Editor’s Pick: Alumnae Connect Influencers With Classrooms

By Jay Hodgkins

What started as an idea over pizza dinner in 2013 and grew during a summer in the i.Lab at UVA Incubator program has morphed into a thriving education nonprofit for DreamWakers co-founders and University of Virginia alumnae Annie Medaglia, a 2015 Darden School of Business graduate, and Monica Gray Logothetis.

DreamWakers, which uses video conference technology to bring exceptional career speakers into public schools across America, recently reported that it served twice as many students in 2017 as in 2016. To celebrate, the nonprofit shared a video of highlights from the year.

In 2016, Medaglia and Gray spoke with UVA Today about their success with DreamWakers in the wake of being named Toyota’s 2016 “Mothers of Invention” at the Women in the World Washington, D.C., Salon and winning a $50,000 Toyota Driving Solutions grant.

“Public service was just a way of life at UVA,” Gray said. “When we got into the working world, we longed for that same meaningful connection to our community. That desire to connect with young people and give back as young professionals planted the seeds of DreamWakers.

Medaglia and Gray both spent time volunteering with Madison House while completing their undergraduate and graduate degrees at UVA, and the hours they enjoyed the most were spent in learning environments with school-age children. They found few, if any, options for similar volunteer experience while working 9-to-5 days.

“We found that our situation wasn’t unique,” Medaglia said. “Some of our most interesting and dynamic friends wanted to volunteer with schools, but with the overlap of the school and work day, they couldn’t make it work.”

Looking down at their smartphones as they spoke, they realized that the solution was right in their hands. They could use free technology like Skype and Google Hangout to help volunteer speakers step into the classroom without ever having to leave their desks.

“When we started, our goal was to create a national movement and we are really doing that, using everyday tools and connections,” Medaglia said.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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