Scholarship recipient preserves and interprets the past
With a major in historic preservation, James Marshall ’23 applies his knowledge and skills to bring history alive for others. In between architecture classes and building forensics labs, you can find him volunteering at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park or set up on the lawn at Chatham.
He is the president of UMW’s Living History Club and often wears a blue uniform to explain the life of a Civil War soldier. “I usually bring federal currency, a tobacco pipe, and a toothbrush,” he explains. “Everything we do and wear is as authentic as possible.”
James says he has loved history as long as he can remember. “I grew up in Marlowe, West Virginia, so my parents regularly took me to parks and battlefields, including Antietam.”
In high school, James took dual-credit courses to complete training as an electrician, yet he wanted to find a way to honor his love of history. One day, he happened on to a YouTube video featuring UMW Associate Professor of Historic Preservation Michael Spencer ’03. That video explaining building materials and historical architecture led to a 125-mile drive to Fredericksburg with his mom and Aunt Patty to meet the professor and to tour campus.
“Mary Washington was the only college I applied to, and I was accepted through early decision,” says James. “The only remaining obstacle was the out-of-state tuition.”
As a first-generation student, James took out student loans and received scholarships, including the Rita Morgan Stone ’52 and Jathan N. Stone Scholarship, established in 1994 by long-time Heritage Society members. This fall, he also received the Charles S. and Camilla Moody Payne 1929 Scholarship.
Between his first and second years at UMW, James enlisted in the Virginia National Guard and trained at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He now receives a paycheck and state tuition assistance for his service as a combat engineer out of Fredericksburg. “So far, my most important mission was at the U.S. Capitol building,” he says. “We went up on January 7, 2021, and stayed for 18 days.”
James says he is fortunate to blend his knowledge of electricity and buildings with his love for history into a career in historic preservation. As he looks ahead to graduation in May, he is applying for internships and exploring job opportunities. He also expresses appreciation for his professors and scholarship donors.
“No one in my family has attended college before, so this is all new,” says James. “I am truly grateful for the guidance and support I have received at Mary Washington.”
For information about creating scholarships for students, contact Jan Clarke in the Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-654-2064.
Article written by Donna Harter, Office of Advancement.