The bonds of brotherhood established at Benedictine last a lifetime. For Cadets from the class of 1911 to last year’s graduates, this is the place to stay connected and up-to-date with Benedictine College Preparatory and fellow alumni. The advancement office strives to create moments and events where our alums are able to connect with each other, with current Cadets, and with their alma mater. Through these connections, it is our hope that we can strengthen the bonds within a brotherhood that spans several decades.
We hope to see as many of our BCP alumni as possible throughout the year at our special events and school activities! Look out for invitations and event information in your inbox and your mailbox, as well as events posted on the Special Events page and on social media. In addition to our two annual magazines (Labora and The Towers), we strive to keep in touch with our alumni through regular email communication and mailers, so it is imperative that you keep your information current in our database.
Have you changed jobs, published a book, gotten married, welcomed a child, or done something else interesting? Click here to tell us your exciting news! We'd love to include it in the next edition of The Towers.
Click here to tell us if you’ve moved, changed your email address, etc. It is important for us to keep all alumni records up-to-date to ensure you are receiving our most recent communications and updates.
In order to connect with Cadets across the globe, we aim to livestream many events and athletic competitions. You can find our two livestream channels, as well as an archive of previously streamed events here.
Alumnae are vital not only to the history of Benedictine, but also to our future. There are many opportunities and ways in which you can support your alma mater which you can learn about here. Thank you, in advance, for considering a gift to Benedictine College Prep!
If you need a copy of Benedictine transcript, please email BCP Registrar Lisa Marks or call 804.708.9529.
Adam Kijek '91
Rear Admiral/40th Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group (CPRG and CPRG Pacific)
When Adam “Kujo” Kijek saw the movie “Top Gun” in middle school, he realized he wanted to fly. What began as a dream for the son of a career military veteran evolved into a life of service. From Captain of “B” Company while at Benedictine, to flying missions in the P3 Orion over Iraq in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, to being appointed a Rear Admiral in May 2021, to the 40th Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group (CPRG and CPRG Pacific) in the United States Navy, Kujo has lived his life committed to leading and serving others. Serving people, serving God, and serving the nation are his greatest passions. He thanks God every morning when he wakes up for the opportunity to get up and do it again, to “make it matter,” and to make a difference. After graduating in 1995 from the Naval Academy, receiving his “Wings of Gold” in 1997, and earning a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, Kujo continued to serve in larger roles for the Navy. These days, Kujo is in command of all the maritime patrol and reconnaissance forces that the US Navy has to offer. The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force is the Navy’s primary provider of long-range airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare, and Maritime ISR forces. Comprised of more than 6,100 men and women on both coasts, the force deploys continuously around the world 24/7, 365 days a year. Kujo credits Father Donald and Father Ludwig, from his days at Benedictine, as huge influences, “that, just absolutely, kind of carved out that spot in my soul that made sure I was going to be a Catholic for life and what the faith meant for me, transformative of who I am today.” A few lessons he learned at Benedictine, that he realizes now, are having a root in faith and the bond of brotherhood with a group of friends that buoy you when you are feeling down. Kujo has come to realize life is a continuous campaign of learning, centered on his Catholic faith. Wife Allison, the heart of the family, has been Kujo’s co-pilot/wingman throughout his entire naval journey. In addition to a pair of Labrador retrievers, the couple also has two sons. When he’s not working out, waterfowl hunting, bow hunting (for deer), or reading, you may find Kujo wearing a ball cap sitting in a lawn chair just being a baseball dad. In his spare time, he enjoys watching both of his sons soar to new heights.
Blake Smith '19
Regimental Commander (RCO) for the 183rd Regiment at VMI
During his youth, Blake Smith ’19 faced hardships in academics. In fact, he considered himself the troubled kid who was unable to succeed academically. But attending Benedictine changed all that. Smith was inspired by those around him who had served in the military, particularly his football coach and journalism teacher. For the first time in his life, he felt like he had someone in his corner, believing in him, and encouraging him to take on new leadership roles. Claiming that Benedictine saved his life and set the foundation for his future success, Smith learned to become a more disciplined scholar, a confident leader, and a humble servant of his faith. In addition to the importance of working as a team and an appreciation of the brotherhood, he was shown he could achieve and grow more than he ever realized and was given the confidence to believe in himself. It was Smith’s sister however, who was born with severe physical and mental disabilities, who gave him the inspiration and desire to serve in the military. Her disabilities gave him an understanding of his God-given abilities and inspired him to want to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. This desire, combined with his experience at Benedictine, led him to the Virginia Military Institute. And after years of hard work, perseverance, and discipline, it all paid off on April 19, 2022, when Smith was commissioned as First Captain and Regimental Commander (RCO) for the 183rd Regiment at VMI, the highest-ranking position a cadet can earn. As (RCO), he is responsible for the conduct, discipline, training, and operations of the entire Corps of Cadets regiment. Smith’s life has certainly come full circle. Once someone who needed the extra nudge is now the person leading and motivating others to be the best versions of themselves. After graduating, Smith will take those leadership skills and his resilient faith in God as he commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps.
Hunter Hankley '00
Head Superintendent at The Foundry Golf Club
After graduation from Benedictine in 2000, Hunter Hankley and a classmate moved to the Outer Banks. The next ten months he spent scraping by at minimum wage, thus convincing himself to pursue a career with some room for advancement. He returned to Chesterfield County and was working for the First Tee of Richmond when one day a mentor gave him some advice that would change his life: “If you want to make it in the golf business, you need to get a degree.” A few years later, Hankley earned a degree in turf and turfgrass management and was recently appointed head superintendent at The Foundry Golf Club. But it appears that golf course management was his destiny all along, as Hankely has been around the business his whole life. Hankley’s father Vince, a 43-year GCSAA member, is the superintendent at Country Club of Petersburg, and his uncle, retired Foundry Golf Club superintendent Tildon Hankley, both forged the path. However, it was Coach Joe Arnold who played a large part in who Hankley is these days. Hankley credits Coach for his willingness to take the time to help him succeed at Benedictine, and he now takes that same personal approach when dealing with his own employees. Working hard to achieve the things he wants in life and the importance of accepting constructive criticism are a few lessons Hankley also learned while attending Benedictine that he has carried forward along life’s journey. Every day, Hankley strives to make the golf course better through renovations, hard work, and dedication with the objective of having one of the best golf courses in Virginia. When not on the golf course, Hankley enjoys traveling, judging powerlifting competitions, and spending time with his wife, Shel.
John Tellmann '97
After graduating college in August 2001, and while working in the private sector, 9/11 happened. John Tellmann was doing well in the private sector but felt called to serve his country and his community. He joined the Tucson (Arizona) Police Department while the long, complicated, and volatile application process for the Secret Service ran its course. Two years later the Service came calling. Tellmann’s career with the Secret Service has afforded him many incredible opportunities including witnessing moments in history, visiting countless foreign countries, and traveling on the most uniquely identified aircraft. He has had the fortune of protecting three sitting presidents (and their families) and two former presidents. With high demands, extreme and consistent travel requirements, pace of work, and lack of control over one’s schedule, when assigned full time to a protective detail, Tellmann discovered his greatest challenge was maintaining an adequate work life balance. Thus, despite the grandeur of all those once-in- a-lifetime opportunities, the most memorable moment of Tellmann’s career was the opportunity to take his parents to the annual Christmas party at the White House. When asked about Benedictine, Tellman will say that is where his sense of service and pride in his country was born and thus had a direct impact on the rest of his life. Tellmann is currently nearing the end of his career with the Secret Service under the protective detail for President Biden. At the conclusion, he plans to move to Wyoming and finish his career investigating financial crimes and managing any protective visits to the state. Tellmann praises his wife, of twelve years, for her strength and resiliency raising their four children while he has been serving our country. He’s looking forward to moving the family out west and slowing life down. As a product of Catholic education and with two Gertie sisters (Patty ’94 and Valerie ’00), he has often thought about giving back to the Catholic school system through teaching or some other contribution.
Jose Cesar Vargas '06
Assisted Living Administrator and Certified Dementia Practitioner/Saint Francis—Manchester
Jose Cesar Vargas has dedicated his life to serving and protecting others. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010, he worked in public service for nearly eight years, first as a probation officer and then as a police officer. However, in 2019 Vargas made a career change and transitioned to long-term healthcare administration and later earned his Master’s in public administration in 2021. Seeking to broaden his expertise, Vargas attained a certification as an Assisted Living Administrator and Certified Dementia Practitioner. And now Vargas’s current role is administrator at Saint Francis—Manchester where he has been for the past three years. Saint Francis is an assisted living community that was founded by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond in 1973 and whose mission is to serve those with limited financial means. Vargas manages the day- to-day operations, all while promoting the welfare and dignity of all residents. He is the senior-level contact for escalation of concerns of residents and their families, as well as for managing personnel matters. In addition to ensuring a dignified life at Saint Francis, his greatest motivation and inspiration comes from seeing residents and staff happy and enjoying their stay. Vargas acknowledges his most memorable career moment was when he was a police officer and assisted paramedics in rendering life-saving support to resuscitate an overdose victim. One lesson Vargas has learned along the way is to never take any situation for granted as time is our vital asset. He lives one day at a time thankful for his extended Saint Francis family and his wife of twelve years, along with their six children. Vargas’s wife, Miesha, teaches health, theology, and Spanish at the Benedictine Schools of Richmond. As a member of the Benedictine class of 2006, Vargas learned the qualities of leadership, humility, and obedience and credits his theology teacher, Bill Doran ’92, for laying the foundation for his faith and having had an enormous impact on him during his tenure as a Cadet and as a future husband and father.
Clayton Navarre '10
Clayton Navarre grew accustomed to serving stuffed sandwiches and other savory dishes in his Fan District restaurant. At the moment, however, he is serving something else: proud defiance in the face of a pandemic that hit Richmond-area restaurants – his included – very hard. Navarre closed Poor Boys, his three-year-old New Orleans-style eatery, last September. Though Poor Boys survived the worst of the pandemic, Navarre said the rough ride prompted him to “explore all options.” Ultimately, he chose to turn the page. He said he hopes to open another restaurant in the near future. He is searching, he said, for the proper partners and a choice location. Navarre is a self-made restaurateur who has climbed the ladder one rung at a time. He recalls a lesson he learned while working as a cook at Glory Days, another local establishment: “I needed to have a second shirt in my car on Burger Night, because I was going to sweat through my first shirt.” He still sweats the details. “I take great pride when food goes out in a timely manner and not only looks great but also tastes great,” he said.
Navarre, who played football at Benedictine under coach Greg Lilly, said he treats restaurant work and life in general as a team sport. “We need to have the whole team working together to push out a good product,” he said. “No team, no accomplishments.” Navarre’s ties to Benedictine helped keep Poor Boys afloat. He expressed gratitude for the hundreds of dollars of food purchased during a Benedictine homecoming. He saluted former Cadets “who I hadn’t seen in years but who would show up to say, ‘Hi,’ have a drink with me and order food to go.” Those experiences, he said, were significant not only from a business but also from a personal standpoint. “They showed me that (Benedictine) green really does get into your blood.”
Dr. William McKenna '07
When reduced to its simplest terms, Dr. William McKenna’s job description as a clinical/forensic psychologist is essentially this: to see, to listen, and to understand. But not to judge. Never to judge. McKenna’s multi-faceted practice includes service at Virginia’s only facility for sexually violent predators (the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation). Yes, he said, the individuals with whom he works there “have done some horrible things. But that doesn’t mean they have lost their worth in God’s eyes.” He said his Catholic faith has helped mold his personal and professional belief that each individual has “inherent worth and dignity.” His goal when conducting forensic evaluations of sex offenders, he said, “is helping the courts understand not only how someone became an offender, but also – and more importantly – how we can help this individual learn to control his urges and actions.” McKenna, admitted in multiple Virginia courts as a clinical/forensic psychology expert, said most – if not all – of his patients share a common denominator: the desire to be heard, seen, and appreciated. He pointed to Genesis 16:13: “Hagar says to the Lord, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ This is the deepest longing from not only a theological but also a psychological point of view level: to be seen and heard by another.”
The teachings and philosophy of Saint Benedict are woven into the fabric of McKenna’s being. He attended Belmont Abbey after graduating from Benedictine in 2007. Benedictine, he said, provided him with “self-discipline and attention to detail that has been vital in my life.” He said Belmont Abbey “taught me how to think for myself, and that the pursuit of knowledge is a life-long venture.” He said he is who he is today because of his Benedictine and Belmont Abbey education. That statement is literally true. McKenna met his wife, Laura, at Belmont Abbey. They have two young daughters.
Mark Weber '79
Information Technology / Sales Executive and Professor
Mark Weber didn’t invent the concept of perpetual motion. But he might have perfected it. After more than 30 years as a conspicuously successful executive and innovator in the field of information technology, Weber experienced an epiphany of sorts. “I realized that, ‘You know what? I don’t need to do this anymore,’” he said. “So, when I turned 55, I basically drew a line in the sand, said ‘That’s it,’ and started to look for other ways to contribute.” He found what he was seeking at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. There, he built and now directs a sales-oriented academic program that offers three classes and a sales degree. His intent, he said, was to improve the professional prospects of college students who typically stumble into sales careers almost by accident. But he didn’t stop there.
Indeed, Weber seldom stops. He said he sits on “a few tech boards” and assists “several other companies” in advisory capacities. He plays golf, pickleball, and tennis. He and his wife, Kathy, have raised five children, two of whom were adopted from Russia. En route, Weber coached his children’s sports teams – in all, more than 35 teams in four sports. At one point, he said, he was coaching a son’s junior varsity high school baseball team while also directing a multi-billion-dollar tech firm with thousands of employees. How did he do it? He laughed. “I got up early,” he said. “Oh – and I have a wonderful wife.” There is about Weber a proper but affable air that seems at odds with his status as a mover and shaker in the IT world. Benedictine, he said, is to some extent responsible. The school “expected a lot of us,” he said. “They expected high character. They expected morality. Basically, they expected us to be gentlemen.” Weber served as Benedictine’s battalion executive officer in 1978-79.
Nigel Williams '12
Bon Air Correctional Center Art Teacher / Wealth Manager at Agili
Nigel Williams painted a portrait of success, figuratively speaking, as a standout football player at Benedictine and Virginia Tech. Today his artistic endeavors are entirely literal. Williams enjoys drawing with pen and ink and currently is exploring acrylic pour painting, a technique in which acrylic paint is blended with a liquid medium and then poured onto a surface such as a canvas or smooth, flat piece of wood. The artist creates striking and unpredictable patterns by lifting and tilting the flat surface or by otherwise encouraging the paint’s tendency to flow. So enthusiastic is Williams about the psychological benefits of art that he and Elizabeth Scolaro, his former instructor at Benedictine, conducted night classes at the Bon Air Correctional Center until the pandemic got in the way. Williams even visited Kenya before the pandemic began to howl to meet with native teachers and exchange thoughts on art instruction and technique.
Art, he said, is not only a mode of self-expression but also a wonderful emotional outlet for teens and adults who find themselves mired in reality that is less than ideal. He said the adolescent males with whom he dealt at the Bon Air Correctional Center seemed to not only appreciate but also enjoy the sessions. “It was something they could control,” he said. “It was a release, almost; an escape.” Williams knows the feeling. He said more than a few of his Virginia Tech teammates sought an after-hours release from the rigors and regimentation of major college football. For some, it was music. For others, it was singing. “For me,” he said, “it was art.” Williams, a wealth manager with Agili, a financial planning firm, was signed by the Buffalo Bills as a non-drafted free agent in 2017 and by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. He joined Benedictine coach Greg Lilly’s staff as an assistant coach prior to the 2019 season.
Joe Webber '62
Catholic Deacon and Dean of Students at Texas A&M-Commerce
Joe Webber, an irrepressible 78-year-old, describes himself as “a master juggler” of time and tasks. Who can argue? Over the past 40-plus years, Webber has filled more roles than the most versatile Broadway understudy: Marine, college administrator, cattle farmer, and Catholic deacon. He also is one half of an enduring marriage, a father of three, and a grandfather of 16. “We all share the same 24 hours every day,” Webber said. “But setting priorities, properly using time, strong faith, and God’s grace will invariably pay huge dividends.” Webber knows a thing or two about time and commitment. He and his wife, Saint Gertrude alumna Kay Meyer ’62, have been married for 55 years. He was a Marine (active duty and reserve) for 30 years and an educator/administrator for 40. He has been a deacon at St. Joseph’s Church in Cumby, TX, for nine years. He has been a cattle farmer for four decades. Webber retired – well, sort of – in 2006 after serving for 24 years at Texas A&M-Commerce. He spent the last 18 of those years as the school’s dean of students.
The passage of time, he said, has taught him “how to take care of business – and that includes God’s business.” His time as a deacon, he said, “has been an honor, a privilege, and more than a little humbling. After all – you don’t say no to Jesus.” Webber grew up in Richmond, and his home on West Grace Street was only a block or so from where the statue of Robert E. Lee once stood. “I was a city boy,” Webber said. Today he is anything but. He runs 70 head of Angus/Brahma hybrid cattle on his farm near Cumby. Benedictine, Webber said, was the seedbed in which his work ethic took root. Father Adrian and football coach Bobby Ross, he said, “played no small part.”
Dean Ngendakuriyo '17
Future Army Medic
Born in Burundi (East Africa), Dean Ngendakuriyo and his family made their way to the United States when he was six years old. Growing up with a love and talent for football, Dean had his heart set on playing professionally, but always saw his mom (a nurse) as the one who wore the superhero cape. After participating on Benedictine’s Middies football team, Dean saw a future as a Cadet thanks to the Corporate Internship Program. Through that program, he worked at Bon Secours where his love for medicine was heightened. Destined to play football for an ivy league school, Dean instead chose a path in the military via West Point. Unfortunately, Dean experienced several injuries during his four years of playing collegiate football and grew into a deep depression, with a lost sense of identity and hope. Realizing football wouldn’t be his future after college, Dean recalled his time in the hospital and his love for medicine and helping others.
After overcoming his own struggles and with his strong Catholic faith as a foundation, Dean became a counselor for his football team and his military company. Now, this summer, Dean will begin his training in the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence and will later be stationed at Fort Hood. When Dean first planned to pursue a career in the medical field, he wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon but after his own battle with depression, he knew God was calling him to something greater. With a desire to bring light to the realities of mental illness, Dean intends to be a psychiatrist for veterans and those serving our country.
Rob Wittman '77
United States Congressman
Throughout his life, Rob Wittman has continuously asked himself “where can I best serve?,” and what began as a career in public health and science has developed over time and grown into a life of public service. Beginning in 1984 with a desire to give back to his community, Rob helped reform the local Boy Scouts and the Junior Chamber of Commerce which led him to serve on the Montross Planning Commission. And from there, his life in politics took off.
Over the next 20 years, Rob served on town council, as Mayor, and on the Board of Supervisors before being elected in 2005 to the Virginia House of Delegates. And since 2007, Rob has served as the U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 1st Congressional District. During his time in office, he authored and helped pass into law the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act, a bill that works to enhance and properly manage Chesapeake Bay programs and resources. And as part of his role on the Natural Resource Committee, he has worked with Virginia’s six Native American tribes to formally receive the federal recognition they deserve. Furthermore, throughout his time in Congress, Rob has been an outspoken advocate for proper defense funding for the United States and for overall global stability.
Whether advocating for our men and women in uniform, being a champion of the Chesapeake Bay, or speaking on the House floor, Rob has set a foundation of servant leadership in all that he does. Influenced by his parents, his faith, and his experience at Benedictine and through Virginia Tech’s Corps of Cadets, Rob is committed to serving others, building a better society, and leading from the heart.
Deacon Charles Williams ’69
Director of the Office for Black Catholics in the Diocese of Richmond
When his church was closed in the name of integration more than 50 years ago, Rev. Mr. Charles Williams walked away from his faith claiming he did not need the God who allowed it to happen. More than 25 years later, he found his way back to God and immersed himself in his faith and with the goal of effectively serving the black Catholic community. After being ordained in 2013, he became a volunteer chaplain with the diocesan prison ministry and served on the board of GraceInside, an organization aimed at bringing God’s Word to those incarcerated. In 2016, Deacon Charles was recognized for working on the front lines for justice with the national “Keep the Dream Alive Honors” from Catholic Charities USA in appreciation for his lifelong commitment and service. Just two years later, Deacon Charles was appointed director of the Office for Black Catholics to seek opportunities for ongoing inclusion and participation of black Catholics within the life of the diocese. As director, Deacon Charles knows there is a lot of work to be done in Central Virginia.
With the realization that there are wounds that need to be healed, he is on a mission to hold listening sessions with the African American Catholic community in an effort to move forward. Constantly seeking ways to change individuals’ minds and hearts, Deacon Charles emphasizes the importance of educating others, engaging in and staying in conversation, and always seeking God’s calling. As only one of two African Americans in his graduating class at Benedictine, he says he always felt cared for and that his voice mattered. Now, he hopes to show that same kindness to other young men – to be that role model – and to show them that they, too, matter.
*Since original publication, Deacon Charles entered into eternal life on January 27, 2022.
Wesley Steelman '15
Henrico County Police Officer
“Knowing if someone would have stopped them, they might still be alive.” At the end of his middle school career, Wesley Steelman started researching options for high school and was immediately attracted to Benedictine’s military leadership program where he went on to play varsity baseball and become S-4 Captain. After graduating from Lynchburg College, Wesley was left struggling to figure out his next steps. During his time as a Cadet, he was affected by the deaths of three fellow Cadets (Sam Cadden ’13, Sean Reynolds ’15, and Seth Wilson ’17) – each of whom died in separate automobile accidents.
As he reflected on his own life and the lives of these Cadets, he kept thinking how each of their accidents could have been prevented. In January 2020, after seven months of intense training through the 71st Basic Police Academy, Wesley started his career as a Henrico County police officer. Thinking of his friends, he’s dedicated to road police as he wants to help prevent the loss of life and to save their families the grief of losing a loved one. Wesley even aspires to one day be on the state’s Crash Investigation Team, where he will study, examine, and report on how crashes occur to prevent them from happening again. However, what Wesley likes the most about his job is the interaction with the community. He enjoys learning from citizens, hearing what they need from the police, and how the department can help the community be safer and ensure citizens feel at ease.