Traditions and Events
October 30, 2013 by Claire Gillespie
In my opinion, surprises make Homecoming. You never know just who you’ll run into, which famous alumni will walk around the corner, which upperclassmen will show up again at your club’s reception. Homecoming radiates mystery and that’s why I love it.
I did not expect to meet former Director of the CIA, former Secretary of Defense, and current Chancellor Robert Gates last week, but as it turns out, Chancellor Gates had room in his schedule to meet the staff of the William & Mary Review, the literary magazine Gates worked on as an undergraduate. I sat in a room with Robert Gates for ten minutes and discussed the literary magazine we both work on and walked out thrilled that I articulated my opinion to someone who carries himself so eloquently.
Homecoming surprises heightened when my good friend, who is spending the semester in Washington, DC, knocked on my door. She had come down for Homecoming Weekend and lured me to the W&M vs. JMU football game.
Full disclosure: I did not realize William & Mary had a football team until Orientation ended. Football games, you may say, are not high on my list of priorities.
But I went to the football game and had fun! (For a little while, at least.)
My final surprise Homecoming Weekend came when I discovered the band Freelance Whales was to play at William & Mary’s own Sadler Center. I found out Freelance Whales would perform at William & Mary from a text from my friend from home seconds after William & Mary friends told me about their performance. I have not felt the same vein of pleasant elation since I discovered the party I wandered into circa summer 2003 was my own surprise birthday celebration. It came as no surprise, however, that Freelance Whales’s performance made my night.
Seeing the terrace as full as the first beautiful day in spring surprises me. Hearing alumni talk to students with the earnestness and interest of a young professional talking with his or her first brilliant hire surprises me. Seeing the football stadium filled with green and gold T-shirts (especially my own) surprises me.
But of course these events shouldn’t surprise me, because they abound at William & Mary. William & Mary’s environment brims with the pleasant surprise of winning the lottery through its illustrious teachers, caring students and beauty.
So, happy post-Homecoming. I hope the ways William & Mary surprises you this week make you smile.
October 30, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Unlike a majority of those in Williamsburg this past weekend, I was not reconnecting with William & Mary alumni, watching football…or singing along to the Jackson 5? Instead, my sister and I were walking the darkened streets of Colonial Williamsburg (more affectionately known as “CW”) and scaring ourselves silly at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Homecoming – with all of its social splendor, but I figured that, in a town as creepy as Williamsburg, you really have to take advantage of Halloween-time (yes, Halloween-time) – exploring haunted houses, graveyards and dark alleyways. I’m not exactly Wednesday Addams, but I love Halloween – and I really like being scared!
My sister and I went to Howl-O-Scream, first. I had gone this past September for William & Mary Day, but, let’s be honest, those roller coasters are addicting; and, although the wandering characters can be annoying, they add to the eerie atmosphere. My sister isn’t a fan of too much height, thus we only ventured onto the Loch Ness Monster and Alpengeist, spending a majority of our time on the ground amongst crazy pirates and werewolves with chainsaws. The weirdest thing was that when I was at Howl-O-Scream for William & Mary Day, one of the English “wanderers” chased me all throughout England; this past weekend, he found me again! For some reason, he’s never satisfied with a simple scare – he needs to, literally, chase me out of the park with a bloody knife.
I hope that I’m actually encouraging readers to go to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. I’m just now realizing that my description is a bit dramatic. All in all, it’s always a fun time, and being a Senior, it was nice to experience it one last time.
After Busch Gardens, my sister and I embarked on a “Spooks and Legends” ghost tour – which was voted #1 on Trip Advisor. Considering the rating, and my desire for fear, I was expecting a lot; I’ve been on ghost tours that were devastatingly mundane, and I wanted some spine-chilling tales. I have to say that this tour was incredible! It was the best ghost tour I’ve ever taken and it officially creeped me out. The Peyton Randolph House had, by far, the worst history. Its ghosts trap unsuspecting victims inside, driving them insane with strange sounds and whispers. Also, you wouldn’t believe the stories surrounding all of those “cute” little houses lining DoG street. Don’t let those white fences fool you – there are some scary goings-on behind those walls.
So, no – I wasn’t dancing to the cover band outside the College Delly (which played ALL weekend), but I still took advantage of what William & Mary had to offer: Halloween-time creepiness.
October 28, 2013 by Skyler Paltell
As almost every William & Mary student and alum knows, this weekend marked Homecoming 2013, that long-awaited event each year in which alums old and new flock back to the tree-lined serenity of campus. This year’s Homecoming was a landmark event for two reasons: 1. It marked the first homecoming game the Tribe has won since I have been a student here, and 2. There were no hurricanes, establishing 2013 as the first year I have not evacuated campus in advance of a hurricane. Both are exciting distinctions.
Homecoming this year was especially meaningful to me, as for the first time I was able to see returning alumni that I knew and recognized from previous years. My sorority welcomed back dozens of alumnae with our Homecoming Brunch on Saturday, allowing me the opportunity to reconnect with the sisters who helped make my first year in Greek Life so memorable. I was also able to reconnect with Natalie Applegate, former campus celebrity and my tour guide mentor freshman year.
It’s amazing to me to see how my friends have grown in their respective time away from the College, how their careers have changed them and how they themselves have made such an impact on my own college experience. Homecoming is a reminder that no matter how far life takes you away from William & Mary, there is one weekend each October when it’s still there, waiting for the return of the thousands of faces who came before us, our ancestors who helped to create the grooves in the brick staircases, the carved initials on trees, and whose class years line the Senior Walk on Old Campus. They return as recent graduates, as families, as elderly couples who crossed the Crim Dell Bridge holding hands so many decades ago
I have only one more Homecoming to spend here as a student, but I anticipate many more to come—many more visits to the ‘Burg, at first in solidarity—then perhaps with a spouse in tow, and maybe, many years from now, as the parent of a William & Mary student. One Tribe, One Family—for now, forever—hark upon the gale.
October 28, 2013 by Melody Porter
Branch Out held a Homecoming reception this weekend to welcome back alumni who participated in alternative breaks while they were here. It was quite a crowd, with people buzzing in from all over the world. Some of those I talked to had come from places as far away as Ireland, San Diego and Tanzania recently.
One student director alumna is working with migrant workers in North Carolina, developing education sessions on health and safety practices to share with them to mitigate the high risks they face in their labors. Another alumnus is studying for his master’s in higher education, and continues to be involved in alternative breaks – no longer as a site leader, but as an adviser. One former site leader talked about her work, which isn’t quite in the field she wants to be in, but she is busy finding ways to connect her experience in environmental sustainability to what she does. Another alumnus, who is now a community partner for one of our national trips, told me about his meeting earlier that day with the site leaders he’ll be working with this March. And one alumna wasn’t part of our program but stopped by to tell us about her recent time in East Africa, and to see about ways that she could support our two international alternative breaks that go to countries where Swahili is spoken.
The vision of Branch Out alternative breaks is to create a community of active and educational individuals dedicated to the pursuit of social justice. Throughout the year, I see this happening in different ways. I see it when our site leaders gather and work together to develop trips that will support community-driven work for social change. I see it when participants on a trip laugh together over simple meals eaten in community center basements, and later struggle together in reflection about how to tutor better tomorrow. And last night, I saw how this community continues even when it is dispersed across the world, as breakers who continue to live out their unique commitments to social justice met up with current program leaders and participants who welcomed them back with gracious hospitality, eager to hear their stories and glimpse into their futures as active citizens.
September 25, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
This past weekend was Parents Weekend! My mom flew in on Thursday night, and we met for dinner after class. On Friday morning, I took off from work and we started our tour of Washington. I took her to the Eastern Market neighborhood, expecting the massive farmers market that I had witnessed the weekend before. It turns out that the outdoor vendors are only there on the weekends, and on weekdays only the indoor produce and meat vendors are there. Still, she got a taste of how cool that part of town is. Then we walked to the Hill. I showed her the Capitol Building, and took her inside Russell Senate building, where I sit in on a few staff meetings every week. Russell is home to many senator offices, so it was fun walking around and seeing their names on the gold plaques. We came across an office swamped with reporters and official-looking people, only to see that it was John McCain being bugged about something.
On Friday, my mom went to class with me. One of our speakers was a lawyer from the Department of Commerce, and the other worked at a nonprofit organization called Accion. Both were very interesting, and above all, passionate about their jobs! It’s reassuring to see W&M alums in great positions.
After class, the W&M DC office held a reception for the parents and students. THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! Smooth brie cheese, rich cake balls, sizzling kabobs – fantastic!
After the reception, my mom got her first taste of the horrors of the Metro. First, the blue line was delayed, so by the time it got to the station, hundreds of people were waiting on the platform to get on. Somehow my mom and I squished on. I’ve seen the Metro full, but this was like in the cartoons when people’s faces are smashed up against the glass. We made it a few stops, cramming more and more people in. Then we smelled something terrible. My mom turned to me to ask what it was, and I sarcastically responded “the train must be on fire”. Turns out, I was right. There were so many people on the train, an electrical fire started underneath us, and everyone was kicked off at the next stop. Finally, after much delay and smoke, we made it to my mom’s hotel, where we met an old family friend and had dinner at a cute Lebanese restaurant.
Saturday morning began with a Costco run. I went in needing only three things, and came out with none of those things, instead five other items (Costco bulk sized). The second best part of Parents Weekend is having your family stock you up on food for the semester. (The first best part is just being with family.) After filling my fridge, my mom and I headed to the Newseum for the day. Even though we got the tickets for cheap through the DC office, it still would have been worth it to see the museum for full price – it was awesome. The purpose of the Newseum is essentially to tell history through the eyes of the reporters and journalists who witnessed it first hand. There was a display of pictures from the days of Camelot, and an exhibit of souvenirs from various FBI investigations. There were also pieces from history, like the very top tower of the World Trade Center. One of my favorite displays was the Berlin Wall. One side was clean, while the other side was covered with graffiti symbolizing the turmoil and unrest occurring on that side. I was awestruck to be that close to a piece of history. Another memorable part of the Newseum was the footage reporters got of the 9/11 attacks. It was incredible how close they were willing to get to the debris, and eerie to witness their reactions as events unfolded. My mom liked the replication of Tim Russert’s office – she was a huge fan of his.
After the Newseum, my mom and I walked to Clyde’s at Gallery Place for dinner. Again, the food was fantastic – crab cakes and spinach pastries. After dinner the group went to a show at the Reagan Center called Capitol Steps. The comedians make fun of politics and happenings in Washington. My favorite skit was when they replaced the words from Grease the musical with lyrics about Greece the country and how it is failing economically. It was surprisingly non-partisan: they poked fun at both sides of the aisle.
On Sunday morning, my mom and I headed back to the Newseum to soak up a little more of the exhibits. We watched a documentary about how the Holocaust was largely ignored by the US press because of the anti-Semitism at the time. It was moving. News about the Holocaust was only printed about once a year on the front page – most of the focus was to WWII. If only the press spoke out more about the killings, thousands of lives would have been saved. It made me realize the power of the media. Also, we went to the Pulitzer Prize picture gallery, which was again very emotional. While a few of the pictures documented victory and progress, many depicted war and violence and death. It is truly amazing the power of a picture.
After the Newseum, my mom and I walked through the Mall. The National Book Festival was going on, but it was overwhelming so we didn’t stop. I showed her the Washington Monument and the White House, and then sent her on her plane back to Texas. It’s tough going to school so far away from my family, so it was great getting to see my mom over the weekend.
As I was about to leave work on Tuesday, I got an email from the internship coordinator that he got us passes to go see Ted Cruz filibuster about the Continuing Resolution and ObamaCare. All my office left, and I started heading to class, but after about a block of walking, I realized that there will probably never be a time in my life where I get to sit in on a Senate filibuster, so I turned around and joined them. It was a weird experience – I thought since Senate was in session and a filibuster was going on, the chamber would be full. However, the only people in there were Ted Cruz, a senator from Alabama, the scribe, and a presiding chair. Ted Cruz kind of just rambled, but it was cool to see the formalities of it. They called him “Junior Senator from Texas” instead of just Senator Cruz. I’m excited to see how the CR unfolds in the Senate this week. Below is a sample of what we witnessed in the Senate Chamber Tuesday night…
August 27, 2013 by Admit It!
We Admit It! We are pretty biased when it comes to William & Mary. We wouldn’t do what we do if we didn’t think this place was special…make that extraordinary. But if there’s one campus tradition that demonstrates just how extraordinary this place is, it’s Opening Convocation. I don’t doubt that other campuses have great openings to the academic year. I don’t doubt that those celebrations are storied and special. But Opening Convocation, to us at least, seems even more so. At its heart, as with all things special to W&M, is the sense of community that pervades the Tribe. One Tribe. And this is how we make it theirs.
Tomorrow, on the first day of classes of William & Mary’s 321st year, all new students will gather at the Wren Building to be greeted by the College’s President and by a distinguished alumnus, this year, Emmy-award-winning producer, Nancy Gunn. Then, to symbolize their entrance into W&M, each new student will process through the Wren Building. On the other side, the upperclassmen, faculty and staff (including numerous admission deans) will be there to cheer them on, high-five them ‘til our hands hurt and welcome them with enthusiasm and pride until each and every last student has processed. There is so much spirit and fervor and excitement in that moment (or those 45 minutes that it takes for the procession to unfold), it’s hard to put into words. But we all feel it, we all embrace it, we all live it.
Nothing reminds us here in the Admission Office why we do our job and why we love doing our job more so than Opening Convocation. This is William & Mary. This is our community. One Tribe. And now it’s theirs. Welcome new students. Welcome to William & Mary’s 321st year.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
August 27, 2013 by Bailey Thomson
In two days, I am flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to Washington D.C. to celebrate my best friend Allison’s wedding in northern Virginia. This is the story of our “soul friendship” and the way that William & Mary inevitably introduces its students to the people they need the most.
Allison and I met in Morton Hall in our Comparative Politics class in spring 2008. Truthfully, we never really met. Allison approached me one afternoon, introduced herself, and revealed that she had orchestrated an interview for me to join her as a teaching fellow for a fall 2009 civic engagement seminar for Sharpe Scholars. (If this isn’t the definition of a nerdy beginning to a William & Mary friendship, I don’t know what is!) A few weeks later, I met with Professor Schwartz, was accepted for the position, and the adventure began. Allison and I were promptly joined at the hip inside and outside the classroom.
Allison has a penchant for intellectual conversation, surprises and relentless compassion. During our time together at the College, Allison and I found ourselves on sand dunes in North Carolina, exploring Rome over spring break, surrounded by friends at surprise birthday parties, celebrating holidays together with our families and eating way too many cupcakes. We talked without end about civic engagement, political theory, existentialism, feeling lonely and finding love. We were nurtured by many of the same professors and challenged each other academically. We were surrounded by friends who taught us to be better friends and family who taught us to love, to have patience and to persist.
After I graduated from the College and Allison finished her year as a Americorps Vista, we both moved to California. I began Teach For America in San Jose as an elementary school teacher, and Allison began her PhD at Stanford. For two years, we were pieces of home to each other though we lived 3,000 miles from our families and our beloved college. I had the pleasure of watching Allison’s relationship with her now-fiance Andy flourish. Andy moved to California to join Allison and proposed last year.
When you meet a soul friend, you know it. I moved to Johannesburg 13 months ago, and Allison is still one of a handful of people who know me best, with whom distance doesn’t matter. And while to William & Mary readers, this might seem normal, know that it’s not. William & Mary is a place where the relationships you cultivate last. As Convocation for the Class of 2017 happens this week, my hope is that these same important and lasting relationships have already begun during Move-in and Orientation. I am grateful that my alma mater is a place where great people meet and build a foundation for a lifetime of friendship.
Go Tribe (and congratulations, Allison!),
August 27, 2013 by Madelyn Smith
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington I thought it appropriate to address the Class of 2017 with a promise on the power of dreams…
I remember fall 2009 when I moved into Spotswood along with 72 other freshman dreamers excited about where the future would lead, somewhat anxious to meet new friends and build a reputation, and curious about what the next four years would bring. As time passed, we grew more comfortable with one another and realized that we would spend the next four years learning and growing alongside of these people and hundreds of others. We learned that our horizons would be broadened with each passing day, that we would be challenged to think in entirely new ways, and that we would define our dreams in the context of this brilliant academic setting.
To the freshmen – now is the time to dream. Now is the time to set your sights on the most ambitious feats that you can imagine and chase them. Tell yourself that you can, and you will. Make connections with professors (they are there for YOU!), pursue your academic pursuits passionately, take time to reflect on the emotions you are feeling now, and don’t ever forget them.
For many of you, this is the first time you have experienced what it feels like to establish a reputation for yourself individual of your parents, family or other associations. You can chose who you want to be – what a beautiful thing! Use this time to try new clubs, push yourself out of your comfort zone to meet new people, and make the most of every activity. You get out of life what you put into it, so I would challenge you to meet every day with a happy heart and a courageous mind and move forward knowing that you are going to ROCK W&M.
You were selected because you are one of the finest students in the country. You are highly capable, brilliant and well-rounded. The Class of 2017 brings one of the most diverse, dynamic and bright classes the College has seen yet. Get to know your classmates. Make a point to build community.
As an alumna of the College, I also want to remind you that by joining the Class of 2017, not only are you joining the 5,000 undergraduates who you will study alongside of for the next four years, but you are also joining a network of thousands of William & Mary alumni who are here to help you. We were all freshmen once and remember what it feels like to travel through this period. We are here to provide help, mentor-ship, advice and whatever we can offer. The incredible thing about W&M is the College community extends well-beyond your four years in Williamsburg.
Welcome to the Tribe, Class of 2017, welcome to the Family.
August 23, 2013 by Admit It!
We Admit It! Move-in Day is a pretty exciting day on our campus. New freshmen and their families come to campus with anticipation and enthusiasm. Returning students, in various shades of neon t-shirts, volunteer to assist in welcoming the newest members of the Tribe. It’s a busy, chaotic, whirlwind of a day that’s filled with Tribe Pride. It’s also a day our office has very little to do with. Yes we enjoy the excitement and the energy. And we’re just as eager to join in the revelry as other campus offices. We recruited these students, we reviewed their applications, we admitted them, and now we are hard at work on the class that will experience their own Move-In Day one year from now. So as we welcome the Class of 2017 and our new transfer students, we’re eagerly awaiting what the Class of 2018 and those who apply as transfers this year will bring.
To that end, those wishing to apply to W&M this year will be happy to know that the W&M Member questions are now live through the Common Application. You can now fill out, complete and submit your application for freshman or transfer admission! That being said, it’s okay to take your time. Our first deadline isn’t until November 1 (Early Decision freshman applicants and spring transfer applicants). The freshman Regular Decision deadline is January 1. The fall transfer deadline is March 1. So no pressure to submit today, tomorrow, next week or even next month. We will not begin to process any applications submitted for a little while yet anyway. As always, we will be here throughout the course of this application cycle to assist you with anything you might need.
So welcome to campus, Class of 2017 and new transfer students. And welcome to the application cycle, Class of 2018 and transfer applicants. Whether you are moving in or just considering the possibility for next year, our office is honored and thrilled to have worked or to be working with you.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
August 12, 2013 by Erin Spencer
I was on the phone with my advisor yesterday talking about my upcoming honors project. Somehow the conversation turned to the incoming freshmen and Orientation. He chuckled and asked, “When you were a freshman, did you have any idea you’d be where you are now?”
I was speechless. I didn’t know whether to laugh hysterically or break out in tears. Because exactly three years ago, I had absolutely no idea where my time at William & Mary would take me. I was conflicted with both excitement and doubt, worried deep down that somehow college wouldn’t be the life-changing experience everyone had promised it would be.
I was wrong.
I’ve experienced more in the three years at William & Mary than I ever could have imagined. I’ve known both love and deep, shattering loss. I’ve learned the importance of asking for help, even when you’re terrified to admit defeat. I’ve seen people I love struggle through unthinkable hardships and learned what it means to be a true friend. I’ve broken the rules and certainly procrastinated more than I’d like to admit. I’ve stayed up all night for absolutely no reason at all. I landed my dream internship after being denied from a slew of others. I’ve spent late nights with friends debating politics and religion, even though sometimes we had no idea what we were talking about. I’ve had a class kick my butt, and I learned to fight back. I’ve discovered research I’m passionate about, and successfully applied for my first research grant. I’ve skipped class simply because the day was too beautiful to go inside.
Looking back, I can say with certainty that I’m where I am today because of the people I met at William & Mary. Some of the people I met on the very first morning of Orientation would become my closest friends, and still are to this day. I know I’m extremely lucky to have a group of people who love me even when I’m at my worst (and trust me, sometimes college classes will bring out the worst). They have supported me and challenged me, and I am confident that our bond will last far beyond graduation day.
But there is more to my story than the influence of fellow classmates. There were professors who took even my most far-fetched ideas seriously, encouraging me to pursue them even when they seemed impossible. There were administrators who taught me the values of a good leader and alumni who showed me that my William & Mary experience extends far longer than four years. And of course, my parents, who while always supporting me in my exploits, never failed to remind me the importance of getting enough sleep and not over-committing myself.
There’s no way of knowing whether I would have had these same experiences at another college. But one thing is for certain – I have felt more love and encouragement at the College of William & Mary than I could have possibly imagined. I couldn’t be more excited to embrace my senior year alongside the people who have made the last three years so exceptional.
I can’t help but smile when I think of the class of 2017. In just a few short weeks, they will be starting their freshman year, just as nervous and clueless as I was. And three years from now, maybe they will be posed with the same question.
“Did you have any idea you’d be where you are now”?
I bet they’ll say no.