By Christina Lambert
Spanish professor Ana Chichester recently received the Christopher Bill Service Award, which is presented annually to a UMW professor.
The award, which is open to all departments, was named after former UMW psychology professor Christopher Bill. He taught while Chichester was a student at UMW, which gives the award sentimental value.
“I remember him when he was a young professor back in the ‘70s,” said Chichester. He was also still teaching when Chichester first became a professor at UMW in 1992. The award was set up by Bill’s family five years ago after his sudden death to reward his service to the community.
It was announced that she had won at a faculty meeting in August while she was at a conference in Lima, Peru. It wasn’t until after she returned that Chichester learned that she had won.
“I was surprised; I didn’t know that I had won,” said Chichester.
To be considered for the award, Chichester had to be nominated. Each spring, the Dean of Faculty sends out an e-mail to all UMW faculty calling for nominations for the award. Chichester received this e-mail as well as an e-mail saying that she had been nominated. Although she is not certain who nominated her, Chichester believes that it was one of her colleagues in the Spanish department.
Many professors were nominated for the award, but Chichester says that it was her “community service to the (Spanish) department and to the institution for a number of years” that made her stand out from her competitors. She has volunteered at numerous non-profit organizations throughout the Rappahannock region and encourages Spanish majors to do the same.
“We try to get our Spanish majors involved,” said Chichester. “That was my main motivation of why I got involved in these groups.”
The main organizations that Chichester is involved with are the Rappahannock Council against Domestic Violence (RCDV), the National Organization for the Advancement of Hispanics (NOAH), the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, Mary Washington Hospital, and tutoring for local Central American immigrants. In addition, she has served on committees for most of these organizations and has even been the chair for some of these committees.
In organizations such as these, Chichester believes that the language barrier is a problem because people are not able to communicate with each other. She also seeks to improve ethnic and race relations. To her, this as a great opportunity for Spanish majors to get involved and help out the community.
“I try to promote volunteering, I know what the Latino community in this region needs,” said Chichester.