Letter to the Graduating Class of 2025.
Please accept a warm welcome to the University of Virginia from the Deans and Staff of the Office of African-American Affairs (OAAA). Additionally, I write to congratulate you for matriculating at the University of Virginia and most importantly, for choosing us to continue your education. The next leg of your journey will most likely be your preparation for a career or competitive position in the workplace upon graduation four years from now. We, at the Office, stand ready to accompany you to your destination: a career in Architecture, Teaching, Business, Finance, Management, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Humanities and Basic Science Research, among many other options.
To that end, the Office of African-American Affairs is uniquely equipped to provide you with the preparation, models of success and scaffolding in education that will foster your continued success. Our three Associate Deans -- Kimberley Bassett, Michael Mason, Antoinette Thomas -- and I have between us over 100 years of teaching across departments and schools, advising, mentoring, coaching and sponsoring students into various vistas of successful careers. The range of our professional education includes: Chemistry, Counselling and Clinical psychology, Business Administration, Child and Adult Psychoanalysis and the humanities, inter alia.
As we say in the Division of Student Affairs, we like to make a large place feel small. What that means is that you will have an opportunity to build strong bonds of relationships in the Office with the Deans, and across grounds, you will be able to build bridges with others who are not part of the Office. With the people with whom you have strong ties, you will share deeper stories. With people with whom you have bridge-building relationships like international students with whom you take courses, or as we say in Sociology, the strength of weak ties (Granovetter), you will hear something like this: “Did you know that Ernst and Young are here to recruit? Let us go and see what is there.” You will need both types of relationships; bonding and bridging (Putnam).
Because the learning curve from High School to the University is substantial, do take advantage of all the resources available in the Office and at the University to ensure your ultimate success. It is necessary to heed this advice regardless of how strong a student you are.
We are very fortunate to hear from our graduates. Every year I feel honored, privileged, and humbled to provide a representative testimony of their success. Consider the most recent one:
From: Samuel W
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2021 2:33 PM
To: Apprey, Maurice (ma9h) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: MSTP Application Update
Dear Dean Apprey,
I hope you and your family are doing well. I wanted to update you that I was accepted to multiple MD/Ph.D. programs. Thank you so much for taking the time to write me a strong letter of recommendation for my MSTP application. With multiple talented and qualified institutions to choose from, I faced a very difficult task. However, after careful consideration, I have committed to the UVA MSTP. I was also selected to receive an MSTP Outstanding Candidate Award from the University of Virginia, which includes a one-time monetary award upon matriculation. I will be starting my MD/Ph.D. journey on July 1, 2021, with my first lab rotation.
Overall, I had an amazing interview and application cycle. I appreciate all of your support during this process, and I cannot thank you enough. I look forward to connecting with you soon when I get back on Grounds. Again, your support, guidance, and kindness are and will always be appreciated!!
I wrote back the following:
What a feat!
You have worked so hard and so thoughtfully integrated science and application, science and ethics, that while I am overwhelmed with joy for you and your success, I am not in the least surprised that the result of your application and industry was indubitably palpable to others.
Many blessings to you on your journey to becoming a physician scientist.
Many hours of preparation, depth of relationship building, continuities of meetings and ongoing support go into outcomes such as this one. When Samuel talks about a strong letter of recommendation, he is referring to both the letter itself and meetings every semester to do an audit of how well he is doing academically, socially, and psychologically, so that by the time a request for a letter comes, we know him so well that his letter stands out in an Admissions Committee. In meetings with students, we face times of doubt together, we applaud them for their accomplishments. Sometimes, I may pick up the phone and call a colleague in the School of Medicine and say: “Margaret, I have in my office a student who wants to be like you, a physician and a medical ethicist. He is here with me. Could you talk with him now and follow up with a deeper conversation later?” Indubitably, the answer would be “Yes.”
You may want to celebrate with us when you get into a particular graduate school or 10 Law Schools, for that matter.
Knowing that your journey through the University has every potential to be a success, I ask you to bear with me when you hear, time after time, the following precepts: “Finis origine pendet” which means “The end depends upon the beginning” (Manilius, a Roman poet), “Dwen whe kan,” meaning “Think and look ahead” ( a Ghanaian precept), or, in plain English, “Plan or be planned” (Aackoff, an American Management scholar and practitioner.
For your immediate attention, however, the Office of African-American Affairs will have approximately 15 hours of Zoom Orientation from June 14th-June 17th to assist you with course selections, affirm your decisions or re-advice you when you have made questionable decisions. This is an example of a resource our experienced Deans can offer you. At the Orientation we will mention other resources like “Black College Women,” or “Black Male Initiative.” I only want you to protect this time for now. I am attaching to this letter a document called, Visions, to serve as a guide to some course selections.
May you have the very best four years of your life when you come to the University of Virginia.
With my best personal wishes and esteem, as ever,
Maurice Apprey, PhD, DM, FIPA,
Professor of Psychiatry,
Member, Academy of Excellence in Education,
School of Medicine,
Dean of African-American Affairs,
Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs,
University of Virginia