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Martha Gallagher

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

One UVA woman who inspires me is Yeardley Love. Yeardley Love was a women’s lacrosse player who was supposed to graduate in 2010, but was killed by her ex-boyfriend weeks before her graduation. Although for many Yeardley may represent a dark time in UVA history, she is a light in my world at UVA and beyond. My mom, sister, and I went to watch Yeardley play just weeks before she was killed, and she showed so much kindness to my sister and I after the game that I couldn’t stop talking about her the entire ride home.  When she was killed, it shocked the entire lacrosse community and the One Love Foundation emerged as Yeardley’s legacy. I participated in a few One Love fundraisers growing up but it wasn’t until I arrived at UVA that I really got involved, because I realized that UVA was where she was loved by everyone as a leader on and off the field.  Since that realization, I currently lead UVA’s chapter of the One Love Foundation and have helped educate countless student organizations about the warning signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships to help young people in the University community foster healthy, positive relationships throughout their lives. As we approach the 10th anniversary of Yeardley’s death, I reflect on the one million people nationally who have received One Love’s education and all the lives Yeardley’s legacy has saved. 

What are you most involved in as a student at UVA?

Since I’ve been at UVA, I’ve discovered many passions beyond lacrosse that I didn’t have the time to discover before, including serving others through Alternative Spring Break, learning about effective policymaking through the Batten School, and bringing classmates together through Class Council. The people I have met at UVA inspire me to be a better friend, a stronger leader, a more engaged citizen and braver woman. 

What lesson/lessons have you learned at UVA that you apply to your daily life?

In order to learn from the people around you, you must be willing to listen. I have learned so much at UVA about the world by just listening to my hallmates’, sorority sisters’, professors’ and classmates’ opinions, passions and experiences. UVA is full of difference beyond what the eye can see; everyone has their own story that has shaped who they are and what they think, and listening to those stories have made me a more patient and empathetic person. 

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

I would want advice from women in male-dominated career fields about how they navigate their industry, and what their most positive and negative experiences within those spaces have been.

Is there anything related to women’s history at the University that you would like to learn more about?

I want to learn more about why it took the University so long to fully accept female applicants. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that women were not fully accepted into the University until 1970 while schools in the deeper south accepted women as early as 1882.