Four alumni smiling in separate pictures

Clockwise from upper left: Joel Christian Gill '01, Daniel Powell '85, Kasey Hall '12 and Dr. Steven Cody '07.

By Roanoke College News

Alumni News - February 2021

A book illustrated and authored by Joel Christian Gill ’01 has landed on several national “best book” lists.

The book, “Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence,” is a graphic novel, described as “the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods.”

Gill said that young adult literature often works as a mirror for young people reading it and relating to characters who look and live like them. It also serves as a window for people who aren’t part of that world to get a look in and learn about those who grew up differently than them.

“‘Fights’ is a love letter to kids that grew up like I did coming up,” Gill said.

"Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence," by Joel Christian Gill '01.

“Fights” has been recognized as one of the New York Times’ Best Graphic Novels for 2020; one of the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) 2021 Great Graphic Novels for Teens (one of top 10); and as one of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s 2020 “Best of the Best” books.

On the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s list, Gill appears next to President Barack Obama, who is on the list for his book “A Promised Land.” Gill said he’s met Obama a couple times, and that having his name beside the president on the list was an honor.

“It was 100 percent surreal to be on a list with President Obama,” Gill said.

Gill, who holds a B.A. in fine arts from Roanoke and an MFA in painting from Boston University, is an associate professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He is the author of several other award-winning books, including “Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History,” and “Tales of Thee Talented Tenth.”

“Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence,” can be found here.

“It was 100 percent surreal to be on a list with President Obama.”

Joel Christian Gill '01

A. Bruce Maygar '58.

A. Bruce Magyar ’58 has been appointed by the governor of Alaska to the State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors, and to the Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council. The board regulates the practice of architecture, engineering, land surveying and landscape architecture in Alaska. The council fills an important function, as Alaska waterways are used for many purposes, including fishing, shipping, recreation, transportation and hunting. Magyar, who holds a B.S. from Roanoke and an M.B.A from Pepperdine University, lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Daniel Powell ’85 has been named Manager of the Year for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s waste programs. Daniel has been with the EPA since 1988, currently as chief, Technology Integration and Information Branch, Superfund Program. A resident of Springfield, Virginia, he holds a B.A. in political science/urban studies from Roanoke and an M.P.A. from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Shawn Hinds ’00 received a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development from the University of Louisville. Shawn serves as high school administrator in Lexington, Kentucky, earned a B.A. in English from Roanoke, an M.A. in education from Georgetown College, in Kentucky, and an Administration and Supervision from Eastern Kentucky University.

Shawn Hinds '00.

Kasey Hall ’12 is a Virtual Student Foreign Service eIntern at the U.S. Department of State. Currently, she is working with the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary to examine the geopolitical impacts of COVID-19. Hall, who graduated from Roanoke with a B.A. in International Relations, recently entered the Masters of Public Policy program at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Dr. Steven J. Cody ‘07 recently published “Andrea del Sarto: Splendor and Renewal in the Renaissance Altarpiece,” an in-depth study that shines light on a painter who hasn’t received as much attention as some of his contemporaries. Del Sarto (1486-1530) created complex altarpieces that are not just beautiful, but that also illustrated Christian theories of spiritual renewal. Cody’s study brings a fresh perspective not only to Del Sarto’s work but on the overall importance of the Renaissance altarpiece itself. Cody graduated with a B.A. in art history and philosophy from Roanoke and earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Maryland. He is currently an assistant professor of art history at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

"Andrea del Sarto: Splendor and Renewal in the Renaissance Altarpiece" can be found here.

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