The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Student Petitions to Honor Alumna

2 min read

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Marie Sicola/Bullet


Currently enrolled in Charity in Hispanic America, Joel Carrillo was inspired and encouraged to take on a movement to bring one of the University of Mary Washington’s lesser-known heroines to light.

Carrillo’s professor, associate professor of Spanish Elizabeth Lewis, walked her class down to Trinkle Hall where she showed them the plaque dedicated to Jean Donovan, a former UMW student who had been killed during a Youth Ministry trip to El Salvador while helping the poor.

While listening to his professor, Carrillo was struck by how important Donovan’s contributions were and the effort UMW went to place a plaque in her honor. He was even more impacted by the fact that many students and facility walked by, even stepped on the plaque, without even glancing down at it.

Carrillo noted that the plaque appears to be worn down and is missing a screw or two, which he noticed has not happened at any of our other notable monuments.

When asked how many students have seen the plaque or heard her name, few students could identify Donovan, said Tommy Campbell.
“If they gave her a plaque, it might as well be in a visible location,” said Campbell.

With this in mind, Carrillo has begun a movement to move Donovan’s plague to a more visible spot on campus.

“I feel intensely about the situation and that it is important for the present and future student body and faculty members alike to learn more about her contributions,” Carrillo said. “Making students aware could and should make them want to help others in the community or in even the world.”

Jean Donovan, born and raised in Connecticut, attended UMW and graduated in the class of 1975. She went on to attend Case Western Reserve University where she received her master’s degree in business administration. Out of graduate school, she accepted a management position with an accounting firm in Cleveland, but also began volunteering with a youth ministry for the poor.

Her volunteer work quickly became an important part of her life and she decided to join this group in 1977 on a missionary trip to El Salvador during the civil wars. There, Donovan was killed.

Carrillo believes it is important for the UMW community to learn about Donovan’s contributions because it would “… serve in her honor and memory as a Mary Washington College graduate of class 1975,” he said. “It would give a sense of university pride to those student and faculty members.”