Photograph by Gordon Schmidt
Nadine Marsh-Carter, W’86 and L’95, back on her old stomping grounds. A nonprofit leader in Richmond, she’s been an eyewitness to how the university and city have changed over the years.

As a lifelong Richmond resident, Nadine Marsh-Carter, W’86 and L’95, has had a front-row seat to her hometown’s development. That includes her alma mater.

The daughter of civil rights attorney Henry Marsh, Richmond’s first African American mayor and former state senator, she didn’t consider attending the university until late in high school, when she became aware of the Cigna Scholarship program (now the Oliver Hill Scholars), which targeted prospective students of color.

“The campus, it just captivates everyone, whether you’re a little kid from [Richmond neighborhood] Church Hill or someone from up north,” she said. “I chose the school because it suited what was good for me — a smaller campus, smaller classes, professors who really cared, opportunity for exposure.”

That doesn’t mean she didn’t encounter the same jitters as many of her peers — and some different ones — when she transitioned from a predominantly African American high school to living in a Westhampton College residence hall with only one other black student.

“Richmond was the antithesis of my cultural experience,” said Marsh-Carter, now CEO of the Children’s Home Society, a state-chartered adoption agency. “And it was intimidating to me because I feared, ‘Will I fit in? Will I be different?’

“There were times in class when I felt like I had to be the voice of the people,” she continued. “It happens when you’re so different from everyone else. And yet, it gave me opportunities for leadership and growth.”

Marsh-Carter, who cited the Bonner Scholars program and the presence of UR Downtown as recent UR initiatives that have impressed her, has taken note of how the university has changed since her time on campus.

“It’s a very different place now, and that’s great,” she said. “Because the university has so much to offer the community.”