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Curry Smiles

In honor of Share a Smile Day, we are sharing stories from alumni that will take you back to your days at Curry and tickle your funny bone.

Want to add your own funny Curry story? Just scroll down and type it in the comments box. You can also share your smiling face on the Curry Instagram page.


submitted by Devasmita Chakraverty (Ph.D. ’13 Sci Ed)

My adviser used to say this word, “Whatchamacallit,” quite often. I had no idea what it meant. I did not even know how to spell or enunciate it.

Once he said, “Please take the question paper to the whatchamacallit in the basement. I need 50 copies.”

I had no clue where he was asking me to go, but being a smart graduate student, I figured it out. From then on, I thought that the photocopy center was called whatchamacallit.

My belief-bubble was broken the next time he asked me the name of a book, and used the word. For the next two years, everything from the photocopy center to statistics books, car keys, coffee mugs, and electronic gadgets were called whatchamacallit.

I continued to progress through my PhD program and get smarter, but could not crack this one. I was too embarrassed to ask my adviser what it meant. I had come to the US with high GRE scores, perfect TOEFL scores, having read Shakespeare for breakfast and Dickens for dinner. Yet I could not understand what did “watch my colleague” mean.

And then in my final year, someone else said that word aloud in class. I was so excited that I almost jumped out of my seat.

“Say that word again,” I demanded.

“What word?” he looked confused.

“That word. Just spell it.”

Armed with the newest word in my vocabulary, I excitedly Googled it, only to find out that the magic word meant nothing more than “what you may call it.”

I earned my PhD later that year, just in time after decoding the most mysterious word in my dictionary after three years of struggle.  


“You can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.” – Stephen King


Best Counseling Advice

submitted by Mary Ann Stripling, Ph.D. (M.Ed. ’78 Couns Ed)

Back in 1976, when I enrolled in the Curry School to finally earn my master’s degree in counseling, the second-year counselor education students were required to counsel others for a number of hours with supervision at the Curry School.  To ensure having enough clients, the first-year counselor ed students could write a big paper or volunteer for two counseling sessions.  I chose the counseling sessions.

A “problem” was required, so as a 30-year-old student with a two-year-old at home, I said that I had trouble keeping the house clean.

The young man (much younger than I) who was my counselor asked all the active listening questions and requested that I come up with workable ideas for the second session.  At the end of the second session, when nothing really acceptable to solve the problem had evolved, he finally blurted out, “Why don’t you just hire a maid?”

Of course, that would have been dandy, but as many moms know, when two parents are not working, there is less money—certainly not enough to hire a maid. BUT I followed through on my vow that day, and when my daughter started school and I began working again, the first thing I did was HIRE A MAID to clean my house!!

For the ensuing years, I have silently thanked that young man for slipping away from the script at the end of our session!

“Laughter is inner jogging.” – Norman Cousins



Submitted by Pam (Evans) Roland (Ed.D. ’89 Admin & Supv)

In 1985, I arrived at Copely Hill (Family Housing), high on having escaped a former life, feeling young again, back in school to work on my education doctorate.

It was a hot August day. New friends from other apartments soon emerged, eager to be helpful.

Where are you going?” they asked. Beaming, I replied, “UVA!”

“No, what SCHOOL are you in?”

Thinking they maybe didn’t like my using the initials, I replied, “University of Virginia.”

That didn’t work either. They kept asking. Eventually, I finally figured out, they wanted me to say the CURRY SCHOOL!

DUH!! That knocked some of my ego back down to size!

(Pam taught for Curry and the School of Continuing & Professional Studies for almost 25 years before retiring in 2011.)


“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” – Jean Houston


Funny Now.

Submitted by Jackie D’alton (M.Ed. ’81 English Ed)

Dr. Meade, my advisor, suggested that I might want to take a class in 19th-century English poetry. I registered for a course which was being taught by a professor on loan from Oxford. I took the class, liked it, did well—or so I thought.

Never got a grade.

It seems I should have scheduled an interview with the professor and gotten permission to take the class.

This occurred in the fall of 1980. To graduate I needed the credit, and the professor had gone back to England. Luckily, after pulling my hair out for several weeks, the professor’s gradebook was located with my name and grade penciled in the margin!

Nice man!


“Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle


Hole-y Paint Job, Batman!

Submitted by Frank Butts (M.Ed. ’71, Ph.D. ’84 Speech Path & Aud)

In my last semester of my masters work in Audiology, I convinced some other students to brighten up the drab grey sound booth in Cabell Hall by painting it a canary yellow. We came in over the weekend and completed the job quickly with rollers. By Monday, the paint had dried and filled all the pores of the acoustic walls, ruining the function of the booth. It took three weeks with a paper clip to punch out the several thousand holes to restore the booth’s function. They still let me graduate.”

More Curry Smiles

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Picnic at Curry School of Education, UVa, Aug 24, 2015

Picnic at Curry School of Education, UVa, Aug 24, 2015