Spotlights

Janie Hammaker

 
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Name: Janie Hammaker

Primary Major: Economics and Politics Major

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

I'm involved in sexual assault prevention and have spent the last year serving as the #HoosGotYourBack campaign student coordinator, in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of Students. A big part of the campaign is community outreach, and I've had some really cool opportunities to lead discussion on bystander intervention with our partners throughout the University and the greater Charlottesville community.

I also work with Global Grounds to build opportunities for students abroad. I'm an intern for the Global Internships Office, which places students in internships around the world. I'm currently working on compiling country-specific 'guides' of advice from Global Internship alumni, planning events and creating marketing content. I've also just started as a research assistant working on the next phase of the Yamuna River project.

I volunteer for the VA Democrats to register voters, sing with the Virginia Sil'hooettes, and am a member of Kappa Delta Sorority.


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

This summer, I had the chance to intern for a social enterprise in New Delhi, India. As my friends love to point out, I talk about India and my work there almost daily--the experience, true to every 'abroad' cliche, really did change the way I see the world and stimulated a ton of personal growth. My primary project as an intern was to create a market linkage for a stitching center in Uttar Pradesh. Although my company is our principal investor, my co-interns and I are responsible for all factors of production, from designing our prints and negotiating with our fabric supplier to drawing up wage contracts with the tailors in the village. We have since founded a non-profit, Shakti, and sold our entire stock of palazzos (flowy pants) just 3 weeks into the school year! We are donating our profits to the stitching center to invest in new machines, space, additional training--really whatever they need. I'm forever indebted to the Global Internships Office and the Politics Department for the opportunity to live and work abroad, and I can't wait to see where this new journey will take me.

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

No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.

What’s your favorite song right now? Please provide the artist as well

The Anti-Sing Along (the modern electric)

Your favorite show on Netflix or other streaming service?

The Vietnam War (PBS)

One thing you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

I really want to make sure I take advantage of all UVA has to offer--when else will we be incubated by brilliant professors to challenge our 'conventional' wisdom or career services tailored to our interests or random flash funding opportunities to bring our dreams to life?

Who is your role model in life and why?

Not my mom but close—these days, my role model is my younger brother. He just started at UVA and has already demonstrated impressive character and work ethic. He's very friendly and inclusive (and says hi to everyone he's ever met) but isn't afraid to be heard or stir the pot. He's undeniably the strongest person I know. I look up to him physically and anecdotally!

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

Like most things in my life, I'll probably finish in the wee hours of the night before we graduate.

 

Eddie Castillo

 
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Name: Eddie Castillo

Primary Major: Sociology

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

Around grounds, I am involved in the following organizations: Latinx Student Alliance, DREAMers On Grounds, Political Latinxs United For Movement And Action In Society (PLUMAS) at UVA, Minority Rights Coalition, Latino And Migrant Aid at Madison House, Gates Millennium Scholars Campus Base Organization, and Academic Space Assistant for Office of Dean of Students.

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

For me the most rewarding experience in the last 3 years is the lessons the people I have met at UVA have taught me. People ranging from students to UVA employees to faculty members to Charlottesville community members. Each person I have met here at UVA has provided me with some valuable knowledge that has directly impacted me and has lead me to become the person I am today. Even rude and mean people have taught me some sort of personal lesson that has made me grateful. I am rewarded to have these encounters and learn from these people of all sorts of backgrounds.

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

People are people, no matter how different. We live in a society that prides itself in being a melting pot of backgrounds. Let us stand true to that. Let us not discriminate among each other because of differences in color, religion, gender, and every other identity that makes us human. We as human beings are gifted with the ability to believe in what we want, practice what we want, be who we want. Let us not abuse that gift by shunning others.

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

No Problem (Feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz) - Chance the Rapper

Your favorite show on Netflix or other streaming service?

Rick and Morty (Thank you new Hulu/Spotify student bundle)

One thing you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

One thing I hope to accomplish before graduating is seeing UVA not under construction.

Who is your role model in life and why?

My role model, without a doubt, is my mother. At the young age of 13 she brought me into this world. Everyday I work hard and push myself to be a better person thanks to her. She has never let me down and has always supported all my choices. Whenever I think something is challenging, I motivate myself by thinking about the fact that my mother was able to raise a child at such a young and pursue a college education. I am lucky to see her do it all again with my three year old brother. She is the strongest woman I know and the most incredible human being.

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

59/118

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.