After spending four years learning and living in Charlottesville, some alumni set out for other cities or distant countries. Yet there are those who find they just cannot leave Charlottesville after graduation and settle down to make a life within the city. Some are able to give back through their many accomplishments.
From the air and water around you to the newspaper you pick up in the morning, the work of these alumni has had a direct impact on life in the Charlottesville community. And just a few years ago, they were sitting in the same seat as you. Among this distinct group of alums are journalist Bob Gibson, financial advisor Gary Taylor and environmental lawyer David Carr.
From WUVA to The Daily Progress
Bob Gibson has the University running through his veins. His mother graduated from the University, and he often visited for state basketball and debate tournaments. He explained that he developed a fondness for the University while still in high school.
Once he gained admission and officially became a Wahoo, he went on to major in government and foreign affairs.
While attending the University, Gibson had the opportunity to work as a reporter for the radio station WUVA, which had a large news department. As a reporter, Gibson covered events such as an anti-war demonstration during the 1970-71 school year in which members of the crowd were tear gassed.
The excitement of working at WUVA led Gibson down the path to become a journalist, he said. After completing his studies at the University, Gibson received his graduate degree from the College of William & Mary. During his years as a member of the Tribe, he was employed at the radio station WCHP as news director. Gibson also did a monthly political broadcast on WVTS, a radio station based in Charleston, W.Va.Gibson later began his work for Charlottesville's newspaper, The Daily Progress, as a political blogger, and his position there gave him unique insight into the political world.
"It's kind of like a front row seat of the political happenings of our state," Gibson said.
Although Gibson has been covering politics for years, his favorite political blog that he has written so far is a series that he wrote concerning social justice issues.
Social justice is still a large part of Gibson's current projects. Currently he is trying to organize more than 2,000 people from different groups that will include Muslims, Jews and Christians to discuss different social justice issues.
"I just want to continue covering politics in a way that people find informative, interesting and fair," Gibson said.
According to English Prof. William Fishback, a professor of journalism and close acquaintance of Gibson, Gibson has achieved that already.
"He is known for giving fair coverage, and he often raises issues that others haven't thought of," Fishback said.
With a long list of accomplishments in the journalism world, Gibson still said his proudest achievement is his marriage to fellow U.Va. alum Sarah McConnell and the three daughters they have raised together.
A paramount career
Gary Taylor grew up in Charlottesville, but his decision to come to the University resulted from romance.
"At the time, I was dating a lady who did early decision to U.Va., and she convinced me to go," Taylor said.
He decided on studying what was then called rhetoric and communication studies, but his studies were not his only concern.
"I funded a lot of my education working, and I ended up getting married after my second year," Taylor said.
Even though Taylor was working 40 hours each week at a grocery store determined to graduate on time, he still found time to enjoy his years at the University.
"I loved the freedom of it, and I loved the responsibility; I felt like I was able to shape who I wanted to be," he said.
Taylor began his career at Northwestern Mutual, a financial services company, with an internship at the end of his fourth year. After he graduated, he began working with the company full time and has been there now for 22 years.
Leonard Sandridge, University executive vice president and chief operating officer, lauded Taylor's achievements.
"He has been a very successful businessman and a respected leader in his field as a financial advisor," Sandridge said.
Northwestern Mutual was not the only institution to come into Taylor's life -- Charlottesville's Paramount Theatre walked in as well.
"I had a love for the Paramount, and I can remember being a 10-year-old and my mom dropping me off to see movies," Taylor said.
He was contacted by a friend four years ago to be on the founding board for the reopening of the Paramount and has been involved ever since. Through this project, he has worked to give back to the Charlottesville community.
"Gary cares about improving the quality of life in this region for our citizens, and his efforts have touched the lives of everyone from children to adults who are in need," Sandridge said.
Taylor recently held a press conference that announced a new era for the venue.
"My dream for the Paramount is a business model in order to make it sustainable forever," Taylor said.
The richness in Taylor's life can be found not only in his career and active involvement in Charlottesville, but also with his three daughters, two dogs and love of sailing.
Unlike Taylor and Gibson, David Carr came to the University to attend law school after receiving an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton.
His decision to become an attorney came after growing up near Charlottesville and observing the different environmental issues affecting the area.
He was taught by now-Law School Dean John Jeffries, who noticed a uniqueness about Carr.
"David had an early interest in land use and the environment," Jeffries said. "Today, everyone is interested in those topics, but he was a bit of a pioneer."
At the Law School, Carr was head of the Environmental Forum. Carr said he was proudest of his accomplishments related to the organization.
"The Environmental Forum brought speakers [to Charlottesville] and did some legal research for non-profits, and we were able to bring a congressman from Arizona to speak," Carr said.
After graduating from the Law School, Carr went to Seattle for three years to work for a private practice. He then got wind that the Southern Environmental Law Center was opening in Charlottesville, and in 1986, he became the first attorney hired for the firm.
During his time with the SELC, Carr has achieved protection for thousands of acres of national forest. He has also done work on the coast and in the wetlands in North Carolina and Georgia.
His future ambitions range from reducing air pollution in the Shenandoah area as well as the Great Smokies to gaining protection for 400,000 acres of national forest.