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Tribe Generations

March 1, 2011 by

The other night, I had the privilege of attending a dinner hosted at a William and Mary alumna’s house, right here in Williamsburg. My co-chair for Senior Class Gift, Michael Tsidulko, and I both attended the informal get-together, and we both had a wonderful time mingling with different generations of Tribe alumni.

Though we are generations apart (some of the guests graduated from the class of 1960), we could all share the common experience of having an incredible experience at the College. Beyond that, we all have a deeply profound love for the school, which has given us so much. For each of us at the table, our love for William and Mary has inspired us all to give back to the College in some way – it’s our way of showing that we believe in our school and that we want it to succeed in the coming years. At the Senior Class Gift kick-off, President Reveley mentioned that giving back to our school is like giving our school a vote of confidence. I know that all of us very much feel that way, which is what led each of us at the dinner table to serve on our own Class Gift committees.

I think it’s sometimes hard to see in the hustle and bustle of the semester – especially as we are in the midst of midterms, but being at the dinner table with these W&M alumni made me realize that I am a part of a family that is so much bigger than just the student body. I can’t put it into words how I felt a huge connection to each of the alumni there that evening. Two of the alumnae at the table were even in the same sorority that I’m currently in – small world! Beyond that though, it was entertaining to hear stories about William and Mary before our time. I mean, who knew that they used to have laundry service here where they picked up your laundry bags outside of your dorm room each week?!

That Sunday night dinner has definitely put a lot of things in perspective for me. It made me realize that the William and Mary experience is so much more than the 4 years on campus. That’s just the beginning. I know that wherever I end up after graduation, I will always be a part of this Tribe family, and for that, I am grateful.

Wesley Ng ’11

7 Down, 1 To Go

November 29, 2010 by

As the end of the semester is fast approaching, I wanted to catch up on what has been going on in my life these past few months. Getting ready for the final semester of my senior year at college can be kind of daunting, and sometimes sad. I realized, as I registered for classes a few weeks back, that I only need 13 credits to graduate—and that’s with more than 120 credits overall! With only 13 credits on my plate, I will have more free time and more time to apply to jobs. This is perhaps the most frustrating and often sad part of the last semester of senior year—looking for employment. A lot of older folks say that, ‘You shouldn’t worry; you’re young, it’ll be no time before you find a job.’ Yet when you’re sitting there, in front of the computer screen trying to modify your resume to seem more complete, like you have accomplished something in the past four or more years, the prospect of a job seems a million miles away.

For some of us seniors, the job hunt is yet a few years away, with the graduate school applications taking up all the time you have, free or not. And for them as well, the prospect of embarking on another few years of education seems to be daunting, while job applications seem to be the easiest option. Yet whichever way you spin it, one thing is clear—we, the upcoming seniors of 2011, are scared and excited to move on with our lives. We are in living anticipation of what is yet to come, what the world has yet to offer us, because as the fresh faced graduates of William and Mary, we know that there is no class better prepared to take life head on than we, the seniors of 2011.

Sabina Abdullayeva
Class of 2011

Putting the Green in Green and Gold

November 18, 2010 by

At William & Mary, we take sustainability seriously, and are continually looking for ways to green our campus.  From our academic program to our dining halls, every aspect of William & Mary is getting more environmentally friendly.

Our Student Environmental Action Coalition is one of the largest student run organizations and has been increasingly effective at greening our school.  When the school was unable to provide outdoor recycling on old campus, SEAC members worked to empty the containers themselves (with the help of one of our service fraternities).  Their current campaigns include working to fight an environmentally disastrous coal plant from being built a short distance from campus and working to bring more sustainable energy sources to campus.  Students are encouraged by SEAC to use CFL light bulbs, reusable coffee mugs, and each room comes with a recycling container to help students recycle.

I have particular insight into the changes in the dining halls, as I am a member of the Food Services Advisory Committee, a group of students and administrators that work together to advise our dining services contractor on meal plans and other issues related to the dining halls.  There has been massive improvement over the past two years relating to almost every aspect of their operation.  We compost nearly all of our leftover food to help reduce waste and produce organic fertilizer, have gone trayless to reduce dishwashing waste, and even instituted a reusable to-go container program so that students can eat outside of the dining halls without lots of material waste.  When logistically possible, our dining halls purchase locally grown foods.  Our condiment containers are centrally located, so there is no waste from individual containers on every table.  And the best part is that many of these projects were funded through outside grants, so most of the time, these changes haven’t even cost the College anything.  Some even save money, as less material waste means cheaper goods and less money spent.

Other projects include working to make the Lodges into an “eco-village” which will model the latest in sustainable housing, an initiative to put solar panels on the roof of our physics building, and the Do One Thing program by members of the Business School, which focuses on encouraging students to find one new thing they can do to be environmentally friendly each day.  All of our newly constructed residence halls are LEED certified and the older ones are frequently updated to make them more environmentally efficient where necessary.  Appliances in the residence hall kitchens are all Energy Star rated and the washers are specially designed to require less energy and water.  The Committee on Sustainability—an advisory group formed of students, professors, and administrators—meets monthly and many of its subgroups meet weekly to find new ways to make the school greener.   They fund various projects and initiatives, including an investigation into our recycling practices which saved the College $40,000 and helped us recycle more at the same time, proving that green doesn’t have to come at the expense of gold.

For more information, check out the following links:

The school’s sustainability website, with links to the Committee on Sustainability and various initiatives to green our campus

The SEAC homepage with links to its various campaigns and tips on what you can do.

The blog of our Sustainability Fellow, an official campus position dedicated to making the College greener.

Matt Herdman
Class of 2012

Take Me Home, Country Roads

November 16, 2010 by

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River-
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin’ like a breeze…

-John Denver “Take me Home, Country Roads”

For the past two and a half weeks, I have listened to John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads” hundreds of times.  Literally hundreds.  Fall is fully in season, the trees are beautiful; their golden orange and warm red leaves command my attention as I gaze longingly out my classroom window.  I love the outdoors, hiking, and being part of wilderness; therefore, I decided that it was time to take a break from “real life,” and enter the mountains.

Being from New Jersey, I have not had the ability to go hiking very close to my house.  However, William and Mary offers both beautiful hiking trails on and off campus.  Feeling like I had hiked, jogged, or walked many of the miles of trails surrounding the campus and Lake Matoaka, I decided it was time to take an adventure to the Shenandoah Valley—a place I had never been before.  The trip was painless! While my two friends and I needed a car to get there, the distance was not an issue, it cost $15 total for all three of us, and the weather could not have been more perfect.  I will never get sick of the Virginia weather; it has the perfect fall (and mild winters)!

After a long day and an eight mile hike, I felt rejuvenated, and ready to return to school to conquer finals.  Hiking the Shenandoah is an experience I encourage everyone to take part in, and I had the best time.  However, I was still ready to return back to campus, back to my familiar trees, and back to my familiar paths.  When I applied to William and Mary, I thought mainly about all of the opportunities that the campus provides me with, but, in my time here, I have learned all about the opportunities that the location of my school offers me with as well.

If you come to William and Mary, PLEASE take advantage of all of the nature that the school offers.  Also, the Recreation Center has an Outdoors Club that goes on many adventures like hiking the Shenandoah, rock climbing, midnight canoeing, and so many more things that provide amazing experiences, and that are singular to William and Mary!

Carrie Winter
Class of 2012

Some Much Deserved Love for the Reference Librarians at Swem Library

November 4, 2010 by

When I give tours to prospective students and their families, I always try to mention the extra academic resources available to students: different help groups on campus like the Writing Resources Center, weekly Math Department help hours, or the Reference Librarians.  Ohhh, the reference librarians!  A professor for an English class I took sophomore year first brought me to the reference librarians’ help desk.  Now, two years later, I visit the reference librarians frequently.

The librarians who work at the reference desk of Swem library help students who need research and resources for papers, projects, or assignments.  My favorite reference librarian, Alan Zoellner, can effectively search almost every online database available on the Swem website!  To give you an idea how useful that is—there are over 200 databases!  I’ve gotten help from Mr. Zoellner on subjects ranging from Toni Morrison to the evolution of American vernacular dance in the nineteenth century.  My last and favorite part about the reference librarian desk you ask?  They are available via appointment, email, instant message, and now text message too!  Happy researching!

Phoebe Boutwell
Class of 2011

Alma Mater Hail

October 26, 2010 by

Last week something felt a little different around the College. There was a sense of excitement in the air, a growing anticipation that continued to build as the days passed. Students and faculty began looking forward to the weekend with even more impatience than usual, and the ever-present green and gold became even more ubiquitous. What could have stirred this level of animation and enthusiasm during a time of year usually reserved for long nights in the library and pot after pot of strong coffee? What could have increased Tribe Pride to an even higher intensity then usual? Nothing other than Homecoming 2010, a weekend filled with reunions, receptions, tailgates, and generally more free food than any other time of the year. Current students welcomed their alumni back to relive old memories and make new ones as the line at the Green Leafe wrapped around the block and photo ops on the Sadler Center Terrace seemed mandatory for nearly every group of passerby.

I admit it took me a little while to get excited about Homecoming. I was coming off of a week full of papers and exams, with more looming large on the other side of the festivities. To me Homecoming was just another weekend, albeit one with more events to attend and obligations to fulfill as I tried to balance all the alumni events for the different organizations with which I am involved. As Friday evening arrived, however, and I started to suddenly see faces around campus that I hadn’t seen in quite some time, I began to realize that whoever invented the idea of a homecoming celebration was quite smart indeed. Throughout the rest of the weekend I chauffeured graduated sisters in my sorority, sat for hours in Aromas catching up with friends who are now off braving “the real world,” and lamented the absence of those who couldn’t make it to Williamsburg physically. It was a whirlwind to say the least.

Writing this blog late on the Monday night following the festivities I am already nostalgic for the experience. I didn’t realize how much I had missed the alums until they were around me once more and it suddenly hit me on Sunday afternoon that I will have to wait another whole year to have this experience again. Sure, alums who live in the area or even as far away as D.C. will pay this place a visit every so often but the full Homecoming atmosphere in all its glory will not be replicated for quite some time. Even more disturbing was the realization that I only have one more Homecoming as a “welcomer” before I join the ranks of the welcomed. This new awareness made me suddenly become much more conscious of how quickly my college experience is passing. All too soon I will have to buy a plane ticket or at least settle in for a long drive in order to see the sun set over the Wren Building rather than stepping outside my front door. All too soon I will be the one exclaiming over all the changes that have taken place since I last “came home” and reminiscing over “the good old days.” OK, so maybe I’m being a little too dramatic, but my sentiment is sincere. I love this place, and I want to make a point to treasure every last one of my remaining minutes here. They say you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone and I plan to appreciate everything W&M has to offer before I have to let it go. And on that note, I’m off to people-watch in the Sunken Gardens for a while. Care to join me?

Go Tribe.
Hark upon the gale.

Katie Clough
Class of 2012

Geology Rocks…Seriously

October 8, 2010 by

I spent this summer in Moab, Utah, working on my senior thesis in Geology.  When I wasn’t taking breaks from the heat with my three research partners (Lauren Lamp and Matt Sparacino from William & Mary, and Tevis Blom from Colorado University), I was studying bedrock channels—rivers that run over rock—and how the weathering of rock causes them to evolve.  This is a surprisingly complex question, but it’s one that needs an answer.  Bedrock channels are critical in shaping some of the most impressive landscapes on the face of the earth.  The Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and the Badlands all owe much of their carving to channels that develop over their hard rock surfaces—something that we don’t see that often in Williamsburg.  Among many other reasons why we study bedrock channels, the landscape change that takes place as they evolve can significantly impact human structures.  If you built a house, bridge, or skyscraper right on the edge of an active bedrock channel valley, it is more than likely that you would find its remnants in the river that is carving it within a few hundred years.   Clearly, knowing how the geometry of bedrock channels changes is very important to people all over the world.

Getting to perform field work for the first time was fantastic.  However, the most amazing thing about my summer was the location.  I had never been to the “Wild Wild West” before, and Will Smith’s song hadn’t come close to doing it justice.  I would look up from the rocks that I was working on and see sandstone cliffs rising 200 feet above me.  The cliffs, canyons and topography of Moab were not merely visually inspiring; they also made me think about how much time that it took for such natural beauty to be carved.  Considering how landscapes form and how long it takes them to do so is, for me, the coolest part of what I study.

But the coolest part of the trip—literally—was what we got to do when we needed a break.  Tevis, the CU grad student, designated the phrase “I don’t know” as a sacred safe-word.  If any of us responded to a question about numbers, calculations, or field notes with those three words, it meant that the desert sun was too hot to handle, and that we all needed to take a break.  We took this rule very seriously, so it happened rarely (I have to say that: my research advisor might be reading).  But when we did get the chance to escape our beautiful but oven-like study sites of 100-odd degrees, we would get in “the Juggernaut”—the research vehicle that we clearly became emotionally attached to—and drove until we found ourselves in the La Sal mountain range, merely 20 miles away.  There, both the view and the temperature were unbelievable: not only could we see all of Moab from the heights of the La Sals, but we could view them at a comfortable 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  While I learned in Geo 101 that the temperature drops about five degrees for every thousand feet of elevation that you climb, I never appreciated the awesomeness of this thermocline until I got the chance to benefit from this altitudinal air conditioning…even in the form of a snowball fight at one point.

Thank you Tevis, Matt, Lauren, and W&M’s Geology department.  I had a fantastic summer.  And I learned a lot.

Joe Quinn
Class of 2011

In which the hot spots we flock to serve cold treats

October 6, 2010 by

The smell of autumn is in the air as I walk to classes in cardigans and new boots. Fall break approaches, and with that the anticipation of a lovely extended weekend in Williamsburg. Wait, what? Aren’t you going home, Cristina? Well, seeing as the parents are out of the country and I’ve done all my laundry, staying on campus with my two best girlfriends provides the greatest opportunity to rediscover the (not-so) hidden treasures of Williamsburg.

Enter Berrybody. Newly opened on Prince George Street (i.e. a block off campus!!!), the Frozen Yogurt shop is my light at the end of the tunnel, the ultimate reward I will grant myself after I click ‘Send’ on the last paper, or place the last stroke on the last character of my Chinese exam. Ah, I can already picture myself, disregarding the cold and forgetting about class readings and major declarations for 20 minutes of the flavor of the day and two toppings of my choice. And make no mistake, I am not alone here. It’s been open for less than a week but already I have witnessed the facebook buzz and seen the flocks enjoying a treat at the end of the day.  I’m confident in this back up plan right here in town, and the fact that I will return to classes just as relieved as everyone else. So as I watch my friends pack up for a long weekend at home, basking in the pleasure of their mother’s cooking and mini-reunions, I don’t fret. In fact, I think I’ll mosey on over right now and get a preview of what is to come after a long, busy week is done.

Cristina Miranda
Class of 2012

Get Me to the Greek

September 29, 2010 by

When I arrived on campus my freshman year, I was about as anti-sorority as they come.  Sure, for some girls it might be fun; but for me, there was absolutely NO WAY this self-proclaimed tomboy was going to join a group of squealy girly girls.  Freshman year came and went without any sort of nagging feeling that something was missing–I had my friends, my classes and my other commitments.  There was no revelation, no voice from the heavens, that indicated Greek Life was something I needed to be a part of.

For reasons that still kind of escape me now, I decided to participate in formal fall recruitment my sophomore year.  I found myself pleasantly surprised at the number of women whose company I truly enjoyed.  When I finally settled on my top choice, I was excited to learn they wanted me too.  But…not over the moon about it.  To me, this experience would be fun but I still didn’t necessarily feel that “this is what I’ve been missing” sentiment.

Last year, I was elected as the Vice-President of Standards, a position which requires me to live in the sorority house.  I was extremely apprehensive at first because I had always enjoyed my non-Greek roommate and my little safe haven from all things sorority.  How would I deal with spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with girls from my chapter?

Already this year has been one of the best I’ve spent at W&M.  I have had the opportunity to get to know my sisters better and forge friendships with some of the brightest, kindest , most accomplished women at the College.  There is always someone who will watch TV with you, go out to dinner with you or lend you a fabulous outfit.  The house is always full of crazy stories, fantastic food and the best friends a girl could ask for. Who would have thought that even someone like me could feel so at home there?

Britt Beringer
Class of 2011

Plague of the Service Bug

September 22, 2010 by

After being a member of an international alternative break trip, then leading one to Central America to work on housing issues, I was bitten by a swarm of Service Bugs.

Since then, I have had the privilege of working for Branch Out International, a program run by the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, that focuses on international alternative breaks. Little did I know what an enriching experience this would be. At this point, all I knew was that there was a great need for change in the world, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had NO clue how to go about this, though.

Enter: 5 other student directors, an advisor who works for Branch Out (Branch Out oversees Branch Out Regional, National, and International alternative break trips at W&M) and a whole lot of passion for service. Each week we collaborate on how to improve upon the service that we do in communities both domestically and internationally, and how we can go about creating the biggest impact on social justice. That’s quite the daunting task.

Each week though, I’m inspired by the insight and ideas that these student directors bring to the table. Most of the time, I can’t even wrap my head around the questions of “What is social justice?” and “How do we get there?” Nevertheless, without fail, my fellow student directors bring a new piece of the puzzle to the table, and put it into action via our alternative break trips. Absolutely mind-blowing.

Sure, one alternative break trip won’t alleviate all the problems of the world and bring about that illusive “world peace” that Miss America seems to always want (Miss Congeniality, anyone?). However, I am completely convinced that these trips have the power to educate our students and bring awareness to so many different issues, ranging from housing affordability to medical aid to education.

These experiences through Branch Out have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my college career and have, without a doubt, shaped the person that I am and want to become. Through both my trips and working for Branch Out, I have developed a passion for finding ways to reach that lofty goal of “social justice,” and hope to pursue a career in the field after fulfilling my dreams of working in the Peace Corps.

The Service Bug has been the most welcome insect in my life, and for that I am thankful.

Wesley Ng

Class of 2011