UVA Acts - People
About Christina: In addition to her involvement in community theater and UVA Acts, Christina is an educational entrepreneur and the owner/director of Speak! Language Center, a 15 year-old foreign language + ESL services company based in Charlottesville. Together with her team of 50+ teachers from 30+ countries, she works with local individuals and organizations (including UVA) to help bridge the gap between people and cultures via dynamic, personalized language training.
Why UVA Acts: UVA acts combines everything I love and value most in the world: education, theater, collaboration and community. As a 20 year Charlottesville resident, wife to a UVA professor and mother to a rising first year, I also have a very personal connection to our work!
Favorite thing to do in Charlottesville : A favorite Saturday in downtown Charlottesville usually includes: a vinyasa yoga class at ACAC, brunch at the City Market and anything at Live Arts in the evening (performing or watching a performance). So much bounty contained in just two blocks!
Personality type/sign/Harry Potter house: My personality type ENFP-“The Campaigner” (16personalities.com) and related strengths involve creating and nurturing meaningful social, emotional, educational and creative connections. From my work in education to my involvement in theater, a sense of connectedness is always at the core.
About Brandon: University of Virginia 2005 history and theater major, educator, entertainer and musician... most recent play, Caplin theater at the University of Virginia. #UVA #Stickfly Lydia Diamond!
About Kirk: I came to UVA to teach in the architecture department in 1992, after completing a post-doc at Tokyo University. Yes, there was culture shock, but we adapted quickly. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and got degrees in architecture and structural engineering from U.C. Berkeley. Outside of work, I practice yoga, perform on stage with my improv friends, and take naps on my back porch.
Why UVA Acts: I’ve done a lot of University service in my career. UVA Acts is a unique combination work that is interesting, important, and hugely fun.
A teacher who had an impact: Mr. Medigovich, a high school math teacher. I learned from him that it’s OK to be silly and have fun while teaching a serious subject.
Fun Fact: I sang in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in the 1980s, and can still sing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from memory.
About Jim: I live in Charlottesville, and do wish it would snow more often.
Why UVA Acts: It's an opportunity to start and take part in important conversations in the UVA/Charlottesville community.
Personality type/sign/Harry Potter house: I'm a Libra. I share a birthday with David Lee Roth.
Favorite Animal: I'm a huge fan of dogs, particularly my half basset hound/half golden retriever, Maude.
About Yvonne: Yvonne Nguyen is a graduate student at UVA’s School of Education and Human Development currently pursuing a Master’s of Teaching in Secondary English Education. Once she graduates in May, she will officially be a double Hoo, as she also graduated in May 2019 from UVA with a double major in English and Drama. She is originally from Alexandria, Virginia and enjoys writing poetry, cooking, and spending time with her friends in her free time!
Why UVA Acts: I participate in UVA Acts because it is a unique opportunity to combine my love for theatre with my dedication to equitable teaching. As a graduate student in UVA’s School of Education and Human Development I love learning about teaching strategies to use with my future students while also learning how to self-advocate
Food you’d eat every day: I would eat bread every single day (and I probably do) because it is so versatile!
Personality type/ sign/Harry Potter house: I’m a very proud Slytherin, Libra, ENFJ, and Enneagram Type 2! I don't know what any of that means but I do know that I love taking personality quizzes!
“We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think—in fact, they do so.” Bertrand Russell and I want you to think. That’s why I’m part of UVA Acts. Thinking is my favorite thing to do - it’s why I love theater. An audience sits for 2 hours in dappled dark lit by LED or glint of flint, and we have to do nothing but think. Storytelling is humanity’s favorite and most effective way to teach morality. There is no escaping the truth that when we engage each other, we are conferring, subtly or openly, forms of morality. Denial of that truth usually coincides with manipulation, bribery, deceit or coercion.
David Vaughn Straughn
I do UVA Acts because I feel in Charlottesville, it is necessary and important to highlight the inequities and marginalization of people of color within the town, as the wage gap disparity grows, our communities continue to splinter, and our empathy level decreases as an overall society. Only by admitting our problems can we progress to change. I also enjoy playing video games.
A core value of mine is interdependence, and the belief that we all need one another to depend and rely upon, to share emotions freely and be truly vulnerable, even to see one another and validate our existence. I believe that no one can do this thing called ‘life’ on their own. To deny others is to deny the parts of ourselves in which we relate.
I’ve played principal roles in various productions in Virginia, including MacBeth, Fences, Jitney (Charlottesville Players Guild), Othello (Four County Players), The Royale (Live Arts), and even a couple of off-Broadway productions in New York City including Four Men on a Couch (American Theatre of Actors) and Georgia (777 Theatre). I am also very pleased and honored to be playing the dream role of Hamlet for the CPG this August.
This bio is incredibly long and I apologize. Hopefully my acting makes up for it.
About Misty: My primary vocation was parenting and homeschooling my child to adulthood. I am now finding purpose in leaning-in to the uncomfortable parts of myself and humanity. Courageously trusting in myself and others. Foolishly and recklessly hoping.
Why UVA Acts: Meaningful social justice work, acting, collaborative creative ensemble work, paid!!
Your favorite fun fact about yourself: I created a gluten-free, vegan waffle cone in several delicious flavors, crossed the Atlantic in a 38' sailboat, and love conflict transformation.
Your core value/values: Kindness, respect, listening, vulnerability, authenticity.
About Jennie: Jennie S. Knight, Ph. D. serves as Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development, where she develops, leads, and oversees faculty development programs to empower faculty from across UVA, at all stages of their careers, to thrive. Before coming to UVA in 2017, she served as Director of Engaged Teaching in the Center for Principled Problem Solving at Guilford College and as Director of Religious Education/Assistant Professor of Religious Education and Community Ministries at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Her interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching are in the areas of Religion and Education, Moral Development, Women’s Studies, Practical Theology, Community Engaged Teaching, Scholarship, and Problem Solving, and Moral Leadership. She is the author of Feminist Mysticism and Images of God: A Practical Theology (Chalice Press, 2011) and co-author of Engaged Teaching in Theology and Religion with Renee K. Harrison, Ph.D. , as well as multiple articles about transformative education.
Why UVA Acts: I am involved with UVA Acts because I have witnessed the power of educational theater to elicit empathy and bring about transformative conversations in ways that more traditional talking workshops cannot accomplish. I am excited about the possibilities for UVA Acts to help generate a more positive, inclusive climate for faculty and students.
A teacher who had an impact: My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Griffin. I remember most her kindness, patience, and ability to take me seriously as a person. I believe these are essential qualities for teachers of any age group.
A fun fact: I have a brown belt in Isshin-ryu Karate.
Teaching professor at Furman University, Maegan Azar, supervised my year-long independent study on applied theatre during my senior year. Her willingness to explore the field alongside me gave me a foundation to pursue a career I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Personality type/sign/Harry Potter house: I’m a very proud Hufflepuff. I’m also an INFP and a 4 on the Enneagram (but I’m just now figuring out what that means…).