Capt. Nathaniel Wylie, ’04, began his military career at Richmond, as a member of ROTC.
“ROTC is a great place to meet like-minded people and develop skills to become a future officer,” Wylie says, adding “I think ROTC helps remind others … that it is their peers who are going to war. I think that is important because it helps people humanize soldiers.”
After graduation, Wylie joined the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and became a field artillery officer with airborne infantry units. His first two tours took him to Iraq in 2005, then to Afghanistan in 2007.
As senior legislative assistant for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Wyatt Stewart, ’06, keeps his finger on the pulse of policy issues to ensure the congressman is informed about current legislation and constituent needs. (For more perspectives from Stewart, see “Inside Washington”)
Even with a busy professional schedule, Stewart stays involved with the University by helping to secure internship positions for current students in his office, which also is home to fellow Spider Austin Tuell, ’09, who serves as special assistant to Cantor.
During their internships, students give Capitol tours, answer constituent phone calls, track legislation, and attend committee hearings. Stewart said that Richmond students always prove to be valuable interns.
“I always lobby hard to make sure that we have an intern from the University of Richmond,” Stewart says. “The University gave me a lot, and I think it’s important to try and help in any way that I can. I enjoy the opportunity to work specifically with Richmond students because I like getting updates about campus, and I enjoy helping the students when they have questions.”
Hire a Spider: Can you offer an internship opportunity for a Richmond student? Visit alumni.richmond.edu to learn more.
Currently on his third tour, Wylie is stationed in Kabul as a civil military operations and plans officer, working on “projects that develop infrastructure and improve the lives of Afghan people,” he says.
Following his second tour Wylie left active duty but joined the Army Reserves. He married Stacee Duryea, ’05, moved to Miami, and started working for Hensel Phelps Construction Company as a field engineer. The company will hold his position until he redeploys to the U.S.
“I had some great mentors while in ROTC, both older cadets and military science professors,” says Wylie. “They prepared me to enter the Army and helped make me the officer that I am today.”
When she graduated from the University of Richmond with a double major in economics and French, Michele Witcher Hattan, W’90, used her language knowledge to help land a job in Brussels. She didn’t know it then, but that was the first step in a career that would eventually see her working around the globe with the Olympic Games.
Now based in London, Hattan has worked for the last five years for Jet Set Sports, which manages hospitality events for Olympic events worldwide and is a sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee. Headquartered in New Jersey, the company handles everything from selling tickets to individuals to organizing program packages for major international corporations.
As an Olympic program manager, Hattan currently works with a major international corporate sponsor, but simultaneously juggles other responsibilities for other clients. One of the favorite aspects of her job is being exposed to so many different cultures.
“I have to say working in the Olympic Games environment is very emotive,” says Hattan. “You work exceptionally long and hard hours, but I don’t think there is anything that can be more rewarding. I really believe in the Olympic ideal of the international community putting all else aside and coming together to compete in sports.”
He may not be the largest purveyor of Virginia Country Hams, but Samuel W. Edwards III, B’78, of Surry, Va., can compete with the best. Spurred on by the eat-local movement and informed by articles in publications like The New York Times and Bon Appétit, people are starting to realize they don’t have to buy European to get delicious aged ham. Rather, you can get a Surryano from Edwards.
As a student at Richmond, Edwards never imagined himself as president of S. Wallace Edwards & Sons, the company his grandfather started in 1926. What began as a one-man operation using curing techniques from colonial times is now a nearly 50-person operation with climate-controlled rooms for curing, smoking, and aging the hams. The facilities may be modern, but the process hasn’t changed much. Hams are still aged 400 days.
“Although we follow a step-by-step process, you still must understand the art of curing,” Edwards says. “I walk into the room and use my sense of smell, sight, touch, and taste, and make adjustments if necessary to the ambient conditions in the room, whether it is to the humidity or the air flow.”
“It’s hard to stay in the business for three generations,” Edwards says, “but we have always focused on quality and have a good reputation.”
What began with real estate referrals to friends mushroomed into a hot start-up. With a business partner, Blair Brandt, ’10, launched The Next Step Realty in May 2010. As its tagline says, the company is devoted to “finding college grads their first apartments.” Brandt topped the real estate category on Forbes’ list of “30 under 30” leaders for 2012.
“The company is on a straightforward course,” says Brandt, who serves as CEO. “We are expanding campus by campus and city by city and are recognized as a brand at close to 400 schools.” The company recently expanded its real estate brokers network from around 50 to 130 brokers located in 26 cities worldwide. The firm relies on social networking tools to market itself, as well as brand ambassadors—students at campuses across the country who help spread the word about the company.
Brandt, a native of Palm Beach, Fla., first got the entrepreneurial bug when, as a first-year student at the University, he started his own laundry business. “I learned that you have to be changing the way things work in an industry to be a successful entrepreneur,” says Brandt. “We are changing the name of the rental game.”
Richmond Trustee Emeriti Dale Patrick Brown, W’68 and G’78, is the author of Literary Cincinnati: The Missing Chapter (Ohio University Press, 2012), her second book. The book recounts a young Samuel Clemens working in a local print shop, Fanny Trollope struggling to open a bazaar, Sinclair Lewis researching Babbitt, and many more authors who are part of the history of the Queen City.
Jane Curry Walker Chapin, W’77, is a co-author of Trust Not (Create Space, 2011), which documents the experiences of American military advisor William G. Haneke, her co-author, during the Vietnam War and afterwards with veterans and families.
INTERLUDE, a self-published novel by Elisabeth Edelman, ’05 (available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon), weaves the stories of three women who live in the same house in Atlanta during different time periods.
Sean Heuvel, G’06, is the author of Life After J.E.B. Stuart: The Memoirs of His Granddaughter, Marrow Stuart Smith (Hamilton Books, 2011).
Patrick James O’Connor, ’95, makes his fiction debut with The Last Will and Testament of Lemuel Higgins (Blackbriar Press, 2012).
Jonathan Wakefield, ’98, has published a debut novel, Fatal Reality (OakTara, 2011).
As an undergraduate, Colleen Phelon Hall, B’91, pursued dual majors in business and studio art. That combination has proven invaluable in her work as an artist of distinctive murals and wall hangings—a career that after 16 years has totally taken off in the last year.
“Exciting things are happening,” Hall reports. That’s an understatement. Through a connection with the company PoshTots, Hall completed a wall hanging for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s baby that was recently shown on MTV. Also, Oopsy Daisy, a company that licenses Hall’s artwork, sold a “Princess Castle” image of hers to the Target chain of department stores that was expected to hit stores this spring. (To learn more, visit www.colleenhall.com.)
Colleen shares her passion for art with her husband, Jeff Hall, R’94, also an artist. He recently learned that he was one of a few painters selected for inclusion in the highly competitive juried publication New American Paintings. Colleen and Jeff’s two young daughters add to their artistic inspiration.
Remembering their grand tour of Europe that visited seven countries in 22 days, the 1971 University Choir met on campus this past October to celebrate that expedition’s 40th anniversary. Some 30 of the 42 original choristers attended, including two who traveled to the event from Europe. Donna Strother Deekens, W’73, and Dick Stone, R’73, report that the group had great fun remembering how they financed most of their trip by collecting Green Stamps and conducting car washes and newspaper drives.
They also enjoyed a nostalgic singing of songs from their concert repertoire, including “O Nata Lux,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” and “Shenandoah.” Their arrangement of the latter song, written specifically for the 1971 tour by then-choir director James Erb—also in attendance at the reunion—is now a staple of choral music worldwide. Plans are in the works for the 45th reunion in 2016.