Spencer Bennington is a Danville/Pittsylvania County native where he has lived, attended school, and worked for twenty years. Spencer recently graduated from Averett University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. While studying at Averett, Spencer′s experience as a writing consultant and peer tutor helped prepare him for a career in higher education. After his internship at DRF, Spencer will continue his studies at Radford University′s Graduate College. While there, he will also work as a teaching assistant and instruct freshman composition courses. It is Spencer′s passion for writing, literature, and education that drives him towards his ultimate goals of obtaining a PhD and teaching English at the college level. He hopes to spread that same enthusiasm for learning throughout the Dan River Region.
Originally from Atlanta, Xavier Crockett moved to Danville, VA, in 2007 to attend Averett University. Xavier graduated in April of 2012 with a bachelor of science in Biomedical Science, concentrating in public health. Xavier hopes to continue his education by pursuing graduate degrees in public policy and public health.
Xavier participated in various organizations and community activities, including the Averett Science Club, Student Activities Board, and the Christian Student Union. As a senior at Averett, Xavier recognized the gap between the student body and the community. He started Averett’s first student-driven organization geared toward bridging the gap between the Averett student body and the Danville community - the Averett Community Engagement League (ASCEL) - of which he served as president. This organization hosted the first ever City Council debate on campus, encouraging students and community members to connect with one another.
Taryn Grasty is a native of Danville, VA, and a 2008 graduate of George Washington High School. She attended East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in Johnson City, TN, earning a bachelor of science in criminal justice/criminology. While at ETSU, Taryn was a recipient of the Public Performance Scholarship as part of the Gospel Choir, an active member of the National Leadership and Honors Organization, Sigma Alpha Lambda, and the Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma.
She worked in the Child Study Center all four years at ETSU. During her summers, Taryn has worked with the Summer Feeding Program and the Danville Parks and Recreation Cops –N– Kids program. She also served as an intern for both the Johnson City Police Department and Johnson City Department of Probation and Parole where she completed Information Security Awareness Training.
Taryn′s ultimate goal is to earn a doctorate in criminal justice, become a college professor, and then return to Danville to help lower crime.
Mason Pruitt is a senior at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. He is currently pursuing a bachelor′s degree in business administration, with a concentration in operations management and marketing. He is also pursuing a minor in agricultural business and environmental science. Mason lived in Yanceyville, NC, for most of his life until 9th grade when he moved to Danville, VA. Mason attended George Washington High School where he played on the varsity soccer team.
While attending NCSU, Mason became a member of the BassPack Collegiate Fishing Team and brother of Sigma Pi Fraternity. During the summer, Mason enjoys setting up for the Carrington Pavilion concert series and fishing on the weekends.
Ashley Rust is a native of Danville, VA. She attended Galileo Magnet High School where she participated in various Roots and Shoots activities and worked with organizations, including Bead for Life and Danville′s Community Christmas Dinner. After graduating in 2009, Ashley continued her education at Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia. She is a rising senior pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in history as well as an arts management certificate and Spanish minor.
At Sweet Briar, Ashley works on exhibitions and conservation in the Pannell Art Gallery and Sweet Briar History Museum. She continues to volunteer at school and in Danville. Ashley intends to apply to Teach for America as well as graduate school.
An honors graduate, Jake Wimberly recently completed his undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he majored in public policy and political science and minored in philosophy, politics, and economics. Jake is especially interested in education policy and completed an honors thesis in the public policy department. His research for this project focused on the quantitative effects of school size on the educational outcomes of rural students. Jake also worked on these issues by interning for a U.S. Congressman serving on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Following his internship at DRF, Jake will move to Boston to continue his education at the Boston University School of Law.