Traditions and Events
March 4, 2014 by Drew Stelljes
In this blog entry, Kendall Lorenzen, a junior at W&M serves as guest blogger. Below is the script from the speech she gave at the annual Junior Ring Ceremony.
I love everything that the Charter of the College of William & Mary represents. It is our origin story. It is our connection. It is the document that spurred the 321 year long chain of events that have brought us here together today.
It is in a word—astounding. However I will say looking at the 321 year old script of the Charter initially I couldn’t help but be amazed for a slightly different reason. The Charter began so incredibly simple.
Our Charter lays out the foundation for a university with one President, six professors, and one hundred students more or less. I can’t help but wonder what King William and Queen Mary would think after seeing our campus today. What we have today, THIS was not even a dream in 1693. The College had humble beginnings.
This makes me think of our first experiences here at William & Mary. Our first walk through Wren together as a class, our first forced mixer with another hall, our hurrication. I think about the expectations I had as I stood with strangers waiting to get the key to my room in Jefferson—the strangers that I now consider great friends.
I thought all I would be getting from my fours at William & Mary would be an education. But looking back today-I already know I have gotten so much more than that. I came into William & Mary with humble expectations. But being here with you all has taught me so much more than what I could ever have learned in a classroom. Coming into college I knew I could study, but I didn’t think I could really do anything more than that. But here, from you I learned I had the ability to make a difference and to inspire those around me.
Being here has taught me how powerful we all have the potential to be just by being in each others lives. At William & Mary, we have the most incredible people around us. Sitting next to us in lecture, living right down the hall, or even in the very same room. What defines William & Mary is not just the acceptance of the individual, but the celebration of the individual. We have the ability to be phenomenal leaders and WE have inspiration all around us and within us. How many of you have been inspired by someone in this room or here at the College? And how many of you have told them that?
We all have incredible power. If you do not know how inspiring you are or that you have an amazing ability to make positive change, just think about all of the people who didn’t raise their hands. William & Mary has amazing professors, research opportunities, but perhaps the best thing about William & Mary is that it has brought us together so that we can be inspired by one another and go out into the world and community to do unbelievable things.
I have a lot of goals for the remainder of my time here at the College, but at the top of my list is to be engaged everyday; in my classes, with my peers, and with everything I do—because when I came into college I knew how to study. We all knew how to study, but by being engaged we have the ability to truly learn from all the fantastic people around us. It is a simple idea. But by engaging in these William & Mary networks, like the Class of 2015, we have become a part of something great. Just as the alumni before us have learned, we have the ability to innovate and inspire.
Looking back at the Charter today and looking back at those initial moments when we first came to the College, I see that nothing was ever really simple. It was innovative. It was the start of something that neither we nor King William and Queen Mary could have ever imagined. We are connected now and forever to something great that will always be bigger than ourselves. Look at the rings now that you have just received. Let the rings serve as a reminder of each other and the tradition of service that we will always be bound to. All you can really do going into our last three semesters is to embrace your strengths and live authentically. Never underestimate the power of a thank you or the power of telling a classmate just how incredible they are. And I want to tell you all here today—you are amazing and I can’t wait to see the things you do in your final semesters at the College and in the world.
February 28, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
Let’s break it down.
3 – People in my family that attended William & Mary before I did. Their tradition and legacy precede me. Walking across the patio at the Alumni House, you can see their names in a singular brick. How metaphoric. A collection of bricks with names that make a whole patio. Kind of like a collection of people who make up the traditions that make W&M home.
2 – People who have worn my class ring. My mama graduated in 1984. I will graduate in 2014. 30 years, 2 children, a dog, 3 cats and a lot of time transporting to and from sports camps have elapsed in the time that my mama wore this ring. And now it’s mine. In another 30 years, what will we say about this ring?
1 – home. I have had exactly one address my whole life. And that means home to me. Home truly is where the heart is. And mine is here. At William & Mary.
321 – Happy 321st birthday to you, William & Mary. Your charter and legacy have lasted 321 years. You’ve been witness to this country’s history. Front row seats even. You’ve been home to 4 presidents. You’ve converted to hospitals for the Confederate Army. You’ve produced leaders like Robert Gates, Glenn Close, Jon Stewart, Mike Tomlin and David Brown. You’ve produced people I know and look up to. So here’s to you William & Mary. Here’s to another 321 years. You are loved of old.
- Kelley Quinzio
February 28, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
Robert Gates ’65 signing his bestselling book Duty, a Wiz Khalifa concert, a speech by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and an alumni medallion awarded to current FBI director James Comey ’82. What is the occasion for all of these events you may ask?
The answer is: Charter Day.
Charter Day is when we celebrate King William and Queen Mary signing the royal charter to establish the College of William & Mary in Virginia. February 8, 2014 marked the College’s 321st year of existence and allows the W&M community to come together and celebrate over three centuries of academic excellence and prestige. Charter Day makes us all think about what it really means to be a member of the tribe and the legacy of innovation and achievement that each of us, as students of the College, are obliged to uphold. The coming together of students, faculty and alumni over Charter Day weekend epitomizes why I love this institution that continues to cultivate the greatest minds in the world.
Historically significant, yet paving the way for the future, William & Mary truly is the alma mater of a nation. Happy Birthday William & Mary, you’ve never looked better.
Check out this video for a taste of what Charter Day is all about:
- Mark Bland
February 27, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
Dear William & Mary,
If you could talk, I imagine that you might say that Charter Day 2014 was the best birthday weekend yet. But William & Mary, you’ve seen a lot in your 321 years. When you were born – or, rather, chartered – England was still fighting the French in the Nine Years’ War, a religious schism had just led to the creation of the Amish church in Switzerland, and the Salem Witch Trials were just wrapping up in Massachusetts. You share your birth year with a lot of other distinguished people – including a Russian empress, a British Prime Minister, and a French composer – but it’s safe to say that after over 300 years, you’ve outlived them all.
And I’ve got to say … you look good for 321. As Colonial Williamsburg’s next-door neighbor, you might be physically stuck in the past, but I’m proud to say that you’ve transitioned nicely from the 17th century to the 21st. Not many schools can boast both a royal charter AND campus wide wireless. And it takes a special mix of prestige and popularity to get wished a happy birthday by Robert Gates, Terry McAuliffe, AND Wiz Khalifa.
Happy birthday, William & Mary. Here’s to 321 more!
- Elisabeth Bloxam
February 27, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
February 8th, otherwise known as Charter Day, is a day that has a very significant meaning for every student here at William & Mary. However, Charter Day tends to be extra special for me because not only is it the birthday of my favorite place on Earth, but it is also my own birthday!
While W&M was turning 321 last week, I was just reaching 20. In high school, I took this little coincidence as a sign from the higher education gods that William & Mary was the place for me. However, now I tend to look at it as more of an honor. To be able to share the same birthday as the second oldest college in the USA is, frankly, mildly intimidating. We’re talking about the school that educated three [arguably four] US Presidents, founded the first Honor Code, created the first Law School, and was the birthplace of Greek Life.
That’s a big birthday shadow to live in.
The one thing that makes me confident every day is knowing that by having the chance to study at William & Mary, I’ve given myself the best kick start anyone can have, as far as I’m concerned. The sheer excellence of every single one of my professors reminds me that I’m not just sitting in my classes getting “talked at” here. I am learning and growing so much every day in a way that will actually help me succeed both academically and personally for the rest of my life.
The people I have met on this campus have been some of the most amazing and inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. No wonder William & Mary has been around for 321 years of doing what it does best, nurturing young minds to continue its legacy by being all that they can be and more. I am humbled to be able to say, even if for just a short while, that I was a part of W&M’s illustrious history, and that these brick pathways were my first true home away from home.
- Audrey Savage
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
February 24, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
I’m sad to say that the 2012-2013 school year was definitely my hardest at W&M. It wasn’t because of my rigorous course load, my TWAMPy habit of overcommitting, or any of the problems life threw at me. It was because when May rolled around I had to say goodbye to some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure to call friends. Graduation this year was terrible. It didn’t help that spring 2013 was the best of all of my W&M spring semesters. The school activities in the spring are among the best, including Holi, a Hindu festival where you throw paint powder at each other, and Campus Golf, a philanthropy even thrown by a social sorority, for which I may have wandered campus in a blow-up blueberry suit (it was very Violet Beuregarde). Spring in Williamsburg is beautiful, which meant frequent trips to College Creek, a local beach loved by students, and Jamestown Pie (I’m telling you it’s amazing!!).
It all made graduation so much harder. The very people who had made William & Mary my home for the past three years were leaving me for bigger things and I desperately wanted to be among them. It was a wake-up call. As I heard more and more people focussing on the future—grad schools, interviews, jobs, Fulbrights, Teach for America—and going out on their own in the real world, I realized that it was almost time for me to do the same. The future is scary, and as students began returning to campus that fall I realized that another year at home was a good thing.
In my opinion, Convocation is one of the College’s finest traditions. For those of you who are unaware, let me enlighten you: Convocation occurs at the end of the first day of classes, when the new students are officially welcomed into the Tribe. The incoming freshmen and transfers get all dressed up with their hall-mates and Orientation Aids to listen to the President’s welcoming address, and an angelic rendition by the choir of our Alma Mater. Once it’s all over they are ushered through the Wren Building and beyond, where they are greeted by the rest of the Tribe. I will warn you—it’s overwhelming. The upperclassmen are waiting on the opposite side of the Wren, chanting “freshmen!” and raining down high fives as the newest members of the Tribe arrive. I remember walking through that crowd almost four years ago with an unmistakable sense of belonging. Random strangers, soon to be my new family, fought for a chance to be part of my own beginning. It’s amazing being welcomed into the community with your new friends at your side, excited to see what lies ahead—in this case, a never ending line of hands and a picnic on the Sunken Garden.
As it was our last Convocation together, my freshman hall-mates met up and reminisced about the weird times in Gooch Hall, and what was to come. It reminded me that I have to take full advantage of this final year. To me, the worst part of graduating is not being able to walk across campus to see your best friends, but instead having to fly across the county, if not the world. So this fall I spent time reconnecting with old friends, making tons of new ones, and going on all of my favorite Williamsburg adventures.
Now it’s time for the end: senior spring.
My Goal for 2014: figure out what to do with the rest of my life! It’s a lofty one I know, but I have to do it sometime—ideally before I’m forced to move back in with my parents…
- Devyn Harris
February 20, 2014 by Elizabeth Miller
On Friday, February 7th, 2014, William & Mary celebrated Charter Day, including honoring Laura Godwin ’14 with the James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership. Laura serves on the executive board of Project Phoenix and is a fixture in the Office of Community Engagement, bringing her joy and commitment to our office and the tutor/mentor program. That’s why no one was surprised when Laura sent out this incredibly sweet and genuine email to Project Phoenix. It was too good not to share:
I just wanted to send out this email, and tell each of you how grateful I am for you. On Friday, I stood on stage in front of way too many people and received an award that was half the size of me (no joke)…but I sincerely wished that each of you could have been on that stage with me. While Project Phoenix is just one piece of my involvement in the community, it is the one that has allowed me to work closely with other W&M students whom I love dearly. You all embody the heart and soul of what it means to serve a community, and I am in awe of each of you. We all dedicate a significant amount of time to working with our middle schoolers, and I would bet that none of us do it for the recognition; I know I don’t, and I never expected to be recognized for my work, but that would not have been possible without y’all.
I know that sometimes it seems like this program wears us out and stresses us out and drives us crazy. But at the end of the day we all stick with it because we care. I care about our middle schoolers, their well being, and their future. I care about each of you and making sure that y’all feel like you have a purpose and that we are all supporting each other inside and outside of this program. For those of you who were at the first info session we had, I went off on a little tangent about how much I enjoy working with my peers. I am not kidding when I say that I have met some of the best people while working with ProPho. Especially the executive board. I consider each of you a friend, and I am so blessed each time I get to be around y’all. Y’all inspire and encourage me and remind why we do what we do. So thank you. For absolutely everything. Y’all rock!
February 7, 2014 by Ariana Guy
Unfortunately, this blog is not going to be about Charter Day. I’m not going to describe the excitement surrounding Robert Gates and Wiz Khalifa, or tell you about my own plans to celebrate the College. Instead, I’m just going to complain about how this upcoming Charter Day weekend will be my last – which makes me feel very depressed.
I remember my first year at William & Mary. I was incredibly nervous and intimidated because I thought everyone else was smarter than me. Thankfully, I found good friends – fast – and with their help, I was also able to build some confidence. The years went by quickly, and all of them were filled with both triumphs and challenges. I excelled in seemingly insurmountable classes, met incredibly diverse and interesting people, and realized that I could survive out in the world without my mother (well…barely). I also learned that I will never understand economics, prefer having my own space, and absolutely CANNOT work during evening hours – which inconveniences me to this day.
Obviously, I’ve learned and experienced a lot here, at William & Mary. But despite this truth, I feel neither old nor wise enough to leave this 321 year old campus. I’m not ready! For once, I’m envious of the freshmen who talk about future courses they’d like to take, or their plans for next semester. I don’t have any semesters left and it’s not fair!
Enough with the complaining. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I’ve been obsessed with this school ever since my junior year in high school – and my feelings of admiration have never ceased. William & Mary has given me so much more than a world-class education. I’ve garnered a second home. Not to mention, it looks almost surreal during spring and fall. I’m going to miss this place.
My apologies for turning a potentially happy and exhilarating blog into an excuse to be maudlin, but I really needed to express these emotions (*sniff sniff). What can I say? This Charter Day weekend is not all about fun – it’s also about feeling nostalgic and sorry for ourselves. It’s not even May and I’m already breaking at the seams.
I can only imagine what my Graduation Day blog will be like.
All I can say is, Happy Birthday William & Mary. Thanks for the memories, your incredible influence on my life, and preparing me for a world that will both challenge and amaze me.
January 6, 2014 by Skyler Paltell
I almost fell off the sofa this morning when I checked my email and discovered a reminder to file for graduation.
How did I become a second semester junior so quickly? And how am I receiving this cruel reminder that I only have three semesters left? And most importantly, why am I receiving this notice when I still have three semesters left?
I’m twenty years old. I still like to watch SpongeBob on weekend mornings and eat ice cream out of the carton; I read Seventeen Magazine and my socks never match. I am in no way ready, or even close to being ready, to become a fully functioning, independent member of society. I’m positive that if I graduated right now, my inexperience at life would render me a menace to society.
The email was a reminder that college is merely another phase of life, the last phase of relative freedom, a transient experience that you’ll one day reflect on as the best days of your life. There will be life after William & Mary, though I can’t imagine it at all and have no idea what I’ll be doing with myself. I know that some day, eventually, I’ll have an apartment instead of a dorm; I’ll (hopefully) have a job, and have to deal with things like health insurance (what?) and pay my own bills. But these realities always seemed like a distant hypothetical, something far on the other side of four years of fun and friends and academics. Up until 11:06 this morning, my biggest concern was whether to buy the blue or the pink shirt from Victoria’s Secret. Now I’m realizing that I should probably be editing my resume and applying for summer internships instead. Hello, adulthood.
I know I’m not alone—I’m sure everyone who received the email this morning is having an identity crisis. The only people who are not panicking, I’m sure, are the parents—my parents were celebrating this winter break when they realized they only had to pay two more tuition bills. I wish I had something reassuring to say, but I’m as lost as the rest of us. I only know that each of us is innately driven, intelligent, and tenacious, and by the time graduation rolls around, our four years here will have prepared us, on some level, for what is beyond. The rest of it—our futures—is up to us.