Spotlights

Miles Braxton

 
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Name: Miles Braxton

Primary Major: Environmental Sciences

What are you involved in around grounds in or the Charlottesville community?

My biggest involvement on Grounds is with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. I am the Basileus (president) of the Lambda Zeta Chapter, an award winning service and cultural programming organization here on Grounds. I am also involved with the Black Male Initiative, a CIO that serves to increase the academic and social success of Black male students through increasing interaction and dialogue between Black male students, faculty, staff and alumni. Given my environmental science background through academia, research, and internships, I felt the need to create an organization to foster the involvement of minorities in environmental sustainability to aid in addressing the concern gap between minorities, specifically African American students and local residents, and non-Hispanic white students and local residents in regards to environmental concern and action. In, June of 2017, I co-founded Black Leaders for Environmental Sustainability (BLES) with Denzel Brown to address those issue. Lastly, I am a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Through NSBE I have been a Pre-College Initiative Chair for the UVA chapter and a Robotics Teacher at Burley Middle School for the last two years.

As a robotics teacher, I prepare curious middle school students for high school math and science by teaching the fundamentals of physics, incorporating math in the robot design process, and stressing the importance of environmental responsibility throughout the design and creation of the robots. I see it as my duty to prepare the next generation of engineers for living and working on a planet that is losing its non-renewable natural resources. Every piece of material must be used wisely and purposefully."

What has been of your most rewarding experience in the last 3 years

My most rewarding experience in the last 3 years was joining Greek life at UVA (however, I do not consider my organization as “greek” because it dilutes the amazing work that we do) and becoming a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. While many fraternities serve as a college social commitment, Omega Psi Phi is a life-long brotherhood; a brotherhood I share with my father and three of my grandfathers. As a member of the Lambda Zeta Chapter of the Fraternity, I have been able to help facilitate cultural programs at UVA such as the Carter G. Woodson Black History Art Expo and Jesse Jackson: Healing and Rebuilding. One philanthropy project that has positively affected the Charlottesville community has been Project Manhood. Every year, we host a professional clothing drive in which we donate suits, ties, shoes, and any business attire to local Charlottesville/Albemarle public schools to increase the professional image of high-aspiring Black high school students. Last year, we donated over 30 suits to students at Albemarle High School.

Through my love of Omega Psi Phi and my service within the organization, I was awarded the 2017 Greek Man of the Year Award by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, becoming the first black male to win such award. Not many people get to be rewarded and lauded for doing impactful work that they love; I was very blessed to receive such honor given how much I love making a difference in the community.

If you could speak and be heard by everyone in the UVA community for one minute what would you say?

Other than promoting my album, Cultivation, I would use my one minute to encourage under-represented minority groups to push themselves academically so that they can continue their education. Not only can college change an individual’s future, but it can open up many opportunities for you and your family. Graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School, a Richmond inner-city public school, I have seen far too many of my peers fall to the wayside, getting involved in gang violence and drug distribution. Many of those peers see college as a long-term investment; they see it as paying for a career. Not only are there copious scholarship opportunities across the nation that would allow students to go to school cost-free, a post-secondary education can connect you to the right people and allow you to explore life and help you find your passion. Despite the negative events that have unfolded in my last four years at UVA: Hannah Graham, Rolling Stone, white supremacy rallies, I have truly cherished my time at UVA because it has made me into an enhanced, more aware, more confident version of myself. UVA has also given me the tools excel in the world of business.

Whats your favorite song right now Please provide the artist as well?

On August 24th, I released my debut Hip-Hop/R&B album, Cultivation by Milo Case. The album is available on all major music streaming platforms like Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify, and Tidal. My favorite song from the album is “Prodigal Son,” which announces Milo Case’s return to Hip-Hop. The listener will be surrounded by several captivating melodies mixed with tightly syncopated rhymes. Case worked with SAGII, a soulful Canadian producer, to create this musical introduction to Cultivation.

Your favorite show on Netflix or other streaming service?

My all-time favorite show on Netflix is Breaking Bad.

One thing you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

Before I graduate, I hope to improve and expand my nonprofit consulting company, Braxton Renewable Energy Consulting (BREC), into an LLC. Its current purpose is to provide local residents with information about reducing energy bills and advocating for residential solar energy usage. Eventually, I want to connect homeowners with solar installers to ensure the best deal and the best energy efficiency.

Who is your role model in life and why?

Dr. Ronald McNair is my role model because he was such a talented and extraordinary individual. He was born in South Carolina and matriculated at North Carolina A&T where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He sets a great example for young black men because of his outstanding academic record and his laser-focused (no pun intended) approach to learning. Dr. McNair then went on to receive a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 where he studied laser physics and he performed some of the earliest development of chemical hydrogen fluoride, deuterium fluoride, and high-pressure carbon monoxide lasers. This is significant to me because my first year at UVA, I worked in a lab with similar equipment that he used in his Fluoride lab and it is empowering to know that someone so intelligent and so dedicated to his work started off in a similar place I experienced. I often think about the struggles that Dr. McNair had to go through as a Ph.D. student at MIT in the 1970s. That was a time where blacks were still not fully racially accepted, especially in white male dominated fields like physics and engineering. Every time I think about what he had to go through and the work he had to put in to get all of his accolades and achievements mentioned above, it pushes me to work four times as hard.

How far would you say you are in completing the 118 Things to Do Before You Graduate?

The 4th Year Trustees put together a very vast list of recommended activities to participate in before one graduates from UVA. I can say that I have inadvertently completed about a third of the list, but I have never participated in something for the purpose of crossing it off a list. Maybe I will step more out of my comfort zone and complete more of the recommended activities next semester.

Anna Claire

 
 

Name: Anna Claire

Major: Nursing School

Hometown: Great Falls, VA

Favorite Cville restaurant: My ideal day of eating in Charlottesville consists of a plain bagel with cinnamon sugar and butter from Bodo’s for breakfast, followed by the All-American with no mustard and a side of tots from Boylan for lunch, Stumble Down Mac & Cheese from the Virginian for dinner, and ending the night with a Funfetti cupcake from SweetHaus.

What are you involved in on or around Grounds?

I’m on exec for the Hoo Crew Committee

Why did you decide to get involved with Hoo Crew? What has been your favorite memory cheering on the Hoos?

I grew up a huge UVA sports fan. I spent fall weekends in Scott Stadium and spring weekends in Klöckner and learned the Good Old Song along with my ABCs. When I got to UVA, I couldn’t wait to flash my student ID and go to any game I wanted to. My hallmates didn’t have quite the same vision, so I needed friends who would go to games with me and be as passionate as I am. I applied to join the committee at the end of my first year and it was the best decision I’ve made at UVA.

My favorite memory would have to be when College GameDay came to JPJ during our second year. We spent the whole week getting ready and had many late nights of meetings and making posters. We got to JPJ at 2 a.m. on Saturday and camped out so we could be first in line. It was a lot of work for Hoo Crew but when it all came together and the Hoos pulled out the win, it was totally worth it.

What inspired you to pursue a career in nursing?  

I don’t have a really cool story like some people in my class. I remember the summer before eighth grade, my mom signed me up for a camp at the hospital near my house. We spent a week going to all the different units learning about what they do and took home tons of souvenirs (I still have a cast for my right arm and a radiation face mask). That’s when I first thought a career in medicine would be really cool and then, somehow, I ended up here. This summer I’m working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital and after graduation, I want to work in the NICU.

If there was one piece of advice you could give to the Class of 2018, what would it be?

Spend time on Grounds! We don’t have much longer to sit on the Lawn between classes or eat dumplings in the Amphitheatre. I rarely get to see the Lawn or Rotunda because I’m always in the Nursing School and I’m always so jealous of everyone who sees their friends between classes and hang out on Central Grounds.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

Since first year, I have wanted to attend one game/match/competition for every UVA sports team.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I firmly believe that, behind Disney World, the happiest places on Earth are Costco and Wegmans.

Robbie Courter

 
 

Name: Robbie Courter

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Mechanicsville, VA

Favorite Cville Restaurant: La Michoacana, hands down.

What are you involved in on or around Grounds?

I’m a member of the Triathlon team, where I’m currently serving as the team’s Treasurer. I also coach soccer with SOCA through Madison House, watch Netflix part-time, conduct undergraduate research in the BME department, and participate in Chi Alpha Christian fellowship.

What makes you passionate about Biomedical Engineering?

The human body is one of the most efficient and well-tuned machines ever. The fact that we are still discovering things about our bodies that we didn’t know existed is incredibly exciting and is a testament to its complexity - being on the forefront of these discoveries and improving the quality of life for even just one person is why I love BME.

Tell us about the research you’re involved with at UVA.

I’ve been working in the Motion Analysis and Motor Performance (MAMP) Laboratory since second year.  Our primary function in the lab is to analyze the biomechanics of pediatric cerebral palsy patients in order to assist in improving remedies of the disease. Personally, I am currently working on a project investigating the changes in gait biomechanics following tissue-engineered muscle regeneration.

If there was one piece of advice you could give to the Class of 2018, what would it be?

Biking with the triathlon team has allowed me to see parts of Charlottesville I would have otherwise never known existed; so my advice is to truly take advantage of the areas surrounding Grounds. It’s easy to get caught inside the UVA bubble, but just outside are some of the most beautiful country roads, small towns, and scenic views which have made me love our school and Charlottesville so much more.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

Streak the lawn while riding a UBike.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I have a deeply profound love for pugs.