If rain does mean good luck—and Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV declared it so at undergraduate commencement on May 19—then the class of 2018 has it made.

The speeches were complete and about two-thirds of the graduates’ names had been called when the skies opened up over Wheeler Mall at this year’s ceremony. Unwilling to let it ruin their day, Longwood’s newest alums greeted the downpour with cheers, and those who had yet to cross the stage lined up for their moment in the spotlight, albeit at a much faster pace.

It was almost as if they wanted to prove that President Reveley was right on target with his earlier remarks about their generation, including statistics showing millennials are more optimistic about the future than Generation Xers or baby boomers.

“There is a myth that needs to be dispelled,” Reveley said, referring to the 2013 Time magazine cover story that characterized millennials as lazy and self-involved. “I want to take a moment to powerfully disagree, especially with regard to the Lancers assembled here before us.”

He went on to point out that the millennial generation is the most diverse and the best-educated in American history. And Longwood millennials have the advantage of getting their higher education at a university where they were “taught not just how to have a career but how to live a life,” Reveley added.


Gov. Ralph Northam spoke to graduates at the undergraduate ceremony.

“The 21st century beckons…,” he concluded. “Lancers, the great Class of 2018, I take profound hope in you.”

Looking at the individuals who earned the 984 bachelor’s degrees and 166 graduate degrees awarded this year, it’s easy to understand why Reveley is so hopeful about the future. You’ll meet 23 of those individuals, a few of whom completed their requirements in August or December 2017, in the next few pages.

Among them are a biology graduate headed to the University of Chicago to begin a Ph.D. in immunology; a computer science and modern languages major set to start a job at Deutsche Bank; and a teacher excited about her Peace Corps placement in a small village in South Africa.

And there’s Kate Colley, who majored in chemistry, conducted research on chemical reactions in drug design, played four years on the field hockey team and put her hat in the ring to be considered for a Rhodes Scholarship. She’s been accepted to pharmacy school at VCU, well-prepared by her Longwood experience and already a bit nostalgic for it.

“I will never forget the long practices, bus trips to Ohio and tough games that I shared with some of my very best friends,” said Colley, who is included in Longwood magazine online. “Longwood has brought me so much joy, both academically and athletically. My advice to future graduates? Enjoy your time in Farmville while it lasts.”

To read more about Commencement 2018, including remarks by Gov. Ralph Northam, who spoke at the undergraduate ceremony, and philanthropist Joan Brock ’64, who spoke to students receiving graduate degrees, go to

GuideStudents 2

From left: Meredith Puryear, Olivia Zaleski, Michaela Malboeuf, Carli Hanback, Zachary Glasscock, Tamiya Vanhook-Davis. Ashleigh Bielen, and Brittany Bishop

Olivia Zaleski Icons - Olivia

Majors: Computer science and modern languages with a concentration in Spanish

What’s next: Analyst

Where: Deutsche Bank, Cary, North Carolina

Lab report: “The campus would be quiet and peaceful, but the [computer science] lab would be abuzz with activity, fingers flying over the keyboards with an intense concentration, people yelling out code. The atmosphere was great.”

The wow factor: Hiking on a glacier in Alaska, gazing at the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, standing just a few feet from the Rosetta Stone. “When I look back at my experience, I’ll remember that, because of Longwood, the world was my classroom.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Thomas Wears, mathematics faculty, and Dr. Robert Marmorstein, computer science faculty. They have an incredible energy when teaching. Through their encouragement and support I was able to grow as a student, a programmer and a person.”

Meredith Puryear Icons - Meredith

Major: Communication sciences and disorders with minors in Spanish and special education

What’s next: Master of Science in speech language pathology

Where: Longwood University

A song in her heart: Meredith served as director of Pitch Perfect, one of Longwood’s female a cappella groups, for 2-1/2 years. “It has been the purest form of love, support and acceptance that I have ever known.”

Spain on her brain: Studying abroad in Valencia “shaped my entire future goals,” she said. “It made me realize that in my future career I want to work with children who have fluency and articulation disorders where English is their second language.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Lissa Power-deFur, communication sciences and disorders faculty. “Dr. Power-deFur has been a guiding light for me this last year of school and a constant source of joy.”

Michaela Malboeuf Icons - Michaela

Majors: Psychology, and criminology and criminal justice

What’s next: Operational support technician

Where: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Changing her world view: Michaela studied abroad in London, the Hague, Brussels and Amsterdam and met with representatives from the U.S. State department, the International War Court and the Anne Frank house, to name a few. “This trip was ultimately the reason I chose to pursue a career in federal law enforcement.”

The sound of silence: Michaela interviewed undocumented immigrants as part of a research project. “I was grateful for the opportunity to share their stories in an era where immigration is a hot topic but immigrant voices are silenced.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Sarai Blincoe, psychology faculty. By gently pushing me out of my comfort zone, she helped me discover my passion and future career.”

Carli Hanback Volunteer

Major: Art education with a concentration in crafts

What’s next: Art teacher

Where: Landstown High School, Virginia Beach

Free time: Carli spent much of her time at Longwood volunteering. The Big Event, Habitat for Humanity, FACES and the LCVA were on the receiving end of her devotion to helping others.

Spring break redefined: As vice president of Longwood’s Alternative Breaks group, she chose to spend her spring breaks doing service work in Death Valley and Everglades National Parks.

Couldn’t have done it without: Kelly Nelson, Kerri Cushman and Dr. Terri Sabatos, art faculty. I truly aspire to be at least half the educator that they have been for me.”

Zachary Glasscock Icons - Zachary G

Major: Theatre

What’s next: Performer

Where: Theatre West Virginia, Beckley

Getting down and dirty: His first appearance on stage at Longwood was as Pigpen in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Enter, stage right: He made his directorial debut with Shrek The Musical for Farmville’s Waterworks Players. It was the first time Waterworks had selected a Longwood student to take charge of a production. “I fell in love with directing and hope to do it a lot more in the future.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Lacy Klinger, theatre faculty. Lacy helped me get on my feet as an actor and gave the best advice during my time at Longwood.”

Ashleigh Bielen Icons - Ashleigh

Major: Kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science

What’s next: Master of Science in exercise science

Where: Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro

A good run: On St. Patrick’s day of her senior year, Ashleigh cheered on several clients who ran a 5K after training with her for six weeks. “Getting to see them accomplish their goals was one of the most rewarding feelings ever.”

Twofer opportunity: Ashleigh received a scholarship to attend the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Conference in Denver, Colorado, and was offered a position as a fitness graduate assistant by MTSU while she was there. “I had never considered grad school due to costs. Going to this conference was a huge stepping stone to my future.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Alina Cioletti, Intramurals and Campus Recreation Fitness Coordinator. “Alina always had confidence in me, even when I didn’t have it in myself.”

Brittany Bishop Icons - Brittany

Major: Master of Science in education, counselor education/ mental health counseling

What’s next: Ph.D. in human sexuality-sex therapy

Where: Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania

Eat. Sleep. Grad School.: This T-shirt that Brittany helped create as president of the Graduate Student Association says it all. “I was proud to be part of creating a community where graduate students could meet, have fun and share the experiences of our unique population.”

Strictly Ballroom: Brittany hosted a GSA ballroom dancing event teaching tango and salsa to other grad students.

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Kathleen A. Mccleskey, counselor education faculty. “Dr. Mccleskey was an amazing teacher and was always available to help with conferences, references and anything else I needed.”

Tamiya Vanhook-Davis Icons - Tamiya

Major: Psychology with a minor in neuroscience studies

What’s next: Master of Science in occupational therapy

Where: Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke

Good news about cheating: “Most people tend not to cheat as much as you think.” That was one of the findings of “cyber cheats,” a senior seminar research project Tamiya conducted that focused on the impact of social media on academic dishonesty.

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Catherine Franssen, psychology faculty. Dr. Franssen will always be someone I hold dear to my heart.”

Students 4

From left: Patrick Gobran, Tristan Hobbs, Halle Parker, Charleigh Kondas, Geoffrey Parriott, Lauren Hyatt, and Katelyn Sisson (Photo: Meridith De Avila Khan)

Tristan Hobbs Icons - Zachary G

Major: Business with a concentration in information systems and cyber security

What’s next: Data analyst

Where: SeVA Technical Services, Inc., Newport News

Mister Vice President: Tristan served as executive vice president of the Student Government Association for two years. “I will always cherish helping to make positive change on campus.”

The diner re-do: Tristan’s fraternity helped renovate Walker’s Diner, a Farmville landmark, on the Food Network show American Diner Revival. “It was really fun and rewarding to help remodel something that has been in this historic town for so long.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Patti Carey, Mcgaughy Internship and Professional Development Center director. “She always left her office door open and was ready to lend a hand, especially when I was preparing for job interviews.”

Patrick Gobran Icons - Patrick

Major: Business with concentrations in finance and real estate and a minor in economics

What’s next: Investment banking analyst

Where: Animus Capital Partners, Inc., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The big leagues: Patrick landed an internship at Goldman Sachs in New York City, then leveraged that experience into his job at Animus, where he provides advice on mergers and acquisitions, growth financing, capital raises and restructuring for middle-market companies primarily in the oil field services and exploration and production sectors.

A winner in Vegas: He brought home a Best Paper award from a conference in Las Vegas for a presentation based on his senior honors research paper.

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Frank Bacon, finance faculty; Claire Laroche, business law faculty; and Melinda Fowlkes, assistant business dean. “They helped me in a huge way to shape the career decisions I have made and guide me through my time at Longwood.”

Halle Parker Icons - Halle

Major: Communication studies with a concentration in mass media and a minor in photography

What’s next: Reporter

Where: Danville Register & Bee

So much to do … : Halle played on Longwood’s division I soccer team and served two years as editor of The Rotunda, Longwood’s student newspaper.

Inspired by a Gilmore Girl: During her internship at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Halle told a reporter there her inspiration came from the TV series Gilmore Girls, where one of the characters is an aspiring journalist. Gilmore Girls didn’t steer me wrong—I love this field and all that it stands for.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Jeff Halliday, communication studies faculty, and Michael Mergen, photography faculty. “They challenged me to develop as a leader ... [and] fostered my passion for all kinds of storytelling.”

Geoffrey Parriott Icons - Brittany

Major: Biology with a minor in chemistry

What’s next: Ph.D. in immunology

Where: University of Chicago

The knee bone’s connected to … : Tutoring fellow students in anatomy and physiology took up a lot of Geoffrey’s free time. I found it incredibly rewarding when I would hear about them doing better.”

Word on professors: “Faculty are always open to putting in extra work if it will give a student an edge in the future. Everyone here wants to help you succeed.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Amorette Barber, biology faculty. “I worked in her lab for 2-1/2 years. She told me what we were doing and why, supported my failures and helped celebrate my successes. She helped me find what I love to do.”

Charleigh Kondas Icons - Charleigh

Major: English with a concentration in rhetoric and professional writing

What’s next: Master of Arts in public policy

Where: University of Alberta, Canada

More than a game: “Be your own legacy. This was the mantra our lacrosse team lived by this year. Be present. Be in constant pursuit of what you can do to make this world a better place.” Charleigh credits Longwood athletics with expanding her “drive, critical thinking skills, commitment and work ethic.”

Academic highlight: Charleigh received the Susan H. May Book Award, which is presented to the English student with the most outstanding academic achievements.

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. David Magill, English faculty. Dr. Magill inspired me to pursue a master’s degree and pushed me to write about controversial topics.”

Lauren Hyatt Icons - Lauren

Major: English with a concentration in secondary education

What’s next: Peace Corps

Where: South Africa

The second time around: Lauren will soon be teaching English to children in a small, rural village in South Africa, the country where she studied abroad. “Being able to travel to Africa and experience even a slice of the different culture and history helped me solidify my belief that I could join the Peace Corps.”

Candid camera college: “At Longwood I felt like I was in a movie sometimes, with those TV teachers who are too good to be true and say all the right things.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Melissa Kravetz, history faculty, and Dr. Jennifer Miskec, English faculty. “They brought me to South Africa and encouraged me to be knowledgeable and adventurous.”

Katelyn Sisson Icons - Lauren

Major: Social work

What’s next: Master’s degree in social work

Where: George Mason University, Fairfax

Connecting with troubled teens: During an internship with United Methodist Family Services, Kate developed relationships with teenagers in a therapeutic foster care program who were struggling with PTSD, depression, severe anxiety and other challenges. “These teens had such unsteady lives at home, and this program was a safe place for them. Saying goodbye to them was more difficult than I imagined.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Ian Danielsen, social work faculty. “He is a very kind person and is always willing to do things for others. He has written me multiple recommendation letters, and I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities without him.”

Students 1

From left: Heather Switzer, Deirdre Bates, Mike Dinh, Lauren Bencick, Tyler Chuba, Tatianna Griffin, William Daniel Bartle, and Taylor Morris

Mike Dinh Icons - Mike D

Major: Nursing

What’s next: R.N., Medical Respiratory Intensive Care Unit

Where: VCU Health System, Richmond

Caring for People: “I am passionate about nursing, caring for people and the Student Nursing Association. It made me really happy to see the impact we made on campus.”

Ready, set, throw!: For Mike, a moment to remember is that brief silence just before the start of Color Wars. “I love the growing anxiety, the hush of silence waiting for the emcee to open the event as everyone is trying to plan the best way to throw the most paint—and then you get hit instead.”

Couldn’t have done it without: JoAnn Davis, nursing faculty. “She is my advisor, but she’s more than that. She is a strong proponent of social justice and advocacy. Without meeting her, I would not be the person I am today."

Lauren Bencick Icons - Ashleigh

Major: Business with a concentration in accounting and finance

What’s next: Audit associate

Where: Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, Tyson’s corner

Taking stock of research: Lauren’s research paper on the impact of 9/11 on the stock market was published by the Allied Business Academies. “Being able to conduct research and present it at an academic conference as an undergraduate student was an incredible experience.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Patti B. Carey, Director, Mcgaughy Internship and Professional Development Center. “Professor Carey truly cares about all of her students and was always willing to help.” Lauren will never forget when Carey came running out of Hiner Hall waving copies of her résumé. “I had an interview with an accounting firm visiting campus, and she had made one more edit to my résumé and printed several new copies for me.”

Deirdre Bates Icons - Deirdre

Major: M.Ed., reading, literacy and learning

What’s next: Ed.D.

Where: University of Virginia

All in the family: Deirdre’s daughter-in-law graduated with her this spring, and her son will follow in December. Meanwhile Deirdre’s daughter will enter Longwood in the fall. “We bleed blue and gray.”

AKA “Momma D”: “Students and even some faculty call me ‘Momma D’ for the years of cooking barbecue, macaroni and cheese, collards and corn bread for as many as 50 students twice a year at my home.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Angelica Blanchette and Dr. Wendy Snow, Reading, Literacy and Learning Program faculty. “Their unending patience and encouragement helped me find my calling.”

Heather Switzer Icons - Heather

Majors: Mathematics and computer science

What’s next: Ph.D. in computer science

Where: College of William & Mary, Williamsburg

Madame Presidents: She got this nickname by serving as head of two clubs at the same time—the Math club and the Association of Computing Machinery. Connecting the dots: One of her research projects involved statistical analysis and creating algorithms to maximize the score in the video game Samegame. “I found that clearing the board by clicking groups one color at a time actually worked the best. It was really fun.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Julian Dymacek, computer science faculty. “Doing research with Dr. Dymacek is what made me decide to go to graduate school. He was always there to offer encouragement or advice when I needed it.”

Tyler Chuba Icons - Tyler

Major: Business with a concentration in information systems and cyber security and a minor in computer science

What’s next: Master of Science in information systems policy and management

Where: Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

The long haul: Tyler worked in Curry as a resident technology associate, but willingly broke out of that job description during move-in. “I can’t count how many fridges I carried up the stairs that day, but I do remember how thankful the students and parents were for my help.”

Culture shock: Studying abroad in Thailand “showed me a whole other world of culture and endless breathtaking landscapes. It was the most difficult and fulfilling two weeks of my life.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Paul Barrett, business faculty and former dean. “Through his guidance and recommendations, I was accepted to a highly competitive fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University, which then led into the graduate program.”

Tatianna Griffin Icons - Tatianna

Major: Anthropology with minors in history and biology

What’s next: Master of Arts in anthropology with a concentration in biological anthropology

Where: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

CSI college edition: Tatianna attended a highly regarded summer program in forensic anthropology in Pennsylvania, where she gained experience in procedures including death-scene archaeology and human toxicology. “It truly made me realize that not only am I pursuing what I love, but I am pursuing what I was meant to do.”

Cheer-full: She loves supporting Longwood athletics as a cheerleader.

Gaining closure: Tatianna wants to work for the defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to find answers about missing military personnel.

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Brian Bates, anthropology faculty. “Dr. Bates was like my ‘campus dad.’ His passion for anthropology was very evident, and he was always there for me when I needed encouragement.”

William Daniel Bartle Icons - William

Major: Political science with a concentration in pre-law and a minor in history

What’s next: Juris doctor degree

Where: Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, Fairfax

8 minutes of fame: Danny appeared with President W. Taylor Reveley IV on an MSNBC program to talk about Longwood’s hosting the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate. “I saw how students can be part of the political discourse and that our voices can be heard across the nation.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. William R. Harbour and Dr. Mary Carver, political science faculty. “They helped me develop my analytical writing skills as well as supported my passion for law.”

Taylor Morris Internship

Major: Liberal studies with a concentration in elementary education

What’s next: Fourth-grade teacher

Where: Meadow View Elementary, Henry County Public Schools

A planner’s planner: Taylor was known as ‘Miss Organized’ and folks would depend on her planner for due dates. “I think it’s the teacher in me.”

Hometown college experience: Taylor spent one semester at Longwood in Farmville and then finished her degree closer to home at the New College Institute in Martinsville. “Longwood at NCI allowed me to be close to home and work a job while obtaining my bachelor’s degree and teaching license.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Pamela Randall, NCI program director. “She was very supportive and encouraging throughout my experience at NCI. She made sure we were on the right track, molding me into the teacher I am.” 


Katharine Colley Icons - Patrick

Major: Chemistry with a minor in biology

What’s next: Doctor of Pharmacy

Where: VCU School of Pharmacy, Richmond

Birds of a feather: She found a home in the Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity. “I have made so many friends through this fraternity. It is awesome being able to bond with other science lovers.”

Her alternate universe: As No. 14, Kate started 46 games in four years on the field hockey team. “Our team was a family, and I was so lucky to be able to compete against some of the best teams in the country with them.”

Couldn’t have done it without: Dr. Sarah Porter, chemistry faculty. “She was always so encouraging and easy to talk to.”

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