William and Mary

W&M Blogs

A peek into the lives of those who learn, teach, research and work at the College.

Winter Olympics!

April 22, 2014 by


I love the Olympics. Whether it’s summer or winter, Europe or Canada, Olympic or Paralympic, I will be watching and downloading 500 apps on my phone to stay constantly updated on every event throughout the games. I am glued to the games from the opening to the closing ceremonies. I love watching the parade of nations, the medal ceremonies, and the crazy celebrations of the host nations. The Sochi games have been extra exciting because I started taking Russian in my sophomore year. While I ended up only taking 3 semesters (studying abroad and finishing my degree have gotten in the way!), I quickly fell in love with the language and still use little phrases every day. Listening to the announcements in French, English, and Russian is my ultimate trifecta: “speaking” all three languages. I feel like the modern language department at William & Mary has prepared me specifically to fully appreciate these Olympics.

Ultimately, while I like both the summer and winter Olympics, I’m all about the Winter Games for one reason: hockey. I love hockey more than I love the Olympics. Coming from Boston, it’s not particularly surprising that hockey is my favorite sport, but the Olympics are a tough time for NHL fans. As a Bruins fan, there were 5 Bruins players playing on 5 different teams, and then I was also cheering for Team USA. That’s 6 of the 12 teams that I was cheering for. While I’m all about Gold for Team USA, I definitely wanted the Bruins players to do well and come back to the States with some Olympic hardware. USA! É-U! США!

- Kate Fitzgerald

St. Patty’s Day

April 22, 2014 by

My second favorite holiday of the year is St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s the Irish heritage, or growing up in the Boston area, but there is nothing better than decking yourself out in as much green as possible. St. Patrick’s Day takes on a very different tone at William & Mary. While everyone is Irish for that one day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day looks like an explosion of school spirit at the College. Having the colors green and gold makes it very easy to wear a little green, but it’s never just a little green here.

One of my absolute favorite things about the College is the school spirit. Whether it’s at football games or seeing the College’s name pop up on a list of awesome schools, we are fiercely proud to be members of the Tribe. When you come to William & Mary it is nearly impossible to be just a face in the crowd. Even the one or two people I know that are not as involved in extracurricular activities on campus, seem to somehow be connected to my friends from other circles of my W&M life.

I love that we are a family at William & Mary, and I love that we show our Tribe Pride loud and proud!

- Kate Fitzgerald

Brown Paper Packages tied up with string…

April 22, 2014 by

One of my favorite things about William & Mary is the bragging rights. You go to the oldest college in the nation? I go to the oldest university. You have to pledge an honor code at your college? My college has the first and oldest honor code in the country. This important guy in history is a graduate of your school? Let me read you the list of people that graduated from William & Mary, maybe you’ll recognize one or a hundred of them.

So maybe it’s actually the history that’s a part of William & Mary’s DNA that I love. I love walking to class in the Wren building knowing the amazing people who have taken classes there before me. I love that my campus is covered (exclusively) in bricks, reminding me with every step I take that there is so much history to be found on these grounds. I love that W&M doesn’t just boast about its past, but is so invested in its future.

One of the best things about W&M is that they know their history and are more focused on how great the future is going to be. They spend so much time taking care of their family of students, reminding them over the course of their time here that this will always be a home for them, but they are going to go off and do amazing things. Whether it’s founding a nation, winning an Academy Award, or interning in Washington D.C., William & Mary students have been changing the world for 321 years and there is no reason to doubt that we won’t be able to do the same thing. One month left until I’m tasked with upholding that legacy. Bring it on.

- Kate Fitzgerald

A few of my favorite things

April 22, 2014 by

Green and gold t-shirts and coming in with credits;
Admission decision emails and early registration
Getting to pull all the transfer strings
These are a few of my favorite things!

But really, here are 10 of the most awesome things about being a transfer at William and Mary!

  1. Transfers bring all kinds of distinctive experiences to our Tribe community. All transfers have a story. Whether they are veterans, students with an associate’s degree from a two-year college, or just looking for something that their first school didn’t quite provide, each transfer has a unique experience to share. Trust me, we’d love to hear it!
  2. Transfers have been around the block a few times and they know what they truly want and need from a college experience. They’re able to look a little deeper when profiling universities than they might have as a high school senior. When a student decides to transfer to William & Mary, that means they really think they’ll find their perfect fit here [and they’re usually right!]. To me, that’s a super special compliment. Not only did we pick you, but you choose us. And let me be the first to tell you how excited we are to have you here!
  3. Transfer orientation at William and Mary is a really great way to meet other transfers while also being integrated into the school as a whole. Orientation encompasses the five days prior to the first day of classes and is really one of the few times you’ll be around all the other transfers [especially ones who live near you since they generally group based on dorms/living areas]. Take advantage! Meet your peers! Share experiences and make friends! I promise, you won’t regret it.
  4. Don’t tell anyone I told you so, but there is such a thing as the “transfer card”. Pull it out of your back pocket whenever you can. I can’t promise that it will always work, but if you’re talking to a professor looking for an override or something along those lines, it’s worth a try! Faculty and administration in my experience have been very friendly and accommodating.
  5. Being a transfer is never something that will impact you negatively here at William & Mary. I’ve never felt left out or discriminated against because I’m a transfer. Quite the opposite, people usually are really curious to hear my story when I tell them I transferred. The Tribe community is so extremely welcoming that from day one and onward you really get a sense that people truly want you here and want to meet and learn from you.
  6. Similarly for #5, transfer is only a “label” if you choose it to be. No one is going to say, “Hey, that’s a transfer!” every time you walk in the Caf. There’s no big bold TRANSFER over your name on a professor’s roster for classes. Being a transfer is something that you can choose to let people know or not. No one is going to treat you any differently either way. You’re a William & Mary student. You’re part of the Tribe now. That’s your only real label.
  7. There’s a super awesome Twitter just for transfers that Kate and I run [and once you’re admitted, a Facebook group!] where you can get all kinds of great info about Day for Admitted Transfers, college life on campus, transfer tips and more! So you should totally follow @WM2014Transfers.
  8. Transfers get a bit of a registration break. We know that transfers usually have a better idea about what classes they want or need for their major than incoming freshmen. Therefore, transfers are allowed to register for up to 11 credit hours during the summer before they get to campus, whereas the freshmen have to wait until Orientation to go through initial registration.
  9. Transfers don’t have to deal with freshman dorms! If you apply for housing, you’re only going to be considered for upperclassman housing [which 9 times out of 10 means a much better dorm]. Look over the Residence Life website before you reply and request a couple of your favorites. While it’s not guaranteed, it’s worth a shot!
  10. You get a whole day dedicated just to transfers and letting you know all of the other awesome reasons why you should choose to transfer to William & Mary. Mark your calendars; this year’s Day for Admitted Transfers is May 3rd. I hope to see you there!

- Audrey Savage

Overheard in Transfer Committee — Preparation for Majors

April 21, 2014 by

Admit It! Transfers.  You’ve been patiently waiting for your turn to be in the spotlight.  Well your time has come.  Transfer Committee commenced and our discussions are well underway.  As with our freshman process, we are enjoying reviewing your applications and the discussions that ensue.

Overheard in Transfer Committee: Looks like he’s taken great courses for a bio/pre-med major

As is the case with freshman applicants, we do not admit students into a particular major or school.  That being said, freshmen enter with all four years ahead of them; they’re an academic blank slate that can be guided from the get go.  Transfer students however come to W&M with a more truncated timeline.  They’ve already started their academic path.  In the case of those hoping to transfer in as juniors, half of their college career is hopefully behind them.  The last thing most transfers want to do is double back to basic introductory courses or pre-reqs needed to pursue their major which can then lead to extra time spent earning their diploma.

Today we were reviewing a student who indicated an interest in biology/pre-med.  To his credit, he had taken great foundation courses (intro bio courses, intro chem and physics courses, calculus and statistics).  Biology/pre-med is a pretty lock-step major which requires several courses across the math/science spectrum.  Given that this particular applicant is finishing his sophomore year, he is likely fairly sure of his major, and we were glad that he’d taken the necessary foundation courses so that once at W&M, he could continue his studies without having to work backwards to fill-in pre-requisite courses.

We often have a similar discussion about those who indicate an interest in entering our Mason School of Business.  That program requires six pre-requisite courses to even apply.  How many of those courses has a transfer applicant completed?  How many semesters have they completed already?  Students applying to transfer during their freshman year still have time to complete some of these courses at W&M; students applying during their sophomore year have little if no time, unless they want to delay their entrance into their major and possibly spend extra semesters in college.

The point of this blog is not to compel transfer applicants to take every single pre-req for their intended major before arriving at W&M.  In many cases that’s not even possible.  Plus we recognize many transfer applicants come to W&M for a specific academic program and look forward to taking the bulk of their major courses at W&M.  We also know that even transfers can still change their mind about a particular major.  But we do want to ensure, especially with transfers, that we’re admitting students who can complete their academic pursuits in a reasonable amount of time.

Stay tuned transfers.  More on your application process to come.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

15 Reasons Why I Chose W&M

April 14, 2014 by

Day for Admitted Students was this weekend, and William & Mary welcomed over 3,000 students and their families to campus. As a tour guide, I’ve been volunteering with DFAS for three years now, and every year the tribe pride that accompanies the occasion is unrivaled. Admitted students are exceptionally great because they’ve already applied and found something to love about W&M–and while deciding on a college is difficult, DFAS is meant to show them who we are, and what they could be a part of. So without further ado, here are the top 15 reasons I chose to become a member of the Tribe.

  1. The beauty of the campus and the surrounding area. Having grown up in a city, I had never seen so many trees and bricks in one place. I was enchanted by the beauty of old campus and the colonial architecture on DoG Street.
  2. The people. Every time I got lost on my campus visit, someone was always more than willing to point me in the right direction. Everyone was friendly, the students seemed interesting and genuinely happy, and the professors I spoke to via email were amazingly helpful.
  3. The Wren Building. You can’t challenge the appeal of attending class in the oldest academic building in America.
  4. The traditions. Between Yule Log, Convocation, and King & Queens, W&M has an undeniable array of amazing traditions. And what’s more, everyone takes them seriously and each tradition has a history.
  5. The prestige. Attending one of the most elite public schools in the nation has its advantages–the W&M name carries a definite weight.
  6. The small classes. I wanted a school where I could have a personal relationship with my professors, and small classes where I could be an active participant. I found that here, even in entry level classes and major requirements.
  7. My senior interviewer. He was my first up close and personal impression of a W&M student, and I had a great interview. I still remember him making me laugh and putting my nerves at ease.
  8. Lake Matoaka. Outdoor recreation has always been important to me, and having 10 miles of hiking trails at my disposal was a definite plus. And don’t forget the canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards that are free to check out with your student ID.
  9. Tribe Pride. W&M students have a definite sense of community and school spirit that I didn’t find on any other campuses I toured.
  10. The Cipher. W&M is the only school with its own British charter, crest, and cipher. I remember thinking even the police cars looked classy with the intertwined W and M emblazoned on their sides.
  11. A sense of belonging. When I stepped onto campus, I felt like I belonged. I could see myself walking through Wren during Convocation, wearing green and gold during football games, and taking pictures with the Griffin.
  12. The safety of the campus. Coming from Baltimore, Maryland (the third homicide capital in America), being able to feel safe and secure on campus was a definite plus.
  13. The Alma Mater. Every time I sing it, I still get really excited to shout “William! And Mary!” at the top of my lungs during the chorus.
  14. Taylor Reveley. He just seemed awesome. He still is awesome.
  15. The gut feeling that this was the place for me. When I walked onto campus for a tour my junior year of high school, I never wanted to leave. Between the amazing people, the brilliant professors, and the beautiful campus, I knew that W&M was the best place for me for the next four years. Applying early is not something I have ever regretted–I can’t see myself anywhere else.

A Personal Argument for William & Mary

April 11, 2014 by

We Admit It! We love it when a plan comes together.  With Dean Livingston out on maternity leave while our admitted students look for guidance to help them make their decision about where to enroll next fall, Dean Broaddus himself put together a blog entry for us in the form of a slideshow to offer his personal answer to the question “Why William & Mary?”




Rolling Deep with the Penrose Conference on Orogenic Systems

April 6, 2014 by

This past week I co-convened a Geological Society of America Penrose Conference focused on Feedbacks and Linkages in Orogenic Systems.   An orogen is a geologic term for a mountain belt, and orogenesis describes the processes at work in mountain belts (derived from Greek- oros for “mountain” and genesis for “creation/origin”).  The world’s great mountain belts include massive modern ranges such as the Himalayas, Andes, and Alps as well as ancient mountain belts such as the Caledonian orogen in Greenland, Scotland, and Scandinavia, the Grenvillian orogen in Canada, and the Limpopo orogen in South Africa.

Cover image from the Penrose Coonference filed guide and technical program.

Cover image from the Penrose Conference field guide and technical program.

The Penrose Conference included structural geologists, petrologists, sedimentologists, geomorphologists, geochronologists, and geophysicists all with a common interest in orogenic processes.  Geoscientists from as far away as China and Poland traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for nearly a week’s worth of discussions, talks, posters, and field trips.  Penrose Conferences are small meetings where the participants are encouraged to present novel or controversial hypotheses and hash out those ideas with colleagues.

Penrose Conferences were first established in 1969 and over the last 45 years these meeting have helped bring forward many major advances in the realm of plate tectonics, ophiolites, and metamorphic core complexes (to name just a few topics).  For me it was a great pleasure to co-convene a Penrose conference, I reconnected with old colleagues and met many new ones.  The National Science Foundation paid the freight that enabled participation by a large contingent of graduate students, the interaction between established scientists and up-and-coming scientists was special.

The Conference honored Bob Hatcher, who first brought a plate tectonic focus to the Appalachians back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Today working with his large and eager group of graduate students (aka the Hatchery), Bob continues to make seminal contributions to the field.

We experienced the fickle nature of the southern Appalachian spring on our field excursions.  The first trip started under heavy overcast with a malignant wind and wet snow blanketing the outcrops.  By the last stop on the final field trip day we were broiling in Carolina sunshine.

Views from the field trip: left- snowbound in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the 2nd stop, right- broiling in the Brevard Fault Zone at the last stop.

Views from the field trip: left- snowbound in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the 2nd stop, right- broiling in the Brevard Fault Zone at the last stop.

That evening as our crew of sun-drenched and thirsty geologists pulled to the curb in downtown Asheville and headed straight towards a brewpub, a natty hipster on a skateboard took one look at the group and commented, “Ah, you’re rolling deep.

Rolling deep?  Some of the brightest geologic minds I know were utterly stumped as to just what it meant to be rolling deep.  I’ll use the phrase in a sentence:

“Me and my Penrose posse were rolling deep in the Brevard Fault Zone looking for trouble and some dextral transpression.”

The geologic lexicon is rich with colorful expressions (for instance- there are glacial erratics, faults have both throw and heave, and ocean lithosphere can be obducted).  I have no doubt we can co-opt rolling deep as geologic term with tectonic significance.

Shaded relief map of the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjacent terrain in the Inner Piedmont and Valley & Ridge provinces of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.  The Penrose field trip examined rocks across this region.

Shaded relief map of the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjacent terrain in the Inner Piedmont and Valley & Ridge provinces of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The Penrose field trip examined rocks across this region.

I learned much about the linkages and feedbacks at work in mountain belts at this Penrose Conference–from the focused erosion in the Himalayan river systems that drive rapid exhumation to the growth dynamics of garnet porphyroblasts in metamorphic rocks from deep in the interior of thrust belts.  Heady and exciting stuff!

Choose Home

April 4, 2014 by

Admitted Class of 2018,

Congratulations on your admission to William & Mary!

Now that you have received your wonderful and exciting emails from the W&M Admission Office, it’s your turn to choose what college to attend! Yes, this is daunting, I know. I remember having SO MANY questions about what I would experience in college over the next four years. So, when making this tough of a choice, I hope that you all will think about what you hope to gain overall as part your collegiate experience. I hope you choose a place that deep down you feel that you can call home. If during your college decision making process you choose ‘Home’, I believe that your experiences and achievements will exceed your wildest imagination.

I want to tell you why, when I chose a college, William & Mary became my right choice.

Four years ago, I mapped out my goals and expectations for the next four years. Even then, though, there were so many aspects of my collegiate experience that I had no way of knowing what would happen. I was going in blind. I didn’t know then that I would have the chance to help curate a Michelangelo drawing exhibition and have my name published in a book on the subject. I didn’t know that, while studying abroad, I would watch an outdoor opera performed in Florence Italy’s Piazza Santa Croce, only a day after taking an art history class inside that same church. I didn’t know that I would spend a summer afternoon working for the Admission Office by playing a cut-throat game of kick ball against the Deans on the Sunken Garden. I didn’t even know I’d be making almost nightly study runs to Wawa for chicken strips or chips and salsa – per W&M student tradition. (But let’s face it: #Gotta_Hava_Wawa)

Here, I believe that I am able forge a path with distinct involvements, leadership roles, secret study spots, and groups of friends. As part of the William & Mary family, I am able to truly be myself and am motivated by others to succeed and achieve. Once I started college at W&M, all of the surprising moments and details of my college experience just seemed to fall into place. Here there are so many opportunities – unique and surprising and altogether pretty magical opportunities – that I have been able to take advantage of.

One of my huge time commitments here is my role on AMP or Alma Mater Productions – the campus event programming board. I am truly honored to have had the chance to run some of the major events on campus over the last four years. Some of my favorite weeks are slam packed with AMP events. I get to hear an Environmental Sustainability speaker on Tuesday, hug a llama at a petting zoo on Wednesday afternoon, listen to friends perform at a student music showcase on Thursday night, Keep up my team’s title of Trivia Champions on Friday, and go to a Wiz Khalifa concert on Saturday. After months of planning, seeing an event run smoothly and successfully is a joy. AMP has provided me with an engaging work opportunity and a busy schedule, but also with a solid group of friends and like-minded individuals who are all passionate about supporting their community and giving back to campus.

I will never forget one of my favorite nights this year, going to a sorority formal with one of my best friends. Even though I am not affiliated with a Greek organization, I have always felt so included and welcomed at any event that a Greek organization has put on. After we danced the night away, we traded our heels for tennis shoes and ran across campus to AMP’s Late Nite Glowball event. Yes, we were still wearing our dresses and bling, but those boys had to watch out; we were pretty lethal with glow-in-the-dark dodge balls. That night epitomizes for me the magical possibilities of W&M and all the opportunities that I can take advantage of each day with my friends and organizations.

This year, I also discovered the joys of brunch. I LOVE brunch. Conveniently, Williamsburg is somehow the capital of pancake houses in the United States. The number of restaurants where I can indulge in pancakes and bacon is truly astronomical. Because of this, a group of friends and I recently decided to create a “Brunch Tour of Williamsburg” in order to travel around the area testing out all of the brunch locations possible. French Toast, Huevos Rancheros, and Honey Butter’s to-die-for corncakes really are the best way to start the weekend while laughing around a huge table with my best friends and Brunch Buddies.

Another one of my favorite moments from this semester was the spring tradition of Campus Golf. The event is a Greek philanthropy where teams dressed in crazy costumes play a round of golf across Old Campus. My team decided to be Sexy Presidents. Let me tell you, it is somewhat difficult to make President Martin van Buren look sexy with a bald cap and white pillow-stuffing mutton chops at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. It didn’t help when George Washington, Honest Abe, Teddy Roosevelt and I ended up being chased around the Sunken Garden by a mob of Sailing Club members dressed as knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail—all wielding golf clubs and coconuts. I don’t think I made one hole that morning of Campus Golf. That said, the philanthropy did however lead to a spring break trip with my golf caddies, my fellow presidents, and one of the Knights Who Say ‘Ni!’. During campus traditions and community events, it is friends like these who have made an impact on my overall time here.

These are only a very few of surprises and moments that have made my college experience so special. I chose a school that fosters innovation on a campus steeped in tradition; a school that stresses service to the community; and a school that revels in the unique and quirky passions of its students. In being part of this environment, all of my experiences became possible.

William & Mary is my Home. I wouldn’t change my decision for the world.

So, Class of 2018, I hope in your final decision you choose ‘Home.’ Choose a college where you feel you can thrive and take advantage of all the magical possibilities available to you. And if you want to really see if William & Mary can be ‘Home’ for you, I hope that you will join the Tribe on April 12th for W&M’s Day For Admitted Students. See you on campus soon!

Newbies step up

April 2, 2014 by

The MANOS students had reason for concerns about language proficiency and depth for the annual project trip.  Two of our most talented and experienced teammates would not make the trip.  Lester Chavez ’14 (8 trips) and Kristina Ripley ’15 (2 trips), both native Spanish speakers and both deeply knowledgeable about our research, methods, and theory, were missed for their talents — and for their companionship. MANOS students with “advanced” speaking abilities were asked to step up and to step into more active roles in focus group interviews and community meetings.  Johnathan (“J$”) Maza ’15 (5 trips) and Kristin Giordano ’14 (5 trips), in particular, assumed lead speaking roles and made especially significant contributions to team efforts.  Chrissy Sherman ’14 (8 trips), Brooke (aka “Bruce”) Huffman ’15 (4 trips), Roni Nagle ’15 (4 trips), Tommy (“Mad Dog”) Northrup ’16 (3 trips), Ambika Babbar ’14 (3 trips), Steph (aka “Baywatch”) Wraith ’15 (4 trips), Emily Mahoney ’15 (2 trips), and Zander (aka “TZ”) Pelligrino ’15 (4 trips) pushed themselves to engage more actively as speakers and translators, and the result was that we had more language abilities in play than in any previous project work.  (My opinion; my teammates past and present may or may not agree.)  And, our newest team members, especially Quetzabel (“Q”) Benavides ’16 (2nd trip), Michelle Betancourt ’17 (1), both native Spanish speakers, moved seamlessly into very demanding roles in both interviewing and facilitating community meetings. Sarah (aka “SB”) Martin ’17 (1 trip) and “Quesa” Diya Uthappa ’17 (1) waded into the mix to provide both sound note-taking (in Spanish) and comments and questions in the course of meetings and interviews. In all, it was a very strong showing.

J$ Maza struggled against his comfort zone to meet team needs for communications — not just proficient Spanish but engaged, deliberative, inviting exchange that brought participants fully into important and consequential conversations.  Reminiscent of James Bond’s provisioner, our very own “Q” was a marvel of invention and innovation, particularly adept with the turn of phrase and metaphor — and remarkably steady in facilitating the participation and inclusion of Chaguite residents.

What to say of this intrepid, rowdy bunch of public health and participatory development research wonks?  They are not easily discouraged; they don’t whine; they bend to the work at hand; they rise above the challenges; and they stay focused on systematic knowledge and respectful partnering to promote change.  There was not much drama in this year’s work.  Given the challenges of logistics, the demands of the work, the difficulty of living with 18 or so other people 24-hours per day, and the complexity of the issues we attempt to understand and manage, that says a hell of a lot!  Somehow, Baywatch and her assembly of collaborators managed to set up and operate daily clinics in multiple locations, only one of which is intended for use as a medical clinic.  The daily setup and striking, by all accounts, were seamless.  FOMO Sherman was everywhere, responding to the needs of the work even before the rest of us knew that there were needs.  Kristin Giordano proved herself again to be a “thoughtful watcher,” keenly aware of details in exchanges, unfailing in her attention to human and cultural matters — even as she took on significant responsibilities as a lead speaker.  We have been fortunate throughout the project to have at least one team member whose deep concerns for respectful partnering, whose cultural awareness and sensitivity shine a bright light on what we say and do as guests in another country and community.  Kristin has been superb in this role.

As always, there is more to say:  ”Dog bites man.”  ”Mountain bruises car.”  ”Earthquake compounds travel difficulties.”  These might have been (and still might be) headlines for blog posts.  The countless contributions of every member of the team deserve to be spotlighted, but fortunately for all of us, we don’t do this for recognition.  The satisfaction comes from learning and from careful, methodical efforts to test the value of what we learn in advancing authentic partnerships for change.