William and Mary
Ryan Eickel
Ryan Eickel

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Hometown: Germantown, MD
Class of 2010

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Running a Marathon is A Lot like College

February 8, 2010 by

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!


A William and Mary Semester in 5 Minutes

December 15, 2009 by

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!


A Look Back at Summer 2009

August 20, 2009 by

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!


Churning butter and forging metal? Not so much.

August 3, 2009 by

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!


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!


A New Kind of Race for Lance

July 27, 2009 by

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!


Taking Movie-Going to an Entirely New Level

July 23, 2009 by

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 our 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!


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

July 21, 2009 by

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!


Judge Sotomayor: A New Hero for Juvenile Diabetics

July 14, 2009 by

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!


It's all about the People

July 13, 2009 by

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.


Fourth of July in Colonial Williamsburg

July 6, 2009 by

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.