Hoos Future is Bright?

Three Recent Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Graduates Share Their Plans

Photo: SCPS graduates at Final Exercises in May 2024


On Grounds, we recently celebrated the conclusion of another incredible year and spent a weekend celebrating the accomplishments of our Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS), Bachelor of Professional Studies in Health Sciences Management (BPHM), and Master of Public Safety (MPS) graduates. We invite you to get to know a few recent BIS graduates, who shared how their experience at UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) has impacted them and shaped their vision of the future. 

Legaspi Gives Graduation Speech

JR Legaspi, Psychology concentration 

JR Legaspi describes his journey to completing his bachelor's degree as “non-traditional.” He and his brother were raised by a single mother, and they did not have enough money to pay for college. Instead, Legaspi decided to join the military to “get out of mom’s way,” as he described it. His time in the army included two combat tours in Afghanistan.  

After serving, Legaspi continued to work for the government as an operations leader within the Defense and Intelligence department. Working in classified areas all over the world, he has worked on everything from surveillance, to managing, to operating systems, and more. Despite his successful career, Legaspi always had one goal in mind: completing his degree. 

Legaspi smiles at UVA Rotunda during graduation

When applying to schools, Legaspi’s initial mindset was just to get in anywhere and get a degree. “I wasn’t aware of how coveted and desirable and credible UVA was as an institution,” he explained. But when he heard back from UVA, he realized how big of an accomplishment it really was.  

During his time at SCPS as a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) student, Legaspi experienced investment and support from UVA. He shared that the school provides “persistent and unwavering dedication to each student to make sure they are okay. Faculty, staff, deans, are all there to help.” This encouragement motivated him to work even harder and understand what he can accomplish. 

Legaspi since has developed a “thirst that can’t be quenched as a life-long learner,” and believes breaking the barrier of being a first-generation student and going on to achieve an accredited degree is living proof of his abilities and potential for the future.  

As for the what’s on the horizon, Legaspi said, “Can’t say where I am going to go in the future but all I can say is that UVA is going to follow me and it will be behind me, pushing me forward.” And as he hints, “pushing him forward” may include completing a master’s degree, continuing as a lifelong learner and as a Hoo.  

Piercy proceeds down UVA Lawn at graduation

Crystal Piercy, IT and Art & Society concentrations 

Having grown up in Charlottesville, Crystal Piercy has always been familiar with the UVA community. In her father's eyes, she was always going to be a Hoo herself, yet she could never wrap her head around how she was supposed to get there. Raised by two parents who dropped out of high school and not being academically interested during her teenage years, UVA seemed like an unattainable goal.  

Despite the academic roadblocks that seemed to be in her way, Piercy’s career led her to UVA in 2017, when she took a new job in central IT at UVA. As soon as she was eligible for education benefits, Piercy enrolled in SCPS’s Information Technology certificate program. As she explained, “UVA is such a highly esteemed school, even outside of Virginia, and it is like this program's right in my backyard. How could I not take advantage of it?” Fueled by this mindset, Piercy went on to complete required credits at a local community college before enrolling full-time within the BIS program.  

“I fully expected to go into the program heads down. Get my stuff done and that would be it,” she described. “Instead, I came out with a new family. I have so many friends that I talk to on a daily basis that I made through SCPS that I would not have had the opportunity to even meet outside of the program. They’ve been amazing,” she continued.  

Along with earning her degree and creating a new community for herself, Piercy’s time at SCPS offered her the opportunity to explore new skills and understand where her strengths lie. 

Piercy hugs a classmate at UVA Graduation

“I was previously not interested in management at all,” she explains. “Now I want to be in the room when the decisions are made.” Through learning and newfound interests, Piercy was able to step outside of her comfort zone and explore new career opportunities. 

Piercy continues to be an advocate for continuing education. She established a mentor program within her workplace for individuals seeking guidance and advice for going back to school. 

Earning her degree has instilled even more confidence in herself. Piercy has been able to accomplish more than she ever dreamed was possible, which will continue in the fall when she begins a master's program at UVA’s McIntire School. 

Rugumayo receives diploma from UVA Dean Lubin

Stanley Rugumayo, Healthcare Management Concentration 

During his childhood, Stanley Rugumayo was gifted a book about Thomas Jefferson, which spawned a fascination with the former president’s accomplishments and commitment to public service. 

Spending his first 16 years in his birth country of Uganda, Rugumayo’s path to becoming a Hoo involved a lengthy journey. He was sponsored by a Caucasian family during his teenage years and came to live with them in Philadelphia. When UVA hired the father of the family as a physician and they relocated to the area, Rugumayo was offered the chance to dive into the Jeffersonian history and culture he had loved learning about as a child. 

Drawing inspiration from Jefferson’s passion for lifelong learning, Rugumayo developed the motivation to complete his degree to advance his education and enhance his career opportunities. Further, he wanted to follow the advice he gave to his children to pursue higher education. SCPS enabled him to accomplish this goal while continuing in his job in healthcare.  

“My experience at SCPS was highly positive,” Rugumayo shared. “The faculty and staff were supportive and knowledgeable, and I appreciated the program's flexibility, which allowed me to balance my coursework with my professional and personal responsibilities.”  

Rugumayo Smiles at UVA Graduation

"Earning my bachelor's degree has significantly impacted my personal and professional life,” he elaborated. “I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in achieving this goal.” Rugumayo developed more confidence in himself and expanded his belief in what he thought he was capable of for the future. He has already seen new doors open since he graduated and is eager to follow the progression of his professional career.  

“Now that I have graduated, I plan to continue advancing my career and pursue further education or certifications,” Rugumayo explained. “I am excited about the possibilities and am eager to see where this accomplishment will take me. I am confident that I will be able to achieve even more success in the future, and I am determined to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way.” 


Thank you to Andrew Shurtleff for our graduation photography.