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Colleen Roney

Tell us a few things about yourself (family, job, things that bring you joy).

I’m a recent UVA grad with degrees in American Studies and History and wrote my thesis on the musical “Showboat.” My little brother is a first year and my mom also attended UVA. I am engaged to an even more recent UVA grad. As an undergrad, I had an internship with the UVA Bicentennial Commission which I loved because I got to research UVA’s history. Now I work for the Alumni Association and have become really interested in higher education and increasing opportunities for everyone to learn and study at a high level. I’m hoping to get my master’s soon. In my free time I like to read and volunteer at Live Arts, a community theater organization in Charlottesville.

Is there something you learned at UVA that you apply to your life now?

Academically, I learned so much about the world around me. I was fortunate to take a lot of classes that explored race, gender, socioeconomic status, and more. UVA ensured I would walk with my eyes wide open. My first year on Grounds was the year Hannah Graham disappeared, Martese Johnson sustained a head injury while being arrested on the Corner and the “Rolling Stone” article was published. August 11 and 12 marked the start of my fourth year. UVA seemed to always be in the spotlight. There were a lot of debates and concerns on Grounds regarding safety and race. At graduation, Teresa Sullivan said our class was resilient, having been at the University when so much was going on. I’d like to think that in addition to resiliency, my fellow graduates and I also learned empathy. That when these things happen, it is so important to not only hold your loved ones close  but also to look out at others with love and compassion. Being able to say: I don’t know what your experience must feel like but I am here for you and I will stand together with you in the face of adversity.

If you could impart a piece of advice to a female student on Grounds today, what would you tell her?

To a first year, I would tell her it’s all going to be ok. If something isn’t working out now, don’t worry because you have the power to make it better. If a club or a major isn’t what you thought it was going to be, you don’t have to stick with it. College is the chance to explore everything. To a second or third year, I would say take time for yourself. It’s easy to be caught up in wanting to be part of everything. Make sure you are listening to yourself and focus on your needs. To a fourth year, I’d say you’ve almost made it baby! You’ve worked so incredibly hard to get where you are and it’s all going to work out.