‘Double Take,’ Take Two

October 26, 2018 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Double Take,” the storytelling event that capped last week’s events celebrating the inauguration of University of Virginia President Jim Ryan, proved so popular that UVA Today is back with a full accounting of the moving program, complete with video of each of the talks.

Ten members of UVA’s community – including students, faculty, staff and Ryan himself – participated in Saturday afternoon’s TED talk-like program, the theme of which was “Building Bridges.” It took place in the dimmed auditorium in Old Cabell Hall, one day after Ryan’s inauguration as UVA’s ninth president.

Take a look at the full video of each of the speakers below.

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Sherri Moore
Assistant Professor, McIntire School of Commerce

Moore, a hugely popular teacher in the Commerce School, shared the story of the untimely death of her husband of only eight months, which was followed four months later by the passing of her mother on what was Moore’s first wedding anniversary. She also spoke movingly of her father, a Greek immigrant who “sacrificed everything” to make sure his children received quality educations and went on to fulfilling lives.

Double Take: Sherri Moore

Fernando Mata Cordero
Third-Year Mechanical Engineering Student

Cordero said his decision to talk to a stranger was one of the best he’d ever made. Sitting at a breakfast table in the Cavalier Diner on a cold, rainy morning, he struck up a conversation with an elderly man named Will, who was sitting at an adjacent table. It was March 1, the date of Virginia’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary, and Cordero was excited to cast his first ballot. He told a surprising story of his adventure with Will, with an unexpected ending.

Double Take: Fernando Mata Cordero

Samah Nour
Fourth-Year Cognitive-Neuroscience Student

Nour, a native of Saudi Arabia, left her country to realize her dream of being an independent woman. After learning English and completing two years at a community college, she transferred to UVA to continue her journey. But she felt out of place and conflicted about her identity. Hers is a story of introspection and self-validation.

Double Take: Samah Nour

Tim Cunningham
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing; Director, Compassionate Care Initiative

Cunningham had traveled to Sierra Leone to help treat patients amid a deadly Ebola outbreak. On Jan. 1, 2015, he met Esatu, a 3-year-old girl stricken with the deadly virus. “She was covered in diarrhea. She was covered in vomit,” he said. “I didn’t think she was going to live longer than the time it would take to triage her and get her into our unit.” He said that only 25 percent of children under 5 survive Ebola. Watch him tell Esatu’s surprising story.

Double Take: Tim Cunningham

Rehan Baddeliyanage
Fourth-Year Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Business Student

When Baddeliyanage was a first-year student, he lived with one of his best friends, John Paul “J.P.” Popovich. Baddeliyanage, who described himself as reserved, relied on his lively friend to help him break out of his shell. Tragically, J.P., who suffered from epilepsy, died in his sleep during winter break. “I immediately went back into my shell. I stopped going to classes,” he said. “I started failing them.” Listen to how Baddeliyanage says UVA and its people helped him rebound and embrace his best friend’s legacy.

Double Take: Rehan Baddeliyanage

Dr. Vivian Pinn
Former Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health

“Words can have unintended consequences”: That is how Pinn framed the story she shared on Saturday. While a first-year medical student at UVA in 1963, a classmate made a racist, sexist remark to Pinn, the only woman and minority in the class. “He said to me, ‘Vivian, you have no place being here. You’re just taking the place some man should have.’” He went on to say that women have smaller brains than men and there was no way she would graduate from UVA. She did. He did not. Listen to her explain how those remarks lit a fire in Pinn’s belly that advanced health care for women.

Double Take: Dr. Vivian Pinn

Kaitlyn Hyun
Second-Year Student

Hyun used poetry  to share her story of transformation. “When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a queen, thought the power position, the glory was the greatest thing,” she rhymed. “I realized there was something greater out there, something more that I had been missing my entire life before,” she continued. Listen to Hyun talk about how she found religion.

Double Take: Kaitlyn Hyun

George Thompson Jr.
Lead Greeter, Patient Guest Services, UVA Medical Center

Racism was the theme of Thompson’s talk. He compared the arrival of immigrants to Ellis Island to the arrival of slaves to the United States, who came shackled and “herded in like cattle.” Thompson spoke of his family’s experiences in Charlottesville before and after desegregation; of how his mother was forced to enter a side door at UVA Hospital to deliver her son, and of how he suffered prejudicial treatment as a boy. He also spoke of the horrible events of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017, saying, “To a lot of us, it was an event that opened up wounds that had once healed.”

Double Take: George Thompson, Jr.

Katharine Harbury
Research Assistant, Papers of James Madison Project

Katharine Harbury, born profoundly hearing impaired, spoke movingly of learning to speak English. “My parents saw to it that my hearing loss was no excuse to not mastering English,” she said. “They treated me no differently from my siblings, knowing that I had to deal with the real world.” Harbury said she was very fortunate to have “these wonderful bridge-builders in my life.”

Double Take: Katharine Harbury

Jim Ryan, President, University of Virginia

Ryan’s adoption story closed out “Double Take.” He said he’d always known he was adopted, “as long as I’ve known my name is Jim, or ‘Jimbo,’ as I was called as a kid. That’s ‘President Jimbo’ to you,” he said, to peals of laughter. Ryan was adopted when he was nine days old. He was wearing a homemade Irish sweater and a medal of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. A nun told his adoptive parents the items came from someone who loved the infant very much. Unbeknownst to Ryan’s new parents, that someone was his birth mother, Anne. “I will tell you, this is not a bridge I ever expected to cross,” he said in conclusion. “But it has enriched my life in so many ways and it’s one of the reasons I think building bridges is so important.”

Double Take: President Jim Ryan


Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications