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Deborah A. Ryan

What is your favorite UVA memory?

No one memory is my favorite. Being a successful coach of amazing women gives you hundreds of favorites! Having incredible doctors when I had pancreatic cancer also gave me some favorite memories, the best being living beyond a disease that is lethal to most who are afflicted with it.

Tell us about a woman/women at UVA who inspires you – now, or during your time on Grounds.

Sybil Todd was an amazing Dean of Students and I learned a lot from her. Pat Lampkin is a hidden gem at UVA and always has sage advice to help you through a tough situation. Barbara Kelly taught me to keep trying even when I got no for an answer. She used to say “no” meant “maybe later” but it stuck with me because it was hard back then to get things done in athletics for women.

In your opinion, what is the legacy of women on UVA?

Women have overcome a lot here at UVA. Nothing was given and all was earned, as Bronco Mendenhall would say. Never giving up and never taking no as the final answer probably propelled women to where they are today. People have no idea what women went through in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to cement their place here. We had to prove ourselves several times over during those years. There were many men, though, who stood up for us/with us during those times and they helped us find our way here! They were the great leaders of the University because they believed that all should be welcomed here.

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

Learn the history and honor those who fought to be here as viable, respected students, professors and professional people from all walks of life. Everything you have now is because of others who fought for all you have at UVA. Men and women worked together to make your attendance here a reality.