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Ava Morris

Year: 2014
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Major: Commerce

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found at U.Va.?

As a minority student, I did not expect there to be a large community of minority students or supportive services for minorities at the university. After arriving at the university, I was quickly proven wrong. The University of Virginia strives to have a diverse environment and for students from all different backgrounds, rather it is race or socioeconomic class, to feel comfortable and reach their goals. As a student, I feel as though the university has accomplished this and I am pleased with the groups and services that are available for minority students. I have not only met a great group of minority students who share my racial background but I have also met minority students from different racial backgrounds who have come to love the university and the variety of supportive services that are offered.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, which book would you want to have with you?

If I was on a stranded island it would be hard for me to narrow down which book by Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston I would have with me. If I had to choose one I would have the Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. The first time I read the book I was a junior in high school and fell in love with the story line and the different view point a reader could have. I enjoy reading the book over again because I notice a smaller piece of the story line that changes my views towards the characters or the story after every read. The amazing line of characters and twisted storyline would be a great form of entertainment while on the deserted island.

How do you spend your spring breaks?

I spend most of my spring breaks at home with my family and friends since I do not make many home visits during the semester. But, I plan on taking an Alternative Spring Break trip for my next spring break where I would travel to another state or country and participate in community service events. My dream Alternative Spring Break trip would be to go to Louisiana and help rebuild houses.

Did you visit U.Va. before deciding to attend?

I visited U.Va. three times before deciding to attend. I attended a three week summer program at the University in between my junior and senior year of high school. Being at the university for three weeks and being able to live like a student encouraged me to apply to the university. I visited the university again for an official tour and the admitted day for students called Days on the Lawn. I ended up falling in love with the university during Days on the lawn and I have not had my heart broken yet.

Why U.Va.?

As an in-state student I could not finish my college applications until I applied to the University of Virginia since it is our top in-state institution. I am also originally from the Richmond area, which is a small city, so I was hoping to attend a large, division one school, in a metropolitan area. Once I visited the university I realized that my original dream school was not what I wanted at all. I fell in love with the college town feeling that one gets when they are on the university's grounds. I also enjoyed the experience I had when I visited my friend from high school who was attending the university. While walking around grounds with her, I noticed that she actually knew the names of the students that we were passing and was able to have a conversation with the majority of them. Even though the university is medium sized and has a good amount of undergraduate students, I never feel like I am getting lost in the crowd. I walk to class seeing so many students that I know and find myself lost in conversation which one would do at a small sized university. But I can also attend division one athletic events and get spotted on television which one would do at a large sized university. Therefore, the University of Virginia was the best fit for me because I get the best of both worlds, the perks of a large and small sized university.

Describe your favorite professor.

My favorite professor is my English writing professor. Every first year student has to take an English writing class but they get to choose the topic. I chose urban education  as my topic which does not relate to my major but my professor was able to make it interesting. The professor of the class had taught in the Teach for America program which enabled her to tell the class her own experiences in the urban education system. She also made herself very open and available to help her students at all times. I would meet her over coffee to discuss my papers and receive pointers on where I could improve. She is my favorite professor because she was able to provoke my interest in a topic I was not originally interested in and made herself available to her students whenever they requested.

What was your favorite class?

My favorite class at the university was Business, Ethics, and Society which was taught by Paul Harper. During the first half of the class we had readings by well-known philosophers such as Plato and Socrates. We discussed and analyzed their philosophical writings and related them back to society. The majority of the class period was spent having a class discussion on the readings instead of listening to the professor lecture about the reading. The second half of the semester was spent reading business cases and creating a business plan in smaller groups. Our assignment in the class was to have a website for the business which demonstrated the direction that we wanted the business to take. The class was interesting and encouraged me to think outside of the box which I enjoyed. 

What activities are you involved in?

I am involved in the Virginia Ambassadors at the university which runs various programs for prospective students. I am also on the Football Marketing Team which is also called “Fill the Hill,” we advertise for upcoming football games and help plan other marketing events. I am a resident advisor and volunteer at a local high school through the Madison House program.

What is your favorite extracurricular and why?

My favorite extracurricular activity is working with the Virginia Ambassadors program and helping them plan various events such as Days on the Lawn.  The Virginia Ambassadors plan programs to help prospective students during the admission process, give students more information and encourage them to apply, and to encourage admitted students to attend the university. I enjoy working with the group because the programs that they plan helped me immensely in making my college decision. If I did not attend days on the lawn, which the group plans, then I probably would not be at the university now. The group is also a great way for me to show off the university which I love and to help prospective students see the great things that I see every day at the university. 

Have you taken the opportunity to get career advice while a student?

I have received career advice from professors at the university. I have also attended seminars put on by the career services office of the university. When applying to be a resident advisor the office held a session on interview techniques and good practices. I attended the event and it helped me get the resident advisor position.

How would you describe the students who attend U.Va.?

If I had to choose one word to describe the students at UVA, I would choose the word happy. When you walk around grounds during the academic semester, every student you encounter is smiling or willing to answer any question that you present to them. The friendliness and excitement that every student has about the university is a great addition to the community. 

What is your favorite memory from your time at Virginia?

My favorite memory at UVA thus far would be the homecoming football game during my first year. Our football team beat Georgia Tech and the entire stadium rushed the field. While rushing the field, my dad called me and told me that he had just spotted me on television. It was my first homecoming experience at the university and being able to rush the field and celebrate the win with all of my friends was an amazing experience.

What is your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

There are so many things to do in Charlottesville that it is hard to pick just one. I enjoy any activity that involves spending time with my friends since we are all busy participating in our own activities during the week. Most of the time, my friends and I will walk to the corner and get dinner or catch the trolley to the downtown mall.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Charlottesville?

 The White Spot

What is the competition in your classes like?

There is a healthy sense of competition in classes. Every student cares about their studies and wants to perform well but there is not an unhealthy or overwhelming level of competition. For example, students will help one another with work or form study groups to prepare for a test. While all the students want to do well, they still work together and want their counterparts to succeed as well.