Lisa Holloway Barber wasn’t prepared for the culture of scholarship she found when she arrived at U.Va. Growing up in a working class family, she attended average schools where she was rarely required to think in order to get good grades. All that changed when she got to the University.
“I was compelled to really engage the material—not just to read through and rattle off facts but to really think about the ideas presented,” Barber said. “It stretched my concept of learning and developed my mind and my confidence.”
Barber also started experiencing a shift in the way she encountered the world. And she’s grateful to her mentors, Griffith Chaussee and Christi Merrill in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, who challenged her to push beyond her comfort zone, consider her convictions and act upon them.
As Barber has gotten older and the significance of her U.Va. experience has increased, she now feels compelled to contribute to the institution that helped her grow.
“I value the person that experience has helped to make me,” Barber said. “My world is larger, the scope of my thought is broader, and I’m better equipped to meet the challenges ahead of me with grace. I hope that by giving I can contribute to that experience for someone else, to give back to the school that invested so much faith in me.”