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OAAA E-Weekly Newsletter

The Office of African-American Affairs  Newsletter Highlighting Events and Opportunities for OAAA Students

"Young, Gifted & Black:

40 Years of Preparing Students for the Quest"

Special Announcement

Next OAAA E-Weekly: Monday, November 30, 2020

Enjoy the Thanksgiving Break!


Expanded regulations in Virginia. Everyone spending the holidays in Virginia should be aware of new regulations announced on Friday, Nov. 13, by Gov. Ralph Northam. They include in-person gathering limits of 25 (UVA's limit remains 10 or fewer); an expanded mask mandate; a curfew for on-site alcohol sales, consumption, and possession; and increased enforcement measures.

Pre-departure testing for students. Testing for COVID-19 is available to students before they leave for Thanksgiving or Winter break, and both on-Grounds and off-Grounds students have received detailed information in the past weeks. Testing also will be required of students prior to the start of second semester. More information about the requirements for the spring semester will be available in the near future.

Reduction of University services during upcoming breaks. We recognize a small number of students will need to remain in on-Grounds housing or in the area over the extended break due to unusual circumstances. Many services will be curtailed after the Thanksgiving Break, with a further reduction in services occurring after exams end on Dec. 11. Some offices, such as Student Health and Wellness, will remain available to students whether they are here or at home, but they will observe the Thanksgiving Break as well as the University's Winter Break from Dec. 19-Jan. 3.


In order to reduce the risk of exceeding the max capacity, the Office has created an email for you to send print requests. Click here to get more details about printing.

If you have any questions please call our main number (434-924-7923), If you cannot reach us via phone please contact Mr. Smith ( or Ms. Comfort ( to assist you.



The University is closely monitoring key metrics and has developed a COVID-19 dashboard that will be shared and will track key metrics like the rate of infections and our operational readiness to respond to the virus. We stand ready to alter our operations and plans based on these metrics. We are grateful to all members of our community for their diligence in following the guidelines outlined below. A printable copy of the UVA COVID-19 Prevention, Detection, and Response Plan is available.


Nov. 24: Fall courses end
Nov. 25, noon: Residence hall access ends
for students who do not plan to return until late January
Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving Break
Nov. 30-Dec. 1: Reading Days
Dec. 2-11: Exams
Dec. 6 and 9: Reading Days
December (various dates): Spring course registration
Dec. 12, noon: First-year residence halls close
Dec. 12: Winter Break begins for students
Dec. 19-Jan. 3: University academic offices closed
Jan. 4-15: January Term (virtual)
Jan. 14: Spring 2021 term notification of charges
Jan. 16-31: Winter Break continues for students
Late January (various dates TBD): First-year residence
halls reopen
Feb. 1: Spring courses begin
Feb. 12: Spring 2021 term charges due 
Feb. 17: No classes
March 9 and 29: No classes
March 15: Decision about graduation observances
April 15: No classes
May 6: Spring courses end
May 7-15: Exams
May 9 and 12: Reading Days
May 21-23: Class of 2021 Finals Weekend (tentative)
May 28-30: Class of 2020 Finals Weekend (tentative)



Quote of the Week

“Miracles happen all the time. We’re here, aren’t we?” Marilyn Nelson

Spotlight on Student Achievements

  Lashae Mickey is a Fourth-Year Blue Ridge Scholar from Louisa, Virginia. She is majoring in Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences and expects to get her Masters in Social Work. She is currently a student worker for the Office of African-American Affairs. Also, her other involvements at UVA include Rise Together where she is a team leader mentoring and tutoring the Albemarle/Charlottesville’s area elementary, middle, and high school students. After graduation, Lashae plans to jump into her masters, however at this time she does not know which school she wants to apply to. In addition, she is hoping to find an internship working within an adoption agency outside of Virginia to expand her horizons and prepare her for a career as a social worker.


Faculty/Staff Spotlight

Dirron Allen
Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Student Engagement
Office of the Dean of Students


My name is Dirron Allen.  I identify as a person of faith. My pronouns are he/him/his.  I am the spouse to a wonderful woman named Laura. I am a parent to four life giving children Braylon (5), Mayley (3), Taylor (1), and Jayden (10 weeks). My father was in the Army for 25+ years and my mother worked for the Department of Defense for 30 years. As a dependent of a person in the Army, we moved around a bit. My younger sister and I were born in Kentucky. We moved to Germany, Louisiana, Maryland, and eventually Woodbridge, VA. I attended Woodbridge Senior High School before going to James Madison University (JMU) for a B.S. in Kinesiology; minored in Business Administration. After successfully graduating from JMU, I went to Mississippi State University for a M.S. in Counselor Education (concentrating in Higher Education). Post graduate degree, I moved around a few places: Temple University in Philly, Towson University north of Baltimore, and I arrived at UVA as your Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Engagement in March of 2016. Here at UVA I provide support to the Student Engagement Team as we work together with students in areas such as Student Council, UPC, Special Status Organizations, CIOs, Women’s Leadership Development Program, Arts Board, UBE, and Blueprint Leadership Program.

Outside of my professional life, I have additional interests. I aspire to learn the bass guitar and play funk bass lines. I have mastered (in my mind) homemade pizza crust from scratch. I am a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, favorite movies within in that universe Black Panther, Thor, and Endgame. My Spotify playlists includes Top Christian Hits, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-tang clan, Red Hot Chili Peppers and some stuff for the kids. #NowPlaying on repeat is Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event 2.  I’ve always like Busta Rhymes. Him and Jay-Z are probably my favorites.  I also love playing and watching sports, basketball, (Jordan is the GOAT), football, fútbol, volleyball, and I can bowl too. Fun fact: I played against Allen Iverson, high school hoops state semi-finals played here in Charlottesville. Well, I didn’t play, I was on the bench, but dapped him up at the end of the game.  



Quote's Corner

 Marilyn Nelson was born on April 26, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Melvin M. Nelson, a U.S. serviceman in the Air Force, and Johnnie Mitchell Nelson, a teacher. Nelson, an American poet, translator, and children's book author, grew up on military bases and began writing while in elementary school. She earned her BA from the University of California at Davis, her MA from the University of Pennsylvania, and her PhD from the University of Minnesota. Nelson is a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Robert Frost medal, and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. From 1978 to 1994 she published under the name Marilyn Nelson Waniek. In 2013, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Following that, in 2017 Nelson was recognized with both the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children and the prestigious NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. In 2019 she was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation. In addition, Nelson is noted for being a renowned poet, author, and translator who has worked steadily throughout her career to highlight topics that aren’t often talked about in poetry. Her literary work, spanning more than four decades, examines complex issues around race, feminism, and the ongoing trauma of slavery in American life in narratives poised between song and speech. Nelson’s many collections of poetry include The Fields of Praise (1997), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN Winship Award; The Cachoeira Tales (2005); Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems 1996-2011 (2012); How I Discovered Poetry (2014), and My Seneca Village (2015). Nelson’s many works for children and young adults include Carver: A Life in Poems (1995), which received numerous nominations and awards, including the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and designation as both a Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Nelson’s recent collections for young readers include A Wreath for Emmett Till (2005); The Freedom Business: Including a Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa (2008); The Story of the Greatest AllGirl Swing Band in the World (2009); and American Ace (2016); additionally, she has also translated the work of Halfdan Rasmussen, Inge Pedersen, Euripedes, and Phil Dahlerup. Today, Nelson is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut and was Connecticut’s poet laureate from 2001 to 2006. She is also the founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat.

Opportunites with Deadlines

The Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is a highly selective scholarship for the nation’s top community college students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at four-year colleges or universities. Each Cooke Scholar has access to generous financial support for two to three years, college planning support, ongoing advising, and the opportunity to connect with the thriving community of fellow scholars.

Each award is intended to cover a significant share of the student’s educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees – for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree. Awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships they may receive. This highly competitive scholarship includes:

Up to $40,000 per year to attend a four-year accredited undergraduate school.
Ability to pursue any area of study.
Personal advising about selecting a college and navigating financial aid.
Multifaceted advising about how to transition to a four-year college and maximize the student experience.

The application closes on January 6, 2021 at 11:59 pm in your local time zone.
More information:


The UVA Parents Fund has launched the Student Enrichment Fund, which provides grants to current undergraduate students who lack the resources to participate in professional development and academic enrichment experiences, such as studying abroad, taking J-Term classes, or pursuing internships. Read more about it here


This Week in Black History

Did you know that At the age of 33, Ben Carson was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the United States. Additionally, on September 4, 1987, Carson performed the first successful separation of twins conjoined by the head. Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 18, 1951, being the second son of Sonya and Robert Carson. Carson’s father was a Baptist minister and factory worker. However, at the age of 8 Sonya had to raise her two sons alone because Robert was a bigamist and had another family. Due to this, the family was very poor and, to make ends meet, Sonya sometimes toiled at two or three jobs simultaneously in order to provide for her boys. Carson's Detroit Public Schools education began in 1956 with kindergarten at the Fisher School and continued through first, second, and the first half of third grade, during which time he was an average student. At an early age Carson was attracted to reading which lead to a desire to learn more. To this point, a fifth-grade science teacher was one of the first to encourage Carson's interests in lab work after he was the only student able to identify an obsidian rock sample brought to school. After receiving a certificate of achievement in the eighth grade for being at the top of his class, a teacher openly berated his fellow white students for letting a Black boy get ahead of them academically. However, once entering Southwestern High School in inner-city Detroit, Carson's science teachers recognized his intellectual abilities and mentored him further. Carson graduated with honors from Southwestern, having also become a senior commander in the school's ROTC program. He earned a full scholarship to Yale, receiving a B.A. degree in psychology in 1973. Carson then enrolled in the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan, choosing to become a neurosurgeon. n 1975, he married Lacena Candy Rustin having three children, Murray, Benjamin Jr., and Rhoeyce. Carson also served as a local elder and Sabbath School teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1977, Carson earned his medical degree, and the young couple moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he became an intern at Johns Hopkins University. His excellent eye-hand coordination and three-dimensional reasoning skills made him a superior surgeon early on. By 1982, he was chief resident in neurosurgery at Hopkins. In 1983, Carson accepted an invitation to work at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Australia; while in Australia Carson gained several years worth of experience in the year he was at Gairdner Hospital which allowed him to hone his skills tremendously. Carson returned to Johns Hopkins in 1984 and, by 1985, he became director of pediatric neurosurgery at the age of 33. In 2003, Carson faced what was perhaps his biggest challenge: separating adult conjoined twins. By this time, Carson had been conducting brain surgery for nearly 20 years and had performed several craniopagus separations. However, neither twin made it but he recollects their bravery for going through with such a detrimental surgery. In 2002, Carson was forced to cut back after developing prostate cancer. He fully recovered from the operation cancer-free due to his active role in his own case. After his recovery, Carson still kept a busy schedule, conducting operations and speaking to various groups around the country. He has also written several books, including the popular autobiography Gifted Hands (1990). Other titles include—Think Big (1992), The Big Picture (1999), and Take the Risk (2007). In 2000, the Library of Congress selected Carson as one of its "Living Legends." The following year, CNN and Time magazine named Carson as one of the nation's 20 foremost physicians and scientists. In 2006, he received the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP. In February 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Carson the Ford's Theatre Lincoln Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And in 2009, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. portrayed Carson in the television production Gifted Hands. Carson is a member of the American Academy of Achievement, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. Carson has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations. In 2010, he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Switching from a career in medicine to being more involved in politics, Carson became known as an outspoken conservative Republican. In 2012, he published America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great. Following this success, May 2014 Carson published his No. 1 New York Times bestseller One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future. On May 4, 2015, Carson launched his official bid for the Republican presidential nomination at an event in Detroit. However, on March 2, 2016, Carson announced that he saw no path forward in his campaign and chose not to attend the Republican debate on March 3, in his hometown of Detroit. As the campaign continued, Carson became one of Trump's most loyal supporters, stumping for him around the country leading up to the election. After Trump’s presidential win, December 5, 2016, Trump announced he was nominating Carson as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In March 2019, Carson told Newsmax TV that he planned to leave his HUD post at the conclusion of President Trump's first term.

OAAA Announcements & Services

OAAA Announcements & Services – Fall 2020

OAAA Virtual Office Hours  - (will resume on Monday, November 30th)


OAAA Tutoring for Fall 2020 – (will resume the week of November 30th)

Contact: Dean Thomas for more information


Contact: Dean Mason for more information on:

  • Black College Women (BCW) Book Club
  • Black Male Initiative (BMI)
  • Black President’s Council (BPC)
  • Black College Women (BCW) - In the Company of my Sister


Upcoming Events

Upcoming UVA Virtual Events, Learning & Services

The Office of Citizen Scholar Development
*ONLINE* Intro to Office and Q&A
Monday, November 23
- 4:00 pm-5:00 pm - Zoom

Haven't heard of the Office of Citizen Scholar Development? Don't know what fellowships are? Come listen to a brief introduction of the office followed by a time for Q&A. This session is helpful for students and alumni who have yet to interact with the Office of Citizen Scholar Development. Register here

*ONLINE* UK Fellows Information Session
Monday, November 30
- 4:00 pm-5:00 pm - Zoom

The United Kingdom Fellows Program allows graduating University of Virginia students the opportunity to teach and live abroad in a boarding school in the UK for the year following graduation. Come learn about the different schools with which we have a relationship and how to apply. Students in all fields welcome! Register here


Around the Charlottesville Area Community

Filing for Unemployment [Video] – Virginia Employment Commission
Visit for help to file in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“In My Humble Opinion”– 101.3 Jamz -- Charlottesville’s Own Talk/Radio
Every Sunday 12 noon – 3:00 pm

Hosted by Charles Lewis, Max, and Razor, along with special guests. Listen online at, or download the free TuneIn app for iPhone and Android to get the latest local news in Charlottesville’s Black community.