athletics representative, a role that allows him to mentor student-athletes and work with athletic department staff and coaches to enhance the academic experience of student-athletes at Shenandoah.

“It is great to win an award presented by peers or administrators, but to win an award voted on by the students, who are the reason we do what we do, is very fulfilling,” said Wigley. “When I looked at the list of nominees, it struck me that every faculty member on the list had one thing in common—they all genuinely care for students and their futures. This is what makes this such a special honor for me.”


Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Theory David Chavez, M.M., and librettist Meredith Bean McMath ’11 wrote a new opera premiering this summer with Loudoun Lyric Opera at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia. “NORTON: A Civil War Opera” is based on the true story of a Civil War soldier, and it features multiple faculty members, conservatory alumni and students and others who have wonderful connections in the worlds of opera and classical music. The cast includes Associate Professor of Voice Michael Forest, M.M.E., ’85, ’86; Associate Professor of Voice Philip Sargent, D.M.A.; D.M.A. graduate student Melissa Chavez; Jeffrey Luksik ’12. The instrumental ensemble included Alex Johnson ’13 and current students Tyler Garner, Stephen Readyoff and Tom Valdez.

Professor Emeritus of Music James Laster, Ph.D., was commissioned by retired Professor of Music Stephen Cooksey, Ph.D., to write and conduct a composition for choir, two trumpets and organ for the installation a new priest at St. James Episcopal Church in Leesburg, Virginia. Dr. Laster also served as a judge in the preliminary round and semifinal round for the Apple Blossom’s Got Talent competition in March and April. He was one of five composers, including Professor Emeritus William Averitt, Deen Entsminger ’72, Ryan Keebaugh’ 04 and Georgiann Toole ‘97, who were commissioned to write choral pieces for the May Musica Viva concert in honor and memory of former Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) music supervisor Jim Harmon. According to the Musica Viva website, Harmon “was an exceptional part of Musica Viva for more than 20 years and an extraordinary musical presence in the community, the churches and the educational world.”

On the acting front, Laster acted in a medical training film in March and played a retired general in a “Cyber Thriller” in May for Astute Technology in Reston, Virginia. In May, he was hired to play the part of a retired landowner in the Weather Channel’s new series “American Supernatural.” Laster serves as interim organist for Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia.

Assistant Professor of Composition David T. Little, Ph.D., was named fourth composer-in-residence at Opera Philadelphia this summer. Little is best known for the opera “Dog Days” that made several critics’ best-of-the-year lists in 2012. He is currently working on “JFK” for a premiere by the Fort Worth Opera.

In an article written by Philadelphia Inquirer Music Critic David Patrick Stearns in the May 18, 2014, issue of the, Little said, “I came to opera indirectly, and what I learned, I learned by doing. I’ve come up with a lot of questions about what opera has been and what it can be, what’s possible and what’s preferable. I definitely want to be at a place in terms of craft and my compositional tool kit where I can do anything…to be able to say, ‘This is the story I want to do’ and be able to do it to the best of my ability.”

Associate Professor of Organ and Director of Church Music Studies J. Thomas (Tom) Mitts, D.M.A., will assume a new role this fall semester, succeeding long-time Director of Church Music and Professor of Music (organ, harpsichord) Steven Cooksey, Ph.D., who retired from this position in May after a 42-year teaching career. Dr. Mitts has taught at Shenandoah Conservatory for more than a decade as an adjunct professor in the areas of music theory and history. He also directs the Shenandoah Community Chorus, a choir aimed at bringing the Shenandoah University community together by providing them with musical training from a senior conservatory faculty member.

Dr. Mitts, known and admired as a collegial and collaborative scholar and artist and a richly ecumenical and community-building church musician, has received enthusiastic reviews for his performances as soloist, chamber musician and keyboard artist. He has performed on numerous concert stages across the United States, France, Hungary and the Czech Republic. His skills as a performer and collaborator are complemented by a broad range of experiences with congregations (ranging from Lutheran and Jewish to Baptist), making his selection an especially good fit for this ecumenically oriented position of leadership.

Chair of the Keyboard Division and Professor of Keyboard/Piano John O’Conor, B.M., L.R.A.M., L.R.S.M., A.R.C.M., performed a recital at the Washington International Piano Festival at Catholic University in July. Offering a fresh take on some timeless staples of the piano repertoire, O’Conor began with Beethoven’s “Six Bagatelles, Op. 126,” followed by his “Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13” (the “Pathétique”), and Schubert’s wrenching late “Sonata in C minor, D. 958.”

Associate Professor of Bassoon and Music Theory Ryan Romine, D.M.A., and four members of the Shenandoah bassoon studio traveled to South Whitley, Indiana, to visit Fox Products Corporation. The group toured the Fox factory and witnessed the production of numerous models of bassoons and oboes. Students played newly made instruments (including some designs not yet available to the public), and one rising sophomore bassoonist placed an order for a new professional bassoon to be delivered this October.

Adjunct Professor of Music Production and Recording Technology Mike Sokol, A.A., published his first eBook, “RV Electrical Safety,” on Visit


Assistant Professor of Nursing Laurie Hudson, M.S.N., FNP-C, received the Exemplary Teacher Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of the United Methodist Church. Hudson is one of 77 professors and instructors at United Methodist-related schools, colleges, universities and theological schools to win the award during the 2013-2014 academic year.

“It is difficult for me to express how surprised and grateful I am for this award,” said Hudson. “I’ve been teaching at Shenandoah University for six years, and the support and graciousness of my fellow faculty combined with the dedication and excitement of the undergraduate nursing students have been a daily blessing to me. Students have made my job so enjoyable and rewarding already, and I cannot thank them enough for the privilege of being part of their education and career development.”

The award program expresses the church’s support of and appreciation for faculty who have demonstrated exemplary leadership, excellence in teaching, service to students and commitment to education. Professors and instructors were presented an appreciation certificate and a cash award.


Director and Associate Professor of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies Rachel A. Carlson, Ed.D., PA-C, presented “Practice Your Recertification Skills” at the 42nd American Academy of Physician Assistants Conference in Boston in May. She made two presentations at the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants in July, including “JNC VIII and 2013 ACC/AHA Cholesterol Guidelines: What’s New? What’s Not?” and “Practice Your Recertification Skills.” In August, Dr. Carlson will serve as one of four facilitators for the New Program Director’s Retreat. The five-day retreat is presented by a team of experienced physician assistant educators and administrators and will include a combination of didactic lectures, small group activities and interactive workshops. Attendees will come away with the foundation skills that all program and associate directors need for success.

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies J. Leocadia Conlon, M.Ph., PA-C, presented “Caring for the Caregiver” and “Oral Health and Diabetes: What You Need to Know When Caring for Your Diabetic Patients” at the 42nd American Academy of Physician Assistants Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, in May. Both presentations highlighted two major educational initiatives of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. In July, Conlon presented “Treating Veterans and Military Families Living With PTSD and TBI” at the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Director and Associate Professor of Athletic Training Rose Schmieg, D.H.Sc., and three athletic training graduate students, Carina Stern, Nick Erdman, and Kelsey Steele, successfully passed the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN) certification exam giving them the status of certified sports nutritionists. CISSN is the premier certification in the field of sports nutrition and supplementation.

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News: Summer 2014

Public Reflects on 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cool Spring

Nearly 150 people marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cool Spring during a tour sponsored by the McCormick Civil War Institute at Shenandoah University. The tour was presented in association with the U.S. National Park Service and the Clarke County Historical Society. The historical lecture and tour alumnus was led by Shenandoah University alumnus and historic storyteller Jonathan Noyalas ’01, assistant professor of history and director of the Center for Civil War History at Lord Fairfax Community College; and National Park Service Ranger Shannon Moeck.


Studying Abroad This Summer

Shenandoah University students and faculty spanned the globe this summer — working, teaching and performing, completing internships and conducting research.

Ten faculty-led Global Experiential Learning (GEL) trips provided students, faculty and alumni with opportunities to visit other cultures, apply their knowledge or practice their skills in a variety of settings outside the continental United States. Below is a list of destinations, academic topics and individuals who led study abroad or service trips or who traveled internationally for clinical experiences.

  • Argentina: Spanish, individual students attending summer Spanish language study
  • Austria: Music Therapy, Daniel Tague, Ph.D.
  • England: Theatre, Carolyn Coulson, Ph.D.
  • France and Scotland: Spiritual Life/Religion, Rhonda VanDyke Colby, D.Min.
  • Ghana: Clinical Rotation, third-year pharmacy graduate student Kyle Feldman
  • Hawaii: Disability Rights in the Pacific Rim, Diane Painter, Ph.D., with alumni Kauren Fritzius ’13, Gina DeGaetano ’13, and doctoral students Antoinette Funk and Michele Sandy
  • Nicaragua: Health Professions medical mission trip includes faculty and students from the divisions of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies, Physical Therapy (PT) and Pharmacy, who traveled to Leon, Nicaragua, to provide health care services to underserved populations. Faculty members who participated in the trip included Natalie Nyren ’08 M.S. PAS, PA-C; Anne Schempp, M.PAS, PA-C; J.Leocadia Conlon, M.PH, PA-C; Camilla Hollen, M.M.S., PA-C; Andrea Fergus, Ph.D; and Jamie Klucken, Pharm.D.
  • Rwanda: Service Trip, alumna Gina Fu ’14 and current student Jordan Healey
  • South Korea: Teacher Education (English) and learning about Korean culture, Kayleigh Winters and Elizabeth Britton


Adventure Amputee Camp Inspires a ‘Can Do Attitude’

Summer camp inspires children with amputations to stretch their imaginations and discover how much they can accomplish. 

Each July, a unique summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina helps young amputees build character and discover their own strengths. Now in its 20th year, Adventure Amputee Camp brings children from across the United States to a camp where they get to explore new challenges and make lasting memories.

“Adventure Amputee Camp encourages children with amputations or limb differences to stretch their potential and to explore all that is possible,” said Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Melissa Wolff-Burke, Ed.D., camp president who, along with husband Robert Burke, launched the camp in 1985. Each year, former campers return as counselors as do volunteers, like Shenandoah University physical therapy graduates Gopi Pitcher ’14, Karen Hall ’09 and Morgan Epps ’13.

The traditional, five-day, overnight camp serves as a summer oasis for children, ages 8-17, who have lost arms or legs or were born with limb differences. Activities range from highly physically challenging to sedentary and entertaining. River rafting, high ropes courses and water skiing are modified as necessary to meet the ability and interest level of each camper. These activities stretch the emotional and mental resources of campers who strive to meet a personal challenge or goal. Interactions with peers and adult volunteers, who also have amputations, also provide campers with overt and subtle examples of productive and fulfilled lives as adults. 

“When you’re a kid missing one limb, and you see another person missing three limbs go swimming, rafting or scuba diving, you might say, ‘Hey, I can probably do that!’” said Dr. Wolff-Burke. “By offering these children physical challenges, peer and adult support and modeling, they are freed from self- or societal-imposed restraints.

“Healthy social contact is also a crucial component,” she said. “These children are always in the minority, but at camp they get to live as part of a majority and are empowered by that experience.”

SSMT Wraps Up Its 31st Season

Theatre Manager Sue Robinson reports a successful turnout for the 31st Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre season.

Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre’s (SSMT’s) 2014 season featured four audience-pleasing shows and record attendance from June 11 through August 3. This season lineup featured “Man of La Mancha,” Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” and “Mary Poppins” the Broadway musical.

Alumnus Richard Costa ’86 returned to direct ‘Spamalot,’ and actors Stephen Paul Cramer (Jean Valjean) and Christopher Sanders (Javert), who starred in 2013’s ‘Les Miserables,’ returned this season to portray King Arthur in Monty Python’s ‘Spamalot’ and Don Quixote in ‘Man of La Mancha,’ respectively.

“We did very well this season,” Robinson said. ‘Spamalot’ was just a lot of fun, and audiences loved the hilarity of that show. ‘The King and I’ made all the Rodgers and Hammerstein fans happy. It was a beautiful production with 19 children performing in the cast.”

SSMT also welcomed back Strasburg, Virginia, native Russell Rinker, who originally appeared with SSMT several decades ago as one of the children in “Oliver.” He took a break from performing with Blue Man Group to play Lancelot in “Spamalot” and the king in “The King and I.”

Several alumni also portrayed lead roles in the final SSMT production of “Mary Poppins,” including Jack Rowles ’82, who played Mr. Banks; Tara Gessling, who played Mrs. Banks; and Catharine Kay (Kuntz) ’13 , who played Mary Poppins.

Conservatory Students Enroll in New Accelerated Master’s Program

Nine Conservatory students accepted to earn a master’s in performing arts leadership and management with only one additional year of study.

Congratulations to the following students recently accepted into Shenandoah Conservatory’s new accelerated Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management program: Brittany Irish, B.F.A. in musical theatre (2016); Jasmine Snellen, B.F.A. in dance (2016); Megan Raham, B.F.A. in acting (2016); Lauren Stroman, B.M. in vocal performance (2015); William Abbott, B.M. in cello performance (2016); Michael Hollin, B.M. in french horn performance (2015); Elizabeth Fraser, B.F.A. in acting (2016); Michele Boyd, B.F.A in dance (2015); and Halle Schulman, B.F.A. in dance (2016).

Shenandoah’s performing arts leadership and management program prepares students for dynamic arts careers through rigorous coursework in business, financial management, arts marketing, fundraising, organizational governance, planning and leadership. Conservatory students enrolled in any undergraduate program in music, theatre or dance now have the opportunity to complete the accelerated program at the graduate level, completing a master’s degree with only one additional year of study.

Shenandoah Conservatory music education majors Miranda Beard, Xochilt Melendez and Jonathan Mills participated in the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) Collegiate Summit in June. The students learned of advocacy efforts and went behind-the-scenes to meet face-to-face with U.S. legislators and their staffs in Senate and House offices on Capitol Hill.

Children’s Literature Conference Celebrates Literacy

For some, reading is breathing and literacy is life. Shenandoah celebrated the 29th annual Children’s Literature Conference by focusing on the partnership of fact and fiction.

The 29th annual Children’s Literature Conference, “It Takes Two: Fact + Fiction = Perfect Partners,” featured 2014 Caldecott winner Brian Floca as a guest speaker. He was joined by several award-winning authors and illustrators including Steve Jenkins, Carole Boston Weatherford, Chris Soentpiet, Deborah Heiligman, Blue Balliett, Deborah Hopkinson, Janell Cannon, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Tony Medina, Marc Aronson, Floyd Cooper, Melissa Stewart and Aranka Siegal.


National Jazz Workshop

Shenandoah hosted the sixth annual National Jazz Workshop in July, and attendees learned from some of the best jazz musicians in the Washington, D.C., area. Visiting artists included the U.S. Army Blues, the Navy Commodores, the Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra, the Capitol Bones and others. The workshop also hosted free, daily concerts by guest performers. The National Jazz Workshop was founded by Shenandoah Conservatory Associate Professor of Jazz Studies Matt Niess, a trombonist with the Army Blues and senior instrumentalist with the U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own). Watch a video recap of the workshop here. For more information, visit (PHOTOS: Rick Ours)


Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, in partnership with George Washington University, hosted the GO GIRL (Genomic Opportunities for Girls in Research Labs™) sixth annual educational outreach program for rising 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade girls enrolled in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). The GO GIRL program provides hands-on laboratory experience in molecular biology and genomics, offering participants the opportunity to explore laboratory techniques commonly used in forensic and research laboratories using state-of-the-art research facilities at The George Washington University Virginia Science and Technology Campus (GW-VSTC). The four-day summer program is funded by a grant to LCPS from Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Public health and foreign language students are volunteering with Healthy Living Events organized by Our Health, Inc. on the first Wednesday of every month, from June through October. Alumna Katrina Daoud ’13, Cheyenne Simpson, Stephanie Jenkins and Lauren Kesler are helping to raise awareness of ways to reduce preventable child deaths and promote health, nutrition and preventive care.

Athletics End-Of-Season Highlights

The baseball team finished strong with a fantastic spring season for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Led by All-America selection Michael Paul, the squad finished the year with a 33-11 overall record and was the No. 1 seed at both the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament (after finishing with a 17-3 league record) and the Demorest Regional. Coach Kevin Anderson’s squad won the opening two games of the regional before being eliminated with close losses to ODAC rival Bridgewater and eventual national runner-up Emory (Georgia).

Paul, a junior from Red Hill, Pennsylvania, was named All-America by both and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as well as the Player of the Year by the ABCA, and the ODAC. Off the field, the third baseman capped his year by earning first-team Academic All-America honors from Capital One. This selection extends the department’s streak to seven straight years in which at least one student-athlete has been named Academic All-America.

In addition to Paul’s being named ODAC Player of the Year, sophomore Darrell Thompson was named Pitcher of the Year and Anderson was tapped as Coach of the Year.

Junior Jaclyn Mohlmann, from Annandale, Virginia, finished off her solid track season by qualifying for the NCAA national championships in the heptathlon.This qualification, just the second-ever for the outdoor track and field program, comes on the heels of Mohlmann’s qualification this past winter in the indoor pentathlon. She ended her outdoor season with a 17th-place finish at the national meet.

Women’s lacrosse had another outstanding year in which it finished as the runner-up in the ODAC regular season race. Coach Lindsey Lutz’s squad won eight ODAC contests for the second straight year and received a bye into the tournament semifinals. Senior Samantha Sisson became the program’s all-time leading scorer in the middle of the season and capped her career with a fourth straight first-team All-League selection. Sisson’s classmate, goalkeeper Ashley Cross, was selected All-League for the fourth straight time (twice a first-team selection) and added an All-Region honor as well.

Student-athletes continued a strong showing in the classroom as well, earning a 2.9 cumulative GPA and having 12 of its 20 teams at 3.0 or better.

Just prior to the start of Apple Blossom Festival this spring, the department put a cap on its year by hosting the first-ever Buzzy Awards. Eleven awards, ranging from Best Team to Comeback Player of the Year, were handed out to student-athletes and teams based on voting of the student-athletes themselves as well as department personnel. The highlight of the evening came in the Courage Award, which was awarded posthumously to Patrick “Packy” Purcell ’12. Purcell, a former football player who lost his battle with cancer in May 2013, will now be the namesake of the award given out to the Shenandoah University student-athlete that displays extraordinary courage in the face of a difficult situation. Below is a complete listing of the Buzzy Award recipients:


  • Play of the Year: Football, at Hampden-Sydney
  • Most Supportive Spirit: Nolan Overby, Baseball
  • Breakthrough Team: Field Hockey
  • Comeback Player: Kirk Lewis, Men’s Track and Field
  • Best Moment: Football vs. Hampden-Sydney
  • Community Service: Baseball
  • Outstanding Team: Baseball
  • Best Upset: Football, 36-35 win at Hampden-Sydney
  • Record-Breaking Performance: Avery Green, Men’s Basketball
  • Outstanding Faculty Member: Associate Professor of Sport Management Brian Wigley, Ed.D.
  • Courage Award: Patrick “Packy” Purcell ’12
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Vision Possible: Fanning the Flames of Entrepreneurship

If you are looking for a person filled with entrepreneurial spirit, business expertise and graceful acumen to guide your future path, look no further than Faith Power, Ph.D. As associate professor of management at the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business, Dr. Power also leads the university’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and serves as director of its landmark program.

Power comes to Shenandoah with a rich history in business. She was founder and CEO of Power/Warner Communications Group. She also founded Ambriel Technologies, a Winchester research and development firm. In addition to her business background, Power holds a doctoral degree in human and organizational learning from the George Washington University. Recently, she was appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to the Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners for a term of five years. This appointment will add to Power’s considerable background, allowing her to continue to grow her expertise in organizational leadership.

“The more knowledgeable I become about various organizations, the more I can impart that knowledge to my students,” says Power. “I’m also hoping it will lead to some research opportunities for Shenandoah University.”

Paramount in her mind is that “practice informs theory, and theory informs practice.”

“Remaining connected to the local business community and the state community allows me to bring subject matter experts in for my students to really expand the curriculum we offer,” she said.

Power is currently in the process of building an advisory board for the Institute for Entrepreneurship. The board will consist of other successful entrepreneurs who can help guide and build the entrepreneurship program. She is also spearheading the founding of an innovation lab that would serve not only Shenandoah University members, but also community members who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

According to Power, the Institute for Entrepreneurship provides individualized business education driven by entrepreneurial thinking, global understanding and ethical practice. The institute aims to delivers courses and events that support the entrepreneurial spirit with practical knowledge in management, marketing, finance and law with real-life applications. The institute also seeks to inform, educate and enrich the community at large.

“Our entrepreneurship program is not just for our students; we want to be a resource for the whole community,” said Miles Davis, Ph.D., dean of the university’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business. “Whether attending a lecture or taking a class, the institute is here for everyone.”

Power, a firm believer in community engagement, agrees. “We want to throw open the doors, invite people in, and have them take advantage of what others are learning here,” said Power. “We also want to learn from community knowledge, too.”

One event in particular fulfills this vision. Entrepreneurship Week, held in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation’s global entrepreneurship week during the second week of November, seeks to inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators, mentors and investors. A key speaker, former Byrd School business student Nghia Tuan Luong ’09, will discuss the building of Eco Park, an environmentally conscious city near Hanoi in North Vietnam.

In addition to these endeavors, Power will work with Dr. Davis to select speakers and faculty members to teach a second master class in organizational leadership and culture this fall. As one of the founding faculty members, Power taught the first masterclass last spring, along with former Circuit City CEO Alan Wurtzel and Executive-in-Residence,Trustee and retired Chairman and CEO of American Woodmark William Brandt Jr. Only a select number of senior students were chosen to participate in this unique class based upon academic merit and completion of an interview with Dr. Davis. 

This fall, Power will teach courses on the mind of the entrepreneur, small business and management. She recently taught a summer course on organizational structure and behavior and is looking forward to teaching a course on leadership and cultural change this spring. 

– Katherine Anderson


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Ford Named Dean of the School of Health Professions

Timothy Ford, Ph.D., has been named Shenandoah University’s first dean of the School of Health Professions. In this newly created position, Dr. Ford will oversee the divisions of athletic training, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies and physical therapy. He began his new position on July 1, 2014.

“It is with great pleasure we welcome Dr. Ford to Shenandoah University,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Adrienne Bloss, Ph.D. “His extensive leadership experience and his commitment to interprofessional education and community partnerships made for a unanimous recommendation by the search committee. His appointment is very strongly supported by the campus community as well.

“I am thrilled and deeply honored to have been selected as dean of the School of Health Professions at Shenandoah University,” said Ford. “With the dramatic changes in our health care system, and the critical need to control the ever-rising cost of health care, this could not be a better time to work with these invaluable professions to help shape the next generation of providers.”

Ford comes to Shenandoah from the University of New England (UNE), where he has served as interim dean of the Westbrook College of Health Professions (WCHP), dean of graduate studies and public health, and vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. Ford held prior positions at Montana State University and at the Harvard School of Public Health.

– Emily Burner


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Nepali Women Find New Home at Shenandoah

If not for an education, the lives of two young Nepali women would be completely different. Sophomores Kriti Hada and Sapana Ojha, both from Nepal, have overcome great personal obstacles and challenges to pursue their education and a better life.

The two began their studies at Shenandoah University in the fall of 2013 as scholarship recipients chosen during the March 2013 Global Citizenship Project (GCP) trip to Nepal. The original plan was to award a scholarship to one student, but university leaders felt both were deserving and found a way to fund both educations.

Hada, from Bhaktapur, and Ojha, from Kathmandu, were brought to Shenandoah’s attention through the university’s connection with the Little Sisters Fund. According to its website, the organization provides long-term scholarships for economically disadvantaged girls in Asia—girls who, without the educational support of the Little Sisters Fund, would be many times more susceptible to the evils of child labor, marriage and trafficking (including the international sex industry).

The Little Sisters Fund assisted both Hada and Ojha in their educational endeavors in Nepal, awarding them scholarships to continue their schooling. Hada joined the organization in fifth grade and Ojha in eighth grade.

The Selection Process

Hada was torn about interviewing for a place at Shenandoah because she was already halfway through her university studies as an engineering student in Nepal. She decided it was worth a shot and threw her hat in the ring. Her interview went well, but she had to skip a group dinner later that night because she had to head home and study for an exam the next day.

“I was at home studying, and I was so tense about my exam. A Little Sisters Fund staff member called me and said [President] Tracy [Fitzsimmons] wanted to talk to me. Tracy said she wanted me to come to Shenandoah. I went upstairs to tell my sisters, and they were all so excited for me that they were crying.”

At first, Ojha wasn’t sure if she should apply. “I thought, ‘Me, in the United States? Is this possible?’ Because I’m the only one in my family who finished high school.”

But on the day of her interview, she knew she made the right choice to apply. “When their whole group got out of the van, wearing their white Shenandoah T-shirts, and Tracy was in front of them smiling, I thought, ‘I want to go there. I want to be at Shenandoah.’ It was an amazing feeling.”

Her interview was nothing like she was expecting. “I thought there would be some big person—maybe an American man. But the three ladies who interviewed me were so polite, and I just wanted to keep talking to them.”

After a group dinner that evening, the suspense was killing Ojha. She wanted to know if she had made the cut. “I remember the moon was so bright that night. We were outside, and I heard Tracy announce my name. I was so happy I just cried. Everyone cried, I think. I assured everyone I was crying because of this opportunity. It was the happiest cry ever.”

The Long Road to College

However, to get to the point of college acceptance was a long journey for both students. Hada and Ojha each lost their fathers at a young age, and as a result, their families struggled to make ends meet.

Hada’s father was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away when she was in the seventh grade, leaving behind Hada, her mother and three older sisters.

“At that time, all of us were in school. We didn’t have anything, because our father was the only income for us. My sister was about to complete her university, but she had to sacrifice her own studies in order to work. That’s one of the reasons she’s not in graduate school. But the good thing was that Little Sisters Fund was there for me. If it wasn’t for their support, my direction of life would have been very different.”

Hada says if she would have ended her schooling when her father died, life would have been very hard for her. “I would have had to drop out of school and give less time to education—that would have impacted me in a big way.” She says that the most common jobs for uneducated girls in Nepal are usually sewing and knitting or housework jobs.

Ojha, who has two sisters, witnessed the struggles her parents had with alcohol abuse. Her father died when she was in the fourth grade.

“It was hard for me when my father died. I paid for my education by myself, up to the eighth grade. My two sisters and I worked in a wool factory for our main source of income. My teachers knew that I was having a hard time paying for my education, so Little Sisters Fund stepped in to help.”

If it wasn’t for the Little Sisters Fund, “my life would have completely stopped,” said Ojha. “Many of my friends are married and have two or three children already. Without education, most of the girls get married. A girl earning money herself and living a single life is very hard—they have to depend on other people. I’m sure without Little Sisters Fund I would have stopped my education after the 10th grade and my life would be completely different.”

A New Shenandoah “Family”

“I like being at Shenandoah because I feel like part of a family,” said Ojha. “Shenandoah doesn’t feel like a university—it feels like a small, close family.” Hada echoed those sentiments, saying, “The thing I like about Shenandoah is that it is a small school and the teachers know you very well. The people here are really friendly.

“Since Shenandoah is a small school, it’s easy to get to know each other,” she added. “I can talk about my problems with anyone. One of the good parts is that students and staff are always ready to help you.”

Ojha was surprised at the difference in class schedules between Shenandoah and her school in Nepal. She didn’t realize she’d move between buildings for classes and have breaks throughout the day.

In Nepal, classes were continuous and teachers came to the students instead of students traveling to and from different classes. Night classes offered one day per week were unheard of. “Sometimes at night my family calls from home, and they’re surprised when I say I’m in class. Yes, I tell them—it’s 9 p.m. and I’m in class,” she chuckled.

Ojha also noticed a big difference when interacting with professors at the university. “In Nepal, we felt afraid to go to the teacher if we had questions. So I did everything by myself. If I did not understand something, I went to a book in the library and found the solution. But the teachers here at Shenandoah are so helpful.”

Both students have enjoyed exploring the nature that surrounds Shenandoah University. “I’ve gone caving and hiking with SU Outdoors,” said Hada. “Those moments are the most memorable ones because Shenandoah helped me to explore the Shenandoah Valley. That was a great experience for me.”

“When we went to visit Harper’s Ferry during orientation, I loved seeing the river and the mountains,” said Ojha. “It reminded me of the natural beauty of Nepal.”

Looking Toward the Future

Because a great number of people and organizations have helped the students toward their current success, both Hada and Ojha feel drawn to give back to those in need.

“I want to impact people’s lives, and being a nurse, I know that I can impact at least one person each day,” said Ojha. “I want to do something for my country. They are sleeping, and I want to make them wake up. I have a dream to lead my country. Women in Nepal, they have many female problems, and they don’t go to the doctor for regular checkups. So, I want to take care of them and educate them about women’s health. I want to make a difference in the health sector.”

“I’m so grateful to Little Sisters Fund, and because of that, I want to help people,” said Hada. “I have seen the impact of the program, and I think that we need more helping hands like those organizations to affect change in countries like Nepal. I really want to work with the United Nations someday and am thinking about going into nursing or working in oncology. I want to help change lives.”

“In Nepali society, it’s a son preference,” said Hada. “So, all of our relatives and others in society questioned my father about why he was educating my sisters and me. But he always said, ‘My daughters are going to be great and make me proud. They are going to be the stars of the nation.’ With that passion from my father, and all he did for us, I feel I have to do something.”

– Emily Burner

Posted in General |

Career Watch: Adaptability, Your Best Marketable Asset

What is your best professional asset? Raw talent? Years of experience? Personal charisma?

According to Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, senior adviser at the global executive search firm Egon Zehnder and author of “It’s Not the How or the What but the Who” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014), your best, most marketable asset may not be how much experience you bring to the job; it may be your potential to grow and adapt in increasingly complex roles and environments.

In Harvard Business Review’s June 2014 cover story, “21st-Century Talent Spotting: Why Potential Now Trumps Brains, Experience, and Competencies,” author Claudio Fernández-Aráoz explains why the ability to adapt and change may soon trump experience and training on your resume.

“In the past, jobs have been decomposed into skills and filled by candidates who have them,” writes Fernández-Aráoz. “But 21st-century business is too complex—and the market for top talent too tight—for that model to work anymore. The question now is not whether people have the right skills; it’s whether they have the potential to learn new ones.”

To thrive, Fernández-Aráoz writes, organizations must adopt a new paradigm: Look for individuals with the highest potential, hire them, then help them to grow.

He highlights five key indicators of individual potential: (1) a strong motivation to excel in the pursuit of challenging goals combined with the humility to put the group ahead of individual needs; (2) an insatiable curiosity to explore new ideas and avenues; (3) keen insight into connections that others don’t see; (4) a strong engagement with work and people; and (5) the determination to overcome obstacles.

A new frontier for higher education

How does this translate for institutions of education preparing students for careers in this volatile, complex and ambiguous 21st-century workplace?

Young 20-something adults seem to fit nicely into this category of untapped, unrealized potential. However, the ability to adapt is not solely the domain of the young; it’s also essential for adults in mid-to-late careers.

“As organizations shift from hiring based primarily on skills and experience to individual potential, colleges and universities must continue to encourage a commitment to ongoing, lifelong learning and career gap filling,” said Shenandoah University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs Adrienne Bloss. “This highlights the importance of infusing professional education with a strong foundation in the liberal arts, giving students the tools to grow and adapt throughout their careers.”

This message is important not only for higher education; individuals must also take responsibility for their potential and prepare for shifts to occur. They must embrace the concept that their work is truly never done and that the careers they prepared for 20 years ago may require additional education in the future.

“Today’s lightning-fast business environment is more complex and unpredictable than

ever before,” said Miles Davis, Ph.D., dean of Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business. “What makes someone successful in a particular role today might not be what is needed tomorrow.

“At present, there is an overemphasis on valuing experience,” said Dr. Davis. “Organizations often assume someone with 10 years of experience may be better qualified than someone with less experience. However, we don’t know how to rate the quality of that experience. In some cases, it could be an impediment. What is most valuable is an individual who is adaptable and can express a positive attitude in a changing environment.”


– Cathy Loranger, APR

Posted in General |

Risky Business: Alumna Entrepreneur Carves Career as an Independent Film Producer/Composer

The struggle between your parents’ hopes and your own dreams is one Anya Remizova ’06, ’10 knows firsthand. Remizova wanted to pursue music. However, her parents hoped she would study business and one day take over the family’s thermal insulation business. After receiving two bachelor’s degrees from Shenandoah University, she was able to reconcile her parents’ desires with her own and achieve more than she ever dreamed.

A resident of Los Angeles, Remizova is a movie producer, composer and co-owner of Zombot Pictures, an independent production company. She is proud to put her degrees in business administration and music production and recording technology to good use.

“I gained a lot of experience while studying music and business, and I ended up using both as a producer and a composer,” she said. “I didn’t really envision things happening that way back in the day, but I’m really grateful for the unexpected path my career has taken.”

A native of Russia, Remizova initially came to Shenandoah as an exchange student studying business. However, one of the reasons she chose Shenandoah was for its conservatory, as she intended to quietly take music classes while attending the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business. A few music classes eventually evolved into auditioning for Shenandoah Conservatory, and Remizova began working on a second degree.

Remizova moved to LA following her last semester at Shenandoah to complete an internship requirement for her music production and recording technology degree. She interned with Epitaph Records, one of the country’s largest independent record labels, enjoying the creative atmosphere of LA. Once her internship ended, she decided to stay.

Despite facing a harsh job market, Remizova eventually found her career passion alongside a few close friends.

“I couldn’t find a job, and for a year I didn’t know what to do with myself until I met James Bird and Adriana Mather, and we decided to do films together.”

All three felt like outsiders from the established studio system, so they decided to start making films on their own.

“We wanted to do something, and we didn’t want to wait for other people to provide us with an opportunity to do it,” said Remizova. To date, the trio has made three films, two of them under the banner of their production company, Zombot, which they started in 2012.

Their first company film, “Eat Spirit Eat,” was financed by Remizova’s father as a show of support for his daughter. Her father, who was battling cancer, sadly passed away during the filming.

“It was a really difficult experience for me and for my friends. We overcame a lot in that process of making that film and dealing with all these things. What happened to my dad actually inspired us to make our third film, ‘Honeyglue.’”

Along with producing, Remizova served as composer for both “Eat Spirit Eat” and “Honeyglue.” While composing a film score seemed a daunting task at first, once she got into it Remizova says it was a great experience.

“I had this idea in my head that you have to be this person with an orchestra to make a movie score,” said Remizova. “I was scared at first because I didn’t know how to approach the whole process. But I learned it as I went along, and it was actually really fun. I think what came out was really good.” 

Looking back at what she’s accomplished in the last few years, Remizova credits her professors at Shenandoah University with teaching her she is capable of anything.

“I have a lot of respect for people who teach the arts,” she explained. “It’s a very strange and difficult thing to teach. A lot of creative people are sensitive and kind of insecure, so to teach them to express themselves and give them support, that’s a really difficult thing to do. In the beginning, I didn’t have much confidence or experience, but Shenandoah University gave me the chance to do something and prove that I could do it.”

– Hilary Legge ’14

Posted in General |


It’s time for staff members to take a break and get to know each other over some free lunch. Next Friday, Aug. 8, come join in on the fun at Grillin’ with Staff Council, held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Allen Dining Hall.

This is more than just a free cookout for university staff employees; it’s an opportunity to meet and talk with their University Staff Council representatives, who meet every month to address the needs of staff members. You can also learn about committee opportunities and share your ideas. Questions? Contact University Staff Council President Rick Ours at

Posted in Announcements |


On Tuesday, Aug. 5, TIAA CREF Retirement Benefits Explained is from 10 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 2 p.m. in the Brandt Student Center, Room 114. Are you wondering how your retirement investments work? Would you like to know how to increase your retirement investing? Make the most of your retirement money by attending this free question-and-answer session with a TIAA CREF representative. Questions? Contact Human Resources & Benefits Manager Kim McDonald at

Posted in Announcements |