There are two gifts
we should give our children;
one is roots, the other is wings.
Wings to show you what you can become,
Roots to remind you where you’re from.

-Roots & Wings, Anonymous

Our inspiration for this series of articles is the young “graduates” of our fellowship and the stories they share regarding how their UUFP experience has affected their adult lives.

Julian Padowicz



“I was always impressed with UU’s rejection of dogma and embrace of skepticism and individual inquiry,” writes RE alum, Tristan McDowell van Tine, son of Robin and Lucy. Some remember him for his long hair, long black coat, and his involvement with the Earthrising movement. “It’s not easy to keep oneself from falling into dogmatic patterns of thought, whether on the Right or Left,” he adds. “Self-criticism is painful, but crucial….Justice does not exist independently in the world: we must create it through collective action.”​

Tristan has always loved music. (What a surprise?) “As a teenager,” he says, “I imagined I would become a composer or, at least, a music theory professor.” In high school and college, he studied music theory, composition, and voice. As an undergraduate at UVA he even got to sing opera at the Universty’s Operafestival di Roma in Italy and was president of the School’s Glee Club.

With these two interests, Tristan double-majored in music and philosophy at UVA, graduating in 2004. Going on to graduate school at William and Mary Law School, however, he put his music aside to concentrate on earning his Juris Doctor degree, which he received in 2009. Hired by a law firm in Louisville, Kentucky, he practiced business law for two years before returning to academia, this time to teach. Today, through the magic of the Internet, Professor van Tine manages to teach business law and criminal justice courses, in person or on line, at Saint Leo University, Southern New Hampshire University, Bryant & Stratton College, and ECPI University. He has also just been hired to teach at the local Thomas Community College.


​But the music hasn’t been forgotten. “A couple of years ago, I got back into composing,” Tristan says. And he has sung, “on and off” with the Virginia Choral Society, when work schedule permits.

He did, though, find time to meet and marry his wife, “Shalon,” who also teaches college. In the fall, she will begin her doctoral studies in history at Ohio University. They will be moving there shortly. While she does not sing or play an instrument, Shalon does share his love of music, and they attend concerts together. As to children, Tristan and Shalon are not planning on any, but they are looking forward to a couple of dogs, once they get settled in Ohio.