Speaking Center Director & Staff


Anand RaoDr. Anand Rao, Speaking Intensive Program and Speaking Center Director

Anand received his Bachelors degree in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992. Following his interest in the history and philosophy of science, he entered the Rhetoric of Science program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a Masters of Arts in 1994, and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and communication in 1996.

In 1995, Anand joined Clarion University as an assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre, where he also served as director of the speech & debate team. While at Clarion, Anand started an active public debate series and moved the speech and debate team back into the more competitive and challenging format of policy debate. He was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2000, and served as chair of the Faculty Senate in 2001.

In 2002, Anand joined the faculty at Mary Washington  as an associate professor and Director of the Speaking Intensive Program. Excited to be a part of the Mary Washington community, Anand enjoys working with UMW students and faculty, and looks forward to working with the SI program.

Anand’s areas of specialty in communication studies include visual rhetoric, argumentation, rhetorical criticism, rhetorical studies of science and public address. He teaches a variety of courses in speech, including public speaking, small group communication, argumentation, and upper-level courses in communication and rhetorical theory, including Environmental Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric, and Intellectual Foundations of Communication.




Robert Belcourt, Speaking Center Administrative Assistant

Rob is a Senior at Mary Washington, studying Political Science and Asian Studies. He is excited and eager to begin another semester at the Speaking Center. He believes the Speaking Center is really one of the best services offered to students on campus, and is excited to be a part of it. While not at the Speaking Center you can find Rob as an active participant of the Student Government Association. He urges all of you to visit the Speaking Center, and  looks forward to meeting you!









Here are our consultants:

Tom PachecoTom Pacheco (Lead Consultant)

Tom is a senior political science major and also a philosophy major who understands the importance of effective communication. He participates competitively on the debate team as well as hosting public debates on campus. Tom enjoys the community at UMW, and he is happy to contribute to it through the Speaking Center.









Abbie Yirrah

Abbie Yirrah (Lead Consultant)

A senior Pre-law Philosophy major, Abbie Boaduwa Yirrah joined the Speaking Center team in her freshman year recently becoming a lead consultant. With three years of experience under her belt, Abbie hopes that the knowledge she has acquired over the years, coupled with her love for all things communicative will help her continue to assist students with their public speaking needs.


What she loves most about working at the Speaking Center is the satisfaction that comes from helping and challenging students to successfully overcome their fear of public speaking. In her spare time, Abbie loves to read, watch crime shows and write philosophy papers. She hopes to be an attorney and human rights activist.




Danielle DevilleDanielle DeVille

Danielle is a senior psychology major who began working at the Speaking Center during her freshman year. She loves working with other students to help better their presentations and lessen their fears about public speaking. When she isn’t hanging around the Speaking Center, she enjoys reading and writing papers, learning about the brain, browsing Science Daily and looking up graduate programs. She is looking forward to another great year at the Speaking Center and is excited to be a part of such a great resource at UMW.









Emma EggersEmma Eggers

Emma is a senior majoring in English and minoring in linguistics. In addition to her duties as a student consultant at the Speaking Center, she is also an intern at Empowerhouse, a bartender at Castiglia’s in downtown Fredericksburg, and of course, and full time student. Emma enjoys keeping busy, and in her spare time she is a member of the Fredericksburg Singers as well as a blossoming amateur chef. Though this is her last semester at UMW, she is eager to make it her best, and she looks forward to helping her fellow students better their public speaking skills.









Catie LeBoutonCatie Lebouton

Catie is a senior English major, and hopes to get a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Mary Washington. She has worked in the speaking center since the spring of 2012, and loves the chance to work one on one to help everyone who visits the center. Catie is a chair on the UMW Relay for Life planning committee and loves to read, write, and hang out with her friends.









Russell Michelson

Russell is a senior and a communication major. In his free time, he enjoys fine dining, throwing a Frisbee, and anti-conformity. In the future, he would like to work in advertising. He loves working at the Speaking Center because all his fellow consultants are wonderful and he gets to help out other students.





Mariah YoungMariah Young

Mariah Young is a fast-talking political science and journalism double major at the University of Mary Washington. She is in her junior year, and after graduation she hopes to study political communication in grad school and work in politics as a speechwriter or communication director. When she isn’t working at the Speaking Center, she is usually glued to her phone reading any and all of the news. She loves to write and research, especially when it comes to statistics or the media. As a news editor for the college newspaper and a debater, Mariah loves to work with people on developing the best presentations possible while always having fun!









JeromeJerome Mueller

Jerome is a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington studying computer science and math, although he enjoys studying any subject. He is happy to join the Speaking Center this year as a speaking consultant. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends, playing the trombone, and reading.










AlexAlex Obolensky

Alex Obolensky is a Sophomore at the University of Mary Washington studying International Relations. He is a member of the policy debate team, and is very excited to be joining the Speaking Center Team for the first time this year. When not working with political organizations or getting noise complaints in his dorm, he likes to stay a breast of world events.