Bea grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated from the University of the South with a degree in environmental arts and humanities. She uses her degree daily when writing music that blends the natural world with ideas of place and belonging and when she teaches middle school students about literature and the environment. Troxel’s two years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with Episcopal Service Corps helped her decide to wholeheartedly pursue music in Nashville. Closed doors are some of the best gifts, and Troxel’s musical career is the result of many closed doors. She has been touring the United States with her album The Way That It Feels, and has a forthcoming album in Spring 2021. Chance connections, synchronicity, and the space to process and feel emotions are what drive Troxel’s music and teaching. She seeks to create spaces where strangers can feel safe enough to sit with themselves, whether this is at a live show, during class, or by hosting a zine-making party with friends.
Professor of Biology
An ecologist and professor of biology, Deborah McGrath loves trees. Her research focuses on managing biogeochemical cycles in wetland and forested ecosystems to address environmental challenges in human-dominated landscapes. Dr. McGrath is the Carl Biehl Professor of International Studies and serves as Assistant Dean for the Environment at the University of the South. Since her days as a Peace Corps volunteer, McGrath has worked with farmers in the global South to integrate trees into farming strategies that maximize the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. She is grateful for longtime Sewanee Haiti Institute collaborators Pradip Malde, Photographer and Professor of Art, and Dixon Myers, Director of Outreach in the Office of Civic Engagement. Dr. McGrath considers working with farmers and students to be among the biggest privileges of her career because of their enormous potential to protect and restore our environment.
Composer, Researcher, Professor, Listener
Jason Carl Rosenberg listens. At least he always strives to truly listen. He also composes music and researches the brain on music. He sometimes even writes performance poetry. Dr. Rosenberg is currently an assistant professor and the director of the music theory & composition program at the University of the South.
Karen Yu is inspired by the possibilities and potential of each person, place, and thing. That’s what explains in part her love of weddings, children, commencements, introducing and connecting people, and interacting with students. Dr. Yu earned her B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Vanderbilt University. Among other things, she is a daughter, sister, spouse, and parent, and a professor of psychology at the University of the South, where many of her efforts have been guided by student interests. Her current scholarship focuses on the possibilities inherent in the option generation phase of decision making. She co-authors the blog “Choice Matters” at Psychology Today, and is contemplating a cognitively kind book on cognitive kindness. In addition to possibilities and potential, she also loves peach pie, peonies, and people who truly listen.
Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
Poet, Storyteller, Social Justice Advocate, Global Citizen
Mandy Moe Pwint Tu is a senior English major at the University of the South. She is a creative writer and community activist from Yangon, Myanmar. Growing up a woman and an artist under a military dictatorship, she used language to find her voice until writing became an act of survival. At 21, Tu co-founded the Yangon Literary Magazine, providing a platform for young and emerging Burmese writers to showcase their work. At Sewanee, she has been involved in a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, serving as the president of the Organization for Cross-Cultural Understanding (OCCU) for two years and as the Order of the Gown president in her senior year. Tu hopes to continue fighting for inclusion and belonging in every space she enters. In her spare time, you can find her drinking elaborate lattes and ruminating on life and death in local cemeteries and botanical gardens.
Writer, Outdoor Athlete, Environmental Advocate
Patrick Dean is a writer, outdoor athlete, and environmental activist. He has worked in politics, government, education, and the nonprofit world. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and of the University of the South’s School of Theology, and is the executive director of the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance. Through his writing and blogging, Dean explores the intersection of outdoor adventure and social and environmental issues. His book A Window to Heaven: The Daring First Ascent of Denali: America’s Wildest Peak, is being released in March 2021.
Sherry Hamby, Ph.D. is a researcher, psychologist, and, like most people, a survivor of trauma. She dedicates her work to reducing the burden of trauma and identifying the under-appreciated strengths of marginalized communities. Dr. Hamby is a research professor of psychology at the University of the South and an award-winning scholar. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children and going for long walks with her two dogs.