Alumni Profiles

  • Derrick R. Spires is Associate Professor of Literatures in English and affiliate faculty in American Studies, Visual Studies, and Media Studies at Cornell University..

    Derrick R. Spires, MA’05, PhD’12: Citizenship Across Space and Time

    Derrick R. Spires, an associate professor of literatures in English at Cornell University, has a talent for making 19th-century newspapers and pamphlets feel as accessible as the latest social media feed. He explores the culture of the early 19th-century Black press in his 2019 book 'The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States' (University of Pennsylvania Press), which was recently released in paperback. Read More

    Apr 26, 2023

  • Pastor Dawn Bennett in white sweater and jeans in the middle aisle of her church in downtown Nashville with the altar and stained glass window behind her.

    Dawn Bennett, MDiv’18: A Call to The Table

    Dawn Bennett has found paths to servant leadership throughout her life, but it was decades before she made a leap of faith and enrolled in Vanderbilt Divinity School. In January 2020, she was ordained by Bishop Kevin Strickland to remain in Nashville and build The Table, a faith collective centered on LGBTQIA+ people and vulnerable identities. Read More

    Apr 11, 2023

  • Quillen with an ambulance he delivered in Ukraine

    Michael Quillen, BA’72: At the Wheel for Ukraine

    Michael Quillen, BA'72, took the wheel, literally and figuratively, to deliver ambulances to the front line of the war in Ukraine. The undertaking was launched in spring 2022 when Rotary International raised $15 million in relief funds for Ukraine. Longtime Rotary member Quillen worked with two Rotary districts in Virginia to apply for a $50,000 grant to buy three ambulances. Read More

    Mar 27, 2023

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    Stephanie DeVane-Johnson, MSN’97: Nurturing Black Maternal Health

    As she teaches the next generation of nurse-midwives, Vanderbilt School of Nursing faculty member and alumna Stephanie DeVane-Johnson looks at ways to increase the number of Black doulas, who provide emotional and physical support to women in pregnancy, during birth and throughout the postpartum period.  Read More

    Mar 24, 2023

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    Digital wellness activist Larissa May, BA’16, empowers teens on their social media journey

    A mental health battle with internet addiction and the ruinous effects of unfiltered social media nearly ravaged a talented entrepreneur while she was a student at Vanderbilt. But Larissa May, BA’16, has turned her healing journey into an influential, youth-based digital advocacy and empowerment platform, #HalfTheStory. May returned to Vanderbilt March 4 to speak as part of the Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting. Read More

    Mar 6, 2023

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    Somtochukwu Dimobi Okoye, BE’19, creates allyships to help others realize their potential

    When Somto Dimobi Okoye, BE’19, was growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, her mother would open their home to people who needed help—instilling a philosophy of building strength and community through a tightly woven support system. Okoye continues that philosophy by creating ways to help colleagues and Vanderbilt students realize and exercise their full potential. Read More

    Feb 24, 2023

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    W.G. “Tres” Scheibe, MBA’91: Family Business

    W.G. “Tres” Scheibe and his son, Nate, own Scheibe Design, a high-end furniture studio based in Franklin, Tennessee, where they make handcrafted pieces showcasing modernist design and gorgeous woods.  Read More

    Dec 19, 2022

  • Musbah Shaheen (Joe Howell/Vanderbilt)

    Extracurricular experiences shaped alumnus from Syria’s career in interfaith diversity

    When Syrian native Musbah Shaheen, BA’17, traveled to the U.S. for the first time to attend Vanderbilt, he had no idea how the university’s cornerstone philosophies of equity, diversity and belonging would stretch him personally or shape his professional future and Ph.D. research. Read More

    Dec 12, 2022

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    Krystal Grant Folkestad, BMus’05: More Than Music 

    Blair alumna Krystal Grant Folkestad uses her musical skills to serve multiple audiences while focusing on how life affects art and art influences activism.  Read More

    Dec 5, 2022

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    Compassionate care drives alumna Anana Upton to pursue pediatric nursing career

    Growing up, Anana Upton, BS’21, spent endless hours in hospitals as her younger brother underwent care. That experience spurred a passionate drive in her to elevate the quality of health care available to underserved communities while also educating them about their medical choices and affording them the dignity they deserve. Read More

    Nov 18, 2022

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    Jennifer Janes, BMus’02: Veterinary Pathologist

    When Jennifer Janes arrived at Vanderbilt Blair School of Music in 1998, she had two career paths in mind—veterinary medicine and teaching piano at the college level. Her abiding interest in horses and veterinary medicine eventually won out. Today, Dr. Janes is an associate professor of veterinary anatomic pathology at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Read More

    Oct 31, 2022

  • Anighya Crocker

    A call to serve through law, public service and music spurs Anighya Crocker

    Anighya Crocker, BMus’21, came to Vanderbilt as a multiracial, first-generation college student with big dreams to serve the community through public office and music. His Vanderbilt experience as a double major in Law, History and Society and music performance has helped him to hone both of those dreams. Read More

    Oct 24, 2022

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    Alexis Garcia, BA’99: Film Endeavor

    Alexis Garcia, BA'99, is executive vice president for the film group at Fifth Season, formerly Endeavor Content, the production company behind movies such as Cha Cha Real Smooth, Ambulance, The Peanut Butter Falcon and the Academy Award-recognized The Lost Daughter. Read More

    Oct 12, 2022

  • Tommy Oswalt

    Building community at Vanderbilt paves the way for career in New York City

    Tommy Oswalt, BA’20, did not come to Vanderbilt with a mapped-out plan for his major. That initially made him nervous, but the first-generation college student jumped in with an open mind and a passion for building community—paving the way for a successful career. Read More

    Sep 30, 2022

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    A Hive for Entrepreneurs: Michael Berolzheimer, BS’00, and Kira Noodleman, BA’08

    San Francisco-based venture capital firm Bee Partners now boasts two Vanderbilt graduates among its leadership: Founder Michael Berolzheimer, BS'00, and Kira Noodleman, BA'08, who recently was promoted to partner and now leads the Denver office.    Read More

    Sep 22, 2022

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    ‘Leaps of faith’ led engineering alumna to career in problem-solving through tech

    Miti Joshi, BS’19, has been taking what she calls “leaps of faith” ever since she left Mumbai, India, to attend Vanderbilt University. These bold and sometimes scary moves have led her to experience life-changing opportunities at the School of Engineering and have helped her find her passion as a successful woman in tech. Read More

    Sep 6, 2022

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    Jim Schifman, BS’90: ‘Bee’ for Business

    Jim Schifman, BS'90, and his wife, Melissa, launched Project Hive Pet Company last year, selling dog toys and treats that directly contribute to rebuilding bee habitats. Their beehive-themed dog toys are sustainably manufactured in the United States and the company donates 1 percent of gross sales to the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, which works with private, public and corporate partners to help establish and manage pollinator habitats on their lands. Read More

    Aug 15, 2022

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    School of Engineering alumnus develops location technology to help visually impaired navigate independently

    Chris Webb, BE'90, is the CEO and co-founder of Foresight Augmented Reality, a cutting-edge technology that allows those with visual impairments to live more independently. Read More

    Aug 8, 2022

  • Prisca Mojica Rodriguez

    Prisca Mojica Rodriguez, MDiv’15: Rebel Writer

    Alumna Prisca Mojica Rodriguez rebuilt the framework for understanding her identity after enrolling at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Now as a published author, she speaks at colleges and universities around the country and continues to monitor “Latina Rebels,” an Instagram account she started while at VDS, that now numbers more than 200,000 followers and functions as a place to question and explore the complexities of Latinidad. Read More

    Aug 1, 2022

  • Vanderbilt University

    Imani Ellis, BA’12:  From Dreams to Reality 

    Imani Ellis, BA'12, went from being an NBC page to vice president in 10 short years. As the NBCUniversal’s vice president of communications, she leads a team that creates comprehensive press strategies and media campaigns for unscripted shows across the NBCU portfolio.  Read More

    Jul 18, 2022