William and Mary


Winter Olympics!

April 22, 2014 by


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

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

- Kate Fitzgerald

Newbies step up

April 2, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

The Letter Grade Function & The Power of Quizlet

March 27, 2014 by

After one, maybe two semesters at William & Mary, a student should come to the understanding that an A grade here takes much more time and effort to earn compared to a B grade. It’s much like this graph of an exponential function.

Your Grade @ William & Mary

Many William & Mary students come here having performed extremely well in high school with the majority coming from the top 10% of their class.  Numbers that are equivalent to Ivy League schools and UVA.  So we smart kids can go to most classes, skim the readings, cram for exams and earn Bs with a bit of work. For the T.W.A.M.P.s (typical William & Mary persons), the future medical school students who use Miller Halls as a quiet study place at night, the future lawyers and grad students, and perfectionists who either want an A — we need to put a lot more work into earning that grade.

Obviously the scale isn’t the same for all classes, but it generally holds true.  I transferred to W&M a year ago and recognized this observation near the end of my first semester.  For challenging mathematics and foreign language classes, the separation between the amount of time/work required between an A and a B is even greater.  Many students are in 5 or more classes and have a list of organizations/clubs/teams with which they are involved, so time becomes a very scarce resource if one doesn’t get organized and study efficiently.

The main reason I wrote this article was to share the resource called Quizlet that my Spanish professor kept mentioning to help us strengthen our language skills.  She emphasized the vocabulary first and foremost because half of whatever task we have is designed to test vocabulary and if you know the vocabulary well, you will be better at other tasks that rely on it – grammar, reading comprehension, writing, etc.  I didn’t listen to her at first and just did traditional flash cards, scoring in the upper 80s on my Spanish quizzes.

Then, I actually started using it after a tutor (first time I ever went to a tutor) showed me the sets she made for her Spanish class.  It’s more than just digital flash cards.  For instance, it can read the flash cards to you so that you can study while doing something else, like driving.  In the morning I now connect my smartphone via Bluetooth to the car stereo system and listen to Quizlet rattle off vocab lists and verb conjugations.  Quizlet can test you on your knowledge with various test-like learning activities such as fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, True/False, matching and auditory tests for foreign language studies.  Another neat feature is classes, where multiple users can contribute sets of Quizlet cards that everyone in the group can access. You can do all of this on their smartphone app while you are walking between classes.  I get a lot of learning done just driving to/from campus or walking to/from classes now.

On the first Spanish quiz I took after using Quizlet, I got a 100% for all the vocabulary sections and an A grade overall.  It really works, but this isn’t just useful for foreign language studies.  You will benefit from Quizlet for any class or test that involves memorization.  If there are any other cool pieces of technology that will save your fellow students time, effort, or stress, please share them in the comments section.

50 Hours in the Field: the Earth Structure & Dynamics Field Trip 2014

March 27, 2014 by

The 2014 Earth Structure & Dynamics class field trip left Williamsburg at 1 p.m. last Friday bound for the Blue Ridge Mountains and points beyond.  We would not return to campus until 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, some 50 hours after our departure.  The field trip is a spring tradition that’s been enjoyed by students for years.  On this year’s excursion we reveled in bountiful sunshine and mild temperatures.  We also saw an array of rocks and structures that tell the story of Virginia’s geologic history.

Generalized geologic map of part of central and northwestern Virginia illustrating rock units and our outbound field trip route

Generalized geologic map of part of central and northwestern Virginia illustrating rock units and our outbound field trip route.

On this trip, students do geology in the field and in the process become familiar with the tectonic history of the Appalachian Mountains.  Students work in teams of two and answer an array of questions at each outcrop (here are a few team names from this year’s trip: the Away Team, the Zesty Xenoliths, the Russian Judges, Team Stylo- Lightening, and the aptly named Despicable Fluffy Marmosets).

Hour 3- examining a lineated granodioritic gneiss  in an old quarry at Columbia, Virginia.

Hour 3- examining a lineated granodioritic gneiss in an old quarry at Columbia, Virginia.

Starting from the Coastal Plain we journeyed across the Piedmont on Friday afternoon.  We swarmed outcrops in parks and along country roads.  At an old quarry in the little town of Columbia we examined a lineated granodioritic gneiss that crystallized back in the Ordovician (~460 million years ago), and was later stretched during the continental collision that created Pangaea.

Our campsite was at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and we headed straight into the range on Saturday morning to examine basement rocks, ancient lava flows, and tilted strata.  We lunched on outcrops of sheared limestone and dolostone exposed in the Shenandoah Valley.

The 2014 Earth Structure & Dynamics class atop Massanutten Mountain (note Shenandoah Valley in mid-ground and Blue Ridge Mountains in the background).

Hour 29- the 2014 Earth Structure & Dynamics class strikes a pose atop Massanutten Mountain (note the Shenandoah Valley in the mid-ground and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background).

The afternoon hours included a mapping exercise on the flank of Massanutten Mountain.  On Massanutten’s crest, among the ever-lengthening late afternoon shadows, we marveled that the old Blue Ridge basement rocks, upon which we had stood that morning, were buried some 6 to 8 kilometers below our feet here in the Valley & Ridge province.

Geologic cross section from the Valley & Ridge to Blue Ridge in north-central Virginia. Note the basement rocks that are exposed in the Blue Ridge are deep in the subsurface in the Valley & Ridge.  Modified from bailey et al (2006).

Geologic cross section from the Valley & Ridge to Blue Ridge in north-central Virginia. Note the basement rocks that are exposed in the Blue Ridge are buried deep in the subsurface in the Valley & Ridge.  Modified from Bailey et al. (2006).


Saturday night fun on the Earth Structure & Dynamics field trip.

Hour 34- Saturday night fun with geologic maps and cross sections on the Earth Structure & Dynamics field trip.

Evening hours back in camp were fun and involved completing the geologic map and cross section from our afternoon foray in the Valley & Ridge province. What could be better on a Saturday night?

We also discussed the key role that time and place play in geology.  On Friday afternoon in Columbia we’d observed plutonic rocks that formed in an Ordovician volcanic arc; on Saturday afternoon in the Shenandoah Valley we examined fossiliferous strata that were deposited at the margin of an Ordovician sea whose shores lapped onto eastern North America.

In the modern world the Shenandoah Valley and Columbia, Virginia are ~80 kilometers (~50 miles) apart, in the Ordovician world they were separated by 300 to 500 kilometers (~200 to 300 miles) and in very different geologic settings.  In the late Paleozoic these rocks were deformed, metamorphosed, and transported considerable distance to the northwest forming the geologic structures that we puzzle over today.

Experience in the field is an important component in the William & Mary Geology curriculum, as going to the field and working through geologic questions on the outcrop can’t be replicated in the classroom.  Fieldwork is not always easy, but 50 hours in the field provides an opportunity for the latest crew of W&M geologists to practice their craft and revel in the wonderful world away from campus.

Mark Edmundson

March 21, 2014 by

Mark Edmundson’s essay, Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here, was one of the first things I read for my creative writing class this semester. It was interesting, mainly for its syntax—it was relatable, directed toward undergraduates, but still combined an interesting vocabulary with a personally relevant subject. And secondly, it was perhaps the first, if not the only, piece I have read in my college career that was entirely about college. In the essay, Edmundson described his own undergraduate experience, his experiences teaching, and what higher education meant to him; he combines humor with solemnity, memories from the past with hopes for the future. He raised existential questions, forced me to think seriously about who I am, and what exactly I’m doing in college. As a student with an interest in pursuing a career in higher education, this was the first time I could actually connect with a written work we studied in class—it was a beautifully written, personally relevant piece.

And so when Edmundson came to speak to the English Department yesterday, I was more than thrilled. Here was a man, a brilliant man, who advocated studying a subject purely out of interest, for pursuing a career based on long term personal and career goals rather than salary, and for exploring the meaning of the self—what it is to be a young adult on the precipice of a career. In his lecture, Edmundson divided career paths into three ideals: Compassion, Courage, and Contemplation, and stated that essentially every career path correlates with an ideal (save for the arts, which constitute a separate ideal.) And here he was, this man who inspired me and gave me hope through his words, standing ten feet away and telling me I could choose a job I loved, simply because I loved it.

This is one of those moments when I felt so incredibly fortunate to be an undergraduate at William & Mary—this speaker, whose fame could not perhaps compete with the likes of Maya Angelou and the Dalai Lama, could journey here and talk to students like me, students whose lives he has changed without knowing. I had thought I had chosen the wrong major—the classic works of Dickinson and Dickens and James simply don’t hold the allure they used to. I know now that I have not chosen the wrong subject to study—I simply just needed to be re-inspired, to see English as something relatable and pertinent, rather than dusty novels from centuries past. Seeing an author—one who was very much alive, and acquainted with modernity, put English in perspective. Words will always be relevant, ideas will always inspire, and I do have the power to choose a career simply on the basis of personal ideals. I just needed someone to reaffirm it.

In Response: One Tribe

March 20, 2014 by

I was linked to this article through Facebook, through mutual friends of mutual friends – there’s always less than seven degrees of separation between W&M and the other schools in Virginia.

After reading it – which I hope you have just done – I had two feelings: sympathy and inspiration. William & Mary does not struggle from a lack of community like George Mason might. I could argue the W&M community is so strong that it’s always there, even when you don’t need it, or don’t want it. I struggle to list examples of times when I felt entirely alone at W&M, when I was not supported by at least one friend or one professor or one random stranger. From long nights in Swem to sunny afternoons in the Sunken Garden, dismissing the feeling of community on campus is ill-advised. It’s an atmosphere – if you can’t feel it, then I suggest you walk around during finals and feel the tension in the air so thick you could slice it like chocolate cake.

Let’s start with our mission statement: “To attract outstanding students from diverse backgrounds…develop a diverse faculty…provide a challenging undergraduate program that encourages creativity, independent thought and intellectual depth, breadth, and curiosity… instill in its students an appreciation for the human condition” – amongst the better excerpts. Until I was writing this, I hadn’t stopped to read our mission statement. My thoughts? We hit the nail on the head, dead on.

But who are we, and where are we going? It’s important to recognize that much of our future is rooted in our history, but we do not limit ourselves to our traditions from the past. Sure, the vision for W&M includes the final construction of the Integrated Science Center and a new “Arts Quarter”. The College is working hard to improve student services, like dining and residence life. Students have made great strides in impacting the community of Williamsburg – Scott Foster recently announced his campaign for re-election to the Williamsburg City Council once his term is up on June 30. As early as 1699, a W&M student expressed, “That the College will help to make the Town, and the Town to make the College…”. Is this how we define our future? Is this what makes us unique? Many other universities have aspirations and plans and strategies, so no – these factors are not what set us apart.

It’s an issue for every member of the W&M community – unlike GMU, most W&M students are not commuters, but is residence really the qualifying factor? What about a “rallying point” – we did get pretty rowdy a few weeks ago with the CAA Championship. Everyone has their own favorite “historical” tradition: Commencement, Yule Log, Charter Day, and Convocation to name a few. What is the deciding factor for community? Mr. Muraca is spot on: people.

Our admission process seeks out the best people. People that, since Thomas Jefferson, have had high emotional intelligence, valued academia, and exercised moral judgment and ethical standards. We identify with each other, we celebrate each other, we impact each other. Each and every one of us is a brick in W&M’s foundation, regardless of whether or not we choose to be. This is who we are – One Tribe, One Family.



The Power of Teamwork: How I Know I’m Heading Down the Right Career Path

March 7, 2014 by

When I was in high school (and up to this point in college) all my school work had been rather lonely. In high school, group projects were only in class. In college a group meets just to delegate work for the individual members to do at home, and then meets up again to fit everything together. Most work is done silently and alone. The flow of knowledge is from teacher to student, and rarely do other students get involved in that relationship.

For most people, that works. I always thought it worked for me; it’s how I’ve been learning for the past 19 years. But this semester I started participating in more activities in the business school, and I found a totally new way of learning that makes more sense to me than anything before.

In late January, I participated in a conference called 3 Day Start-up, where teams literally build a company in 3 days. We started Friday night with everyone throwing around ideas for start-ups. New businesses do not need to be unique or revolutionary – you just need to do whatever it is better than anyone else. The 3DS participants with the best ideas pitched to the group, and we voted on 3 of our favorite ideas to execute during the weekend. We then split into groups and got to work. I ended up on a team that was trying to design a new hotel management system in which customers could check in on iPads and bypass the long check-in process. The traditional system costs about $30,000; we would sell ours for $4,000. Hotel clerks and clients would both have less hassle.

The guys who proposed this idea had been working on it for a while and already had a prototype set up. The team split into a group who worked on coding the system and a group who worked on marketing and business pitches. I was on the business side. My team spent Saturday doing market research – actually going from hotel to hotel to ask clerks what they thought about the product and what kind of suggestions they had for us. Learning about our market opened our eyes to a lot of nuances we would have never known about. Great Wolf Lodge, for example, we thought would love the idea because they get so busy at certain times. However, since they value customer interaction, they weren’t as enthusiastic about it as we thought. Other hotels, like the Hilton, thought it would be great during peak seasons or for business people who would rather avoid interaction.

On Sunday we worked on pitching the idea to investors and fitting the last pieces together. Watching everything come together was amazing! The prototype that the coders were working on all weekend looked like a professional app on an iPad. The business team had all the details of the pitch worked out. It was absolutely flawless, and I was so proud of the team.

The second instance of true teamwork happened for my Social Entrepreneurship class. The big project for the class is creating our own social venture in groups of 4. This is essentially like the 3 Day Start-up, except the start-ups are non-profits that help alleviate some sort of social problem. My group of four met up on a snowy night to figure out what in the world we were going to do for this project. What big social problem were we going to attempt to solve? We sat around pitching ideas, until someone said something that clicked for all of us: a website that crowd-sources local suggestions to fix local problems. We figured the best people to solve social problems are the ones actually there witnessing them.

With a big whiteboard and a rush of inspiration, we hashed out the business plan right there, challenging each others ideas and encouraging innovation. It was here that I had what I would call my first “flow” moment.

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.”

I felt invigorated and unstoppable, and this, I realized, is why I’m a business major. I learn from my peers, not myself. Sure, studying for an economics test is rewarding and challenging, but my own efforts are not nearly as spectacular as the ending product through teamwork. Both these experiences showed me that the combined knowledge of multiple people who are committed to a goal is far more powerful than the singular knowledge of one person. A team is the convergence of multiple experiences, viewpoints, and educations. A well-functioning team can increase productivity exponentially.

I just got my acceptance letter to the business school a few weeks ago, and I’m already ecstatic by the possibilities ahead. In the first semester, called “the block”, administration puts together groups of 4 or 5 students that take all classes together and work on homework and projects together. I’m so excited to integrate teamwork into my everyday education. For the first time in college, I can really visualize transferring my classroom setting to a work environment. It’s thrilling and satisfying to know the path I’m choosing is leading to a career that I’m going to love.

Charter Day

February 27, 2014 by

February 8th, otherwise known as Charter Day, is a day that has a very significant meaning for every student here at William & Mary. However, Charter Day tends to be extra special for me because not only is it the birthday of my favorite place on Earth, but it is also my own birthday!

While W&M was turning 321 last week, I was just reaching 20. In high school, I took this little coincidence as a sign from the higher education gods that William & Mary was the place for me. However, now I tend to look at it as more of an honor. To be able to share the same birthday as the second oldest college in the USA is, frankly, mildly intimidating. We’re talking about the school that educated three [arguably four] US Presidents, founded the first Honor Code, created the first Law School, and was the birthplace of Greek Life.

That’s a big birthday shadow to live in.

The one thing that makes me confident every day is knowing that by having the chance to study at William & Mary, I’ve given myself the best kick start anyone can have, as far as I’m concerned. The sheer excellence of every single one of my professors reminds me that I’m not just sitting in my classes getting “talked at” here. I am learning and growing so much every day in a way that will actually help me succeed both academically and personally for the rest of my life.

The people I have met on this campus have been some of the most amazing and inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. No wonder William & Mary has been around for 321 years of doing what it does best, nurturing young minds to continue its legacy by being all that they can be and more. I am humbled to be able to say, even if for just a short while, that I was a part of W&M’s illustrious history, and that these brick pathways were my first true home away from home.

- Audrey Savage

Smile because 2013 happened

February 18, 2014 by

Theodor Seuss Geisel, fondly known as Dr. Seuss, has filled each of our lives with morals and insights that most of us have grown from. As I sit in Swem library and reminisce on my 2013 memories, I would like to introduce this blog with one of my favorite quotes from this creative genius, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Through thought and reflection, this past calendar year has provided my fellow students and me with remarkable experiences. I have been exposed to unimaginable opportunities, introduced to incredible individuals, and challenged myself along the way. In the effort to commemorate this past year, I would like to touch on some special memories that I experienced at W&M.

W&M has visibly grown through enhanced academics and the creation and development of student organizations. Academically, W&M has admitted a diverse and intelligent class of 2017, advanced the W&M DC Summer Institute, and improved various departments. From personal experience, the DC institute has provided me with the opportunity to fulfill GERs and other requirements, while being flexible with my internship and summer schedule. Summer courses offer not only the short-term benefit of knocking out credit hours, but also lightening the load for future semesters. Moving forward to the fall semester, I began my finance degree at the Mason School of Business. This department, among others, has transformed to focus on students’ needs and improve both independent and group work.

Additionally, on-campus student organizations have evolved throughout the 2013 calendar year. The Greek community welcomed an unprecedented number of both sorority and fraternity members, clubs of various interests were formed, and volunteer organizations dominated the campus scene. Two highly influential volunteer organizations I would like to touch on are Camp Kesem and the William & Mary Veterans Writing Project. According to their webpage, Camp Kesem is a “national nonprofit organization that provides free summer camp to children ages 6 to 16 with a parent who has or has had cancer.” The organization has captured the interest of many leaders on campus and looks forward to hosting their first summer camp in 2014. The William & Mary Veterans Writing Project was brought to campus by an ambitious and forward-thinking undergrad. The program provides no-cost writing seminars for veterans, service members, and military family members in the local area. Each of these organizations, among many others, have developed and flourished with the help of W&M’s driven students.

Looking back on the 2013 calendar year, both W&M and its students have grown. We have faced challenges, shared unforgettable experiences, and set expectations high for the 2014 year. Reiterating Dr. Seuss’ quote, there is plenty to smile about over this past year and there are more memories to come.

- Amanda Gunderson

Humanities Majors Are People Too

January 31, 2014 by

I walked in to Wawa last week with the intention of buying a coffee, and left instead with a coffee and a quarter life crisis. For the second time that week, the cashier was decidedly unimpressed when he asked what I was majoring in and I informed him I was studying English and Studio Art.

This hasn’t just happened at Wawa—it has happened at the Trader Joe’s in New Town, at parties, with the tourists I interact with at work. It would appear that a major in the humanities is an invitation for criticism, inspiring such comments as “What are you going to do with that?” and, “Are you going to be a teacher?” Never mind that I wrote sixty pages worth of papers last semester and created a six foot tall landscape drawing—I am deemed less impressive because my talents aren’t quite as desirable in the job market.

W&M is a liberal arts college, and thank goodness for that—here, there are just as many anthropology and philosophy majors as there are pre-med students. Here, it is not frowned upon to specialize in creative fields and the soft sciences, despite society’s disdain for non-STEM fields. Within the college bubble, I feel equally qualified for employment as any computer science major.

I have no doubt that the market is harder for humanities majors—it is an unforgiving work force, one where qualitative talents are overlooked in favor of quantitative skills. Even with a prestigious, $200,000 dollar degree, I can be sure to look forward to a competitive job market and a significant chance of unemployment. Despite the fact that I have worked hard, we have all worked hard, for those of us graduating with liberal arts majors, the market will be all the more uncertain.

Despite these difficulties, however, I do not regret my choice to pursue my passion. I struggle with math and science, I positively hate numbers—I will write you a haiku in 30 seconds flat, but give me a math problem and I am rendered incoherent. There is so much pressure to major in a financially stable field, one with a guaranteed paycheck, but for those of us without those skills, that option is simply nonexistent. I could no more major in computer science than I could climb Mount Everest in a swimsuit, because my brain simply is not circuited for numbers. Tell me to draw a pear—sure, I’ll draw you a pear, and it will be a good pear—my skills lie in the creative realm, and that does not make me any less intelligent than a math major.

This is why universities like William & Mary are essential, because for those of us with skills in the humanities, liberal arts colleges provide a supportive environment to explore our passions. A W&M economics major once told me, “we need to incentive the arts”—and it’s true. In a world with no English majors, no art minors, no sociology students, there would be no beauty and no novelty. Humanities majors, despite the stigma we face, are just as instrumental to society as STEM majors—our journey is just a little bit harder.