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15 Reasons Why I Chose W&M

April 14, 2014 by

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The Wren Building. You can’t challenge the appeal of attending class in the oldest academic building in America.
  4. 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.
  5. The prestige. Attending one of the most elite public schools in the nation has its advantages–the W&M name carries a definite weight.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Taylor Reveley. He just seemed awesome. He still is awesome.
  15. 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.

Choose Home

April 4, 2014 by

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!

Going Green…and Gold

March 31, 2014 by

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

My Unicorn Song

March 31, 2014 by

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

Show it off

March 31, 2014 by

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

Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can

March 31, 2014 by

Arthur Ashe, one of the first African-American tennis players, spoke these words –”Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can” – as an activist.  At a one-day, personal development seminar held at William & Mary on the 16th, Ashe’s words nicely summarized what we students had learned that day and how simply each of us could become a catalyst—a catalyst for improving our personal lives or a catalyst for improving the world around us.

Catalyst-LogoThe Catalyst program, designed for students interested in challenging themselves to go deeper, wider, and further out in their definition of who they are and where they can have an impact, was sponsored by the Office of Student Leadership Development.  As a student assistant in the Office of Community Engagement, I spoke with the Director, Drew Stelljes, prior to the event.  He was very enthusiastic about it and encouraged me it would be worthwhile, saying:

“The new OSLD has aligned its mission with the William & Mary vision.  Theory based, the OSLD is well on its way to becoming a national model for student leadership development.  As our W&M vision statement aspires for our graduates to change the world, the OSLD is a mechanism to prepare students to do just that.  We aspire to establish a campus culture where students examine their talents and joys and use them to address the world’s greatest needs.  There is no better place than W&M to cultivate in students an intense desire to emerge as engaged citizens and effective leaders.”

After a  statement like that, what W&M student wouldn’t go?  The seminar featured a great speaker, Arthur Gregg, from the University of Texas.  There were introspective questions such as, “Am I becoming the person I want to be?” and sapient quotes like Andre Gide’s words, “It’s better to fail at your own life than succeed at someone else’s.”  Mr. Gregg spoke about the importance of active listening and appreciative inquiry when interacting with people, authenticity and integrity, and teamwork.  He had a felicitous story about teamwork involving a drum major, and ended it by saying, “You can have a band without a drum major, but you can’t have a drum major without a band.”  No matter how talented or driven you are, we all have to rely on others at some point.  This was a good quote for me personally because as a highly conscientious and dominant introvert (personality traits we formally learned about), I prefer to work by myself so that I know things are done correctly and according to my way of thinking.

catalyst-contentAnyone in the business school would have been happy with a second shot at a team-building exercise in which four groups of students worked together to build the tallest free-standing tower that had to hold a golf ball at the top, using only plastic straws and tape.  (We business students had to do a similar exercise using marshmallows and spaghetti).  Besides learning that the compression strength of a series of plastics straws measuring over six feet in length is pretty low, the importance of group communication, group decision making, prototyping, and personality dynamics were reinforced.

As the day came to an end, we began focusing on what we would take away from the seminar.  Leveraging one’s strengths, thinking rationally about what holds us back, and the commitments and contributions we want to make going forward.  Words of wisdom from Aristotle himself, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily—by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing,” touched on one of the common answers to what holds one back—fear of criticism and failure, but if we allow our lives to be guided by these constraints, we will accomplish nothing.  Life is a process.  Vulnerability and uncertainty are OK.  Do what you know to be best and true for yourself.

Before everyone parted ways, we were asked to write down what we would take away from the seminar or what we would commit to afterwards.  You might expect me to write what I wrote down, but what I wrote is unimportant.  The words of another student that I had teamed with for some of the activities and discussions were far more inspiring to me.  She said that because she had been in a group with a few older students (Tribe PRIME!) who shared their life experiences, she learned that life may not work out the way you plan.  You will make mistakes.  But, if you have confidence in yourself, in the process and confidence that you’ll figure it out, your life will turn out the way you want.

In retrospect, this was a touching moment for me.  I had shared my personal story with my group and talked about the moment when I was being evicted into homelessness:  I had no idea where I would sleep that night, but despite the feelings of desperation, anxiety, and loneliness, I told myself that I would figure it out because I had confidence in myself despite everything that happened leading up to this moment.  It didn’t happen right away (what happened right away was sleeping in a parking garage, lol), but I did figure it out eventually.  I attended this seminar hoping to take something away from it for myself, but instead I gave up something – wisdom and confidence – to other, younger students who took my advice to heart and will use it as they make their own paths in life.

Kate runs on Dunkin

March 28, 2014 by

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

Spring Break by Kelley

March 28, 2014 by

There is something about a road trip that excites me. I don’t know if it’s the endless opportunities, the sense of adventure, or the forced bonding time, but I absolutely love road trips. This year’s Spring Break not only came with an arctic air, but a deep-seated nostalgia for home. I spent Spring Break this year with 5 friends on a road trip through New England. We stayed in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and made day trips throughout the region.

Before making my move to Maine in August, I wanted to get a better sense of the region that will become my home next year. For 21 years, I’ve known the Colonial Parkway, The Cheese Shop, and Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que to be where I can find someone I know. But now, that’s all going to change. The highways will have signs for New Hampshire and Bangor and Boston. Interstate and State Route numbers will be different. Katherine is the only person I will know in a place that is as foreign to me as the place where we met – on a high school study abroad to Italy. But I think maybe that’s where the fun will lie. I went to college in my hometown, and I’m so glad that I did. This is my home, these are the buildings that have defined me, even before my time as a student. Yet, now, I get the chance to learn who I am on my own.

Spring Break this year, while a week full of adventures and travel, was also a wake up call. For the first time in my life, I will be responsible for making somewhere else “home.” Yikes.

- Kelley Quinzio

Spring Break by Mark

March 28, 2014 by

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

W&M Alumni Living the W&M Vision – Changing the World

March 28, 2014 by

In this entry, Charlotte Mabon, ’15, serves as guest blogger. Below is her reflection from a recent Community Engagement Lunch Discussion.

2002 William & Mary graduate Abbitt Woodall is now the director of a local non-profit agency called Housing Partnership Inc. Located right in Williamsburg, HPI uses state and local government funds to provide essential housing repair services to low-income families and individuals in the Williamsburg community. These housing services include emergency home repairs, home modifications for persons with disabilities, entire home replacements, as well as indoor plumbing projects. Their clientele mostly consists of individuals and families that are elderly, disabled, and make roughly about $12,000 a year. A major focus of his work though, revolves around a need that most people in the United States take for granted: indoor plumbing. Most individuals may think that in this day and age, adequate and sanitary indoor plumbing is a luxury afforded to all. In the US today over 670,000 US households are in fact, without indoor plumbing.

Access to adequate indoor plumbing is something that not all possess, and this particular problem is right in our backyard. Since they began in 2005, Woodall and the HPI team have repaired over 80 houses in the Greater Williamsburg area that lacked indoor plumbing. Overall, HPI has invested about $3.5 million, with each individual housing repair estimating at $700. But it is important to note that costs can change depending the repairs needed to be done – some repairs may cost less or substantially more. Again, when people think about communities that lack proper indoor plumbing, the mind tends to go to rural, backwoods areas. Though these areas in Virginia are in need of indoor plumbing repairs, Woodall stressed that homes lacking indoor plumbing and proper septic systems can be found in both suburban and urban areas.

Houses in the Williamsburg area that lack indoor plumbing or have poorly constructed septic systems that fail, are built on areas of land with poor soil. Most of the houses HPI repairs include elderly clientele that had service-industry jobs before they retired. But with most service-industry jobs, the ability to afford housing on land with “good” soil is difficult to find at an affordable price – the poorer the soil, the cheaper the property. HPI’s elderly clientele also typically lack the incentives, ability, and finances to move from an older house that may not have the best septic system, to a new one that does. Moving to have a better toilet can remain low on a list filled with other priorities. Even with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, it can still be difficult to get by financially, making housing repairs that much more costly.
Inadequate indoor plumbing is rarely if ever, a hot-topic issue when discussing social injustices. One can argue that there tends to be a hierarchy of social issues, with some receiving more attention than others. This can be caused by the nature of the topic itself, the political charge behind the topic, and social standing of affected communities within a specific social issue. Essentially, it can be difficult to see a problem if one is not faced with it. Most of us have access to both public and private restrooms, and it can be hard to get out and see the sheer size of Williamsburg as a college-student. Williamsburg is a city that extends far beyond the Sunken Garden and The Cheese Shop. But if you take the time and look past the manicured lawns of CW, poverty in Williamsburg does in fact exist. The need is there and as part of the Williamsburg community, it is crucial we recognize our fortunate position to help. If looking for a chance to enable members of the Williamsburg community with better access to an essential need, HPI is the perfect place to start.