April 14, 2014 by Skyler Paltell
Day for Admitted Students was this weekend, and William & Mary welcomed over 3,000 students and their families to campus. As a tour guide, I’ve been volunteering with DFAS for three years now, and every year the tribe pride that accompanies the occasion is unrivaled. Admitted students are exceptionally great because they’ve already applied and found something to love about W&M–and while deciding on a college is difficult, DFAS is meant to show them who we are, and what they could be a part of. So without further ado, here are the top 15 reasons I chose to become a member of the Tribe.
- The beauty of the campus and the surrounding area. Having grown up in a city, I had never seen so many trees and bricks in one place. I was enchanted by the beauty of old campus and the colonial architecture on DoG Street.
- The people. Every time I got lost on my campus visit, someone was always more than willing to point me in the right direction. Everyone was friendly, the students seemed interesting and genuinely happy, and the professors I spoke to via email were amazingly helpful.
- The Wren Building. You can’t challenge the appeal of attending class in the oldest academic building in America.
- The traditions. Between Yule Log, Convocation, and King & Queens, W&M has an undeniable array of amazing traditions. And what’s more, everyone takes them seriously and each tradition has a history.
- The prestige. Attending one of the most elite public schools in the nation has its advantages–the W&M name carries a definite weight.
- The small classes. I wanted a school where I could have a personal relationship with my professors, and small classes where I could be an active participant. I found that here, even in entry level classes and major requirements.
- My senior interviewer. He was my first up close and personal impression of a W&M student, and I had a great interview. I still remember him making me laugh and putting my nerves at ease.
- Lake Matoaka. Outdoor recreation has always been important to me, and having 10 miles of hiking trails at my disposal was a definite plus. And don’t forget the canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards that are free to check out with your student ID.
- Tribe Pride. W&M students have a definite sense of community and school spirit that I didn’t find on any other campuses I toured.
- The Cipher. W&M is the only school with its own British charter, crest, and cipher. I remember thinking even the police cars looked classy with the intertwined W and M emblazoned on their sides.
- A sense of belonging. When I stepped onto campus, I felt like I belonged. I could see myself walking through Wren during Convocation, wearing green and gold during football games, and taking pictures with the Griffin.
- The safety of the campus. Coming from Baltimore, Maryland (the third homicide capital in America), being able to feel safe and secure on campus was a definite plus.
- The Alma Mater. Every time I sing it, I still get really excited to shout “William! And Mary!” at the top of my lungs during the chorus.
- Taylor Reveley. He just seemed awesome. He still is awesome.
- The gut feeling that this was the place for me. When I walked onto campus for a tour my junior year of high school, I never wanted to leave. Between the amazing people, the brilliant professors, and the beautiful campus, I knew that W&M was the best place for me for the next four years. Applying early is not something I have ever regretted–I can’t see myself anywhere else.
April 4, 2014 by Sofia Chabolla
Admitted Class of 2018,
Congratulations on your admission to William & Mary!
Now that you have received your wonderful and exciting emails from the W&M Admission Office, it’s your turn to choose what college to attend! Yes, this is daunting, I know. I remember having SO MANY questions about what I would experience in college over the next four years. So, when making this tough of a choice, I hope that you all will think about what you hope to gain overall as part your collegiate experience. I hope you choose a place that deep down you feel that you can call home. If during your college decision making process you choose ‘Home’, I believe that your experiences and achievements will exceed your wildest imagination.
I want to tell you why, when I chose a college, William & Mary became my right choice.
Four years ago, I mapped out my goals and expectations for the next four years. Even then, though, there were so many aspects of my collegiate experience that I had no way of knowing what would happen. I was going in blind. I didn’t know then that I would have the chance to help curate a Michelangelo drawing exhibition and have my name published in a book on the subject. I didn’t know that, while studying abroad, I would watch an outdoor opera performed in Florence Italy’s Piazza Santa Croce, only a day after taking an art history class inside that same church. I didn’t know that I would spend a summer afternoon working for the Admission Office by playing a cut-throat game of kick ball against the Deans on the Sunken Garden. I didn’t even know I’d be making almost nightly study runs to Wawa for chicken strips or chips and salsa – per W&M student tradition. (But let’s face it: #Gotta_Hava_Wawa)
Here, I believe that I am able forge a path with distinct involvements, leadership roles, secret study spots, and groups of friends. As part of the William & Mary family, I am able to truly be myself and am motivated by others to succeed and achieve. Once I started college at W&M, all of the surprising moments and details of my college experience just seemed to fall into place. Here there are so many opportunities – unique and surprising and altogether pretty magical opportunities – that I have been able to take advantage of.
One of my huge time commitments here is my role on AMP or Alma Mater Productions – the campus event programming board. I am truly honored to have had the chance to run some of the major events on campus over the last four years. Some of my favorite weeks are slam packed with AMP events. I get to hear an Environmental Sustainability speaker on Tuesday, hug a llama at a petting zoo on Wednesday afternoon, listen to friends perform at a student music showcase on Thursday night, Keep up my team’s title of Trivia Champions on Friday, and go to a Wiz Khalifa concert on Saturday. After months of planning, seeing an event run smoothly and successfully is a joy. AMP has provided me with an engaging work opportunity and a busy schedule, but also with a solid group of friends and like-minded individuals who are all passionate about supporting their community and giving back to campus.
I will never forget one of my favorite nights this year, going to a sorority formal with one of my best friends. Even though I am not affiliated with a Greek organization, I have always felt so included and welcomed at any event that a Greek organization has put on. After we danced the night away, we traded our heels for tennis shoes and ran across campus to AMP’s Late Nite Glowball event. Yes, we were still wearing our dresses and bling, but those boys had to watch out; we were pretty lethal with glow-in-the-dark dodge balls. That night epitomizes for me the magical possibilities of W&M and all the opportunities that I can take advantage of each day with my friends and organizations.
This year, I also discovered the joys of brunch. I LOVE brunch. Conveniently, Williamsburg is somehow the capital of pancake houses in the United States. The number of restaurants where I can indulge in pancakes and bacon is truly astronomical. Because of this, a group of friends and I recently decided to create a “Brunch Tour of Williamsburg” in order to travel around the area testing out all of the brunch locations possible. French Toast, Huevos Rancheros, and Honey Butter’s to-die-for corncakes really are the best way to start the weekend while laughing around a huge table with my best friends and Brunch Buddies.
Another one of my favorite moments from this semester was the spring tradition of Campus Golf. The event is a Greek philanthropy where teams dressed in crazy costumes play a round of golf across Old Campus. My team decided to be Sexy Presidents. Let me tell you, it is somewhat difficult to make President Martin van Buren look sexy with a bald cap and white pillow-stuffing mutton chops at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. It didn’t help when George Washington, Honest Abe, Teddy Roosevelt and I ended up being chased around the Sunken Garden by a mob of Sailing Club members dressed as knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail—all wielding golf clubs and coconuts. I don’t think I made one hole that morning of Campus Golf. That said, the philanthropy did however lead to a spring break trip with my golf caddies, my fellow presidents, and one of the Knights Who Say ‘Ni!’. During campus traditions and community events, it is friends like these who have made an impact on my overall time here.
These are only a very few of surprises and moments that have made my college experience so special. I chose a school that fosters innovation on a campus steeped in tradition; a school that stresses service to the community; and a school that revels in the unique and quirky passions of its students. In being part of this environment, all of my experiences became possible.
William & Mary is my Home. I wouldn’t change my decision for the world.
So, Class of 2018, I hope in your final decision you choose ‘Home.’ Choose a college where you feel you can thrive and take advantage of all the magical possibilities available to you. And if you want to really see if William & Mary can be ‘Home’ for you, I hope that you will join the Tribe on April 12th for W&M’s Day For Admitted Students. See you on campus soon!
March 31, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
Green has been a pretty popular color as of late. Some people “go green” to help the environment and spread awareness of how harmful our actions can be to our gentle planet. Others celebrate their Irish heritage by dyeing their town river green and wearing shamrock hats on St. Patrick’s Day. Some people just want to make a little more green for their wallet, what with the current economic climate being almost as unstable as the planet’s climate. However, my favorite way to “go green” is when it comes with gold too.
Did you know that in 1896 William & Mary’s school colors were orange and white? The colors weren’t changed to green and gold until 1924 in order to match the College’s coat of arms. Personally, I say a small thank you to whoever made that decision every day. I’d much rather sport a green and gold hoodie than a bright orange one.
But in all seriousness, I think that green and gold goes far beyond just being our school colors. It represents something much deeper and fundamentally ‘William & Mary’. Green can be seen all over our beautiful campus. One of the many benefits of being located in the tidewater Virginia area is the exceptionally lively, natural feel of our campus. Whether you’re walking through the wooded trails to the Caf, passing the Crim Dell on a sunny day, or lounging on the Sunken Garden, you’re pretty much constantly being made aware of how green and picturesque our campus is.
Gold, to me, represents our students. Every single member of the Tribe brings something amazing and positive to our community. They are literally golden. I don’t know anywhere else in the world that I can find such diverse, inspiring people to meet and learn with every day. To the Class of 2018, I know the admission committee worked hard making sure that each one of you is a shining gold star [can I seriously get any cornier? Sorry..] that will add so much to our community. I can’t wait to meet you all and encourage you to go green and gold!
- Audrey Savage
March 31, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
The first song I learned is called the Unicorn Song. For anyone that’s heard it, you know what I’m talking about…the one with the green alligators and long-necked geese. Until I was about 14, I thought it was just a fun children’s song about unicorns…then I listened to the words. And now I know why I’ve never seen a unicorn to this very day.
Every year growing up, the town threw a GREAT St. Patrick’s Day party in the Hospitality House – yes that’s a dorm now and I’m really sad about no more parties. But all of our families would spend the day at the party singing old Irish songs and entering raffles, and playing shuffleboard. I remember these days as times with friends that I’ve had since we were born. As families that grew into bigger families as we got older and family meant more than brothers and sisters.
I’ve been so fortunate to grow up in a place where you don’t have to be related to be family, where everything works out in the wash, and you always wave to your neighbor. Now that I’m leaving it, I’m realizing how lucky I was to have it. How grateful I am to have learned how to be a good citizen and caring neighbor from this place. How much community really means to me. How playing 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon is easy as pie.
In the Irish Rover rendition of the Unicorn Song, they add a part to the end of the song that gives the unicorns wings to catch up to Noah’s Arc. All of the animals came in pairs, so maybe it’s time I start thinking of Williamsburg as my unicorn. And now it’s time to leave and find another.
- Kelley Quinzio
March 31, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
My second favorite holiday of the year is St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s the Irish heritage, or growing up in the Boston area, but there is nothing better than decking yourself out in as much green as possible. St. Patrick’s Day takes on a very different tone at William & Mary. While everyone is Irish for that one day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day looks like an explosion of school spirit at the College. Having the colors green and gold makes it very easy to wear a little green, but it’s never just a little green here.
One of my absolute favorite things about the College is the school spirit. Whether it’s at football games or seeing the College’s name pop up on a list of awesome schools, we are fiercely proud to be members of the Tribe. When you come to William & Mary it is nearly impossible to be just a face in the crowd. Even the one or two people I know that are not as involved in extracurricular activities on campus, seem to somehow be connected to my friends from other circles of my W&M life.
I love that we are a family at William & Mary, and I love that we show our Tribe Pride loud and proud!
- Kate Fitzgerald
March 28, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
William & Mary is wonderful. It’s a gorgeous campus, the weather is typically significantly warmer than home, and the people are fantastic. But this winter has been cold and wet. The best part about Spring Break is the minimal work that typically needs to be done. It’s half-way through the semester (I refuse to countdown the days ‘til graduation, so don’t ask), and all of my midterms are done! When I go home, I become the ultimate hermit. I wake up late, hang out on the couch, and brush my constantly shedding dog.
This break definitely had a lot of hibernation, but I also got a chance to go to a Bruins game with my family. It was tons of fun and an excellent game including a hat trick for David Krejci. The only other reason I left my house was Dunkin’ Donuts. A major reason I can survive at William & Mary is the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street, but there is nothing like Boston when it comes to Dunkies. There are two in my hometown on the same street! As it’s the beginning of March, everyone is on their mint kicks, and Dunkies is definitely included in that game. Mint Hot Chocolate is my weakness. Greenberry’s, the coffee shop in Swem Library, had some at the end of the fall semester, but I got a large one every day when I was home for break.
While I’ve missed my friends and am looking forward to the end here at W&M, I’m definitely going to miss the 2 minute drive to limitless Mint Hot Chocolate. Until next March, Dunkies, I guess I’ll settle with a regular.
- Kate Fitzgerald
March 28, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
I decided to take it easy this Spring Break. Most of it was filled with hanging out with my dogs and filling out applications for summer internships. However, for the first few days of break I went to visit my sister at Lynchburg College. It was a great time. She took me to her favorite restaurants and I was able to meet her friends and hang out. What I didn’t anticipate was the insight I would gain into the meaning of college life and what the end of the undergraduate journey looks like. My sister is a second semester senior at LC which means that this was my last trip to visit her before I attend her graduation ceremony. I can’t believe how the time has flown by. I still remember helping her move into her dorm for freshman year like it was yesterday. I have been able to watch her grow as a person and make lifelong friends, that inevitably have become acquaintances of mine.
For me, as a sophomore at William & Mary, I have forged many great friendships and a deep connection to my school. It’s incredible to think that come May, my time at W&M will be halfway over. So, even when you are pulling that all nighter before an exam or hanging out on the Sunken Garden on a lazy April afternoon and time seems to be crawling along, when you look back, it will feel like a blur. Take it all in, cherish each moment, and learn from what you will remember as some of the best years of your life.
- Mark Bland
March 20, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
I remember the first time I learned the word “misnomer.” I was reading The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket, which found the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans living with their uncle, a herpetologist who had recently discovered a snake called “The Incredibly Deadly Viper.” The snake’s name, the book went on to explain, was a misnomer, as the snake was completely harmless!
I’ve since discovered other misnomers. Like the funny bone. (It’s a nerve, not a bone.) Or the strawberry. (It’s an aggregate accessory fruit, not an actual berry. Just in case you were wondering.) My most recent discovery? “Spring Break.”
This might not make sense to those of you still in high school, for whom Spring Break arrives as a warm, sunshine-y, homework-free week in the middle of April. But for us, the term is a little more confusing. I’d argue that in college, it’s not so much a “spring break” as it as a “mid-winter pause!” This year, the first official day of break was March 1, which meant that it was still technically February as most students packed their bags and headed home. Although I escaped the cold weather for a few days when visiting my sister in California, I came back to find my Northern Virginia hometown coated with several more inches of snow.
While it might feel strange to celebrate “spring” with hot chocolate and snow boots, there’s something to be said for this early break. We may joke about its early arrival, but by the time break rolls around, everyone agrees that it’s a welcome respite from the stress of the first six weeks of the semester. The timing of a typical college semester may mean that “spring” comes a little earlier for us, but it also means that when high school students are buckling in for AP Exams in the beginning of May, we’re already getting ready to head home for the summer! And a summer vacation that starts in May? That’s a misnomer that I’m okay with.
- Elisabeth Bloxam
March 20, 2014 by Sarah Nicholas
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.
March 5, 2014 by Drew Stelljes
Last week I was asked to speak to the new members of social fraternities at W&M. It was an honor I took seriously. I wrote the following speech and hope it serves as a guide for a few other people as they contemplate their role in community.
There are dozens of lists that declare an array of benefits to being in a fraternity. I bet you’ve read a few, and definitely heard about several over the past few months and maybe years. They include:
- Leadership Opportunities
- Higher GPAs
- Community Service
- Greeks Are More Likely to Graduate
- Career Networking
- More Interaction With Faculty
- Improved Interpersonal Skills
- Built-In Sports Team
- Practice Your Interview Skills
- Some of the Most Successful People Are Greek
These all may have some correlation to Greek life, but it’s a lot harder to determine causality, especially the past 20-30 years or so. As we examine the list more closely, just about every benefit can also be found elsewhere on a college campus: leadership opportunities, service, intramurals, practice interview skills, talk with faculty, good GPA, etc. All of these attributes or accomplishments are completely feasible without membership in a fraternity. Further, the claim to fame about how successful people are Greek, begs the question of correlation or causality. Was it the fraternity that developed your determination to succeed or was it already a part of your DNA? Not sure.
So, as I pick apart supposed benefits, not for the sake of tearing down the system which I think so highly of, but rather to dig into what really sustains Greek life over hundreds of years and the evolution of the college experience, we’ve got to more carefully assess why fraternities continue to thrive on college campuses. Here’s my theory—one person, one brother, one perspective.
You consider rushing for one of a few reasons: (1) a friend encourages you to try it and the fact that someone else wants you to join them, feels good. (2) You want to join because, membership is one of the college must do’s. (3) You’d probably regret it if you didn’t join. So you join and it’s great – for a while. The new car shine wears off though, the chapter isn’t perfect, you notice the faults of individuals and maybe even of the chapter. But, you persist. It’s at this time the evolution from membership to brotherhood starts. You’ve put in some effort and you decide to stick it out. Aha! This is where the brotherhood can take hold. Cause now you’ve made the decision to remain part of the family even though you realize the family isn’t perfect. Every family has an uncle who can’t get it together, an aunt who fails at a lot of stuff, a parent who prioritizes the wrong thing, etc. But, you stick it out, cause you’re family. So you call yourself brother and you see your fellow brothers be good and funny and smart. And—you witness him being an idiot and a fool and drunk . But, he’s your family. So you stick with it.
And then, in your bravest moment, maybe in your entire college career, you stand up for your chapter. You re-read your ritual or your core values, For God and Women, Honor, Loyalty, and you muster up the courage to call out a brother for acting the fool. Or you prod the entire brotherhood toward being better than they are in current form. A non Greek calls out the faults of the system and instead of blowing him off, you fight back because you know, in your heart, while the system isn’t perfect, the process has been good to you. It’s then that you earn that title of lifelong member. It’s then that you really believe—this is for keeps.
For me, being courageous was so tough. I was intimidated by my older peers who were more articulate than I was. They commanded a presence in chapter meetings and they were funnier than me around the house. It took me a while to evolve from guest to brother – in my own head. Really all of my brothers accepted me early on. Took me longer to realize they accepted me!
Anyway, I was moved by our ritual, feeling a sense of spirituality I hadn’t before. I was surprised by the significance our founders placed on deep and quiet reflection. Still, I didn’t really fully come into brotherhood til I stood up for those values. I remember, one evening in 1995 like it was yesterday. I was planning on standing up at the end of meeting when there was open mic, to implore our brotherhood to remain true to values our founders wrote about. I was scared. Shaking. Sweaty palms. Dry mouth. Trembling a bit. I had rehearsed my speech. No one knew a speech was coming. I stood upon getting the ok from the chapter president and I spoke. I told my brothers how I wanted our chapter to be open to diverse opinions and how everyone should have voice, not the chosen few and the charismatic or funny others. I was still so scared, afraid of ridicule. As good as we could be to one another, one false phrase could become your nickname for life. I kept going though. We must be the ritual, live it, and model it. Not merely reciting the words that we hold sacred, but living it through our actions. We wore our letters a lot. We needed to hold them as sacred. Reminders to all not that we belonged to an exclusive club but that the letter stood for something greater than our one self. We’d made a pledge to be honorable, chivalric, and to live with integrity. We vowed to be future focused and to seek elders to help us seek our path. I was so afraid of being ridiculed, but I continued. I told the brothers how much I believed in the chapter and that the long meetings, the disagreements, the debates over who to admit, were worth it, so long as we stayed the course. I concluded with a rally cry of some sort and, as I sat down and slunk in my seat—the brothers applauded. Whew. They do like me, I thought. I was vulnerable, I was brave and they were ok with it. That’s the night I earned brotherhood. The family accepted me.
Now, in a fraternity, one decent speech, made at the right time, can earn you leadership positions! So I accepted a few over the next several years and I learned a ton about myself.
I learned that I most enjoy creating new things. I like to think about the future and how, a new project might make the system better for the next generation. I learned that I liked to hear brothers tell me about themselves one on one and not in large groups. I became better at asking questions and answering questions with some depth as pledges were required to interview every brother. I learned that none of us are perfect, far from it, and it’s ok to see someone in a bad place and then praise him next week for doing something good. I learned forgiveness—slowly and with a few chances to practice. And mostly, I learned to say goodbye to a good friend. In my chapter I grieved for the first time. During my senior my friend and brother Keith was murdered in his apartment. As soon as we all heard we ran – literally to the fraternity house and we hugged, we cried. We hit the walls. And then, some of us prayed. We prayed so loudly on the front porch I bet you could hear us across the street. Well, that’s how it sounded to me in that circle of brotherhood. Brad, our prayer leader that night became an awesome minister. He was doing some vocational discernment on the porch that night. After we prayed, we sat in silence and just like in ritual we went back to deep reflection. We’d never been in this place, but we were not entirely uncomfortable. We’d done this before. Ritual gave us the framework when we would need it most. In time, we healed mostly from Keith’s death. Last month a handful of us completed our fundraising effort for a scholarship in Keith’s honor. So, he’s still with us. His memory remains. He is our brother. And we are family.
So, the top 5’s and 10’s lists about benefits of Greek life, on the surface, sure they are not incorrect, but they don’t distinguish Greek life from college life.
Interaction With Faculty
Improved Interpersonal Skills
Practice Your Interview Skills
You’ll find these on any residential campus these days. So, here’s my top’s list. Brotherhood affords you the chance to:
- Live ritual
- Reflect on what you want in life
- Over time, coming to admire individuals for their unique strengths
- Over time, learning how to support brothers who fall down
- Have a family- a crazy family, but a real family and
- To, in short time, evolve from the kid to the dad to the granddad of the family
- And becoming a brother in a fraternity happens when you become brave, standing up for what the group could become and being accepted for your bravery
I hope you will feel welcomed into the brotherhood. Earn your keep by being brave when your family needs you most.