Fraternity scholarship extends an engineering student’s legacy

Dillon Hensley, who received his physics degree in May and plans to pursue an M.S. in the subject at VCU, is the first recipient of Triangle Fraternity’s Chris Ducic Scholarship.

Dillon Hensley (B.S.’17/H&S) completed his bachelor of science in physics with help from a program named for an outstanding engineering student: the Chris Ducic Scholarship. Hensley is the first recipient of this award, which was established by VCU’s Triangle Fraternity, a social fraternity for science, engineering and architecture students. The scholarship is named for Chris Ducic (B.S.’16/E), an academic standout in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and founding member of Triangle who died during his senior year in 2015.

“The best way to remember Chris is by remembering his work ethic and intellect. He had a big personality — that’s for sure — but also a very strong intellect. A scholarship named after him keeps that idea front and center,” said Zachary Cullingsworth, a graduate student in mechanical and nuclear engineering and Triangle member.

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Two VCU Honors College students awarded Boren scholarships

Sarah Sweeney, left, and Theresa Dinh.

Two Virginia Commonwealth University students will study language in Asia with support from the Boren Scholarship. Theresa Dinh will study in Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, Vietnam, while Sarah Sweeney will study at Chiang Mai University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The Boren Scholarship, part of the National Security Education Program, supports undergraduate students who wish to study less commonly taught languages. Dinh and Sweeney will spend an academic year abroad. Participants commit to a year of federal government service upon graduation.

Dinh, an international studies major in the College of Humanities and Sciences, is also a member of the Honors College and VCU Globe. She will study human trafficking and other topics at Hoa Sen University and in the State University of New York-Brockport’s Da Nang program.

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Inaugural ball will celebrate black excellence, award $5,000 in scholarships

Virginia Commonwealth University is hosting its inaugural Black Excellence Scholarship Ball: Celebrating a Heritage Rooted in Excellence that will recognize the academic and personal accomplishments of VCU’s black students, faculty, and alumni.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. 3rd St., Richmond. Faculty, staff and alumni tickets are available for $25, and can be purchased at https://blackexcellencescholarshipball.com/. Student tickets are sold out.

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VCU recognized as a top Fulbright producing institution

Virginia Commonwealth University is a top producer of Fulbright student scholars for 2016-17, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Eleven students from VCU received Fulbright awards for the 2016-2017 academic year, the most of any Virginia college or university. Four recipients have been awarded English Teaching Assistant grants and seven have been awarded study/research grants.

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VCU student awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Alex Morales.  Photo by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Alex Morales.
Photo by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Alex Morales, a sophomore fashion merchandising student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, will study in Italy this semester with support from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

“In Europe, fashion is everywhere,” Morales said. “It’s such a global industry. It brings people together, nations together.”

Morales will study at the European Institute for Design (Istituto Europeo di Design) in Florence, and plans to take advantage of every formal and informal opportunity to develop his fashion industry sense.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. Students work with the VCU Education Abroad office and the National Scholarship Office to develop competitive applications.

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Physical therapy fund provides opportunities for students

Sue Hirt, at right, has had lasting impact on the Department of Phys­ical Therapy through the Sue Hirt Fund.

Sue Hirt, at right, has had lasting impact on the Department of Phys­ical Therapy through the Sue Hirt Fund.

When Joseph D. Wilkins was a child, his father was involved in a serious car crash. The event planted the seeds of a career path.

“From the seventh grade, I wanted to go into physical therapy,” said Wilkins (M.S.’01/AHP; D.P.T.’06/AHP; M.S.H.A.’11/AHP). “After seeing the therapy that helped my father mobilize himself, I wanted to help people walk again. It had a huge impact on me and what I wanted to do.”

But as he searched for a way to attend graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University and pursue his dream of becoming a physical therapist, he realized he was going to need some help.

“Early on, as an undergraduate at William and Mary, I was on an academic scholarship, then I converted to a football scholarship,” Wilkins said. “So coming into graduate school, I was on my own. It seemed a little daunting, but I knew there was a light through the tunnel. I’d be able to survive and support myself.”

A scholarship from the Sue Hirt Fund enabled Wilkins to focus on being a full-time physical therapy student.

“The scholarship helped pay my rent, buy food and provide essentials such as clothing,” he said. “I dedicated my time to school because of the help it provided.”

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VCU students earn Boren Scholarships for international study

Gabrielle “Gabby” Beckford, at left, and Caroline Butler.

Gabrielle “Gabby” Beckford, at left, and Caroline Butler.

Two Virginia Commonwealth University students will study foreign languages overseas next academic year with support from Boren Scholarships.

Gabrielle “Gabby” Beckford will study Arabic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, while Caroline Butler will study Wolof and French in Dakar, Senegal. Butler will also spend eight weeks this summer taking an intensive Wolof course at the University of Florida as part of Boren’s African Flagship Languages Initiative.

Supported by the National Security Education Program, the Boren Scholarship provides opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. national security interests. The scholarship includes a commitment to work for the federal government.

“Their studies at VCU have certainly prepared Gabby and Caroline for this intensive, exciting opportunity,” said Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We look forward to their return to Richmond with a richer, more nuanced understanding of language and culture.”

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Five VCU students receive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships

Top row, left to right : Hannah Byrne, Jonnathan Alvis and Siona Peterous. Bottom row, left to right : Daniella Pizarro and Oumaima Kaabi.

Five Virginia Commonwealth University students have been awarded scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program for study abroad during summer 2016. Students were selected from a field of 3,400 applicants; approximately 950 students from across the nation were selected to receive the scholarship.

Jonnathan Alvis, a sophomore majoring in forensic science in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to participate in the Sant’Anna Institute VCU summer direct-enroll program, which takes place in Sorrento, Italy. Alvis is from Springfield, Virginia.

Hannah Byrne, a junior majoring in biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to study at The School for Field Studies in Tanzania. Byrne is from Richmond, Virginia.

Oumaima Kaabi, a senior majoring in biology and a member of the Honors College, received a scholarship to participate in the Contemporary Social Challenges in Rural Communities VCU faculty-led summer study abroad program, which takes place in Pietermaritzburg and Maputaland, South Africa. Kaabi is from Alexandria, Virginia.

Siona Peterous, a junior majoring in political science and urban and regional studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to participate in the AMIDEAST intensive Arabic program, which takes place in Amman, Jordan. Peterous is from Springfield, Virginia.

Daniella Pizarro, a junior majoring in science with a concentration in health preparation in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to participate in the CEA Costa Rican Medical Spanish Program. Pizarro is from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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VCU students earn Critical Language Scholarships to study Arabic, Hindi

Virginia Commonwealth University seniors Lama Elsadig Elsharif, at left, and Coleman “Cole” Williams have earned prestigious Critical Language Scholarships to study abroad this summer. Photos by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Virginia Commonwealth University seniors Lama Elsadig Elsharif, at left, and Coleman “Cole” Williams have earned prestigious Critical Language Scholarships to study abroad this summer. Photos by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Two Virginia Commonwealth University undergraduate students have earned prestigious Critical Language Scholarships to study abroad this summer.

Lama Elsadig Elsharif, a political science major with a concentration in international relations, and Coleman “Cole” Williams, a religious studies major, both in the College of Humanities and Sciences, will spend the summer abroad in intensive language study.

“Critical Language Scholars such as Lama and Cole provide an important service to our nation in a complex global society,” said Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at VCU. “We know their curiosity and record of scholarly achievement here at VCU will serve them well as they set out across the world.”

Elsharif, a senior from Dumfries, Virginia, will study Arabic this summer in Madaba, Jordan. She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the VCU Pre-Law Society, the VCU Muslim Student Association, the VCU Arab Student Association and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She will continue her studies at the University of London this fall.

She credits a friend who improved her Arabic skills through the Critical Language Scholarship program with inspiring her to apply for the scholarship.

“I grew up speaking the language with my parents, and last year I went to Morocco and studied Arabic,” Elsharif said. “I just want to continue my studies, and hopefully in the future I’ll be able to combine Arabic with my profession.”

Williams, who graduates this month, will study Hindi in Jaipur, India, this summer. He is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and plans to attend graduate school after the program.

“As I gained an interest in South Asia and an understanding of Indian religions and cultures, I realized the importance of language in my research focus,” Williams said. “The CLS program for Hindi was a logical step in my academic journey, offering generous funding and an opportunity for cultural and linguistic immersion.”

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Students first: Retired professor launches rehabilitation counseling scholarship

Anne Chandler, Ph.D.

Anne Chandler, Ph.D.

The Department of Rehabilitation Counseling in Vir­ginia Commonwealth University’s School of Allied Health Professions prepares students to help those with disabilities find lives with meaning and purpose — two words that, after many years serving on the faculty, resonated with Anne Chandler, Ph.D.

The recent retiree gave $100,000 to establish the Anne L. Chandler Scholarship in Rehabilitation Counseling, creating the department’s largest endowed scholarship.

“I just felt like it was my time to give back,” Chandler said. “The rehab department is an extremely strong department. It’s nationally ranked, and I’m proud of my affiliation with my outstanding colleagues.”

It’s an affiliation that goes back 33 years. After graduating with both her master’s and Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling from Michigan State University in 1974 and 1978, respectively, Chandler became assistant professor of rehab counseling in a VCU program based in Fishersville, Virginia. She worked there for two years before joining the University of South Carolina. When a position in rehab counseling on campus at VCU opened three years later, she was recruited back.

“Rehabilitation counselors, they’re the people who go into their communities, roll up their sleeves and work with populations who are typically marginalized,” said Amy Armstrong, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’02/E), chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling. “The goal is to enhance the well-being and community inclusion of people with disabilities.”

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