In his first address to the Class of 2022 as the University of Virginia’s president, Jim Ryan had some advice for UVA’s newest students. 

“When in doubt, build a bridge,” he said.

He urged students to live connected lives. He asked them to reach out to each other, to professors, to UVA employees and to Charlottesville’s neighboring communities.

“Don’t be afraid to engage with people or ideas that are different from you. It is one of the best ways to sharpen your thinking and even change your own mind,” he said. “When in doubt, build a bridge, even if you are not sure where it is going.”

This idea isn’t limited to new college arrivals: faculty members reach across disciplines to solve complex problems, students make connections across cultural divides, staff members make a difference in our local communities. 

Here, find just a few of these stories. Know of someone who is building a bridge at UVA? Let us know at uvatoday@virginia.edu.

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“Streaking the Lawn,” a UVA fan site started by alumnus Brian Leung, donates profits to groups serving the UVA community. This year, they chose Thursday’s Heroes, UVA football’s popular program for local residents facing medical challenges.
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People with autism have much to offer in the workplace, and Britney Huff is helping them unlock that potential.
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How an orange-and-blue tie and one man’s impulse sparked a new UVA friendship.
January term students explored audio storytelling through a podcasting course taught by Nathan Moore, general manager of WTJU, UVA’s student- and community-run radio station.
With distinctive ice-blue eyes and mad snuggling skills, Cooper is ready to mingle with the community and reduce stress.
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A range of events, sponsored by UVA and community organizations, will be held over the latter half of January for the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.
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Bernard Narokobi, who helped compose Papua New Guinea’s constitution, trusted UVA anthropologist Lise Dobrin with a manuscript telling the history of his village – a unique resource that previously existed only as a Word document.
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From roller skating to baking to playing golf, UVA students enjoy interacting with children in the Charlottesville community and serving as their mentors via Madison House’s Big Siblings program.