May 17, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Following account of Ghost Army viewing provided by guest blogger Kelsey Sakumoto.
As the sun rose over our nation’s capital, the William & Mary National Security Fellows were preparing for the first day of the institute. We dodged government employees and tourists, braved the blue line to Farragut West, and rushed through crosswalks to arrive, promptly, at the William & Mary Washington office – where sandwiches, pasta salad, chips, drinks, and an assortment of desserts waited for us. After taking full advantage of the free food, we proceeded to learn all the specifics about being part of the William & Mary D.C. Summer Institute program.
After reviewing safety, networking techniques and academics, we proceeded to break off into our corresponding programs and start class. Professor Floyd wasted no time in starting our discussion regarding national security. We went over the readings due for that day, which questioned the definition and norms of national security, setting us up for future discussion regarding the different aspects of national security. The class was fast-paced and dense with information, as we deliberated current events in addition to our previous knowledge of governmental operations and foreign affairs.
We then traveled to a private screening of The Ghost Army, a PBS documentary that detailed the incredible story of deception and bravery that helped the Allies trick Hitler’s army. Nineteen veterans recounted how the Ghost Army used inflatable rubber tanks, pre-recorded sounds and fake radio dispatches to mimic troop movements. Their disguise was so masterful that the unit completed 20 battlefield deceptions without being discovered by the Germans.
Afterwards, our group met with Ghost Army veteran Jack Masey, self-described “liar and deceiver,” and director of the film, Rick Beyer. Roy Eichhorn, a former Director of Research with the US Army Combined Arms Center, who helped declassify and publish the story, also attended the Q&A session. The talk ranged from anecdotes to the larger discussion of deception as strategy. Eichhorn noted that even with new technology, deception remains a key military tactic, a testament to the power of individual creativity.
The day was chock-full of information and interesting perspectives—a theme sure to continue throughout the summer. The challenging, authoritative presence of Washington, D.C. inspired feelings of intimidation, but also those of excitement as I began to imagine myself outside the context of school and in a city that demands confidence and limitless resolve. As we made our way back to the Buchanan apartments, I pondered how we all may transform in some way this summer: whether it is in regard to self-assuredness, independence, or just knowing the city better. We are definitely growing up, and I am so glad that Washington, D.C. – a city that attracts the best of the best – will be part of that experience.
April 12, 2013 by Chuck Bailey
Last week the William & Mary Geology department played host to a group of international geoscientists that descended upon Williamsburg from Japan and Oman. They were at William & Mary to attend the 3rd Critchfield Conference which focused on the Indian Ocean Basin: Navigating the 21st Century Marine Silk Road. Prior to their conference duties, we had the good fortune to rope them into delivering seminars in the Geology department and meeting with geology students.
Professor Toshio Mizuta, the former director of the International Center for Research and Education on Mineral and Energy Resources (ICREMER) at Akita University, Japan discussed his research on Kuroko-type massive sulfide deposits. Professor Takashi Uchida, Professor of Earth Science and Technology at Akita University, presented an overview talk on non-conventional energy resources such as gas hydrates. Collectively, their talks highlighted some new frontiers of mineral and energy exploration. As a mineral resource-limited island nation, Japan has focused much effort on seafloor mapping in a quest for discovering new resources.
Professor Abdullah Al-Ghafri of the University of Niwza, Oman delivered a seminar to a packed house that focused on his research on Aflaj, an ancient water management system used in arid regions through the world. Later this year I will be starting a geologic research project in Oman and Dr. Al-Ghafri will play a key role in helping me build connections with other Omani scientists. There were also representatives from the Oman embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in attendance.
Geology is a science in which both time and place are important, and as such the Geology Department is well positioned to forge ahead into the realm of international education and research. In the not-so-distant future, we aim to run a geology and environmental field study program in Oman. A joint field trip with Japanese faculty and students to Alaska to explore base-metal deposits is also a possibility. Exciting times ahead.
March 17, 2013 by Stephen Bennett
I finally finished my first week back after spring break of my junior year at The College. It was a unique experience, but nothing unexpected from The College. I initially traveled down to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina with some friends who were staying all week and relaxing together. I enjoyed my time hanging out and catching up with my friends while experiencing the wonderful Myrtle Beach. After two days with my friends. I jumped back into my car and continued through the back country roads of South Carolina seeing all the beauty of the American South that the interstates usually miss.
I then traveled down I-95 through North Carolina, Georgia, and finally Florida. The first week of March means that only in Florida is it 70 degrees and constantly sunny. I drove down the coast (not literally, but on an interstate unfortunately) continued on I-4 and made it to Orlando.
What is in Orlando? Well, Professor Sean Tarter of course! I decided to spend the majority of my break down in Orlando with Professor Sean Tarter of the Economics Department who teaches Applied Financial Derivatives (I highly recommend it) along with 5 other current students, a graduate of The College who lives in Chicago, and even a student from Norway. The student from Norway came because her older brother graduated from The College and took Professor Tarter’s class and told her she needed to experience the teaching, the experience, and the legend that is Sean Tarter. We all decided to sacrifice a week in Orlando (the horrors) to attend his Institute for the Study of Advanced Applied Financial Derivatives, or ISAAFD. Each day we learned about advanced mathematics and financial models, and how to apply them to finance. This was a very challenging and riveting experience. The students would gather after a lecture sit by a pool and review the lecture of the previous night. We covered so much material in a short amount of time, but it was worth it. I came out of it appreciating mathematics even further and reconsidering my world once again.
I write this post to articulate how The College has changed my life. The College allows professors the opportunities to really connect with students and provide unique avenues to continue their studies. Professors want to engage with their students. I have come to know my professors family and become closer with my fellow students as me attempt and succeed at understanding these advanced topics. Professors truly want to know their students at The College. My professor, fellow students, and I spent the early evenings discussing theology and philosophy and then spent the night talking about how missile guidance systems relate to finance and advanced modeling techniques sometimes until 4am. This is not your typical spring break and is not a typical William and Mary trip, but this opportunity is only possible at The College of William and Mary.
This professor was willing to give his time, energy, and even his wife’s (spectacular) cooking to students who had developed an insatiable interest in quantitative finance after experiencing his class. Professors at The College of William and Mary are not only dedicated to their students, but they inspire their students and even change their lives. I am grateful to Professor Tarter and his family for the opportunity they gave all of us.
I finally left Orlando and headed up to North Carolina to visit a friend of mine at another university. While I was there I began to comprehend how special the previous four days had been. I stayed for two days and then returned home to Williamsburg. The entire journey was a great experience listening to music or Game of Thrones on tape as I drove through the South, but getting back to campus always fills me with a subtle excitement. The College of William and Mary is my home in Williamsburg, but The College is anywhere and everywhere that you experience The College even sometimes in Orlando.
Only at W&M,
March 13, 2013 by Elizabeth Miller
It was one of my favorite stories to tell on an admission tour as we paused in the lobby of Blair Hall. I recounted the day I walked into my history course, “The Global Color Line” with Professor Vinson, and he stared us all down. “Today, you are going to teach class,” he said, while we shifted uncomfortably in our seats. Starting us off with a question, Vinson guided a few students to the front of the classroom where they started—quite awkwardly at first—to talk and then ask questions of others. Slowly, we rotated who was standing at the front, writing on the board, bringing up new ideas, and then passing the chalk. At the end of the class I found myself at the back of the room seated next to a smiling Prof. Vinson. “See,” he said, probably to the whole class but in that moment it felt like it was just to me, “Strong students don’t need strong professors.”
At that point in the story I would exclaim to my tour, “Which is a total lie! We needed an incredible professor like Prof. Vinson to get us to that point.” I still think that’s true, but I recently realized something else about what he said. It’s a reworking of a quote by Ella Baker: “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”
Ella Baker was an incredible civil rights and social justice activist, often left out of the history of the modern civil rights movement. Thankfully, I was introduced to her work and words by Prof. Vinson, and she has become a role model for me. I love quotes, and Ella has one of my top three. In talking about her unrecognized leadership in a lot of movements, she said, “I have always thought what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership among other people.” After reading those words my junior year, it became my guiding statement. I want to use my strengths to empower others. That’s also what Professor Vinson did that day in our classroom.
I’m with Ella on the idea that if we develop the leadership of all we won’t have to rely on the few who are catapulted into role of “The Leader,” but I still call Prof. Vinson out on telling us strong students don’t need strong professors. It is through the time I spent with strong professors that I became a strong student and realized that I needed to soak up knowledge to empower others. That’s what my time in William & Mary classrooms (and across campus) did for me. That’s what that one day that a professor at William & Mary lied to me did: It reminded me that I come alive with the power to know and to share, which is to learn.
March 13, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
As the coordinator for freshman and sophomore initiatives at the Career Center, I constantly encourage underclassmen to take the leap into the world of internships and experiential learning, and to do so early. My rationale? The earlier you gain career experience, the more information you’ll have when faced with career decisions after graduation. But, don’t take my word for it. Sophomore Akshay Deverakonda, our guest blogger this week, did what few students have done before: he applied to the W&M in Washington D.C. semester program immediately following his freshman year. Through the program, Akshay interned at the Environmental Protection Agency while taking classes in D.C. I hope his story encourages you to take a leap of faith and try a new career experience this year!
Eager for Environmentalism – how an internship changed everything
One of the great aspects of a liberal arts education, especially the one we have here at William & Mary, is that you are exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints. For me, my time in the Sharpe Community Scholars Program during my freshman year helped me discover a passion for all things green. However, I was hesitant about switching my major to environmental science. Moreover, would I want to be in a research lab forever? Or could I actually be the one writing the policy based on the science?
My roommate told me that the upcoming fall theme for the William & Mary in Washington Program was “The Ethics of Sustainability”. It seemed like the perfect opportunity at the perfect time—a chance to explore my new found environmental interests by interning in the nation’s capital for a semester. It would push me outside of my comfort zone—who did a semester away/abroad right after their freshman year? However, I felt that this was a special chance, so I applied and was the only freshman that was accepted to the fall 2012 class.
And this huge leap that I took turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
During the semester, I interned for the Environmental Protection Agency—my office helps communities manage growth from an interdisciplinary perspective, so I was able to examine sustainability from different viewpoints (environmental, economic, public health, etc.). I also made sure to talk to as many people as possible in my office, at the EPA, and in the federal government at large just to see how people with science backgrounds could do policy work, particularly in environmental areas. It was an amazing and truly humbling experience to hear people’s stories of how they got to where they currently were. My time in D.C. helped me see that my own calling was in science policy—there are not that many scientists who do policy work, and I realized that I wanted to be the one translating the science for the policymakers.
So be sure to keep an eye on the opportunities out there—an internship or a single class can change your life completely, as they did with mine. The staff at the Career Center can help immensely with pointing the way, but it’s up to you to try something new.
Want to learn more about how you can still get an internship or other career experience this summer? Make an appointment with a career adviser today!
March 11, 2013 by Adam Labriny
As Spring Break comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about what an intense (yet immensely satisfying) month February turned out to be. Between Charter Day, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year AND midterms, it was definitely one of my busiest months here at W&M.
For Charter Day (that’s on February 8th!), the Student Assembly asked my jazz combo to perform during a special dinner in the Sadler Center. Since I don’t have a meal plan this year, it was great to re-experience the dining halls (i.e. an endless soul food buffet, a sick salad bar, and ICE CREAM!) Mainly, though, it was great to see my peers’ looks of befuddlement change to excitement as they realized their dinner would come with a serenade!
The next week, Mardi Gras was by far the most pressing thing on my (non-academic) schedule. In the past, I never really thought twice about Mardi Gras. I didn’t grow up with it, I didn’t understand it—it just wasn’t on my radar. However, I’ve recently had the pleasure of befriending a native of New Orleans, Naomi. Between her excitement about the holiday and the bits of New Orleans’ history I’ve picked up in my Southern Cultures class, I was determined to make an effort to learn more about Mardi Gras this year. Thus ensued a day of purple, green, and gold beads, dancing on the Sunken Garden, and (dreaming about) king cake. Success? I think yes.
With February also came the Chinese New Year! This year, W&M’s Chinese Student Organization (CSO) put on a spectacular event in PBK Hall, complete with calligraphy, dumpling making, video presentations, and a catered dinner. The event also offered the opportunity for students to mingle with Chinese exchange and international students; I was thrilled to learn more about how the holiday is celebrated in China.
The latter half of February brought with it a whirlwind of exams, papers, presentations, and obligations—in other words, it was finally midterm season (cue dramatic “dun dun dunnnnnn”). My new home became Swem. In fact, I was spending so much time in Swem that by the end of the month, I had established “study spots” around the library: the little nook near the Children’s Book section with the round, sunny window overlooking Andrews Hall and the courtyard, the strangely-placed desktop on the second floor that only a couple other people like to use because it’s vastly inconvenient, and another super-secret spot I will only divulge post graduation. (But seriously, let me know if you’re curious and I’d love to share.) I developed weird eating habits that week, too. Lunch? Who needs it—I’ll take a triple Americano and this bag of Cheez-its, please!
But as most things, midterm season came and went. Looking forward, I’ve only got half a semester left at this lovely institution, and I plan on making the most of it!
March 4, 2013 by Drew Stelljes
Civic engagement is often described by individual or collective action, conducted with a systematic approach, designed to address issues of social concern. Grounded in democratic governance, it is a means by which balanced and measured decision-making for the public good determines the policies by which decisions are made or reform is enacted when it does not meet the common good. Are colleges meeting this great democratic aspiration with the proliferation of centers for civic engagement?
Civic engagement, shaped by activities and programs, are often couched in the college or university organizational hierarchy as a center. The Center exists in physical and cyber space serving as a connecting point for students and faculty that might be most inclined to become civically engaged. It provides the safe space for cultivation of ideas for those interested in experimenting with some form of engaged learning. In most cases the Center becomes another silo politicking for scarce funds, using the rhetoric of the institution’s founding purpose, to call upon funders, internal and external, to answer the call to action. Many times, a small and dedicated cadre of renegade professors, feeling themselves marginalized, get a morsel of funding to experiment with pedagogy. These centers are generally good and safe for the keepers of our organizations and governance. A new center, while a slight strain on existing resources, also brings with it the appeal of something true to core mission while not altering the existing structure of the University. The new Center can get in line with the others and make their pitch. It does not require the institution to change its operating system. This model is proliferated across colleges and universities and in most cases lauded for its outreach, clothed in the vocabulary of community partnership, mutual benefit and reciprocal learning.
Centers that provide programs and services are flourishing. They tell a good story of the student experience. Quantifiable are meals served, children tutored, houses built. It’s the cheap and easy way for colleges to “do civic engagement” and it looks good on the web and on paper. It resonates with service-oriented donors, prospective students and families. The problem is the academic core of the college, the space where students actually learn something about engagement, suffers. Decades worth of faculty, staff and students have advocated for a change in the system that shapes the academic culture of the entire organization, removing the now stale argument against service-learning or community based research, in favor of the more familiar publish or perish, teaching, research and committee work professional reward system. Civic engagement pushes against the dominant framework of singular expertise. Colleges hire experts, in very particular fields, and expect that the person become even more expert over decades, through a combination of research, writing and reflection. The persistent framework rewards the familiar – a new center that mirrors a successful one; a tenure review process that stays the course. A consistent messaging of what we’ve done and will continue rewarding
In this era of rapidly eroding financial support for public higher education and tuition increases that outpace inflation, the prospects for attainment of an education that teaches with civic engagement in the bulls-eye of the educational framework, is increasingly difficult to attain. Simultaneously public opinion of the mission of higher education is increasingly perceived as a market-driven institution existing for the economic benefit of the individual, the upward mobility of a social class and in turn further sedimentation of the class hierarchy. Now, more than ever, colleges and universities should take the hard road, but the path that has meaning and purpose, where engagement means fixing the system that created our national conundrum.
The Institution itself, charging for services, instantly creates the inequity divide. Outreach can inadvertently perpetuate that chasm, making the handout become the habit rather than the obstacle toward real progress. Our nation is in desperate need of effective, deliberate, developmental socio-cultural, economic and political discussions and shared understandings. Various publics are increasingly expecting financial reward for financial input. If an individual pays a larger share for a good and service, they expect a larger financial reward. Problem is, colleges are not, at their core, career factories. They resist, with varying success, the increased pressure from their customers to focus primarily on training for a vocational skill.
The history of higher education in the first part of the 21st century is partially written and it does not read well for civic engagement. The dominant form of civic engagement that has emerged in higher education is rich in outreach and handouts. It is largely deplete of the democratic virtues our nation is so desperate to recapture. Many colleges and universities are touting their most noble mission as that of reciprocity and yet the systems and structures have yet to change. If a college were to be bold in the face of an eroded or vacant trust in the civic mission of their work, a remodeled system would include new goals, strategies and roles for its faculty. A new way of reward would abandon tyranny of the top tier journal, of review of peers, by peers, and instead be dominated by assessment from community peers. If a college were so bold as to remain wholly dedicated to its civic mission and to embark on the difficult task of culture change focusing on shared understandings, community engagement, common frameworks for discovering within and with community, that college could take back the first part of this century from market-driven pressures.
Colleges devoted to their civic mission, do not educate for a job, they educate for citizenry and for citizenship. Job training skills can be acquired outside of an expensive assortment of buildings. The framework that will allow our society to persist, to exist through this turmoil of the first part of the century, is the framework of civic engagement. The public needs colleges and universities to train for constructive exchange of ideas, peaceful cooperation among a diverse citizenry with myriad perspectives on hard-to-solve problems.
The staffs in centers that promote civic engagement are themselves, called to action. A systemic approach to changing organizational systems could be the great work of the first part of the 21st century, the lasting legacy of the great democratic aspiration of civic engagement in higher education.
February 13, 2013 by Admission Ambassador
My road to William & Mary was a little untraditional! When I originally applied to colleges my senior year of high school, I was determined to go as far away as I could from Virginia. Much to my parent’s dismay, I refused to apply anywhere in-state. I spent my freshman year at Northwestern University, but eventually decided it was not the right fit for me.
While I was looking at schools to transfer to, I kept coming back to William & Mary. I was really attracted to the small class sizes and strong sense of community. The campus and the greater Williamsburg area are very welcoming. It was also the perfect distance from home—close enough for a weekend visit, but definitely far enough away to ensure I had an independent college experience. I also had a few friends who already went to William & Mary and they constantly talked about how many research opportunities they had, even as freshman. This was a huge selling point for me—there are very few schools that place such a strong emphasis on undergraduate education while also offering incredible research opportunities. As one of my professors commented only a few days ago, the barriers to research at W&M are so much lower than at other peer institutions. I haven’t looked back once!
Senior year of high school, you are at the top of the totem pole. You stroll through the hallways like a lion: you are the king (or queen) of the proverbial jungle. You are superman: although you do have one form of kryptonite. The question your grandparents, your family friends, friends’ parents, everyone who has ever known you wants to know, “So where are you going to college?”
I did not know the answer to this question until mid-April of my senior year of high school. When researching colleges, I was looking for three main things. First, I wanted a liberal arts school. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to major in and thought it was important to be a well-rounded student in all areas of academics. Second, I wanted grass. This statement may seem trivial to many; however, I knew I really wanted a school with a campus! Finally, I wanted a school where the professors were invested in their students. In high school, I always valued my relationship with teachers and I knew I wanted a college where teaching was not simply a nine to five job. William & Mary fulfilled all three of my check boxes (it also didn’t hurt that I took a field trip to Williamsburg in middle school and LOVED IT). However, most importantly, my decision came during Day for Admitted Students (a day in April where all accepted student have the opportunity to see what William & Mary has to offer). I was walking down the Sunken Garden on an absolutely beautiful day with my parents, and I got that excessively cliché feeling of this is where I can see myself for the next four years, this feels right—and the rest, as they say, is history.
So seniors, take a deep breath. Live it up as king of the jungle and know that eventually it will all work out. And parents just remember it could be worse. You could have been my parents, who had to go through the whole college search process with twins!
As an over eager high school junior, I began my college search with two criteria: 1) A small, liberal arts school and 2) Northeast. My parents and I planned marathon visit weekends for every long weekend of junior year. I visited five schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut! Another weekend I hit four Pennsylvania schools. I had a lot of decisions to make. However, after walking around one of the Pennsylvania schools, I made up my mind (or so I thought…). I continued my junior year making sure I would be a competitive candidate for that school; I started my Common Application essay and researched the university constantly. As I started getting my heart set on my so-called “dream college”, my dad told me we were going on one more visit. During the summer, we took a family vacation to Williamsburg, VA so I could visit the College and complete a senior interview. I went in with an open mind despite telling my parents over and over that I was not going to go to William & Mary for college.
I immediately connected with my interviewer as we laughed about one of the questions she asked me, “If you were a fruit, which fruit would you be?” I quickly scrambled to think of an answer, but it was in that moment that my mind began to change. Despite the sweltering heat, I enjoyed my tour through campus. My tour guide, Beth, recited facts and anecdotes with ease like the guides at other universities, but unlike the guides before, Beth said hello to every person we passed. I instantly felt the sense of community that is so unique to William & Mary. When I returned home, I sat down and made a pro/con list (I love watching Gilmore Girls and every time I tell this story, I realize this was very Rory Gilmore of me…). William & Mary had dozens of pro’s; after seeing that the College met all my requirement and more, I realized that my junior year dreams of a small, liberal arts school in the Northeast were replaced by dreams of joining the Tribe in the South (as a Chicagoan, Virginia is definitely the South!).
My college search process was pretty overwhelming, as I visited a plethora of schools! When I started looking at schools, I did not really know what I was looking for. After visiting so many schools, I thought I would easily find one that just clicked, but that did not happen until I visited the College of William & Mary!
Sitting through the information session, I found myself laughing hysterically and smiling as the admission staffer spoke about the William & Mary community. The slideshow and the video clip shown during the session showed me just how creative and quirky the students and staff at William & Mary could be, and I immediately felt connected to them. To top the visit off, my tour guide was phenomenal! As she was showing our tour group around campus with a huge smile on her face, current students kept coming up to say hi and chat with her. I could really sense how genuine her passion for the school was. The beautiful campus also made my decision easier. Walking around, I was really able to picture myself learning and enjoying the school both inside and outside of the classroom.
I knew from the moment I stepped foot on William & Mary’s campus that if I was accepted there, I would without a doubt choose to call William & Mary home for the next four years. The day I received my acceptance email was one of the happiest days of my life, because I had officially become a member of the very special, loving, and unique Tribe!
As a senior in high school, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life (I still feel a little bit like that today!), let alone what I was going to study at college. I felt SO anxious around peers who seemingly all knew what they wanted to do when they “grew up.” During my college search process, I knew I wanted to pick a college that encouraged academic exploration, to let students figure out what really interested them. When I stumbled across William & Mary, I knew it was the place for me. Not only have I been able to explore all sorts of different fields, I have also been able to double major in a combination I might not have been able to find at another school. The academic freedom and breadth of subject was the main reason I came to William & Mary. Besides that, the location, people, and in-state tuition really cannot be beat!
W&M also encourages you to get involved. I have had the privilege of being involved in groups I never would have considered if not for the high enthusiasm of the members! Coming in as a freshman, I had every intention of walking on the track team as a 400 meter hurdler. As time went on, my interests wandered a bit, but I kept running through the W&M Running Club. I also became very involved in the music department through the orchestra. During my sophomore year, a few of my friends encouraged me to try out for an a cappella group. I was really hesitant at first, but I am certainly glad I ended up auditioning! Some of my fondest memories here come from my co-ed a cappella group DoubleTake.
Essentially, I have not regretted my decision in choosing W&M. I only have one year left, and I am excited to make the most of it!
Why William & Mary? During my college selection process I looked all over the East Coast for the “right fit.” Big or Small? Public or Private? The possibilities were endless. Clearly, the right fit for me turned out to be the College of William & Mary. With 320 years of history and prestige, highly recognized academics, D1 sports, a “public ivy” reputation, and a strong focus on undergraduates, it was the perfect place for me. The list of the advantages was endless, and I loved William & Mary enough to apply early decision. William & Mary was also the perfect size for me. It’s small enough to have a strong sense of community and belonging, yet big enough to constantly meet new people. As a science major, I cannot speak more highly of the value of a liberal arts education. I am so grateful for the chance to expand my academic horizons beyond the requisite chemistry and biology classes, because this is the best formula for a well-rounded education.
I’d also like to give you a little bit of advice for determining whether a college is right for you. When you visit, take a moment by yourself to walk through the middle of campus. Just stand there and take the time to breathe it all in for a moment. When I stepped onto the Sunken Garden and stood there, immersed in history with the Wren Building and Colonial Williamsburg to my right, and modernity with the Integrated Science Center and all of New Campus to my left, I knew in that moment I was home.
Sure it’s cheesy and a bit cliché, but the College of William & Mary can really become your home. It’s a place full of learning, life, and enthusiasm; it is complete with both challenges and friendly faces to help push you forward. W&M simultaneously drives you to your limits and greatest achievements, while always providing a comfortable atmosphere and a second home.
I absolutely refused to apply to William & Mary because I thought it was too close to home and because I wouldn’t have the same experiences as if I went somewhere farther away. Finally, a friend from my high school who was being recruited at W&M for soccer convinced me to apply with her. As the deposit deadline inched closer and closer, my best friend and I sat in my kitchen and made pro/con lists for William & Mary and our other options. I was incredibly surprised to see how much we both favored W&M over our other option. I loved the hometown feeling at W&M and the welcoming attitude of the campus and its students. I loved how everyone brought something new to the table. Yes, I may just be going 10 minutes down the road, but I had spent 6 weeks in Italy the year before–an experience I could talk about at W&M. I loved that even though “townies” didn’t think so, College Deli and Paul’s got packed on Thursday and Friday nights because the students needed a break from reading books written by their professors. I loved that I could walk into CW and pet horses while drinking free cider from a mug I bought the year before.
I knew I could learn multivariable calculus or Skinner’s behavioral theory anywhere. Yet at William & Mary, I could learn about it alongside a world horseback vaulting champion, the daughter of the Russian Ambassador, or the North Carolina boys’ tennis state champion. I wanted to challenge myself, to branch out of my comfort zone. There are so many different people from so many walks of life here, I knew I could go to William & Mary, sit next to my best friend from high school, and feel a million miles away from our hometown. Who knew I could get out of my comfort zone without ever actually leaving home in the first place?
January 31, 2013 by Madelyn Smith
How do you do “good” while sustaining yourself? There has been a lot of recent talk about social entrepreneurship and doing good while making profit for the organization. In this new, emerging field it is difficult to distinguish what percent should be committed to making a profit and what percent should be aimed at eradicating the social issue. In order to be sustainable the company must have revenue of some sort, but the question is just how much?
We are human, and cannot deny our innate competitive instincts that often drive us to put ourselves above our passion or cause. We perpetuate this idea that you should only give when you have a surplus of time, energy, money or alternative resources. But, what if we chose to see the world as a collective effort to better life for everyone around the world? What if every time we did something to help ourselves, we did something to help someone else?
I am currently caught between two worlds. Being an International Relations major, my studies of international security tell me that the only way to survive in the world is to serve your own self-interest. In this world, power is zero sum and there is no agreement that is mutually beneficial. In this world, someone always wins and someone always loses. It is a fact and one of the widely accepted tenants of international relations theory.
The other half of my heart is community engagement, service and collective betterment. In this world, you only engage in negotiations or trades that are mutually beneficial for both parties. Here, you are expected to be pro-social and you often deny your innately competitive nature to serve the collective good of society. You do not exploit the lower tier of society, but rather act from a place where everyone has the potential to benefit. There is great risk, but also great potential for reward.
How do you combine these worlds? I imagine this is a question that businessmen and women, politicians, theorists, academics, and others deal with. What causes someone to be socially conscious? Is it their upbringing and the environment in which they live? Is it life experience or exposure? Are socially conscious people simply anomalies? I don’t think so.
Social entrepreneurship is the bridge between these worlds. You can better yourself and your company, but you can also better society and the world. Think about it this way; if I were to give you one million dollars without any stipulations, you would take it without hesitation. But, if I gave you the opportunity to take a million dollars conditional upon the fact that I would match your one million with another one million you would have to give someone in need, you’d likely take it as well. The only sacrifice to you is the effort you would exert to administer those million dollars to an impoverished community. That is social entrepreneurship; giving to others, while providing for yourself. The model sustains itself while attacking the root of the social issue; what’s not to love?
This emerging field gives me hope that someday these two worlds might meet. There is great opportunity for us to move forward both personally and as a society, but it takes a commitment on our part to innovate, inspire and create.
January 24, 2013 by Laura Aragon
As at most schools, the first few days of classes are kind of a breeze because you don’t have any assignments (yet), you still have the option of dropping that class that already seems like a hassle, you have yet to buy your textbooks, and the professors spend the majority of class time going through the syllabus.
At William & Mary this first week of the semester is often referred to as Syllabus Week, which is known to be short and sweet. Students spend their ample free time catching up with friends, trying out new classes at the gym, browsing Amazon for deals on textbooks (and maybe clothes…), and listening to professors explain midterm assignments that seem very, very far off at the moment.
While Syllabus Week is definitely not demanding, it comes after winter break, where you have no responsibilities to speak of. After 5 weeks of never having to set an alarm, waking up for a 9:30 class can feel like a drag. Still, the first few weeks of the semester are filled with a combination of relaxation and blissful optimism about your ability to keep assignments organized, workout every day, and get more sleep. I personally am enjoying these first days of my last semester, and I intend to spend them color coding my planner and/or catching up on episodes of Parks and Recreation.