VCU bids a fond farewell to a true “alumni star”

Diane Stout-Brown counts the “Tableith” sculpture honoring RPI as a proud accomplishment of her tenure at the university.

By Julie Young

In 1988, Virginia Commonwealth University celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding with an event known as Founders Day. The VCU Alumni Association subsequently started the Alumni Stars program to honor accomplished graduates during the annual celebration. Since 2008, the Alumni Stars ceremony has been a stand-alone biennial event, recognizing graduates from each VCU school who have a record of professional or humanitarian achievements.

Orchestrating the event throughout the years was an energetic VCU alumna, Diane Stout-Brown (B.S.W.’80/SW). To any colleague or graduate who worked alongside her, attended an event or met her in person, Stout-Brown was the real alumni star.

The senior director of VCU Alumni retires Dec. 20 after 30 years of university service. She began her VCU career as assistant director for student/alumni engagement, working her way up to her current position, even serving as interim executive director of the alumni organization.

Her responsibilities have included student programs, alumni engagement, membership and marketing, volunteer development and coordination, and special events development. Before joining VCU, she developed skills in fundraising, special events and programs with nonprofit organizations, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

Before retiring, Stout-Brown shared some favorite memories and her second-act plans, which include selling real estate.

How did your social work degree help prepare you for relating to alumni?

When I came to VCU, I was a suburbanite who grew up in conservative, homogenous Chesterfield County, Virginia. The School of Social Work and VCU taught me that the world is incredibly multicultural. It viewed others with an open and accepting mind, something I value highly. I felt like I was finally in an environment where I belonged.

Tell us how you transitioned from working at nonprofits into alumni engagement.

My field placement in the School of Social Work was with the Voluntary Action Center at the United Way, where I placed volunteers in a variety of service agencies. It led the way to other positions in nonprofits working with volunteers.

I worked with a good number of grass-roots volunteer boards for the American Cancer Society and other organizations. I enjoyed working with people who gave their time, talent and resources because of a passion or cause they believed in. I wanted to return to my alma mater because of the diversity and open-minded philosophy. When I started, the VCU Alumni Association was a nonprofit, run by a volunteer board with numerous committees. There were very few programs in place and so I had the opportunity to create some wonderful programs to engage alumni and students.

Tell us about your favorite event/moment and what made it memorable.

There are a lot of special memories. I think the most special ones are the ones where I’ve been absolutely frantic and nervous and then things came together at the end. Alumni Stars has been fantastic over the years. I especially enjoyed the years when we allowed alumni to speak from the heart because it put special meaning into the event. It showed how much of an impact higher education made on someone who went on to use their knowledge and gifts to make the world a better place. It was also fun to connect with our School of the Arts faculty and put together interesting entertainment.

The core of your success would seem to be how deeply you care about all alumni. How did you ensure that Richmond Professional Institute graduates were not overlooked through the years?

RPI graduates are extremely devoted and passionate. How can we not support this? This group of alumni has a high regard for their education and the experiences they had at RPI. They thirst for engagement and involvement. They cherish their history and want to be a proud part of VCU today. My role has been to help guide and facilitate projects with them so they can have a lasting legacy. I’ve developed some good friends from this group.

In all of the events you’ve overseen, there must have been a few bloopers or crazy tasks along the way.

Where do I begin? I guess the most memorable is when we were planning an alumni Life member reception at Robertson House. It was to be held before a Jay Leno performance in the Siegel Center. Everything was all set, and then a hurricane came through and there was no power in the city. I had to purchase lanterns and battery-operated lights for the bathrooms.  The caterer had to change the menu to cold items instead of hot. It actually turned out to be very nice and certainly gave everyone a conversation topic.

What are your plans and hopes for retirement?

I’m looking forward to giving my 88-year-old parents more of my time. They live independently in their home, and I want them to get the care and attention they gave me over the years.  Whenever I was stressed before some event, my mom would always ask if there was anything she could do to help out. She even volunteered to direct traffic when I was coordinating the state tournament of Odyssey of the Mind. Of course, I didn’t take her up on it, but she has given much to me over the years and allowed me to work a full-time job with peace of mind while my kids were little.

VCU has been a huge part of life and now I’m eager to explore other parts of the world. I want to travel, go to museums and concerts, drive to the beach in the middle of the week, read, do crafts, learn to play the violin, hike, organize my house and, of course, take lots of walks with my dog, Andy. Most importantly, I want to enjoy leisure time with friends and family and not have to always be in a rush or worried about not getting something done. I won’t be 100 percent retired because I have obtained my real estate license and will be working as a Realtor, helping people find their dream homes.

What is the one thing you would like to leave with the VCU Alumni staff as you start the second journey of your life?

Our staff is so amazing that I don’t know of anything they don’t have already. I would say to keep the alumni close, always stand behind them while they shine and always embrace VCU for the institution that it is. You are ones who have the benefit of having the most insight when it comes to VCU’s alumni. Don’t hesitate to stand up for them and to help others understand that even things that seem insignificant can blossom into much, much more.

What would you like your legacy to be? 

I think my legacy has been ensuring that the RPI alumni were able to get their sculpture and history wall installed on campus so they will be remembered in perpetuity. Bob Lindholm (B.S.’50/H&S) was the first RPI Alumni Council chairman. When Bob became ill and was dying, I asked his daughter to let him know I was thinking of him. His daughter sent me an email telling me what Bob had dictated to her on his death bed. He dictated the sweetest note and as I think about it, I can still hear his gentle voice. He was so appreciative of me, VCU and the support we had given RPI during his term as chairman. He was extremely grateful that we were able to get the sculpture “Tableith” (to honor RPI) installed. I know Bob would be so proud today if he could see the “RPI” on VCU’s seal.

My other legacy would be the Alumni Stars program, which grew from Founders Day in 1988 into a university tradition that has honored more than 250 alumni who are stars in their professions.

VCU has been a grand journey. I am forever grateful to my VCU family and all of the alumni I have met along this journey. Please stay in touch and feel free to reach out to me at dianesb@comcast.net.

Students, alumni, faculty and deans enjoy an early Founders Day gala, where the Alumni Stars were first honored.

 

Membership FAQ

In 2018, VCU Alumni will welcome all graduates, discontinuing our dues-based model. Our goal is to be more inclusive by offering programs and services for all alumni of Virginia Commonwealth University, the Medical College of Virginia and Richmond Professional Institute.

Why is VCU Alumni eliminating its membership dues program?
In the past year, the VCU Alumni Board of Governors and the MCV Alumni Association Board of Trustees have been at a crossroads. The boards, along with alumni, staff and VCU leadership, spent a great deal of time discussing the organizations’ direction. In November 2017, the boards voted to eliminate paid dues as a requirement of membership. This decision follows national trends and best practices among universities. We believe a new association model that welcomes ALL graduates as members will help to create and sustain lifelong relationships for all alumni and, ultimately, strengthen our organizations. Every graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, the Medical College of Virginia and Richmond Professional Institute will be part of VCU Alumni, regardless of dues or gifts. Alumni can engage and give back how they want, when they want and at what level they want.

When does this change take place?
The change is effective Jan. 1, 2018.

How does this change benefit alumni?
The new model enhances engagement by removing the barriers to participation that come along with the member/nonmember distinction. This transition allows VCU Alumni to open all programs and events to all alumni. Staff will work to deepen graduates’ relationships with their alma mater by providing increased engagement opportunities. For example, new chapters can be formed without a minimum percentage of dues-paying members.

Will alumni have to “opt in” when their current membership expires?
No, current members will not have to take any action. To receive the most up-to-date information on news and programs from VCU Alumni, please update your contact information.

How does this change affect Life members?
A new group, the Rams for Life Society, will recognize Life members’ steadfast commitment to their alma mater. You’ll hear more about the society in coming months, but rest assured, the benefits and access Life members enjoyed will remain.

How does this change affect annual members?
First, you won’t ever need to make a dues payment again! Second, your benefits will remain intact for the remainder of your membership. Moving forward, benefits and services provided by your alumni organization will be open to all graduates.

How will VCU Alumni fund programming without membership fees?
We will supplement with support from the university and will acquire sponsorships for events and programs.

Who should I contact with questions about the change?
Please call (804) 828-2586 or or email alumni@vcu.edu for more information.

Snap and share: Take Rodney with you

Featured

Here’s your chance to take Rodney the Ram with you! Snap a picture with Rodney wherever you go … on vacation, at work or at the grocery store. Then share it on Instagram or Twitter with #flatrodney. Don’t forget to wear your black-and-gold gear to show your school spirit.

Download Rodney, print and cut him out and take him with you today. We can’t wait to see all the places Rodney goes!

President’s message: An education Leonardo Da Vinci would have loved

Class of 2021

The fall semester at VCU has brought more than 8,000 new students into our Ram Family, one of our largest incoming classes. I expect it will also be one of our most engaged.

Beginning this fall, every student at VCU will complete an experiential learning requirement as part of their undergraduate curriculum, moving what they learn in the classroom and discover in their labs and clinics into the community to heighten their learning and to help those who need them. The REAL experience, short for Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning, will become a trademark for student life and education at VCU and further boosts our commitment to the city of which we are a part.

VCU’s founding mission, as chartered by the Wayne Commission, states specifically that the university should address the needs of our urban community through education, research, service and clinical care. Indeed, in the 50 years since our founding, our urban region has become our focus, and we have strived to be a resource that helps move Greater Richmond forward more equally for all. In fact, our distinctiveness as a university lies in our historic link of professional education and medical practice with the liberal arts and sciences, all seamlessly integrated into the fabric of our community. And so we commit to educational excellence and access through innovative, engaging and real-world learning experiences that positively affect communities in Virginia and beyond.

My vision is that, as a leading national urban public research university, VCU and its academic health science center will be distinguished by the integrated strength of our innovative and engaged learning, collaborative research and exceptional patient care, guided by our commitment to making a difference in the community.

In fulfilling this mission, some of the most important things we can do are to ensure that we have the resources to succeed and to be certain that those resources align with our priorities. To that end, I am pleased that our Make It Real Campaign for VCU is on track to meet or exceed its $750 million goal by June 30, 2020. We have already crossed the $500 million mark, and last year we received more than 30,000 gifts for the first time. That included a record 11,705 gifts from alumni, thanks to the continuing efforts of our annual giving program.

While, thanks to donors like you, we are ahead of the trend line for our campaign, we recognize that there is still a long way to go. I am pleased we have a new leader who will help us complete that work. Later this month, Jay Davenport will begin as vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, joining VCU from Wake Forest University. His appointment follows a national search in which he stood out as an experienced development professional with the vision and drive to elevate further the success of our development and alumni relations efforts. I am excited to work with him to deepen our connections with our alumni and friends like you.

Of course, all we do is possible only because we have friends like you, who care deeply and support us fully. Thank you for your continuing commitment to VCU. Thank you for helping us make it real.

Sincerely,

Michael Rao
President
Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health

Take VCU’s all-alumni survey

VCU has contracted the Southeastern Institute of Research to administer the first rigorous all-alumni survey since 2009. The research project will assess alumni engagement and support for VCU; identify barriers to and opportunities for increasing alumni engagement with VCU; develop a topline alumni engagement strategy; and develop the components of a strategic messaging architecture.

All alumni for whom VCU has a valid email address should receive an email the week of Oct. 23 with a link to access the survey. We want to hear from all alumni — from every major, class, department and experience — even if you haven’t connected with VCU in a while. The survey’s results will be most meaningful with participation by alumni from every generation and each of VCU’s schools.

Your responses to the survey are confidential. SIR will aggregate and analyze survey responses and will provide a summary report of findings. Your name and personally identifying information will not be associated with your responses in any reporting shared with the university.

Please consider contributing to the future of VCU Alumni. Your opinion is important to the development of future alumni programs and communications from both your university and alumni organization. The results will be available on the VCU Alumni website after completion.

Congratulations to our Prizes and Surprises winners!

VCU Alumni rewarded its members in August with seven days of prizes and surprises. Members entered to win one of seven prizes from our affinity partners, and the winners were announced daily on Facebook from Aug. 14-20.

Thank you to our partners and congratulations to these winners:

Robert P. Siegel (B.F.A.’90/A)
A Nook and $100 Tiffany’s gift card from Windsor Senior Living

Deborah Krajacich (B.F.A.’96/A)
Two $250 travel certificates from Go Next

Franklin Wallace (B.F.A.’87/A; M.P.A.’08/GPA)
A one-year gym membership from VCU Recreational Sports

Kumara Sekar, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’93/H&S)
A VCU collegiate watch from M.LaHart

Anya Liddiard (B.S.’08/H&S; M.S.’11/MC)
A three-piece luggage set from Faithful Fanatics

Will Gilbert (B.S.’15/MC)
A class ring from Balfour

Holly Debernard (B.S.’16/N)
A Bluetooth speaker and prize package from Nationwide

VCU Alumni recognizes alumni business owners

VCU Alumni is celebrating alumni entrepreneurs this month and offering them a free decal to show their Ram pride.

“VCU Alumni is proud of all of its alumni entrepreneurs,” said Amy Gray Beck, executive director of alumni outreach and engagement for VCU Alumni. “As successful business owners, our alumni embody the entrepreneurial spirit that lives at VCU, and they make a difference in their communities.”

Alumni who own a business can complete this online form by July 20 to receive the decal (while supplies last). They’ll also receive a digital decal to post on their website or social media. If they take a picture of the decal at their business and post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag “#VCUAlumni,” VCU Alumni will share it with its followers on social media.

Send off the Class of 2021 in style

Join VCU Alumni and VCU New Student and Family Programming for our summer sendoffs in Washington, D.C., and in Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Richmond and Hampton Roads, Virginia. Share your VCU experience and postgrad life with VCU’s Class of 2021 before they start their college career and savor hearty hors d’oeuvres and beverages while talking with families.

Most of the events are free for alumni to attend. The Nationals Game in D.C. is the only event that requires a ticket.

Fredericksburg
When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1
Where: Kenmore Inn, 1200 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401
RSVP: By July 28 to Allison Toney, associate director of outreach and engagement, or Lauren Leavy, program coordinator of outreach and engagement

Richmond
When: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3
Where: District 5, 1911 Main St., Richmond, VA 23220
RSVP: By July 28 to Allison Toney, associate director of outreach and engagement, or Lauren Leavy, program coordinator of outreach and engagement

Lynchburg
When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8
Where: Charleys Restaurant, 707 Graves Mill Road (Route 501N, Exit 11), Lynchburg, VA 24502
RSVP: By July 31  to Allison Toney, associate director of outreach and engagement, or Lauren Leavy, program coordinator of outreach and engagement

Hampton Roads
When: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9
Where: Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, Folio Room, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23452
RSVP: By July 31 to Allison Toney, associate director of outreach and engagement, or Lauren Leavy, program coordinator of outreach and engagement

Washington, D.C.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12
Where: Nationals Park, 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC 20003
Cost: $29. Ticket includes entrance to the game and a $15 food and/or drink voucher. Please note tickets are nonrefundable.
Register: Online

What’s your legacy?

Students share the importance of being involved while on campus and staying involved after graduation

The legacies we leave tell the stories of the lives we touch. Through their thoughtful commitment to their alma mater and VCU Alumni, thousands of alumni members are creating a meaningful legacy, making a lasting impression on students’ lives.

VCU Alumni spoke to several students whose VCU experience has been enhanced by alumni involvement. Their stories show how members set an example for future alumni involvement and enable our students to pursue their dreams.


Kalyann Kauv

Fourth-year pharmacy student / Bachelor of Science 2013, VCU / National Public Relations Liaison, Student National Pharmaceutical Association / President, VCU Chapter, Student National Pharmaceutical Association / Alumni liaison, VCU Chapter, Phi Delta Chi Inc. / Volunteer, medical outreach trip, Dominican Republic / Volunteer, Healing Eagle Clinic, Mattaponi Native American Reservation / Fellow, Promoting Art for Life Enrichment Through Transgenerational Engagement 

What inspires you to volunteer on campus and in the community?
It centers me. Volunteering unites people from a variety of backgrounds to accomplish one common goal of lending a helping hand, no matter how big or small. By assisting my fellow neighbors, I also benefit by increasing the exposure I have with the good Samaritans of our society.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your education at VCU?
VCU provides unique programs that allow me to feel like a person in a vast sea of students. As a first-generation college student, VCU’s undergraduate pipeline program through the Division for Health Sciences Diversity helped me acclimate to higher education while providing a support system throughout my journey. Just as VCU invested so much in me and my cohort, I hope I can continue this as a health care professional by sowing the seeds of the next generation so they, too, can understand the ability they have to make a difference.

Will you maintain your connection to VCU after graduation?
I would hope to continue involvement with my alma mater. No matter how big or small, you never know what impact you can make. For me, it is so exciting when fellow Rams share their success stories and continue to embody the VCU spirit within their respective careers!

>> Set an example for future alumni. Join VCU Alumni today.


Yeri Park

Fourth-year medical student / President, School of Medicine Class of 2017 / Co-president, Student Family Medicine Association / Member, leadership board, Women in Medicine Student Organization / 2015 Service by a Medical Student Award, Medical Society of Virginia Foundation / Pharmacy chair, 2014 Honduras Outreach Medical Brigade Relief Effort / Co-founder, Farmworker Health Outreach project / Volunteer, Mattaponi Healing Eagle Clinic / Volunteer, Crossover Healthcare Ministry / Volunteer, Center for High Blood Pressure

What led you to co-found the Farmworker Health Outreach project on Virginia’s Eastern Shore?
My co-founder and I were thinking of different ways to give back to the community. He originally had a vision of working with farm workers during his time in undergrad and had read a lot about them. They are truly at a vulnerable position to receiving inadequate medical care due to the migratory nature of their jobs. We started the organization to create opportunities for medical students to learn about the population, at least to gain awareness in working with farm workers.

What inspires you to volunteer your time with the community?
Definitely our city and the population that we serve! Especially thinking about student burnout, I believe that volunteering and giving back to the community is one of the best ways to reflect and to build resiliency. I know that during times when I felt stressed, going to student-run free clinics kept me happy and focused toward my goals. It is through volunteering that I learned more about our wonderful city. I have had some of the most memorable and beautiful interactions with my patients through volunteering. Volunteering keeps me humble and thankful for the opportunities that I have received, especially with my patients who share their stories with me when I am simply a medical student.

Will you continue your connection to VCU after graduation?
Yes, of course! VCU has given me variety of opportunities to pursue current and new passions, ample amount of support from other students, faculty and staff and, most importantly, a chance to grow. I am thankful for the people and the memories I have made during my time at VCU, and it will always play a big role in my future endeavors. I think it’s important for alumni to stay involved with VCU because we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support we received from our previous alumni, and we should continue to support new physicians in training.

>> Set an example for future alumni. Join VCU Alumni today.


Tommy Tran

Senior, mass communications major with a double concentration in creative and strategic advertising / Co-chair, Student Government Association External Affairs Committee / Member, VCU LEAD / Co-founder and president, Dominion Place Partnership / Participant, 2016 VCU Qatar Leadership Exchange / Volunteer, Global Brigades at VCU

Why are you involved on campus?
I was a part of the Emerging Leaders Program as a freshman, and the students who were involved in ELP really wanted to make a difference and make an impact on campus. Being surrounded by them and becoming friends with them inspired me to use the time I have at VCU to reach my full potential. I am involved on campus because I want to become someone who matters, someone who makes a difference, someone who has made an impact.

Why is it important for alumni to stay involved with VCU?
It is important to keep in touch with where you came from. Of course, none of us are born into VCU, but I like to think that VCU has shaped us as people and leaders. We were developed at VCU, and it is important to stay connected to ensure that the university continues to foster the success of students who follow in our footsteps.

>> Set an example for future alumni. Join VCU Alumni today.


Emily Tull

Sophomore, health, physical education and exercise science major / Director of awards and recognition, Students Today Alumni Tomorrow board of directors / CASE ASAP chair, Students Today Alumni Tomorrow Leadership Council / Presenter, Regional CASE ASAP Conference and National CASE ASAP Conference / Volunteer, VCU Health

How did you become involved with VCU Alumni’s Students Today Alumni Tomorrow organization?
I became a general body member of STAT at my VCU freshman orientation. I remember it being the most lively student organization there! When the school year started, I attended STAT’s first general body meeting where I met Belicia DeBose, STAT’s vice president at the time. Belicia was an excellent representation of STAT: She took me to coffee and told me how I could progress as a student leader in STAT. Receiving this kind of encouragement prompted me to apply to help plan a state conference hosted at VCU by STAT, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education – Affiliated Student Advancement Programs (CASE ASAP) Virginia. I never could have guessed how this conference would impact my future as a STAT student leader. While still in the midst of helping plan the conference, I applied for a position on STAT’s Leadership Council. I remember being told to wear whatever showed my school spirit for my interview; I ended up wearing a morph suit so, to say the least, I will never forget it. I was selected to serve on the Leadership Council where I was appointed CASE ASAP chair. At CASE ASAP, student leaders in alumni or ambassador groups come together from different colleges to network and help further each other’s organizations. These conferences occur on a state, regional and national level. Being in STAT has given me the opportunity to help plan a state conference and present at two regional and one national conference. I recently became STAT’s director of awards and recognition and am excited to see STAT continue to grow.

Why is it important for students to be involved with an alumni organization?
It’s an excellent opportunity that I think many students don’t realize they have. I know coming into college as a freshman, I was very focused on just simply all the new changes coming and how to deal with them. Once I learned about STAT, I realized the organization is a great way to meet people who have already been in our shoes and prospered through it; those are our alumni. Networking with alumni has not only given me opportunities I couldn’t be more thankful for, but also has given me lifelong mentors.

Will you continue your connection to VCU after graduation?
Go Rams! Of course I will always continue my connection with VCU. This university and everything it has to offer has shaped me into the young adult I am! The atmosphere of Richmond, the spirit of VCU and the people of my alma mater make this place home for me. I think as an alumni it’s important to give back to those following in our footsteps and allowing them to know they can do this, too.

>> Set an example for future alumni. Join VCU Alumni today.


Travis Weimer

Fourth-year dental student / Founder, General Dentistry Club at VCU / Board member,
student membership, Virginia Academy of General Dentistry / Volunteer, Magic Wheelchair

Why are you involved on campus?
Dental school is hard enough. If I can make it easier for others, then they can get as much as they can out of their education. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and be a problem-finder and not a problem-solver. I started the General Dentistry Club to provide a resource for students like me who are focused on the practice of general dentistry versus a specialty. The club also gives other students an opportunity to be involved and helps prepare them for being a leader within their own practice or company. The experience showed me that with the help of others you can identify a need and fill it.

Why is it important for alumni to stay involved with VCU?
We all want to leave some kind of legacy when we go through our lives, and staying connected to your alma mater is one way. I’d like to remain involved with VCU, especially with the General Dentistry Club, whether it’s providing financial support or advice to the classes coming up after me.

>> Set an example for future alumni. Join VCU Alumni today.


Fred Williams Jr.

Senior, chemical engineering major / President, Activities Programming Board / Squad leader, VCU Ram Camp / Member, VCU Globe / Member, Students Today Alumni Tomorrow / Member, American Institute of Chemical Engineers / PCI chair, National Society of Black Engineers / Participant, 2014 VCU Qatar Leadership Exchange / Member, VCU Rowdy Rams / Resident assistant, VCU Residential Life and Housing

What led you to join VCU’s Activities Programming Board?
After my freshman year, I was looking to get more involved at VCU and stay connected with VCU as I transitioned to my sophomore year. I was looking for something that would enable me to get involved with event planning at VCU but also provide me with an opportunity to learn and grow my network. Fast-forward three years, and I was selected to serve as APB’s first president. I wanted to be president because I was looking for a final opportunity to give back to the VCU community, my peers and my friends.

What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had working with the APB?
Some of my most memorable experiences include being able to meet celebrities such as Iyanla Vanzant, Giancarlo Esposito, Tyler Oakley and Party Next Door. Another memory I will cherish is from the monthly bingo nights. I spent so much time interacting with different people, trying to find a new way to make bingo nights fun and engaging, whether it was entertaining for them by playing pranks, Milly rocking and even saying a few bingo jokes. On a much more serious note, one last thing that I will cherish are my memories of the people I have been able to work with, whether it was blasting Missy Elliott in the office or getting a milkshake from Chick-fil-A on Mondays. Together, we have been able to transform APB into the organization that it is today.

In addition to your involvement with APB, you devote time to other organizations and activities, including the National Society of Black Engineers, Ram Camp and VCU Globe. What motivates you to be so involved on campus?
During my freshman year, I was a participant in the inaugural class of Ram Camp students. Ram Camp jump-started my experience here at VCU by enabling me to see everything that VCU has to offer. When I came to VCU, I was amazed to see so many avenues to get involved, and I took advantage of each opportunity along the way. Getting involved is a part of the college experience; however, I got involved with things that I was interested in and wanted to learn more about. I am really interested in getting to know people of different backgrounds, and getting involved was the best way of aiding me in doing that.

Will you continue your connection to VCU after graduation?
I definitely plan to stay well connected with VCU after graduation. I spent a lot of time here on campus between the Commons, School of Engineering West Hall and Club Cabell, each time interacting with different people. I think it’s important for alumni to stay involved with their alma mater because it signifies the importance of a college experience. Personally, I have had so many opportunities afforded to me because I chose to attend VCU. Alumni have the ability to help shape the experience of new students and supporting the university by giving back. I can definitely say that I would not be the person that I am today if a few special alumni didn’t support me along my college journey.

>> Set an example for future alumni. Join VCU Alumni today.


Leave your legacy. Join VCU Alumni.

Membership in VCU Alumni creates opportunities for alumni to have a positive influence on VCU and to ensure a powerful legacy for the benefit of future generations. Leave your legacy. Join VCU Alumni today.

Plus, if you join VCU Alumni or renew your membership by May 15, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a three-day car rental from Avis/Budget. Memberships must be purchased by midnight May 15 to be eligible to win. Winners will be announced June 15. Rental car voucher good through June 30, 2018. Join or renew your membership now.

At VCU Broad Street Mile, ‘a great way to build connections’

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The Broad Street Mile allows participants to support local charities by running in a 5K or several 1-mile fun runs.

Running is part of Joseph DiPiro’s morning routine. The dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy is typically on the road around 6 a.m., logging his daily miles — 4-5 on weekdays, 8-10 on the weekends.

DiPiro tries to run five days a week as part of his fitness regimen. But he also sees running as a way to build community.

“I’m really impressed by the social nature of running,” DiPiro said. “If we make a commitment to meet up on a Saturday morning, then that’s always going to be a higher-quality run. We’ll run maybe a little bit faster, a little bit farther. And you have more time to talk to people — when do you get an hour just to explore the world’s issues these days?

“It covers a lot of ground — the social, the health, the physical part of it.”

DiPiro is one of 577 runners already signed up for the Sept. 24 VCU Broad Street Mile — the annual fall street festival and road race held on the Monroe Park Campus. The run this year is part of a series of events launching the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, a comprehensive fundraising campaign with three priorities — people, innovations and environments. The campaign aims to touch every aspect of VCU: students, alumni, faculty and staff, patients, caregivers, researchers, schools, libraries, centers and institutes, athletics, and the community.

‘Beat the dean’

DiPiro is bringing his social philosophy to the race this year by issuing a “beat the dean” philanthropic challenge to pharmacy school students, faculty and staff participating in the 5K run. All proceeds from DiPiro’s challenge support the School of Pharmacy scholarship fund.

“It’s pretty simple: If I beat them they have to put up $5; if they beat me I have to put up $10,” DiPiro said.

The challenge is an initiative of the school’s Student Philanthropists Alumni Network, a new group formed to raise awareness of philanthropy among current pharmacy students. The school awarded $623,650 in scholarships to 183 students during the last fiscal year.

The Broad Street Mile, now in its fourth year, doubles as a fundraiser for local organizations. VCU announced in July that, in an effort to expand community impact, this year’s event does not require participating groups to have a 501(c)3 designation. Several university offices and schools, including the Grace E. Harris Leadership InstituteVCU ASPiRE and the School of Pharmacy, are participating as fundraising organizations in the Broad Street Mile for the first time as a result of this change.

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