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Jayla Hart

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

I’ve always loved reading and writing! My mother’s a librarian and teacher so I’ve spent my life surrounded by books and writing my own stories. Poetry has been especially important to me in the last couple of years and whenever I want to unwind I just jot down some random stanzas. Fashion has also always been a huge interest of mine—I sew and studied fashion construction in high school. I can spend hours searching through a thrift store and putting together new looks. It’s so much fun exploring my personal style and getting creative with my closet. Outside of that, I have a huge interest in studying political psychology and, recently, educational anthropology. I’ve always been fascinated by how people think, create, and exchange information, so both disciplines really offer me the opportunity to explore the complexities of human behavior and culture.

Tell us about a woman/women at UVA who inspires you.

I give so much praise to Dean Valerie Gregory, who was the first person) from UVA I met during my college search. She has the biggest heart and made me feel so welcomed before even coming to Grounds. The work she does to bring more diversity to UVA is beyond admirable. It’s been amazing to work with her through the OSAC Office of Admission’s Outreach Office and she inspires me to take pride in my identity and promote inclusivity. I’m also so grateful to work with Funlola Fagbohun and Sarah Dodge through Summer Orientation. They’re two women who energize me and remind me so often to take care of myself and pursue things I’m passionate about.   I also have to give tremendous recognition to Dr. Danielle Wingfield-Smith, a professor in the Curry School of Education who’s made my University experience feel all the more whole. She’s the first Black woman educator I’ve had since kindergarten and a woman who I look up to in so many ways. SShe’s funny, honest, willing to build genuine relationships with her students, and has accomplished so much. Finally, I can’t gush enough about Ms. Kathy—the Queen of UVA in my honest opinion. There’s not another person on Grounds who I feel can light up a room and make people feel so immensely welcome in the way that Ms. Kathy can. I’ll visit Newcomb for the sole purpose of seeing her.  

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

The women of UVA raise the bar; they’re trendsetters who and continue to use their voices to mobilize their respective communities and promote critical reflection. Through good times and bad, it has often been the women of UVA who gracefully tackle situations across Grounds and push everyone to become better individuals. The women here are organizers, educators, and role models for so many people and they make look it so easy, even when they aren’t given the recognition they deserve. I think the legacy of women at UVA is changing for the better. With each graduating class, we’re seeing more and more women enter amazing fields and dominate in them. I believe the legacy of women at UVA centers around opening doors and breaking down barriers with grace, wisdom, and compassion.

If you could ask a female graduate for one piece of advice, what would you ask her?

How has your perception of womanhood changed over time and how has that change in perception enabled you to achieve your goals?