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University of Mary Washington graduates are career ready

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Photo provided by the University of Mary Washington

The University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, may be one of the best-kept secrets in higher education. With its lovely tree-lined campus and classic buildings, it looks and feels like a premier private liberal arts and sciences university. It showers its 4,000 students with personal attention and opportunities. They learn from top professors in small classes. They are schooled in rigorous academics in a supportive community that instills honor and integrity — all for a public-school price.

Provost Timothy O’Donnell, a 23-year veteran of the university who started as a communications professor, says, “You are getting the high-touch experience for a fraction of the price because the University of Mary Washington is a public university.”

There’s something special about UMW that goes beyond academics and the friendly, supportive atmosphere. “There are endless opportunities to create customized learning experiences here,” O’Donnell says.

Photo provided by the University of Mary Washington

Opportunity is a hard thing to quantify when choosing a college, but it is part of the UMW culture. “We hear over and over from alumni that UMW gave them opportunities they would not have had at other places,” O’Donnell says. Examples include the university community supporting a free bookmobile dreamed up by an English major; an undergraduate physics major getting published in a scientific journal — and making a video explaining his work; and a computer science major landing the lead in a school play.

UMW students are better prepared for graduate work than many of their peers from larger schools. And those programs are creating pathways to career readiness and employment.

According to a survey of the class of 2021, 90% of graduates for whom the university has reliable information are employed, attending graduate school or engaged in career-related endeavors such as internships or military service.

“Our students are quite successful in thinking about and pursuing what we call ‘Life After Mary Washington,’” says assistant provost Kimberly Young, who oversees the school’s Center for Career and Professional Development.

That can mean jobs, graduate school, internships or military service with training toward an ultimate career. “Those opportunities are what we ask graduates about when they are leaving, but it's also the perspective of our faculty, who work with students to help them with internships.”

Photo provided by the University of Mary Washington

The center also engages with employers in the region to ascertain their needs for the emerging workforce.

Perhaps the UMW advantage comes down to one thing: personal connections. It helps, of course, that there are no large lecture halls and no teaching assistants. Small, intimate classes and a student-faculty ratio of 13-to-1 enable faculty to take a personal interest in their students’ general well-being and career readiness. “There are faculty members who will look for you if you don’t show up, and follow up with you because they care,” O’Donnell says. “We like to say we admit students one at a time, and we support them one at a time, too.”


This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments had no role in its creation or display. Brand Ave. Studios connects advertisers with a targeted audience through compelling content programs, from concept to production and distribution. For more information contact sales@brandavestudios.com.
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