Thriving in higher education
Dannette Gomez Beane ’02
Dannette Gomez Beane believes in education. She points to herself as living proof of its transformative power. “I am a first-generation college student,” she said. “I’m Latinx and my family was below poverty level.” Today, Gomez Beane enjoys her work as an administrator at a major university. “Education is really the key,” she said.
Gomez Beane grew up the youngest of three children raised by a single mother in San Antonio, Texas. Her two brothers weren’t interested in college. Gomez Beane’s mother insisted that her daughter would be going.
Once Hollins’ admission office identified Gomez Beane as a prospective student, the staff made frequent contacts, she remembers. They even paid for her to visit Roanoke after she received her acceptance letter, knowing she couldn’t afford the trip on her own.
Their efforts paid off. Gomez Beane enrolled.
Arriving at Hollins as a first-year student, Gomez Beane remembers recognizing that she stood out “in a sea of white faces,” but that feeling didn’t hold her back from making an indelible imprint on campus. “I maximized every opportunity,” she said.
Gomez Beane cofounded the Mujeres Unidas (United Women) club, which worked to promote diversity on campus, and served on the Student Government Association’s student appeal board. She spent two semesters studying abroad at the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies in Seville, Spain.
After graduating with a double major in communication studies and Spanish, Gomez Beane moved briefly to Washington, D.C., before getting a call from Celia McCormick, then Hollins’ dean of admissions, explaining they had her in mind to fill an opening in the admission office. “I ended up loving the work,” she said.
McCormick cautioned Gomez Beane that to thrive in higher education, she’d need a master’s degree. So in 2004, Gomez Beane headed to Virginia Tech, where she earned a master’s degree in counseling. She then took a position as an academic advisor for the Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “Really fun work, but I knew those four years I was mostly serving very privileged students,” Gomez Beane said. “That wasn’t what I was put on earth for.”
Gomez Beane moved across campus in 2009 to serve as the director of recruitment and diversity initiatives for the graduate school. She was charged with attracting and retaining students from underrepresented populations. She often told students about how education had made the difference in her life. “I knew how important that master’s was for catapulting my career,” she said.
The same year, Gomez Beane began working toward a doctorate degree in counselor education. By 2017, she was putting the finishing touches on a dissertation about counselors’ engagement with social issues advocacy for African-American students.
Gomez Beane and her husband planned to move back to Texas with their three children. She’d already interviewed with some universities out West when leadership at Virginia Tech offered her a new position as the director of recruitment and operations of undergraduate admissions at Virginia Tech. “The timing was great,” she said. “My kids didn’t want to move.”
The pace and the volume of work in this new role have been a good fit for high-energy Gomez Beane. “The stakes are a lot higher in undergraduate admissions at Tech than any other place I’ve ever worked,” she said.
—Beth JoJack ’98
Setting her sights on film
Jasmine “Jazzy” Kettenacker ’12
When Jazzy Kettenacker mentions she had a “cool fall,” it’s a bit of an understatement.
In October, Kettenacker learned a two-minute video about the Florida Gulf Coast University’s jazz ensemble, which she filmed with Tim Clark, had been nominated for a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award. Her short documentary “St. Louis Slam,” about a women’s tackle football team of the same name, debuted at the St. Louis International Film Festival on November 11.
The native Missourian had been mulling the idea of doing a documentary on the team, which is part of the Women’s Football Alliance, for ages, but was spurred into action after reading negative comments, written by men, about women playing football. “This was a great opportunity to…kind of prove to everyone that women can do this, this sport that is considered masculine,” Kettenacker said.
The premiere was Kettenacker’s first time attending the St. Louis International Film Festival, but it marked the second time organizers included her work in the lineup. Kettenacker’s film Rumble Young Man, Rumble made its debut at the 2011 St. Louis Film Festival. She made that film, about a boxing program for children run by employees of the St. Louis police department, as part of an independent study class at Hollins.
Kettenacker didn’t make it to the screening that year because she didn’t want to miss class. “So I definitely wanted to see the second one,” she said. She’s glad she did. Several members of the St. Louis Slam joined her at the premiere. “It was pretty awesome,” she said.
Kettenacker set her sights on a career in film at the age of 13 after watching The Mask of Zorro. By the time she got to Hollins, Kettenacker was envisioning working, one way or another, with scripted programming: “stuff you see on TV and the big screen,” she explained.
Kettenacker credits Amy Gerber-Stroh, associate professor of film, whose lengthy filmography includes documentaries, with showing her the profound storytelling opportunities available to nonfiction filmmakers. The genre also appealed to Kettenacker’s do-it-yourself-punk-rock sensibilities. “You don’t have to pay for actors,” Kettenacker explained. “You don’t have to pay for a whole crew.” When she works on her own, Kettenacker gets to decide how each shot looks and how the overall narrative unfolds. “I like having creative freedom,” she explained.
In February, Kettenacker moved to Orlando to work as a staff videographer at University of Central Florida. Despite her busy 9-to-5 life, she plans to continue making personal projects. “Short and sweet” documentaries work for her, Kettenacker said, because of her time limitations and because today’s audiences have short attention spans. “Everyone wants their information quickly,” she said.
—Beth JoJack ’98