Inspired by Emory’s Alumni

Dear Emory alumni and friends of the university,

a portrait of President Gregory L. Fences

Our alumni are our success stories—the embodiment of what can be achieved with an Emory education. And I have been inspired by our remarkable graduates as I’ve met with them where they live and work, across the nation and beyond.

During the past year and a half, I traveled from New York City to Los Angeles, Miami to Chicago, London to Seoul—and nearly two dozen cities in between—talking with generations of extraordinary Emory alumni who are thriving in their communities, contributing to their professions, and making a distinctive mark on the world. They live the Emory mission of service to humanity with ambition and heart—building careers of achievement while giving back, lending time, talent, expertise, and resources to important causes.

I’ve seen the Emory ethos in the advocacy of Maria Town, who graduated from Emory College in 2009 as an anthropology major and took her commitment to people with disabilities all the way to the White House, where she served as a liaison for Americans with disabilities and older people. Today, she continues this work for the mayor of Houston and while serving as president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities in Washington, D.C. 

I’ve seen it in the great heights of success reached by Rick Rieder, a 1983 Emory finance graduate who has earned acclaim and honors as a top executive at BlackRock. Beyond his achievements in investment management, Rick has poured himself into a range of causes, focusing on supporting education at all levels, including nearly fifteen years of distinguished service on the Emory Board of Trustees.

I’ve seen it in entrepreneurs like Rashida Burnham, a 2014 MBA graduate of Goizueta Business School and business analytics manager at Amazon—we met in Seattle, though work has now taken her to the East Coast. In 2020, she spearheaded a relaunch of the Emory@Work program, in which workplace ambassadors create Emory alumni communities within major corporations. Rashida also volunteers with the National Black MBA Association and National Urban League.

And there is Charles Scott, a former Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholar who excelled at both baroque music history and biochemistry as an Emory undergraduate. Charles graduated cum laude from Emory School of Medicine in 1986 and now heads the Division of Psychiatry and the Law at the University of California, Davis, where he’s drawn acclaim for his teaching and mentorship. He’s also a regional volunteer leader on the Emory 2O36 Campaign and can be found consulting on criminal and civil cases across the nation—most recently, a high-profile trial involving the tragic shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Did I mention that Charles also evaluates astronaut suitability as a NASA consultant?

Browse this issue, and you’ll find more stories about our high-achieving graduates doing incredible things. You will discover, as I have, that Emory alumni are putting their educations to use in innovative ways, truly changing the world for the better. And with three years left in Emory’s 2O36 Campaign, I know our university’s distinctive story will continue to take shape and our alumni will play a significant role—expanding possibilities and outcomes and writing our next exciting chapter together.

Gregory L. Fenves

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