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Patricia Kyle Epps

How did you decide to come to UVA?

I visited the Lawn as part of a class field trip in sixth grade, and it was love at first sight! My teacher told me it was only for men, but I always believed that would change by the time I was ready for college. As it turned out, I was a senior in high school when the Board of Visitors voted to admit 450 transfers and first-year women to the University. The lawsuit alleging discrimination against women in the admissions process piqued my interest in discrimination law, and that has been my principal area of legal practice for over 35 years.

What did you do when you were a student at UVA?

The University administration encouraged us to join all the organizations on Grounds and “coeducate” them as quickly as possible. I was on the Cavalier Daily staff (serving as Features Editor my third year), I served on Student Council and I was a Resident Advisor for upperclass women on Monroe Hill, now called Brown College. I was among the first women in the Government and Foreign Affairs Honors Program (with classmate Larry Sabato!). I also was in the Raven Society and Phi Beta Kappa.

What was your journey after leaving UVA?

After graduating in 1974, I attended the Graduate School and got an M.A. in Government. I worked for several years as a regional economic development planner and a legislative aide for a state senator, and in 1980 I returned to UVA to attend law school. I finally settled in Richmond, Virginia, where I worked for Hunton & Williams, an international corporate law firm. I retired from the partnership several years ago and since then have divided my time between pro bono legal work and volunteer work for the University.

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

There was so much I learned at UVA! Some of the most valuable lessons were the importance of listening to a broad range of views and how to dispassionately analyze facts to reach a decision. I also learned how to work in a predominately male environment—good training for working in a large private firm in the “old days.”

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

My advice would the same advice that UVA gave me and my female classmates: first, focus on your academic program, and with any time remaining, be a joiner. Get involved with several organizations, both for what you can contribute and what you will gain from the experience.