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 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.
February 25, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
2013, my first complete year at William & Mary. Time really does fly by when you are having fun.
2013 was a busy one making many new friends, and countless memories. One of the best choices I have made here at W&M was pledging a social fraternity. I was able to participate in the Student Leadership Foundation and took some of my favorite classes of all time (make sure to snag a seat in American Politics, Emerging Diseases, or African American History since 1710).
The spring in Williamsburg is the epitome of ideal temperatures so it didn’t get better than giving a tour or playing croquet with the W&M Croquet Club. I also interned at the admission office last spring semester as well, which was an amazing experience. Going to the Day For Admitted Students was one of my favorite memories as an admitted student before actually coming to William & Mary, so it was awesome to be able to help plan the day for the Class of 2017.
Over Spring Break, I tagged along on my dad’s business trip to Portland. It was my first time traveling to the west coast. Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time made this one of my most memorable trips. I also went skiing for the first time in my entire life. While my dad and his colleagues went skiing down black diamond slopes all day, I impressed two five year olds who were learning to ski with me on the bunny slope. After coming back to W&M, my sister swung by Williamsburg for Easter weekend and I was able to show her around, introduce her to my friends, and take her to the church I attend here in Williamsburg.
After the spring semester ended, I headed home to Northern Virginia for the summer. I interned with the American Wood Council, which is the national trade association for the wood products industry. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. You will find out that although college summers are long and fun, by the end you will be excited to return to William & Mary to see all of your friends and get back in the swing of things. Highlights from fall of 2013 include welcoming the Class of 2017 during Convocation and Homecoming week. It was great to see alums return to their alma mater and cheer on the Tribe. Nothing puts you in the spirit of the Tribe better than pulling out a win for the Homecoming game.
I finished the semester off with the Yule Log ceremony. Throwing that sprig of holly on the fire and seeing President Reveley dressed up like Santa is a memorable experience! As the year came to a close, with finals behind me and the start of fresh new semester not too far in the near future, I realized that maybe ’13 was a luckier number than I had originally thought.
- Mark Bland
March 20, 2013 by Admission Ambassador
With graduation looming (62 days as I write this…), I’ve been thinking about how to leave my legacy on campus. William & Mary has shaped my life so immensely that I want to give something back. My first way to give back was to participate in the Senior Class Gift. Each year seniors are encouraged to give back to the school that has given them so much. The students on the Senior Class Gift Committee set a goal for participation, this year the goal is 75% class participation. Seniors have the opportunity to choose which department will receive their gift. I chose to give my gift to the Office of Student Leadership Development because my involvement in Fraternity/Sorority Life and AMP has really shaped my college career and future prospects. Participating in the Senior Class Gift allows seniors to come together and celebrate their last semester at W&M. The Senior Class Gift Committee puts on events such as beer and wine tastings, restaurant nights, and t-shirt distributions. I can’t wait to see the Class of 2013 stone on the college walk with 75% participation!
More figuratively, I hope to give back by being a mentor to underclassmen. As an underclassman, I truly benefited from my interactions with older students in Fraternity/Sorority Life, leadership programs, and AMP. I knew that I wanted to be the same positive influence for future underclassmen. As the Panhellenic President, I worked closely with my Vice-President who took on the presidency this year. Throughout my year-long term, I made sure to be an example to her and ensure that she would excel in the job. I have continued to be there for her this semester and hope to stay connected after I graduate. Mentoring younger students through friendships and leadership positions is a great way to give back to the campus and other students. William & Mary is unique in that upperclassmen are always looking to make new connections, even as a second-semester senior I love to meet new people and be there for them in any way that I can. I hope to continue to give back to W&M long after I have left campus.
March 14, 2013 by Admission Ambassador
2012 was a great year, so far 2013 is sure to be even better!
March 13, 2013 by Laura Aragon
Every spring, the Sigma Chi Fraternity hosts Derby Days, which is a week long philanthropy event that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Throughout the week, William & Mary’s sororities compete in different events for the title of Derby Days champion. Because all of the sororities participate, it is one of the biggest philanthropies of the year, and it just happens to be going on this week!
Each event of Derby Days scores sororities based on their participation and creativity. Then at the end of the week, all of these scores are combined to determine the winner. The events raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network in a variety of ways, including selling Derby Days t-shirts, rewarding the sorority that raises the most money (which encourages sisters to donate), and of course, Penny Wars, where sororities are each given a jar and they compete to fill theirs with the most coins. The most popular event of the week is the Lip Sync, in which each sorority dresses up in fun costumes and performs a choreographed dance. The Lip Syncs are as much fun to watch as they are to participate in, and many people see this as the grand finale of Derby Days.
While Derby Days is a lot of fun, it also raises money and awareness for an important national philanthropy, and it brings the Greek community together. Students definitely look forward to it all year, because even if your sorority doesn’t get first place, it is always a good time for a good cause.
November 2, 2012 by Kaitlin Noe
In high school, homecoming consisted of a singular night of dressing up and dancing, perhaps accented with a pep rally and school spirit. At W&M, it is an entire week of non-stop revelry that students begin planning for as soon as the school year kicks off. With an overwhelming amount of activities- every single organization on campus feels the need to make their voice heard in the din of school spirit that is homecoming- it can be overwhelming. So I’ve brought you the highlights of what is my personal experience with the homecoming hysteria.
1. Monday night: Paper due at 11 am Tuesday morning, yet I still offered up my house to host my sorority’s float-building. (During homecoming, sororities and fraternities will pair up for a week of parties and usually create a float together to enter into the Homecoming Parade.) As I sit in my room at the desk I never use I try to block out the sounds of music and shouting and planning that is bursting through the paper-thin piece of wood that is my door. Literally impossible. Instead I spend twenty minutes destroying a German chocolate cupcake from Extraordinary cupcakes (lived up to its name) and watching an episode of The League. Two hours later, after giving up on work, paying a visit to the float building, trying to go to my best friend’s house next door, blasting my headphones in hopes that it will block out the noise, and debating going to the library (Swem) for a minute before realizing I am far too lazy to ever walk that far, I give up any vain attempt on writing this essay and mournfully set my alarm for a sharp 7:30 am.
2. Wednesday night: If you ever thought that maybe you belonged in the 70’s, you probably should have hit me up Wednesday night. Thanks to the incredible overachiever-ness of one of my best friends and member of our partner fraternity, we hosted the Right On Band in the Sunken Gardens for Wednesday night of homecoming. Complete with fro’s, glitter, platform boots, and dancing go-go girls, the Right On band (who has played for the past four presidents and at Obama’s Inaugural Ball) led a huge groovin’ love train around the Sunken Gardens. Far out.
3. Thursday night: As Vice President Event Planning (pretentious title drop) for my sorority, I do a lot of work that I wouldn’t necessarily say I jump out of bed for: kicking rowdy people out of Formal, harassing local venues to get me their contracts in time, managing finances… This night, however, I had been planning for since June. I’m sure by now you’ve caught on to the “raving” trend that has snowballed into quite the phenomenon (Taylor Swift dubstep? really?). Well I’ve got to admit I’ve caught the bug. Guilty as charged. So I set to planning a rave for my sorority and fraternity’s Thursday night of homecoming. We did the whole nine yards and brought in a production company with laser lights, black lights, strobe lights, fog machine and, of course, a heavy bass. The result was everything the little raver in me dreamed of and more. Ninety girls and fifty guys (good odds, eh gentlemen?) piled into the room in neon, rave tutus (do they have an actual name?), fluffies, sequin shorts (guilty), face paint, and excesses of glitter. The same ninety girls and fifty guys left two hours later in a disarray of glow sticks, sweat, and sore dancing muscles. A successful night if ever I saw one. I hope the drivers on Richmond Road enjoyed watching us parade past in full rave apparel.
4. Friday night: Time for a classier turn of events; tonight is the members-only opening for the Muscarelle Museum’s 12th Faculty Show. As an intern for their Advancement Department (kind of a mash-up of marketing, communications, and development), I like to pretend I have VIP life status by attending these events. They generally consist of a classy array of wine, cheese, and elder residents in pearls and hats that would make any derby run proud. As an Art History major, the museum satisfies my every innate nerdy desire to pretentiously gaze at and evaluate art. Making it even more appropriate that I dedicate the beginning of my Friday evening to dressing up classy (happens about once a year) and sneaking gourmet cheeses from a back table while listening to my Professor (Distinguished Scholar in Residence Dr. Spike) lecture on everything from Close to Preti. There’s always time for dancing when the opening ends at 8.
5. Saturday night: One of the harder decisions of my homecoming career. I work at the local bar Paul’s Deli (the bars here are called Delis or Taverns), and homecoming Saturday is hands-down the busiest night of the year. Non-stop packed from wall to wall from noon until close at 2 am. I worked this shift last year with my roommate/best friend and saw several girls cry, one couple break up over a beer, an alumni pass out in the bathroom and took home an entire pizza because whoever ordered promptly forgot about it. And not going to lie, the tips are out the wahoozers. So in the end, it’s worth sacrificing the one evening of revelry with friends because all of the tips enthusiastic alumni shove on the poor college bartender (that’s me!) are going straight into my piggy bank for my spring semester in Paris.
In every corny and sentimental meaning of the word, I have had more singular bonding experiences and lasting memories with my friends during homecoming than any other week of the year. Half-way through and already sad to see it go, welcome home Tribe!
Follow me on twitter! @wmkaitlin
September 19, 2012 by Stephen Bennett
Guest blogger: Nick Hampson, a fraternity President and senior from New Jersey, writes about the value of leadership in fraternity life.
I am a proud member of the Greek community on campus. My decision to join my chapter was one of the most formative of my college experience. This is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I experience the “I’m a senior, I’m going to miss this” moments more and more. What makes me appreciate the bonds I’ve formed through my fraternity is that all these moments seem to be centered on the people and experiences I have been afforded since becoming a brother.
As I see it, you join a fraternity for one basic overarching reason: to enhance your college experience in as many ways as possible. With this in mind, there are two central benefits I see in being part of a brotherhood. These two benefits are the quality of people you surround yourself with that encourage you to reach your full potential, and the support network you have in your brothers when hard times come. Allow me to elaborate.
When I was a kid my dad refused to buy a basketball hoop for our driveway. No matter how many times I put it on my Christmas list or begged him to get even the cheapest one at Sports Authority, he wouldn’t budge. Instead, since the time I was old enough to be able to hoist the ball up to the rim on a regulation 10-foot hoop, he insisted that I go up to the courts a few minutes away from my house and play there. For a while I thought he was just stingy. But part way through high school I began to realize that the reason I could hold my own in any style of a game, be it the packed YMCA gym in urban Hackensack, NJ, or the pristine high school gymnasium of Ramapo High School as the varsity captain of my team, was because I had been able to identify myself as a player and improve by playing against players who were always – until a certain point – better than me up at the Berdan Grove courts. I hadn’t just stayed home in the driveway shooting hoops by myself. I see joining a fraternity the same way. You are making that commitment to “play ball” with men who will push you to be better and achieve that ideal that you want to move towards. If you surround yourself with men who take the right things seriously and strive to live meaningful, successful lives, it will rub off on you and you’ll be better for it. This also means that your selection of organization is of the utmost importance. Finding a chapter that lines up with the values you want to hold yourself to is not always easy, but it will make your experience that much more rewarding. Different fits are best for different people and identifying where it is you’re the most comfortable, while still feeling that you’re pushing yourself to be a better man, is where you should join.
It would be all well and good if we could put these huge expectations on ourselves, challenge ourselves, and simply succeed every time. The truth is, though, to my understanding, that is not how life works and certainly not how college works. There are times when you’ll mess up, times when you’ll lose confidence, and occasionally in those times, life will send you something else to kick you in the teeth. I don’t know about you, but when I had times like those in high school, I had family and friends who knew how to get me back in the swing of things. When you’re a long way from home, those days can be just a little darker and those moods can last just a little bit longer without the right people around you. I can almost guarantee you that there will be something that will happen over these next four years that you won’t see coming and that will hit you like a ton of bricks. That group of friends – who by the very nature of their relation to you, as brothers, have promised their full support to you in any way necessary – cannot take that hardship from you, but they surely can help you weather the storm. I’ve had my ton-of-bricks moment, hopefully the only one, and I’m glad I had the people I did around me to see me through it.
Join a fraternity because you’re ready to make a commitment to yourself and a connection to those around you. When it’s all said and done, you’ll be glad you did.
September 14, 2012 by Stephen Bennett
As the craziness of fraternity and sorority rush continues, many of our fellow Tribe members are unsure about Greek life, and what is so great about it. Well, what are the benefits of Greek life? Some people think Greek life is only a group wanting a “To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!” party, as Mr. John Belushi so eloquently stated in Animal House, but in reality Greek life offers a great opportunity to push oneself to articulate his or her values and work together with others while living together. I started noticing these benefits at the College, but it truly became apparent during my summer internship.
This summer I interned with a nonprofit in Ecuador with students from all over the country working on market-based development. We lived and worked together for two months. It was a wonderful experience, but we did have our fair share of issues and disagreements between us. We would discuss, argue, and become stressed while we worked on campaigns, community consulting, and other projects. My Greek experience was evident during those dialogues and prepared me for this type of close quarters and personal work with others, especially those with strong personalities and perspectives. I had the experience of arguing, discussing, and debating my views, values, and opinions and knew that I could do this with my fellow interns without hindering my relationship with any of them.
Yes, William and Mary has enhanced my capacity to articulate myself to others and has expanded my thought process; however, the unique experience that Greek life offers of living with others while being accountable to both a larger organization and to my brothers challenges me and any fraternity man to express his values to his brothers (in my case 70 brothers) and debate those values, but still being able to walk away afterward knowing that his brother is still his brother. Together my brothers and I continue to strengthen my fraternity and strive for personal development and chapter improvement, even though we occasionally disagree. This is essential to understand as someone progresses through college and prepares for entering the scary world after graduation. Each person needs to know his or her values and how to express those to others in a powerful and substantive way without damaging personal relationships. Greek life allows each brother or sister the opportunity to be a part of a larger entity and improve that entity together while incorporating the chaos of classes, extracurriculars, and just living daily life together.
However, in the unique internship environment there is a different kind of chaos while working. The other interns were great and many have become good friends, but during the challenges and stressed-filled moments I appreciated and understood the value of my Greek experience that made me the person I am today. It has made me look beyond myself and realize how to have great relationships with others while working together towards a mutual goal. Greek life proves that someone can work hard, play hard, and improve oneself while being a part of a brotherhood or sisterhood.
Yes, Greek life has some great social aspects that many members enjoy from formals, late night hangouts, and more. But the skills, experience, and growth that I have acquired from my fraternity and I am sure that others have received from their brotherhood or sisterhood is sometimes unrealized until stepping back and noticing the profound change that William and Mary begins and Greek life strengthens over four years. This is just one way Greek life is great at William and Mary to demonstrate that togas are more than just fun.
Go Greek (more than To-ga!),
July 18, 2012 by Drew Stelljes
Guest blogger: Taylor Stephens, a junior from Pennsylvania, adds this blog on the value of fraternity life in his development as engaged citizen and leader.
I was recently asked by a faculty member to reflect upon my first year at the College, and the choices I made that allowed me to be successful inside, and outside, the classroom. It was a tough question. As I thought about the question, I realized part of the story is how I ended up at William & Mary, because it was far from a straight path.
In high school, I had convinced myself that I was destined to end up on Wall Street. When it came to apply to schools, I found a mid-sized private college near my home, a little over an hour from New York City, and put all my eggs in one basket. I got in. Through the fall semester, I split my time between business courses, which I didn’t really enjoy, and the “Animal House”-like antics that were thoroughly imbedded in this school’s fraternity culture (which, looking back, I really didn’t enjoy). Over Christmas break I began searching for a new school that offered a liberal arts approach (since I was now major-less), ample opportunities to get involved on campus, and a culture that encouraged a balance between academic pursuits and forging lifelong friendships. In the end, William & Mary seemed to be the only ‘fit’ for me, and I, once again, put all my eggs in one basket. I got in.
Entering the Orientation period, I had completely written off ever joining a fraternity. My past experience reaffirmed all the stereotypes, and I knew I would never be happy in that type of environment. By the third day of orientation, though, I had decided to attend the Meet the Greeks event that happens every year on Yates field. I caved, and went to the event; which I can now recognize as the defining moment of my time at William & Mary. I spoke to members of every fraternity before ending up at the one I “had to meet.” After an hour-long conversation with the Rush Chair, who was also a transfer from a school with a Greek system he did not enjoy, I was invited to join him for dinner. Over the course of one meal I had been invited to play softball the next day, join a Branch-Out International Trip to Haiti in January (another defining experience), and participated in discussions on politics and monetary policy… I was sold.
For me, the support network, encouragement and leadership opportunities a fraternity can provide have made all the difference. Many of my involvements, including serving as Tour Guide and Orientation Leader, spending my January in Haiti with a Branch Out Trip and summer participating in the DC Summer Institute on Leadership and Community Engagement, and even assuming a leadership position within my Greek organization; have all arisen because a brother of mine put me in touch with someone or encouraged me to apply.
Unlike at other schools, Greek life here is something you do, and in no way who you are. That being said, I am incredibly proud of the individuals I have surrounded myself with in my Greek organization, and their many accomplishments around campus and in the Williamsburg community. Among us, members of the Honor Council and Student Senate; two National Champion croquet players; members of political and religious organizations; members of the board of the Mason Investment Fund and other business organizations; leaders of Branch Out trips to Baltimore, rural Virginia and Ecuador; members of 1 in 4 that promote sexual assault prevention on campus; leaders in a capella groups; various club and varsity athletes; the head of volunteering for an off-campus medical clinic; Monroe scholars; countless Tour Guides and Orientation Aides; and many others that I am sure I will be in trouble for forgetting.
So, my answer to this particular faculty member on what had allowed for a successful transition to the College both in and out of the classroom was my fraternity. While I recognize Greek life may not be for everyone, for me it has played a large role in my William & Mary experience, and I am proud of my decision to join.