Running a Marathon is A Lot like College

Running a Marathon is A Lot like College

After nearly three months of training, I successfully
completed the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 10, 2010. It was a phenomenal
experience, and it has truly changed my life for the better. Before I begin to
describe the pain and glory of each of the 26.2 miles, let’s rewind a couple of
months. As you likely realize, running a marathon requires weeks and weeks of
preparation. Not only do you need to train your muscles for running longer
distances than usual, but you also need the opportunity to discover each and
every one of your body’s quirks. Do you face an unquenchable thirst after mile
8? Do you experience an insufferable sense of hunger after mile 15? Does your
right ankle start to ache after mile 20? In this way, training is a sort of
experiment, in which you test your body’s limits and push them a little
further. At the peak of my training, I was forced to balance running with
studying for exams, writing final papers, and finding the appropriate clothing
for unexpected wintry weather. Unfortunately, the busyness of college life
sometimes forced me to take a day or two off, but I often resorted to running
through the dark streets of Williamsburg
at 10pm or later. Regardless of the schedule of my training, I somehow managed
to run hundreds of exhausting miles and whip my body into shape to run a
marathon by January.
So, you’ll understand why I was almost brought to tears as I
watched Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the Disney characters count down to the
start of the race, at which point fireworks shot into the air, as they only
would in Disney World. Although it was only 5:30am, the sounds of the cheers
and my heart pounding were enough for me to realize, “This is it!” I was very
fortunate to run with my dad, my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend, Lisa. We
had a fantastic time running through Epcot, the Magic Kingdom,
the Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Throughout the race, costumed
characters and all sorts of performers greeted and encouraged runners. Coupled
with my carefully edited iPod playlist, I managed to stay upbeat and positive
for nearly every mile of the race. Now, during the 4 hours on my feet, I had
the opportunity to do a lot of
thinking. I thought about the incredible sense of organization and
professionalism that defines The Walt Disney Company. I thought about how kind
the hundreds of volunteers were to wake up at 4am to pass out cups of water,
Powerade, and Clif Shots. I pondered the unlucky coincidence that I was running
during the coldest weekend on record in Florida’s
history. I even thought about (and enjoyed) the odd lyrics that compose the
majority of the songs on Ke$ha’s Animal.
After all, what exactly does P. Diddy
feel like in the morning?
But most notably, I had an epiphany: Running a marathon is a
lot like college. Similar to a
marathon, college is arguably a long commitment–4 years. Each year brings new
and exciting adventures, and they each require a great deal of preparation. In
a marathon, your training may allow you to run anywhere between 2 hours, if
you’re an Olympian, and 7 hours. This is a pretty long time to run. You prepare
for every couple of miles by stretching, hydrating, and eating. In college, you
may take anywhere between 12 and 18 credits a semester, and students usually
prepare by registering, purchasing textbooks, browsing syllabi, and sometimes
researching relevant material prior to the start of classes. Just like college,
running a marathon often requires constant spurts of inspiration and
motivation. I cannot tell you how inspiring the hundreds of people were that
stood along the sidelines, holding posters and cheering for the runners, as
they literally chased their dreams. In a similar way, family, friends,
professors, administrators, and classmates all serve as sources of motivation
during the four years of college. The students and professors at William and
Mary, although pursuing their own goals, will always make time for one another.
And of course, inspirational quotes and music work for both running and
college. I was sure to include the entire Rudy
soundtrack, which is absolutely amazing, on my marathon playlist, and I
write this blog with more than a handful of motivational quotes taped above me
on my desk.
Furthermore, if you’ve every participated in a competitive
race, you’ll know that the running community is one in a million. During the
six or seven hours of pre-marathon activities, running, and post-marathon
celebrations, I had the chance to meet more smiling faces than I’ve ever seen
in my life. Runners are simply some of the happiest, friendliest, and most
inspired people you’ll ever meet. There is a tremendous sense of community
present at any race–a mutual understanding of all of the hard work that each
runner had put in to get to this
point. And for that reason, they care for one another every step of the way. Sound
familiar? I honestly can’t think of a better comparison to William and Mary. Every single student at the College has proven themselves
in one way or another to have earned their ticket to study at this amazing
institution. This shared sense of accomplishment and compassion translates into
a Tribe community that exists in the classroom, on the athletic fields and
courts, at organizational meetings, and in every corner of the world. Students
and alumni of William and Mary share a unique bond that is quite comparable to
that among members of the running community.
Finally, although I am a huge proponent of the idea that it
is the journey that truly matters in life, I cannot ignore the undeniable truth that
the finish line always shines as a beacon in the distance. In running, my smile grew
bigger and bigger as I watched the numbers on the mile marker signs increase
from 10 to 20 to 26. I imagined the finish line in my head and the feelings of
pride and excitement that I would soon experience. Similarly, William and Mary
students are always pondering the countless opportunities waiting beyond
graduation: places to move, experiences to be had, jobs to be earned, lives to
be changed. As I crossed the Walt Disney World finish line, greeted by Mickey
Mouse and Donald Duck, I raised my arms with an unparalled sense of
accomplishment. Last week, I actually ordered a glass-framed box that will
include a final certificate, my medal, and the very picture of me crossing the
line. With graduation less than four months away, I imagine I will experience
quite similar emotions as I am handed my diploma.  While I may not raise my arms in the air, I
will certainly feel that same sort of pride and overwhelming sense of
accomplishment, as anyone would after such a long but meaningful journey.
Have a fantastic week!
Ryan



A William and Mary Semester in 5 Minutes

Hey Everyone!
I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the start of the
holiday season. I am so glad that I finally have the chance to post a new blog.
I officially finished the fall semester this past Thursday, and I have returned
safely to my home in Maryland.
The past several months have been extremely hectic, but I am trying my hardest
to soak up every minute of my final year at William and Mary. It would be
difficult to pack nearly four months of updates into one blog, so I’ll give you
an abbreviated version. Here we go…
I started the year with my fourth and final Orientation
experience of college. For the past three years, I have volunteered as an
Orientation Aide and served as a guide for freshmen halls during their first
week on campus. This year, I was lucky enough to spend five days with the new
students in Dinwiddie Hall. Shout-out: Din to the what? Widdie! Not only did
they have the chance to get to know William and Mary’s campus, but they also
attended all sorts of information sessions and social mixers. It was extremely
rewarding to use my own experiences to answer their questions and lead them
into this newest chapter of their lives. I absolutely loved getting to know
each of them, and I think we all had a fantastic time.
After Orientation, the rest of the students returned to
campus, and the semester took off at full speed. My time in September was
almost entirely devoted to planning the first-ever Tribe Idol singing
competition, which was a philanthropic event sponsored by two Greek
organizations on campus. We started by choosing 12 students to sing on the
night of the show. They each had the chance to sing part of a song a cappella,
but only six were chosen by the four judges to advance to the second round.
Those lucky six contestants then sang a full song with music, and the audience
voted for the winner. The show was a lot of fun, and we found some tremendously
talented students on campus. In the end, we raised over $800, which was donated
to a local shelter for battered women and children. Eat your heart out,
American Idol!
October is usually the craziest month of the fall semester.
Students can always look forward to Homecoming, Greek formals, a cappella
concerts, fall break, and of course, midterms. With regards to academics, I
really enjoyed my classes this semester. I took everything from a French
literature course to a business course in the brand-new Miller Hall, which is
an experience in itself. I even had the chance to take an Adventure Games
course in the Kinesiology Department. We did all sorts of high-ropes course
activities, including zip-lining over Lake Matoaka!
One of my favorite classes of the semester was a one-week course on the World
Trade Organization at the Marshall-Wythe
Law School.
The course was taught by a professor from Luxembourg, and the class was
actually a combination of law students and undergraduate economics majors.
Although the material was relatively challenging, I found myself wishing the
class lasted for the entire semester.
While November can sometimes serve as a quick break after
midterms and papers, it turns out that senior year is not quite as relaxing as
you would expect. Why? Two words: job searching. My parents have never failed
to remind me that there is actually a reason why they are paying for me to
attend William and Mary-the same reason why I have spent endless nights
digesting lectures and textbooks. With the help of the Career Center
and the hidden-treasure that is the Alumni Mentor Network, I navigated my way
through resume submissions and interviews. I am extremely fortunate to be
finishing first semester with the knowledge that I will be joining a fantastic
company at the end of the school year.
Finally, December came and went in the blink of an eye. I am
thrilled to be finished with what once seemed like endless papers and exams.
The highlight of my final week was undoubtedly supporting Tribe Football at
Villanova last Friday at the FCS semifinal game-William and Mary’s first
appearance since 2004. After making the tough decision to miss an annual
fraternity event, I hopped aboard a bus full of enthusiastic students and rode
for six hours to Philadelphia.
While the bus ride certainly was not the best experience of my life, the game
was incredibly exciting. Our football team has done an amazing job this season,
and this game was no different. Although we lost to Villanova by only 1 point, the
entire team should be extremely proud of themselves for putting up a tough
fight.
As I mentioned, I am now at my home in Maryland for the next month. I am very
excited to finally relax, and I will be sure to keep you updated throughout the
holiday season as I prepare to run a marathon in January.
Have a wonderful month. Happy Holidays!
Ryan



A Look Back at Summer 2009

Well, summer has officially come to an end. My internship in
the Admission Office concluded last Friday, and I’ve now started Orientation
Aide (OA) training. After nearly two and half months of campus tours, phone
calls, information sessions, and prospective student interviews, I can honestly
say that there is no other way that I would have liked to have spent my summer.
First of all, I had the chance to work with a phenomenal group of interns–10
people that really did amaze me each and every day. It certainly takes a lot of
heart and dedication to give two tours in one day in 90 degree weather, which
my fellow interns did regularly with
a smile and A LOT of personality. Between the incessant challenges to death
matches at the sundial (in front of Swem Library) from KP to the never-ending
comments about South Dakota and Croakies from Austin, I have certainly
had to brush up on my witty remarks and come-backs this summer. Not only have
the interns been an absolute pleasure to work with everyday in the office (cue
inside jokes: High School Cheerleader, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Stephanie
Berger, etc.), but we have also had a lot of fun on our own time with Mug Nights, kickball
(first intern class EVER to beat the Deans), and The Cave.
But of course, none of this would have been possible,
if it weren’t for all of the wonderful prospective students and campus visitors. After
interviewing almost 140 rising seniors this summer, I must say that there are
some extraordinary high school students in the world. I had the chance to speak
with a decent number of 17-year-olds who have done more during their four years of high school than
most people do in a lifetime–founding philanthropic organizations, partaking in
international service trips, developing research projects, and much more. I
also met students who bring an unparalled level of passion to their studies,
including a young lady who knew more about American literature than anyone I
have ever met. These are students that left me both awe-stricken and
inspired–students that would bring so much life and energy to the College. It
was certainly a privilege to be able to contribute to the designing and molding
of the Class of 2014.
Despite the intense heat and sometimes-exhausting walks, I
also really enjoyed giving tours, which gave me the opportunity to meet
and speak with hundreds of people on a daily basis. Looking back over the
summer, there is one experience that really stands out in my mind. Toward the
end of May, there was a special tour scheduled for William and Mary alumni and
their children (prospective students). Before giving the tour, I knew that it
would be an interesting experience because the visitors would know just as much
about the College as I did. This tour was hands-down one of my most favorite
experiences of the summer. The alumni never hesitated to throw in a brief bit
of history or tell a personal story, which made the tour so much more
enjoyable. As I spoke about Morton Hall (home to the government and economics
departments), I mentioned that it is where I spend most of my class time.
Immediately after making this statement, a gentleman in the crowd yelled, “ME
TOO!” We then spoke for a minute or two about the government department and its
wonderful home on campus. Later on in the tour, the same man and I found (with
much excitement) that we both lived in Dupont Hall during our freshmen years. I
can’t quite explain it, but there was something so fulfilling about discussing
William and Mary with this gentlemen. This was a man that I had never met
before, but it was obvious that we had a very unique bond. It was extremely
gratifying to be able to speak so comfortably with a complete stranger, who was
at least 20 years older than myself, about our common experiences. I think this
is only a small testament to the strength of the community that exists at
William and Mary, among both the undergraduate students and the entire body of
alumni. Once you join our community, you are always a part of the Tribe.
As you can probably guess, I have learned a lot about myself
and the College this summer. My internship in the Admission Office was an
unforgettable experience and a wonderful opportunity; it certainly gave me
greater appreciation for William and Mary and all of the people that make up
this remarkable community. This Friday, the Class of 2013 will arrive on
campus, and I CAN’T WAIT to meet them. I am sure that they will quickly find through personal discovery why it is that I love the College so much. I will certainly keep you updated on
everything that happens during our 5-day orientation program.
Have a fantastic rest of the week!
Ryan



Churning butter and forging metal? Not so much.

When you think of Williamsburg,
what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If you said colonial history,
you’re not alone. Many people imagine William and Mary to be surrounded by
re-enactors, horse buggies, and taverns.  While all of these things do actually exist
on Duke of Gloucester Street (across from the Wren building), there is a lot more to do in Williamsburg than taking
pictures with Thomas Jefferson statues and visiting historical court houses.
Believe it or not, students don’t actually churn butter and forge metal at the
local blacksmith for fun on the weekends. There are more stores, restaurants,
and attractions in Williamsburg
and the surrounding area than any student could probably visit in a semester. To help narrow down the options, I thought I’d make a list of
things to do for your convenience. Here you go!
MY TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS TO DO AROUND WILLIAM AND MARY
10. Go out to eat:
As I mentioned above, there is a borderline-ridiculous number of restaurants in
Williamsburg.
Barrett’s Seafood, Fat Canary, Blue Talon, the Trellis, and the Cheese Shop are
all wonderful restaurants within walking distance from campus. Looking for a
quick meal? Panera, Cheeburger
Cheeburger, California
Tortilla, and Five Guys are also all very close. And of course, you’ll find
Applebee’s, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, Carrabba’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and
every fast food restaurant you could possibly imagine. When you arrive in Williamsburg, you’ll also
hear a lot about the Delis, including Paul’s, the Green Leafe Café, and the
College Delly. These are really popular for students, especially on the
weekends. To put it simply, Williamsburg
is not a bad place to be, if you’re hungry!
9. Take a trip to the
Williamsburg
Winery: I visited the Winery for the first time a few weeks ago and
absolutely loved it. Here, you’ll have the chance to take a tour, learn a lot
about the wine-making process, and even sample 7 different wines (if you’re 21,
of course). You even get a complimentary Williamsburg Winery glass.
8. Hike in Yorktown: Feeling active? There are a number of
different hiking trails in Yorktown. Not only
are there day hikes, but there are also weekend backpacking trips and multi-day
trekking trails. This is a great opportunity to get away from the textbooks and exams and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!
7. Go shopping at the
Prime Outlets: That’s right – there are 120 outlet stores right on Richmond Road. Nike, Ralph Lauren Polo, J. Crew, Vans,
L.L. Bean, Under Armour, and PacSun are just a few of them. The outlets are a
great place to go if you need some new clothes, shoes, a swimming suit, or if
you’re just looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon. Not to mention
the fact that they have a lot of delicious samples at Le Gourmet Chef.
6. Spend a day in
Colonial Williamsburg
(CW): I definitely can’t leave CW off of the list. Take a stroll down Duke
of Gloucester Street (DoG Street)
and check out Kimball
Theater, The Governor’s
Palace, the Williamsburg Capitol building, or just talk with a re-enactor. As I
mentioned in an earlier blog, students at the College have free access to all
exhibits and museums in CW. You can definitely turn a visit to Colonial Williamsburg into a great
day trip. It’s also an awesome place to take a jog.
5. Drive to Virginia Beach: It’s fantastic that we’re only 45
minutes from Virginia Beach.
This past weekend, I drove with a few of my friends (Jay, Skyler, Morgan Leigh,
and Jenn) to visit my roommate from last year. We spent a day at the beach and
ate at a couple of different restaurants. It’s the perfect place to go for an
afternoon, a night, or an entire weekend.
4. Catch a concert in
Richmond:
Looking for a bigger city? Richmond
is only about an hour away. It’s a great place to go on a weekend night,
especially to see a concert. Over the past two years, I’ve seen Gavin Degraw
and Jason Mraz at the National (a smaller but very nice venue). Richmond is also a
wonderful place to head, if you’re looking for restaurants, clubs, parks, or
even political events. 
3. Watch a movie at
New Town or the Movie Tavern: For those of you who read my blog about the
newest Harry Potter movie, you’ll
know that there are 2 movie theaters right near William and Mary’s campus. At
the Movie Tavern, you can even order food and drinks, which they’ll deliver to
you at your seat. Seeing a movie is always a great option on the weekends or a
slow weekday night.
2. Spend a hot
afternoon at Jamestown
Beach: It’s spring
and you’re feeling restless? Head to Jamestown
Beach! It’s a nice, small
beach, and it’s only about 10 or 15 minutes away from campus–the perfect place
to go when you want to get outside, go swimming, or just get a tan. The Running
Club even does a yearly run to Jamestown
Beach, so it’s definitely
feasible to run or ride your bike there.
1. Hop on a ride at Busch Gardens
or cool off at Water Country USA:
William and Mary is only a few minutes away from both of these theme parks.
Students often make day trips to Busch Gardens Europe or hang out at Water
Country, especially during the summer. There is even a Busch Gardens Day for
students in the fall, where W&M student receive a discount on tickets.
See? There is plenty to
do in Williamsburg
and the surrounding area. And of course, there is always something happening on
William and Mary’s campus. With over 400 clubs and organizations, you can
always find a concert, comedian, multi-cultural performance, or sporting event
right outside of your dorm room. To put it simply, Williamsburg is no dull place. I would be
very surprised if there were a student at the College that couldn’t find
something to do on either a weekday or a weekend. Don’t believe me? Come to
“the Burg” and check it out for yourself. I promise that you won’t be
disappointed.
Have a fantastic week!
Ryan



A New Kind of Race for Lance

This has been a great weekend for me. On Friday, I headed to
Richmond with my good friends Jay and Ross to
visit Skyler, another friend who just recently arrived back in the States from Morocco.
We had a great dinner at a hibachi restaurant and spent most of Saturday by the
pool. Tough life, I know. We even had the chance to see Skyler’s mom twirl
flame-lit batons, which was quite the spectacle!
It was also the final weekend of the 2009 Tour de France.
Many of you have probably read that Alberto Contador sped down the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday to claim his second title.
More impressive, however, was Lance Armstrong’s performance after a three and a
half year break. As the record-holder for the most Tour de France wins, many
viewers were unsure of whether or not Lance would be capable of competing at
the same caliber. Although he may not have the same strength that he did in the
past, he consistently rode well and ended up finishing in third. This may seem
unimpressive for someone who has already won the title seven different times,
but it is still an amazing accomplishment. I have been following the Tour since
the first stage, so I was especially proud to see how well Lance finished. While
he certainly had hopes to be successful on his bike, Lance made his comeback
for one reason and one reason only: to fight for the 28 million people
affected by cancer worldwide. As the founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation,
he hoped that his return to cycling would bring light to the fact that cancer
is quickly becoming the #1 killer in the world, and there is a lot that can be
done about it. Looking back over the past three weeks, I would say that he was hugely
successful.
It is a pretty well-known fact among my friends and family that
I idolize Lance Armstrong. In addition to John F. Kennedy, he is someone that I
look up to and greatly respect-a role model. If you visit my dorm room during
the school year, you will see quotes and posters of Lance scattered across the
walls. You will also never catch me without my Livestrong wristband or Nalgene
bottle. Why? Well, he is remarkably talented. His athletic accomplishments
alone are noteworthy. But more importantly, he has consistently used his fame
and resources to help lead the fight against cancer. Last summer, I was lucky
enough to attend a Livestrong Summit in Columbus,
Ohio with my friend Matt. It was
one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. Throughout the three day
program, I had the chance to listen to different keynote speakers, including
John McCain, Sanjay Gupta, and Lance Armstrong himself. I also attended daily
sessions on how to fundraise and advocate for cancer.
While these speakers and sessions were very informative, I
was taken aback by the other participants. There were hundreds of people in
attendance, and they represented all different races and age groups. The
majority of those at the Summit
were cancer survivors-some of the strongest and most inspiring people that I
have ever met. It was extremely moving to be among people who were so excited
and eager to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of millions of
others. Every single person at the conference was willing to share their own
story, listen to those of the people around them, and get to work on fighting
cancer. By the end of the Summit,
Matt and I decided that we wanted to continue the fight in our own community by
starting a Livestrong Army at William and Mary, which we are working vigorously
to do.
There are many times that I hear people say that they do not
respect Lance because of issues within his marriage or family. While I cannot
speak to his personal life, I can say that his cycling accomplishments and his
achievements through the Lance Armstrong Foundation are absolutely worthy of
respect. At the Summit,
I had the chance to see the hope that his life has instilled in so many others.
People recently diagnosed with cancer will look to Lance, see his post-cancer
success, and think to themselves: I can
beat this. He is a living example of someone who has fought with so
much strength to live his life and live it to the fullest.
I am fortunate enough to not have cancer, but I too am
inspired on a daily basis by Lance Armstrong. So, you can certainly understand
why I am thrilled to see that he finished third in yet another Tour de France.
In August, he will compete in the Tour of Ireland and will subsequently lead
the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit in Dublin,
Ireland. There
is not a doubt in my mind that great things will come from this Summit and from the Lance
Armstrong Foundation in the years ahead.
I’ll leave you with a brand new Nike commercial, which I
think perfectly portrays Lance’s hopeful and optimistic attitude: “I’m not back on my bike for them.”
Also, check out Lance’s Promise.
Thanks for reading and congratulations, Lance!
Ryan



Taking Movie-Going to an Entirely New Level

I cannot believe it is already almost August. Where has the
summer gone? I feel like this is something I say every year, but it really does
amaze me that school starts in about a month. Yesterday, I began to think about
all of the things I’ve done (or not done) since arriving in Williamsburg at the end of May. One thing
that stood out in my mind was the pretty decent-sized list of movies that I’ve
seen over the past month or two. For those of you not familiar with the Williamsburg area, there
are two movie theaters near William and Mary. The New Town Movie Theater is
really popular among students because it stands right at the center of a larger
shopping center with a number of different stores and restaurants, including Cheeburger Cheeburger, California Tortilla, Panera, and Maggie
Moo’s Ice Cream. The Movie Tavern, which just opened last school year, is also
only a few minutes from campus. Not only are tickets at the Movie Tavern
cheaper than New Town, but you can also have dinner and drinks served to you at
your seat!
Anyway, I went with Austin (another blogger) and about ten other
friends last week to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But we didn’t simply see the movie. We brought movie-going to
an entirely new level and wore very
authentic-looking costumes. Let me preface this story by saying that I’m
actually not a huge Harry Potter
fanatic. To be completely honest, I haven’t even read the fifth, sixth, or
seventh books. I prefer to wait to see the movie version of the stories and then decide whether or not I’d like
to put in the hours needed to finish each of the ungodly-long books. I realize
that this is blasphemy in the eyes of true Harry
Potter fans, but J.K. Rowling simply lost me after Goblet of Fire. With that said, I will admit that I went to Barnes
and Noble and stood in line to buy Deathly
Hallows the night that it was released; I did not want to miss out on the
phenomenon that is Harry Potter book
sales.
Fast-forwarding a bit to last week, I now wanted to
experience the thrill of being one of the first Americans to see the newest Potter movie, which was all but
guaranteed to shatter box office records. My friends and I bought our tickets
the week prior, and we gradually planned who would dress as which characters
(I’m half-ashamed to be admitting this on William and Mary’s website). I was
given the honor of representing the Slytherin House as Draco Malfoy for the
night. Not only did I slick back my hair, but I also had the necessary cape (sewed by a friend two hours before the movie), dress
shirt, tie, and Slytherin badge. With the exception of our difference in hair
color, I was actually pretty proud of how closely I resembled the movie
character. I was accompanied by Harry, Hermione, Neville Longbottom (Austin), Luna Lovegood,
Hagrid, Bellatrix Lestrange, and many others. We pretty much had representation
for the entire cast, and I must say that we looked great. For those of you on
Facebook, you may have seen the nearly one hundred pictures of our adventure on
your newsfeed. If you didn’t, I’m sorry to say that I definitely will not be
posting any pictures with this blog.
The movie itself was a pretty interesting experience. There
was a flaw in the film, so the movie was delayed by about thirty minutes (it
ended up starting at about 12:30). In the meantime, a woman in the theater
spoke to me for about 45 minutes about how she plans her son’s birthday parties
a year in advance. Last year, she delivered Hogwarts acceptance letters as
invitations to the party, and they had a complete game of quidditch in the backyard.
Talk about commitment! As she began to explain her hopes to plan a Star Trek themed party this year, Harry Potter thankfully began to
play. So, how was the movie? Well, I
couldn’t really tell you. Considering the fact that I had given two tours
earlier in the afternoon, you won’t be surprised to hear that I actually slept
for the majority of the 2 hours and 33 minutes, as did about 5 of my friends.
But I heard it was great. Despite the
fact that I’m still not too sure what transpires in the sixth book, I really
did have a great night–one that I will probably never forget (mostly because
all of the pictures on Facebook). It will certainly go down as one of the more
interesting and spontaneous experiences that I’ve had during college.
As I mentioned above, I have seen more than a handful of
movies this summer. Besides Harry Potter,
I also saw Up (in 3-D), Away We Go, The Proposal, The Hangover,
and Bruno. Up was fantastic but not quite as good as other Pixar masterpieces,
such as Toy Story or Finding Nemo. It had a wonderful story,
and you will surely leave the theater in great spirits. Despite the fact that
I’m typically not a fan of independent-style films, I found Away We Go to be pretty entertaining and
really enjoyed both Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski. Furthermore, I am not
afraid to admit that I usually enjoy romantic comedies, and The Proposal was no exception. I loved
Sandra Bullock as the over-controlling and over-demanding boss. To be
completely honest, I was not very impressed with Bruno. There were definitely a few funny parts, but the movie as a
whole took the concept of invading the private space of unsuspecting people a
little too far. Finally, I was a huge fan of The Hangover. It was hilarious, and I am now craving a trip to Las Vegas. I wish I could
give you a review of Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince, but as mentioned above, I really didn’t see enough to
even write a critique.
Anyway, those have been my
movie-going experiences this summer. If you
are planning on seeing a movie any time soon, I hope you will find my
abbreviated reviews at least a little bit helpful. And of course, if anyone
would like to join me, I am now looking for volunteers for Harry Potter viewing attempt #2. Don’t worry; costumes will not be required
this time.
Have a great rest of the week!
Ryan



Sir Christopher Wren and 5 Other Little Known Facts about the College

At the beginning of every tour, I bring prospective students
and their family members through the Christopher Wren building-the oldest
academic building in continuous use in the United States. I briefly speak
about the history of Wren, College traditions that take place in the Courtyard,
and eventually pass through the first floor of the building. Last week, as my
tour walked out the main doorway toward Colonial Williamsburg, a gentleman
raised his hand and asked, “Who is Christopher Wren?” I thought for a few
seconds (it felt like a few hours) and ultimately realized that I didn’t know. As you can probably
guess, I was pretty ashamed of myself and slightly embarrassed. Here was a
building that I spoke about on an almost daily basis, and I couldn’t even give
the gentleman one or two facts about Christopher Wren.
Once the tour ended, I asked a few other students in the
Admission Office and found that I was not alone-the majority knew very little
to nothing about Wren. Of course, all tour guides could tell you about the
dates of construction, the various ceremonies that take place in the Great
Hall, and even the number of current classrooms found inside, all the while
dropping the name “Christopher Wren” as if he were just another student on
campus. I think this is a perfect example of one of those little known facts
about our campus that most people don’t really think about or take the time to
research.
Hoping that this sort of incident would never happen again,
I raced home after work, immediately flipped to the page in my tour guide
manual about the Sir Christopher Wren,
and found my answer. Wren was a renowned 17th century English
architect to whom an 18th century author attributed the design of
the Wren building (originally called “the Main Building”).
I also recently discovered that there is even a wine named after Christopher Wren
at the Williamsburg Winery, which benefits the W&M Alumni Association.
Needless to say, Sir Wren is a pretty important person to the College, and I’m
happy to say that the next time I’m asked a question about him on a tour, I
will have plenty to say. If the gentleman who originally asked me this question is reading, I would like to apologize for not having an answer. I hope this is a little bit more helpful!
Now, as I started to write this blog, I realized that there
are many more “little known facts” about the College and student life in Williamsburg-things that
students may know but that are otherwise unfamiliar to those not on our campus.
So, without further ado, I present to you my
version of “5 Little Known Facts and Other Things You Would Never Think to
Ask about the College.” Consider this William and Mary 101…
Once again, these
facts may already be well-known among students but new to families and
visitors. Enjoy!
1. The Thomas Jefferson statue found between Washington Hall and McGlothlin-Street Hall was a gift from the
University of Virginia in 1993-our 300th anniversary. Today,
students like to dress “TJ” in all sorts of clothes, including pumpkins, Santa
Claus hats, and boxers.
2. We have a lake on campus! Most people do not know that Lake Matoaka exists until they join our
community. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, especially when the
weather is nice. Not only are there canoes and kayaks available for students to
rent, but there is even an amphitheater, which is really popular for student
events and concerts.
3. Students have full AND free access to all of the museums and exhibits in Colonial
Williamsburg (with a student ID). A 1-day “Basic Adult
Pass” usually costs $36,
so this is a great benefit of being at student at the College. I also recently
learned that students receive an almost-50% discount off of carriage rides in
Colonial Williamsburg.
4. The basement of the Sadler Center
(right next to Quiznos) is named Lodge 1 because it was originally the location
of an 8th lodge on campus. What is a lodge? There are currently seven lodges on campus, which each house seven students and are all equipped with a double, a triple, a spacious living room/kitchen area, two bathrooms, a front porch, and a back patio. According to the Residence Life website, “Lodges
are one of the most popular housing options on campus, usually the first to be
selected during the annual Room Selection Process.”
5. The Sunken Garden
(the grassy area at the center of Old Campus) was modeled after the Chelsea Hospital
gardens in London.
Despite popular belief, it did not in fact sink on its own-this was part of
the design. During the Revolutionary War, it was also used as a campground
before troops joined General George Washington in Yorktown. Today, the Sunken Garden is a popular spot to play frisbee or football, hang out with friends, or just enjoy the weather.
That’s all for now. I hope you all learned at least one or
two things about the College-even the students! If you can think of any other
“little known facts” about William and Mary, I would love to hear about them
and add them to my blog. Feel free to send me an e-mail at [[rleick]].
Have a fantastic week!
Ryan



Judge Sotomayor: A New Hero for Juvenile Diabetics

If you have been reading the newspaper or watching the news,
you probably know that the Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings this week
to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Sotomayor
would be the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice and its third female
justice–both remarkable milestones in United States history. While I
would certainly appreciate the diverse perspective that Sotomayor would bring
to the High Court, I would also be very pleased with her appointment for another,
lesser-known reason.
Many Americans may not know this about Judge Sotomayor, but
she has Type 1 diabetes. As a juvenile diabetic (an alternate name for Type 1),
this strikes a chord with me. Just as a Hispanic American may watch the
confirmation hearings with much pride and anticipation, I too am proud to watch
someone with whom I have so much in common prepare for her possible appointment
to the highest court in the United
States. It may be that I understand a
particularly challenging aspect of her life–an aspect to which I can certainly
relate; or it may simply be that her success instills a hope within me that my
tarnished health will not impede my ability to achieve my own dreams. Regardless,
this week’s confirmation hearings have grabbed my attention and have really
excited me.
My friends are probably laughing right now that I’m writing
a blog about juvenile diabetes or “diabeetus” (as it would be pronounced by Wilford
Brimley). I was diagnosed with the disease, officially becoming insulin-dependent,
in January 2000 (in the middle of sixth grade). I now must check my blood sugar 4-6 times a day, count carbohydrates, and use an insulin pump. For the last nine years, I have
heard endless jokes about eating too much candy, checking my blood sugar, and
wearing an insulin pump. I really don’t mind the jokes at all; I actually
encourage them. In my opinion, there is no use for self-pity. I was diagnosed
and that was the end of that. If you can’t laugh and have fun with the disease,
then it’s going to be a long and tough ride.
But I hope you don’t get the impression that my friends and
family aren’t supportive. They have been there for me every step of the way. Ever
since I started at William and Mary, I have had many students ask me about
checking my blood sugar or administering insulin with my insulin pump; and I’m
happy to answer their questions. Last September, four of my friends (Drew, John, Kathryn, and Skyler) were nice enough
to drive with me to Byrd Park in Richmond
for a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) 5K Walk for Diabetes.
Together, we (“Ryan’s Rescuers”) donated over $100 and came away from the walk
with a feeling of great accomplishment, a t-shirt, and a bunch of temporary
tattoos. It was such a fun experience, and their time and enthusiasm meant the
world to me.
When I have the free time, I really enjoy reading about famous juvenile
diabetics and researching their accomplishments (yes, I know I’m a dork). Some of the most well-known Type 1
diabetics include Mary Tyler Moore, Mikhail Gorbachev, Anwar Sadat, Johnny
Cash, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bret Michaels, Thomas
Edison, Jackie Robinson, Ernest Hemingway, and Halle Berry.
These are people who have proven that diabetes, or any disease for that matter,
cannot stop you from achieving great things in this world. The younger
generation is probably a little more familiar with Nick Jonas of the Jonas
brothers, who is also a juvenile diabetic. I really respect Nick because he has
used his fame and platform to bring attention to diabetes and to raise
much-needed funds. Not only has he served as a spokesperson for JDRF, including
advocating at this year’s Children’s Congress in Washington, DC,
but he even wrote a song about the disease entitled “A Little Bit Longer.”
So, you can probably understand why I am so thrilled to see
a juvenile diabetic awaiting confirmation to the Supreme Court. If Judge
Sotomayor is appointed, her high-profile position within the government will
certainly bring a great deal of attention to a disease that affects millions of
Americans. While new technologies are being developed on an almost monthly
basis, there is much research to be done, and organizations like JDRF can
certainly use the greater exposure. I wish Judge Sotomayor the best of luck.
If you would like to learn more about juvenile diabetes or
how you can contribute to research, please visit www.jdrf.org.
Thanks for reading!
Ryan



It's all about the People

At the end of every interview with a prospective student, I
give the interviewee an opportunity to ask me
questions about my experience at William and Mary. I would say that about 99%
of the time, I am asked about my favorite part about life at the College.
So, here is my answer: The people.
Yes, the classes are extremely challenging and rewarding.
Yes, there are over 400 clubs and organizations on campus. And Yes, Williamsburg is a great
place to live for 4 years. However, this would all be unimportant and
irrelevant if it weren’t for the friendly, compassionate, and genuine people
that populate our campus.
The past three days have only further confirmed my love and
appreciation for the students at the College. On Friday, a friend from home
(Sarah) came to visit me for the weekend. This was her third visit to William
and Mary, and they have always been a lot of fun. When a non-student comes to
campus (a friend, parent, sibling, etc.), I like to take a step back and try to
see the College through their eyes. Not only is it interesting to get a fresh
look of the campus where I spend about 10 months of the year, but I usually
come away from these visits with a greater appreciation for my school.
Throughout her visit, Sarah complemented the beauty of our campus
and the convenience of being so close to Colonial Williamsburg. She also loved
the fact that there are so many stores and restaurants within a short drive
from campus (we ate at both California Tortilla and Panera). However, as she hopped in her car to head back to Maryland, she told me
that this was her favorite of the three visits because she had the chance to
really get to know some of my friends. She said that everyone she met was so
welcoming and laid-back and that it was extremely easy to strike up
conversations with people she had never met before.
As I thought back to what we did this weekend, I realized
that she was right. On Friday night, we went to see Bruno with a group of about 15 of my friends. Although it was too
crowded for us to all sit next to each other, my friend Austin ran up to us in the middle of the movie and introduced himself to Sarah with a smile.
On Saturday morning, we met up with my friends Taylor and Jen for brunch at a
breakfast restaurant on Richmond
Road called Mama Steve’s (this is a weekly routine
that I’ll explain in an upcoming blog). After brunch, Sarah commented that both
Taylor and Jen were extremely nice (and hilarious) people. They welcomed her
into our weekly routine with open arms and really made her feel comfortable
right off the bat.
After showing Sarah around the Prime Outlets and Colonial
Williamsburg, we met up with some more of my friends to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in
preparation for the midnight showing of the sixth movie on Tuesday (yes, we
are truly William and Mary students).  In
the middle of the movie, Sarah and I ran with Porter and Janet (another
blogger) to grab some donuts from Dunkin Donuts. Porter is a student at Vanderbilt University
but is interning in Williamsburg,
and I think he is an excellent example of someone who may not be part of the
Tribe but who has still experienced the friendliness and sincerity of everyone
on this campus. Once we got back, we decided to go with three graduate students
(Molly, Bryce, and Kaitlin-collectively referred to as “The Graduate School”
throughout the night) to Paul’s Deli. We had a great time and by the end of the
night, Sarah and Kaitlin seemed like they had been friends for years. I think
that it’s extremely refreshing to see that undergraduate and graduate students
don’t simply pass one another on campus but actually become friends, as they
are at William and Mary. I look forward to getting to know all three members of
“The Graduate School” throughout the upcoming school year.
So, what was the point in recounting my weekend with Sarah?
I want to show that there is a lot more to William and Mary than brick buildings
and challenging classes. You may not see it on your hour-long campus tour, but
the people at the College are some of the most down-to-earth and genuine people
that you will ever meet. They are extremely driven, talented, and
hard-working, and they all share a passion for changing the world. However, if
you take away the papers, exams, clubs, and internships, you will see that William
and Mary students are simply good people.

I could honestly write about the students and faculty at the
College for hours (and continue to give you names and examples), but this blog
would end up single-handedly shutting down the William and Mary website. So,
I’ll cut myself off. If you do come for a campus tour or to visit a friend or
family member, I really hope you have the chance to experience the people at
this school. You won’t want to leave.
Have a wonderful week.
Ryan



Fourth of July in Colonial Williamsburg

This past weekend was my first time celebrating the Fourth
of July in Williamsburg.
Typically, I would spend the day with my family and our neighbors in my
hometown. We usually stop by a neighborhood barbeque and then head to the
Germantown Outdoor Soccerplex to watch the fireworks. This is always fun
(especially because my mom makes bags of popcorn for all of the neighbors), but
I have to say that I’m very to glad to have celebrated the birth of our nation in
the very town where it all began.
The weekend started with a trip to Yorktown Beach
on Friday afternoon–the rest of the admission interns and I were lucky enough
to have the day off. I had no idea there was a beach in Yorktown
until a few months ago, but it’s such an awesome place to have so close to campus.
It’s only about 15 minutes away and usually not too crowded, but this weekend was an exception. We swam for a bit,
tossed around a football, and then stopped for much-needed ice cream from
Baskin Robbins. In case you haven’t noticed the trend in my blogs, I’m a big
fan of ice cream. Anyway, a lot of my friends came back to Williamsburg for the weekend, so we kicked it
off with a GREAT barbeque. For those of you who read my blog about meal plans, the hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and beans were a nice break from my usual dinners. It was a lot of fun to see everyone and catch up on
what they’re all doing this summer.
On Saturday, I went with two of my friends to Jamestown Beach, which (lucky for us) wasn’t
crowded at all. Quick lesson: There are 3
beaches near the College. Jamestown and Yorktown
are both less than 15 minutes away, and Virginia
Beach is only about 45 minutes from campus. We
spent a few hours at the beach, which you would know immediately if you saw how
red my face is right now. Afterwards, we had another great barbeque and then
headed to the fireworks. A new friend (she’s a graduate student at the School of Education) and I got lost in the
commotion that was Colonial Williamsburg on Fourth of July, and we got separated
from the rest of our group. But it ended up working out in out favor because we
got GREAT seats on the Palace Green (in front of the Governor’s Palace) and had
a clear view of the fireworks display.
Once the fireworks ended, my friend and I got swept up by
the fife and drum parade, which we followed for about 15 minutes. We felt like
celebrities because everyone was taking photos of the parade, and we were right
there in the mix (we really should’ve just grabbed costumes and a drum). On
our way home, we took pictures with some Colonial people and distracted some
workers at an outdoor tavern for a few more pictures. Needless to say, it was a
REALLY fun night. I can’t think of too many places where you can watch
fireworks in front of a Governor’s palace, walk in a parade, and hang out with
colonists (yes, they were just re-enactors) within the span of an hour.
I feel extremely lucky to go to a school in such a
historical and unique town. I really do learn something new about the city
everyday that I’m at the College. And sometimes it takes a fun night like the
Fourth of July for me to truly appreciate everything that Williamsburg has to offer.
Have a fantastic week.

Ryan
P.S. Here is a picture (for your viewing pleasure) of my friend and I with the re-enactors at the tavern. Enjoy!