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Andrew Oldham Graduate Leaves Legendary Legacy of Men Helping Women

May 8, 2001-- During Andrew Oldham’s second year at the University of Virginia, his best friend was sexually assaulted. The agony of that horrible event prompted Oldham to help start an organization of men committed to helping sexual-assault survivors.

Although Oldham graduates May 20, the organization, One in Four, will remain strong, with chapters around the country. The organization’s name comes from a statistic in the FBI’s crime victimization survey that found one in four college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape since their 14th birthday.

Before entering Harvard University to pursue master’s and law degrees, Oldham will spend a year volunteering at the Violence Against Women Office in the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Andy is committed to devoting his public service to ending violence against women," said John D. Foubert, an assistant dean of students, who advises One in Four.

Oldham says the year of volunteer service is an ideal way to explore his interest in public policy and the law -- an interest whetted by his experience in starting One in Four.

"I learned that a group of similarly impassioned individuals can make a difference in a short time. I’ve also learned it is possible to create a positive outcome from a terrible event," said Oldham, the son of Dwight and Bobbi Oldham of Lynchburg. Oldham will graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from U.Va., earning a degree with honors in government and foreign affairs, with a minor in economics.

His commitment to sexual-assault education helped Oldham last year win a Truman Scholarship, which will pay for his studies at Harvard. As part of the Truman application

process, he wrote a public-policy proposal on sexual-assault education. Crafted as a fictional memo to the Virginia secretary of education, Oldham implored the secretary to establish an organization like One in Four to help sexual-assault victims.

"One in Four started with 16 men who wanted to learn and teach other men how to help sexual-assault victims. The organization is now 30 members strong," said Oldham.

As the organization’s first vice president for new member selection, Oldham created it's recruitment process. "He spent a great deal of time developing a vision for the selection process," Foubert said. "He created the process by inspiring a shared vision within the group. He designed a thorough review process with multiple interviews, wrote out each interview question, designed rating sheets, reserved rooms, and ensured that all current group members had files of applicants.

"He also responded on the phone to approximately 80 candidates and designed a computer program to tabulate interview results," Foubert added. He led a collaborative discussion about the candidates and facilitated final decision-making. Throughout, he showed that leaders create their best work by serving others. Andy personifies the term, ‘servant-leader.’"

In addition to his pioneering work with One in Four and his stellar work as an Echols and Jefferson Scholar, Oldham has served others through more than 25 organizations. One of his favorite volunteer activities has been with the Shelter for Help and Emergency, but he also was involved in the University Guide Service, Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, Madison House, Habitat For Humanity, SERVE, the Raven Society, and Resident Staff.

"Andy is that rarest of rare student who is able to be involved in numerous activities and do each well," Foubert said.

What has Oldham learned from his commitment to serve others? "I’ve learned to question assumptions. The world is full of gray areas. I’m learning to plumb the depth of grayness, and that makes things interesting. That effort spills over into my social, spiritual and emotional life," Oldham said.

Foubert summed up Oldham, saying, "He has grown to be a legend in his own time at U.Va."

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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