Oct 22, 2019
University Event

Ten storytellers will take the stage Thursday afternoon in Old Cabell Hall for round two of the University of Virginia’s popular “Double Take” event. The premiere event helped celebrate the inauguration of Jim Ryan a year ago.

Students, faculty and staff will share personal stories at “Double Take: Stories That Make You Think Twice,” a TED-talk-like event that begins at 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Attendees may wish to grab a seat early – last year’s event packed Old Cabell Hall’s auditorium.

Presenters will include Kathy McGruder. Known lovingly to students as “Miss Kathy,” she has been the effervescent, welcoming face at the dining hall in Newcomb Hall for 17 years.

Paul Harris, an assistant professor in the Curry School of Education and Human Development, will reflect on what it means to go home.

Eleanor Thompson and Ja’Mel Reed, third-year students in the College of Arts & Sciences, will remember classmate and friend Rehan Baddeliyanage, a beloved fourth-year student who participated in Double Take last year and died in March while hiking in a Puerto Rican rainforest with friends during spring break.

Other speakers will include Provost Elizabeth “Liz” Magill and Kimberly Acquaviva, Betty Norman Norris Endowed Professor of Nursing (and the author of last week’s moving “On Words” essay that reflected on the death of her wife, Kathy Brandt).

One day after his Oct. 19, 2018 swearing-in, Ryan participated in the first “Double Take” event. He shared the moving story of meeting his birth mother for the first time. “It was at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway,” he said to a hushed audience. “It was 2013. I was 46.”

Ryan went on to share the story of his adoption. It was arranged through Catholic Charities and thus closed. His adoptive parents picked him up from the hospital when he was just nine days old. He was wearing a hand-knit Irish wool sweater and a medal of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers.

Ryan’s adoptive mother asked a nun where the items came from. Tearing up, the nun said she could not say. “I can only tell you that they come from someone who loves him very much,” Ryan recounted.

This is Ryan’s full talk.

Jane Kelly
University News Associate
Office of University Communications
Original Publication: UVA Today