Alumni Profiles

  • Young man with shaved head playing with two dogs beneath the trees

    Gabe Horton, BA’11, MDiv’15: Hope for People and Pets in Crisis

    Gabe Horton is executive director of Pawster, a Nashville-based nonprofit that works to ensure that a pet owner’s temporary problem doesn’t lead to permanent loss of their pet. Pawster’s clients are pet owners in crisis, and the organization offers pets a foster home while their owner gets back on track. Ninety percent of pets are reunited with their owners. Read More

    Apr 10, 2024

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    Doan Phuong Nguyen, BA’07: Devoted to Young Readers

    Doan Phuong Nguyen, BA'07, was in the first grade when she decided her dream was to be an author. The dream came to fruition in 2023 with the publication of her first novel for middle grade readers, 'Mèo and Bé' (Lee and Low Books, 2023; illustrated by Jesse White). Read More

    Mar 21, 2024

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    Alexandra Doten, BA’18, turns love of astronomy into TikTok triumph

    See how Alexandra Doten, BA'18 is turning her love for all things space into a social media adventure. Read More

    Jan 31, 2024

  • A young man in a suit standing in front of the U.S. flag and the USAID flag

    Mohamed Abdel-Kader, MEd’04: Innovation for Good

    Mohamed Abdel-Kader, MEd'04, is the chief innovation officer and executive director of the Innovation, Technology and Research Hub at the multi-billion-dollar U.S. Agency for International Development, where he enjoys solving real problems creatively while making the most of U.S. aid. Read More

    Jan 31, 2024

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    Avery Carpenter Forrey, BA’11: Joy in the Process

    Avery Carpenter Forrey, BA'11, says Vanderbilt was the first place where she felt she could make a career out of writing. With a double major in in English and communications, her latest writing journey has led to the publication of her novel 'Social Engagement' (Mariner, 2023). Read More

    Jan 17, 2024

  • A surgical team at work in an operating theater in Ukraine

    Victor Czerkasij, MSN’06: More than Skin Deep

    For Victor Czerkasij (pronounced chur’ ka-see) and his wife, Rene, Ukraine was the land of his parents and ancestors, and it was supposed to be the site of their 40th wedding anniversary vacation. Then the war came.   And the effects of that war… Read More

    Dec 11, 2023

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    Suzanne Rich Miller, BA’80, and Anne Miller Morris, BS’06: Family Recipe

    Many families have beloved recipes they pass down from generation to generation. Suzanne Rich Miller, BA'80, and Anne Miller Morris, BS'06, have parlayed a simple salad dressing created by matriarch Anne Arnold Rich (mother to Suzanne and grandmother of Anne) into a growing, woman-owned business.  Read More

    Nov 28, 2023

  • Portrait shot of Aisha Francis, president and CEO of Franklin Cummings Tech in Boston, wearing a black suit and posed against a light gold background

    Aisha Francis, MA’99, PhD’04, takes the nontraditional route in academia

    Aisha Francis, president and CEO of Boston’s Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology in 2021, is among the Boston Globe’s 50 Tech Power Players for 2023. With graduate degrees from Vanderbilt in English, she sought a path that was “both optimistic and realistic,” that could lead to nontraditional academic roles. Read More

    Nov 20, 2023

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    Aaron Feng, BA’18, champions the environment within finance, oil and gas industries

    See how Yalun Aaron Feng, BA’18, is using his optimism and passion for the environment to build bridges between business and environmental advocacy. Read More

    Oct 27, 2023

  • Photo of alumnus Scott Johnson, standing next to a very large mockup of a No. 2 yellow pencil at Musgrave Pencil Company

    Scott Johnson, BE’87: Getting to the Point

    After long careers designing power generation plants and acute care medical facilities, Scott Johnson, BE'87, made a career leap two years ago to take the top job at the nation’s largest pencil maker, Musgrave Pencil Company.  Read More

    Oct 17, 2023

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    Olatunde Osinaike, BS’15: The Algorithm of Poetry

    School of Engineering alumnus Olatunde Osinaike is one of five winners of the 2022 National Poetry Series. His debut collection, 'Tender Headed,' is being published by Akashic Press in December. He will be on campus for an alumni reading event Oct. 24, co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Creative Writing Program and the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center. He returns to Nashville Jan. 25, 2024, for a reading with The Porch, a literary nonprofit. Read More

    Oct 3, 2023

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    WATCH: Chemistry major pursues passions in poetry, dance through Immersion Vanderbilt

    JaHyne “JJ” Johnson, BA’23, came to Vanderbilt as a QuestBridge Scholar, ready to “do the work” and come out with a solid career path. What the chemistry major didn’t realize then was that the opportunities he pursued through classes, activities and Immersion Vanderbilt would allow him to write poetry, conduct research, dance in a ballet, launch a podcast and more. Read More

    Aug 23, 2023

  • 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

  • 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