Inclusive Excellence Fellows
Meet De'Ajree Branch
De’Ajree Branch is a graduate from North Carolina Central University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. She currently holds three degrees, B.S. in Biology and Pharmaceutical Science with a minor in chemistry and Master of Science degree in Aeronautics. De’Ajree is working towards obtaining her Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA). Professional goals for De’Ajree include becoming an Astronaut and expanding her financial knowledge by investing to do community outreach in her hometown Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and other underserved areas. Her goal academically is to work on obtaining more publications to expand her repertoire in research. De’Ajree also has a strong connection with doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work. She currently serves as the Program Coordinator for MOCHA/WOCHA where her initiative to contribute to diversity began at UVA, ensuring that each member of the program feels included. The MOCHA/WOCHA program focuses on exposing the undergraduate cohort to various events that they may not have otherwise been privileged to experience. At UVA De’Ajree is currently working with a group of esteemed engineers/scientists to help develop an underwater system to extract energy from rivers using oscillating hydrofoils.
Meet Mario Jones
Mario is a 5th year graduate student in the School of Education and Human Development majoring in Higher Education with a focus in Student Affairs. Mario is from Newport News, Virginia, and attended UVA undergrad where he double majored in African and African American Studies and Public Policy and Leadership. Mario is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and will be interning with Hereford Residential College as a part of his Graduate Assistantship.
Meet Ava MacBlane
Ava MacBlane is a third-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Spanish and Creative Writing. She serves as Co-Director of Reflections: Oral Histories at UVA, a student-led initiative that aims to collect, contextualize, and house diverse stories within the UVA and Charlottesville community. With the Reflections team, she processes interviews and oral histories with alumni and members of the Charlottesville community, produces a podcast — which most recently highlighted Black student experiences at UVA — and collaborates with other students and partners interested in curating oral history projects of their own. Outside of her work with Reflections, Ava is a member of the University Guide Service and the Managing Editor of The Cavalier Daily.
Meet Liam Whitted
Liam Whitted is a 1st-year graduate student pursuing a Masters in Public Health with a focus on Health Policy, Law, and Ethics. As an undergraduate at UVA, Liam participated in several initiatives to promote diversity and equity on-Grounds, serving in leadership positions in Korean Student Association, Taiwanese Student Association, and for multiple years as the Diversity & Equity chair of Class Council for the Class of '22 as well as an Outreach & Inclusion intern for the Echols Scholar Program and an intern for the Multicultural Student Center. Additionally, Liam conducts research in the Thaler Center for HIV and Retrovirus Research at UVA as a volunteer at the Hammarskjold-Rekosh Lab, currently working on analyzing the mechanisms of fused-cell formation in tissues infected with SARS-CoV-2, and holds a particular interest in introducing individuals from underrepresented and marginalized groups to academic research and grant writing from a student perspective.