From the wee hours of the morning to late into the night, UVA’s University Transit System provides thousands of daily rides to members of the University community. Students, faculty and staff rely on UTS drivers—along seven routes—to take them to and fro. Take a glimpse into some of their lives.

“I drive around 20 hours a week; it was a little more last semester, more during the summer. I’m working through school, working to help pay for school. It’s fulfilling. I like to think that I would still be trying as hard regardless, but knowing that your time is being put into your tuition makes you want to get the most out of it.

…I want to do some kind of consulting, so either strategy or technological consulting. I’m still figuring out exactly which avenue or which branch, but narrowing it down to a field, at least, is a start. After college, I’m going to enter the job market or proceed straight into a master’s program, hopefully here. I’m in the application boat for both right now. It’s quite stressful, but there are a lot of opportunities. I sleep very little; it really depends on how much is going on in a given day. I average maybe six hours a night.

…The job has helped me to mature a little bit. I’ve been working since I was in high school, but managing driving a bus on top of all of the extra stuff that comes with college—other  organizations, lectures and classwork—has me a lot better at time management. Driving has also given me a lot of appreciation for the school itself, just being around it so much and seeing everything that the school offers, from the hospital to taking the students to class and whatnot.”

Colburn Greathouse
Student driver

“Our labs are close to each other. He [Ming] works in brain cancer research.”

“I’ve been working in my field for more than 10 years but have been at UVA for five months. Before that I was at USC San Diego and VCU. Brain cancer is one of the most deadly cancers. It’s very common in Western countries but not so common in Asia. I think it’s genetic—it’s common in white people, more common in men than in women. I found a couple of genes which contribute to tumor formation. Maybe we can track the genes, block the formation.”

“He’s a potential Nobel Laureate in 10 years, 20 years!”

“You’re kidding me! He’s joking.”

“I am joking. But he works really hard and makes significant contributions in his field, especially at his young age. It’s not easy work, so you can say he’s exceptional. Someday he may actually get it.”

Ming Li and Baomin Wang

“Tonight I have a make-up class at a professor’s house at 7. It’s a class with Asher Biemann, a seminar on idolatry, which is really cool. It’s a 14-person class and we’ve read the texts before class, then we sit around and give our opinions; I learn so much just from talking. I love religious studies classes and I’m trying to minor in it. I like the international aspect of it, and I like that it includes so many different topics—politics, history, social issues—in one class. Religious studies makes me think of everything in a different way; the two extremes of my studies offer a well-rounded perspective on everything. It’s important to be able to think about things in different ways, to put yourself in other people’s shoes and to be able to take what you’ve learned from different areas of research and find the link even when you think there might not be a link, like between religious studies and science. I guess the main link for me is that both areas are just trying to find the origin of things and why things work. They just focus on different ways of finding that.”

Maggie Daly (Col ’17)

“I transferred here last year from the University of Texas. It was a big change, but I love it here. I transferred to be closer to home. I graduated from high school in Texas, but then my family moved here, so I followed them. I see them about once a month—I’m going home this weekend, actually, to just hang out and take a retreat after midterms.

… I’m a pre-dental student, studying biology. I love the interactions that you get with people in a dentist’s office, forming relationships. And I really love teeth.

… There’s this competitive atmosphere here, but I’ve been able to find my way through it to what’s more important, to having experiences and learning from mistakes—we all mess up sometimes. I’m not letting the pressure get to me; I’m enjoying my time. Cell bio is my favorite class right now. It’s challenging, but it’s logical. I’m fascinated by everything that the body can do, and we’re studying it at such a minute level that it’s extraordinary.

Krizia Acosta (Col ’17)

“I wanted to get into patient care because I like helping people, and patient care was the greatest place to start. We get to see the smiles on patients’ faces, though it can be difficult to deal with all of the different patient personalities. I started as a patient transporter doing internal transport, taking patients from Point A to Point B, so, from their rooms to a procedure. Now I’m a Medical Center supervisor, so I supervise transporters and patient transport equipment. I wanted to move up because I knew I could offer more—I’m very driven, and my department saw that in me.

And I’m actually pretty shy.”

Shawn Harris

“A long time ago, I broke my leg and had orthopedic surgery. I was inspired by the nurses who took care of me to become an operating room nurse. When it happened, I was serving in the Army at West Point in New York, working as a tech in the operating room there.

… It’s usually a 10-hour day, doing three to five surgeries a day. You see patients as they come into the OR, taking care of them while they’re in the OR. There are a lot of things going on in there. And then they leave, you get a new patient—it’s different from other types of nursing. Today, we saw a couple of hysterectomies.

… [Points to tattoo on right forearm] This is a shell, a symbol of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage hike that goes from France into and across Spain. It’s a 500-mile hike. I did the hike about two years ago; it took me a month altogether. I knew that I had the time and the ability to do it, and I didn’t know if I would have that opportunity later in life, so I figured I might as well do it while I could. It was a personal kind of trip…I don’t want to go into too much detail.”

Justin Hilliker

“This backpack is like my portable desk. In it, I have a laptop, two cellphones, a clipboard, lots of pens and highlighters and notebooks. I’m a case manager at the hospital, but I float to all of the units, planning for discharge for the patients. I really enjoy caring for patients. I was a psychiatric nurse for a long time. As a young nurse, you just want to work with sick people, and when I became a psychiatric nurse, I found them to be truly the sickest people I’ve worked with, because they live with these chronic illnesses that there’s no treatment for. I really wanted to advocate for their needs. That’s why I wanted to go into case management—we’re patient advocates.”

Mary Jones