Unoma Aguolu ’24 Named ODAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week

The Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) has honored Hollins Basketball‘s Unoma Aguolu ’24 as its Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of November 15.

Aguolu led Hollins to three victories in the past week; overall, the Green & Gold is off to a 3-1 start this season, its best opening slate of games in over a decade.

The sophomore guard from King George, Virginia, averaged 23.0 points and shot 56.3 percent from the field to go with 5.0 rebounds per game over the three contests. She began the week with 20 points, three rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots in a 74-65 win over Virginia-Lynchburg. In the first game of the Agnes Scott Tip-Off Classic, Aguolu scored 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field in an 82-49 victory over the host Scotties. She added seven rebounds (five offensive), two assists, and two steals. She capped the tournament and the week with 23 points in a 76-71 win over Sewanee. She chipped in five rebounds with an assist, steal, and blocked shot.

Over Hollins’ first four games Aguolu is averaging 20.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. She has scored the most points (83) so far in the ODAC, powered by the most field goals (30-of-55) and free throws (19-of-40) made.


Submission Deadline for 2022 Margaret Wise Brown Prize Is January 15

Publishers of picture books released in 2021 are invited to have their works considered for the 2022 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2022.

Presented annually, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize recognizes the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. The award is a tribute to one of Hollins University’s best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. Winners are given a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Each recipient will also receive an engraved bronze medal as well as an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

Judges for the 2022 prize include:

  • Meg Medina, author of the 2021 Margaret Wise Brown Prize winner Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away and the Newbery Award winner Mercie Suárez Changes Gears.
  • Marla Frazee, author-illustrator, recipient of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for The Farmer and the Clown and two Caldecott Honor medals.
  • David LaRochelle, recipient of multiple children’s choice awards for his many picture book titles, including Geisel Award-winner See the Cat.

The publisher should submit four copies of each book they wish to nominate for the Margaret Wise Brown Prize: one copy to Hollins University and one copy to each of the three judges. Books must have been first published in 2021; reprints and translations are not eligible. The winner will be announced in May 2022.

Please contact Lisa Rowe Fraustino at for the judges’ addresses and further submission instructions.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

For more information about the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature, visit

Virginia Academy of Science Honors Hollins Student Researchers

Two research projects conducted by three Hollins University chemistry majors were recognized at the 2021 Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) Fall Undergraduate Research Meeting, held recently at Hampden-Sydney College.

Megan Brown ’23, Nupur Sehgal ’23, and Tram Nguyen ’24 earned the event’s top award in the Medicine category ($750 in research funding) for “Let’s Go Fishing: Catching Cysteine-Containing Proteins in Cytoplasmic Pools.”

Megan Brown '23 and Tram Nguyen '24
Megan Brown ’23 (left) and Tram Nguyen ’24

They also received honorable mention in the same category for “C-glycosylation Through Reductive Halide Atom Transfer Reaction with Photo-Irradiation.”

The three students are all enrolled in a research lab of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Son Nguyen, who also attended the Fall Undergraduate Research Meeting and served as a judge in the event’s Biochemistry category.

“I am so proud of Megan, Nupur, and Tram, and am lucky to have them in the research lab,” Nguyen said. “They work very hard and very productively.”

Nupur Sehgal '23
Nupur Sehgal ’23


Nguyen and the three students will present at the national American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego in March 2022. Brown, Sehgal, and Tram Nguyen will share their research results at the 2022 VAS Spring Undergraduate Research Meeting at the University of Richmond in May 2022.


Top photo (left to right): Tram Nguyen ’24, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Son Nguyen, Nupur Sehgal ’23, and Megan Brown ’23 at Hampden-Sydney College for the 2021 VAS Fall Undergraduate Research Meeting.

As a Stanford University Innovation Fellow, Zahin Mahbuba ’22 Hopes to Impact Hollins and Beyond for Years to Come

Zahin Mahbuba ’22 is passionate about becoming a force for building experiential and entrepreneurial learning in the educational programs of developing nations. This academic year, the international studies major and economics minor from Bangladesh is participating in a Stanford University program that she hopes will help her in establishing a basis for achieving that goal, while at the same time promoting initiatives for students at Hollins.

Mahbuba is one of 251 students from 65 institutions of higher learning in 15 countries to be named University Innovation Fellows (UIF) for 2021-22. The program, run by Stanford’s  Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (, empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. These student leaders create opportunities to help their peers build the creative confidence, agency, and entrepreneurial mindset needed to address global challenges. Fellows create student innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, facilitate experiential workshops, and work with faculty and administrators to develop new courses. They serve as advocates for lasting institutional change with academic leaders, lending the much-needed student voice to the conversations about the future of higher education.

“The new fellows are designing experiences that help all students learn skills and mindsets necessary to navigate these uncertain times and to shape the future they want to see,” said UIF co-director Humera Fasihuddin. “They are giving back to their school communities, and at the same time, they’re learning strategies that will help them serve as leaders in their careers after graduation.”

During her first two years at Hollins, Mahbuba worked closely with Karen Messer-Bourgoin, who previously served as professor of practice in business at Hollins. “She helped me with all my entrepreneurial endeavors,” Mahbuba said. She learned about UIF from Alyssa Martina, director of Elon University’s Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, whom she got to know when Hollins took part in the Elon University Innovation Challenge.

When Mahbuba was presented this summer with Hollins’ first-ever Changemaker Award, participation in UIF became financially attainable. The honor includes a $5,500 grant, made possible by an anonymous donor. “It’s the donor’s belief that the world’s biggest and most difficult problems can be solved by embracing an entrepreneurial mindset and by working diligently to affect change in areas where innovation is needed most,” Mahbuba stated. When deciding how to use the award, she said her overarching goal was that “I didn’t want it to be an experience for myself. I wanted to leave a legacy on which students could embark.”

With Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette as her faculty sponsor, Mahbuba embarked on completing UIF’s rigorous application process. “I answered questions about what innovation means to me, what resources would I acquire to build upon the entrepreneurial ecosystem on our campus if the president gave me a blank check, and even what three superpowers I wanted. I made a video where I talked about what excites me. Professor Chenette contributed to my application by describing what entrepreneurship means at Hollins, and I had to get recommendation letters from other faculty.”

As a UIF candidate, Mahbuba was then required to complete a four-week training program remotely this fall. Guided by Joshua Cadorette, a Stanford UIF mentor, she learned “how you can build stuff, how you gather resources, get people on board, things like that.” In collaboration with Chenette, she is spending the next several months at Hollins engaged in a project she conceptualized herself.

“I’m focusing on immigrant populations and refugees and their take on entrepreneurship,” Mahbuba explained. “When refugees are forced to migrate, they often come to America or other Western countries. English is not their first language, and they don’t have a lot of documentation to look for work. They end up becoming entrepreneurs, and I love that innovative mindset. I want to take that idea and make experiential learning opportunities for our students: How can you can create things in your environment and ecosystem that don’t exist yet, but you know should be there? It doesn’t even have to be a device – it could a change in policy.”

During her fellowship, Mahbuba is engaging in a design-thinking framework that is also the focus of “Sustainability and Social Innovation,” a Hollins first-year seminar for which she serves as a student success leader. “Exposing our new students to that is going to be a game changer,” she said. “It’s real, meaningful work, and also has value to one’s knowledge and skills.”

Mahbuba’s fellowship will culminate in March 2022, when she travels to California to spend ten days working with Stanford’s and Silicon Valley startups. “You get exposed to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and connect with people who are actually working on projects,” she said.

As Hollins’ first participant in UIF, Mahbuba is a pioneer for future Hollins students who wish to pursue the program. In fact, cohorts usually include up to seven fellows from a particular college or university in a given year. “I’m really excited to be a part of that,” she noted, “and I’m sure students will be thrilled to get the opportunity to work with Stanford and access their resources.”

Next spring, Mahbuba will graduate after three years at Hollins. She is exploring Ph.D. programs in higher education policy and education reform. “Working with Stanford’s can offer so many ideas on how I can make that structure work for me. When you talk about higher education and policy reform, this will give me a unique mindset and a set of skills.”

Above all, Mahbuba is committed to developing ways to positively impact communities globally whenever possible, especially in regard to young people. “I can’t talk about social innovation enough and why it’s so crucial in moving youth forward. They’re going to be the world’s changemakers. This is something I hope to build on and maybe take it back to Bangladesh, where I can start my own university fellowship program.”

Mary E. “Mary Beth” Hatten ’71 Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

A Hollins alumna has received one of the most notable tributes in the fields of health and medicine.

Mary Elizabeth “Mary Beth” Hatten ’71, Frederick P. Rose Professor and head of the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University in New York City, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The honorific society features more than 2,000 members chosen by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement.

In announcing the recognition, The Rockefeller University noted that Hatten’s research “has shed light on the mechanisms of neuronal differentiation and migration in the cerebellar cortex. During development, neurons must travel from their birth sites to their proper adult locations in an intricate concert of molecular, genetic, and spatial events. Mapping these processes – and how they can go awry – is essential to understanding various brain diseases and developmental abnormalities, including childhood epilepsy and medulloblastoma, a prevalent metastatic brain tumor that affects children and originates during embryonic development.”

Hatten joined Rockefeller in 1992 and was appointed the university’s first female full professor and the first female to lead a research laboratory there. “Early in her career, using innovative real-time imaging, Hatten demonstrated how developing neurons migrate along the lines of glial cells, supportive cells of the nervous system that are implicated in disease pathology,” the university said. “Her research has revealed various molecular regulators of migration, including Astn1, which is a receptor critical for glial-guided migration, and Astn2, which was recently shown to facilitate efficient brain activity and has been identified as a risk factor in neurodevelopmental disorders when mutated. Another key discovery from the Hatten lab was mPar6, which helps control the speed of neuronal migration along glial fibers. Most recently, Hatten has been exploring how changes in the DNA-packaging complex chromatin help guide formation of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that enables learning and the execution of complex movements.”

The announcement of Hatten’s election to NAM also noted her work in co-creating GENSAT, the Gene Expression Nervous System Atlas, in 2003. “This genetic atlas of the mammalian brain is a critical resource for labs worldwide that are researching the central nervous system.”

Hatten was one of a trio of Rockefeller researchers to earn NAM membership this year. “Each of these remarkable scientists has reached important milestones by boldly following the most interesting and pressing scientific questions of our times,” said Richard P. Lifton, the university’s president. “I am immensely proud to be a colleague of these three great Rockefeller faculty and delighted that they are receiving this prestigious honor.”

During her distinguished career, Hatten has received many other accolades, including the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience Investigator Award; the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award; and a Faculty Award for Women Scientists and Engineers from the National Science Foundation. In 2015 she was presented the prestigious Max Cowan Award, which honors a neuroscientist for outstanding work in developmental neuroscience, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. She is also a recipient of the Hollins Distinguished Alumnae Award and was the featured speaker at Hollins’ 175th commencement exercises.

Photo Credit: The Rockefeller University

Playwright’s Lab Director Todd Ristau Among Kendig Award Winners

Several arts individuals and organizations including Todd Ristau, director of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, have been honored with Perry F. Kendig Awards for 2020 and 2021.

Co-sponsored by Roanoke College and Hollins University, the Kendig Awards recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge (the counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, and Franklin, as well as the cities of Roanoke and Salem and the town of Vinton) that support excellence in the arts.

The awards were presented during a ceremony at Roanoke College’s Olin Hall on October 5. The awards ceremony was hosted by Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey and Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton.

“The Kendig Awards highlight the vital and important role that the arts play in the economic development, education, and cultural identity of Virginia’s Blue Ridge,” Maxey said.

Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey and Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton with Individual Artist Award winner Todd Ristau (center).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s awards ceremony combined nominees for 2020 and 2021, and two winners were awarded in each category.

Ristau was one of two winners announced for the Individual Artist Award. He designed and founded the Playwright’s Lab and has served as program director since its launch in 2007. His work has been performed in theatres across the United States and England, including London’s West End. He founded No Shame Theatre in 1986 and led its evolution into a national network of venues for new works in dozens of cities. He has an extensive theatre background, with expertise in acting, directing, and design. He’s known for his incredible mentorship of emerging playwrights, and his courage in advocating for the spaces and resources for this new work to enter the world.

Other Kendig Award winners include:

Individual Artist Award

Pat Wilhelms founded Roanoke Children’s Theatre in 2008 and carried the organization from 2008-2020. In 2020, Wilhelms founded PB & J Theatre Company. PB & J strives to bring new theatre opportunities for young and not so  young, that educate, challenge and inspire. Wilhelms is quick to point out that her acting workshops and productions aren’t just for kids. They are for everyone.  She is a true visionary with a keen eye for producing top-notch stage direction for theatre for young audiences. Before establishing Roanoke Children’s Theatre in 2008, she was director of education and outreach at Mill Mountain Theatre for many years. She loves the Roanoke Valley and has a true endless love for the young people in the community.

Arts and Cultural Organization Awards

The Arts and Cultural Organization Award winners are Roanoke College’s Olin Hall Galleries  and the Smith Mountain Arts Council.

The vision, programming, breadth of shows, and interaction with the community that are all central to the work and mission of Olin Hall Galleries. Olin Galleries exhibits have ranged from on-site installations and residencies, to shows geared toward highlighting collaboration among the disciplines on the Roanoke College campus. Some shows were multi-year projects involving workshops and programming to create community-generated exhibits, such as the Coral Reef Project or Paper Blooms. Olin Hall Galleries have creatively pushed to reinvent itself with each season, providing high-quality shows, generous artists, immersive experiences and community engagement through workshops, lectures and openings. This innovation in exhibits and outreach in programming year to year makes Olin Hall Galleries a leader in the arts community in Roanoke Valley .

Presidents Maxey and Hinton flank the winners of the Perry F. Kendig Awards for 2020 and 2021.

The Smith Mountain Arts Council is the main community arts organization for the three-county Smith Mountain Lake area and has taken the leadership in this area for over 30 years. The 20-member board convenes once a month to plan events and determine networking and scholarship opportunities in the community. Past annual events have included an art show, photo shows, productions by Lake Players (a community theatre group), p  by the community chorus Lakeside Singers, and an annual Christmas concert. The Smith Mountain Arts Council also sponsors the Franklin County chapter of Junior Appalachian Musicians, teaching 30 to 40 children a year in their choice of fiddle, guitar or banjo. The Smith Mountain Arts Council uplifts all aspects of the arts community not only in the Smith Mountain Lake area but all throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge.


Individual or Business Arts Supporter Award

The Individual or Business Arts Supporter Award winners are Shelby and Jason Bingham. The award was presented posthumously to Don and Barbara Smith with their family accepting the award on their behalf.

Shelby and Jason Bingham made their mark on the arts in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Upon moving to Roanoke, their children became involved in various organizations, and the Binghams brought their keen leadership, generous spirits, and innovative thinking to these organizations. For the Southwest Virginia Ballet, Shelby created a “Backstage Committee,” which has become a significant fundraising component of the ballet. She served on the company’s Board of Directors and received its Volunteer of the Year award.  Jason’s tenure in Roanoke has included service on Mill Mountain Theatre’s Board of Directors. He was part of a small core of board members who labored for four years to take the nonprofit theatre from

overburdened by operating debt to a sustainable new business model. The Binghams did whatever it took to put the theatre back on track. The investment in their children’s futures was the motivation for their incredible gifts of energy and resources to the arts in our region.

During their lives, Don and Barbara Smith worked tirelessly and generously to support the arts and culture in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Their support was legendary, both financially and through their hands-on leadership. Don served on more than 25 local, regional and national boards, including Center in the Square, the Jefferson Center, Mill Mountain Theatre, the Roanoke Symphony, and the Virginia Foundation for Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the Key to the City of Roanoke. Barbara wrote poetry and loved music and theatre. In honor of their charitable spirits, the Don and Barbara Smith Kids Square Museum in Center in the Square  was dedicated to them. Their five children have followed in their parents’ footsteps and are givers to the community themselves. Grandchildren are now becoming involved in giving back to the community as well. Some of them have chosen or are studying for careers in the fine arts or performing arts.

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the Kendig Awards program was established in 1985 and presented annually by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge through 2012. Hollins and Roanoke College first partnered the following year to bestow the honors. Kendig’s sons Bill and John attended Tuesday’s event to represent the Kendig family.

Congratulations to the winners!







Sixty Green and Gold Student-Athletes Make ODAC All-Academic Team

Honoring their excellence in the classroom, 60 Hollins University student-athletes have been named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) 2020-21 All-Academic Team.

This is the second consecutive year that 60 Green and Gold student-athletes have earned this designation. Hollins was led by the riding and swim teams, which each placed 12 members.

Eligibility for the ODAC All-Academic Team is open to any student-athlete that competes in a conference-sponsored sport, regardless of academic class. Prospective honorees must achieve at least a 3.25 grade point average for the academic year to be considered for recognition. A total of 2,556 student-athletes from the ODAC’s 17 member institutions made the team this year.

View the complete list of Hollins’ All-Academic Team members for 2020-21.



Hollins XC/Track & Field Named All-Academic Team

The Hollins University Cross Country/Track & Field team has been recognized by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as an NCAA Division III Women’s Track & Field All-Academic Team for 2021.

To earn All-Academic Team honors, the cumulative team GPA of all student-athletes who used a season of eligibility must be at least a 3.1 on a 4.0 through the most recent semester/quarter.


Fiske Guide Places Hollins Among “The Best and Most Interesting Schools”

Hollins University is one of the more than 300 “best and most interesting” colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland, according to the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2022.

Edited by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, the guide has been published for nearly 40 years and has been touted by USA Today as “the best college guide you can buy.”

Fiske features Hollins among the nation’s small colleges and universities that are “Strong in Film/Television,” “Strong in Dance,” and “Strong in Performing Arts/Drama,” and calls it “one of the South’s leading women’s colleges.” It also highlights the university’s “top-notch equestrian program, which has brought home the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship 21 times.” Undergraduates quoted in the university’s profile praise the professors (“We got lots of individual attention and help.”), residence halls (“Most of the dorms are historic buildings full of character and comfort.”), and the overall campus environment (“A student should only attend Hollins if they want to be a part of a close-knit community that fosters creative minds and ambitious spirits.”) One student noted, “Hollins is a great school that empowers women. It has made me independent.”

Updated and expanded every year, Fiske describes itself as “the most authoritative source of information for college-bound students and their parents.” The selection of schools for inclusion is “done with several broad principles in mind, beginning with academic quality.”


Hollins Alumnae Share in Winning Innovation in Diversity Award for Black + Abroad Series

A partnership led by five Virginia higher education institutions, including Hollins University, has been honored with the GoAbroad Innovation in Diversity Award for 2021.

The award recognizes strategic efforts to expand international educational opportunities to traditionally underrepresented groups.

Jasmine Carter '19
Jasmine Carter ’19

Hollins, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Randolph-Macon College, Bridgewater College, and Shenandoah University were chosen as this year’s award winners for their initiative Black + Abroad. This virtual series, held during the 2020-21 academic year, curated a space for Black students to share their thoughts, questions, and reservations about travel (and study abroad) by engaging in conversation and storytelling with experienced travelers and study abroad alumni of color and education abroad advisors. The series was organized by the education abroad staffs from each of the five schools taking part in the collaboration.

“The mission is to close the gap between being Black and going abroad. Black students hear from their peers, engage in candid conversations, and learn about how to overcome challenges to studying abroad, whether those are financial, practical, or racial,” said Jasmine Carter ’19, who along with fellow Hollins alumnae Nya Monroe-Stephens ’20, Tori Carter ’21, and Saffron Dantzler ’21 participated in Black + Abroad. All volunteered to share their experiences as Black travelers, overseas residents, and study abroad participants.

Nya Monroe-Stephens '20
Nya Monroe-Stephens ’20

Black + Abroad was first launched at VCU as an annual event created by study abroad alumni students of color. It subsequently evolved into this year’s virtual series, which featured six free sessions and welcomed 724 international educational professionals and 258 students. Recordings of the sessions, as well as additional resources for support and guidance, are now available on the Black + Abroad website as a tangible resource for students of color.

“Studying abroad can be a scary prospect for many students, even for those who know they want to travel,” explained Carter. “Black students have their own unique concerns and challenges, which can often be overlooked or misunderstood by advisors, peers, and programs.”

Tori Carter '21
Tori Carter ’21




Carter added that by fostering discussions around “Blackness” and “Black perceptions” abroad, Black + Abroad is ensuring students “feel inspired and gain insight from experienced travelers who had to take the leap to travel for the first time at some point. At the same time, advisors will see the perspectives of Black students in order to better understand their needs and serve them in a more effective and equitable way. The goal is to help students gain answers to the following questions: What resources do Black students need to be successful? How have other Black students overcome barriers to study abroad? And, what do Black students wish they had known before they studied abroad?”

Saffron Dantzler '21
Saffron Dantzler ’21


Black + Abroad was cited during the 11th annual GoAbroad Innovation Awards, which celebrate institutions, organizations, and individuals that are advancing the field of international education. The winners are chosen by the Innovation Awards Academy, a group of international education leaders.

For more information about study abroad and global engagement opportunities at Hollins University, contact Ramona Kirsch, director of international programs at or 540-362-6214.