May 13, 2013 by Elizabeth Miller
To the newest William & Mary alumni:
Close your eyes and picture this campus. The William & Mary you see is the one you’ve built over the last however many years it has taken you to get to this point. You’ve certainly had help along the way. This place is filled with people who worked to make your life better from day one: family, faculty, staff, classmates, the Griffin. You’ve had help along the way, but it’s been your W&M you’ve built. All the people and experiences you’ve discovered here have made this place what it is for you. And that is the William & Mary you get to keep with you, even as life changes, as your geography, social circles, job, hairstyle changes. The W&M you’ve built abides. Even as one of the things that changes is this campus.
As a young alumna who never really left this place, I’ve seen it happen and been a part of it happening. This campus remains alive. New buildings, new people, new thoughts, ideas, failures and successes. This place changes because of you. Because each of the incoming students has a W&M to build as well. And that’s one of the incredible parts of being an alum. You now have ownership over two William & Marys. The magical place you’ve experienced from freshman memories, GER struggles, final papers, people you’ve loved and people you’re ready to take some space from. That W&M is carried by you. And you also have this place that has been around a long time, that you can always return to. You now get to be that alum who jumps on a campus tour to say, “When I was a student here…” But you also get to be a part of honoring the change this campus undergoes, supporting the William & Mary new students are trying to build.
The W&M you carry with you from this day forward and this one right here that you can return to, they are not the same. Your relationship to this college is different now. Life is different now. Thankfully, W&M has prepared you for that change. Maybe some of you feel less prepared than others. Perhaps there is stress and intimidation about leaving these brick pathways. I can’t offer you a certainty of what comes next, but you can carry with you the certainty of these brick pathways. And of the helpers. There are so many alumni excited to support you in this part of the journey. And you’re a helper now too, someone current students will reach out to with their own uncertainties.
This place will be here and this place will always change. I encourage you to honor that because the same is true for you. The things you built into who you are while you were here – the friendships, the knowledge, the values – you get to carry that with you, and you get to change. You get to experience the shifts that happen with time passing. That can be hard and that can be incredible. Just as this place remains, who you were here is captured within you and within the friends, faculty, and staff you knew here as well. As an alumna, though, I welcome you to change because those changes will be part of your W&M alumni story. I am so grateful that I can welcome you to this branch of the family, and I want to congratulate you on your time at W&M. I know you’ve done incredible things here because this campus remains incredible and vibrant. This college is the powerful, beautiful, life changing, sometimes overwhelmingly daunting, but also loving place that it is because all of us, including alumni, join in making it.
So congratulations on being part of creating the W&M of today. Congrats on coming into the great unknown. And congratulations on now joining a new phase of building the W&M of years to come. Through all that comes next, this place is always your home. You’ve earned that above all else. (Although the diploma’s nice too.)
May 13, 2013 by Anne Charity Hudley
Dear Class of 2013 and those who love and support you,
I am so honored to have been asked to speak to you tonight on behalf of my faculty colleagues. This weekend is filled with such joy and celebration of your accomplishments—all that you have achieved leading up to and during your years here. I speak on behalf of the entire faculty when I say to you, “you are fabulous!”
You will get asked a lot of questions this weekend and in the weeks to come. Questions about your degree, your future plans, probably even your final GPA; did you graduate summa cum, laude, magna cum laude or thank you laude.
Rightly so—most of the weekend focuses on what you have accomplished: undergraduate and graduate degrees, achievements in departments and programs and your activities, which are too numerous to mention. And I am all for celebrating your achievements. You’ve attended a tough yet wonderful college during a tough yet wonderful time in history and came out ahead! So since for most of the weekend, we’re going to celebrate your achievements, I’m a take five minutes here and celebrate from a slightly different angle—I’m a celebrate you! Just you—who you are—and who you will become. For the next few minutes, you are you and not your major, your degree, you are not your class year, you not even your future plans.
If you want to know what I’ve done, (Why she up there?) Google it up. Instead, I’ll tell you a little bit about who I am.
Who am I—I am on Route 5 through open fields trying not to get a ticket—I’m the gal whose breath is taken away every time she sees her husband walk out in a suit and tie on to Ukrop Drive through those fancy Mason School of Business doors! I’m trying to think of everything that I and the College of William & Mary didn’t get to do to support you during your time here that I can get right with the class of 2017—help me with that. I’m on a journey to make sure everyone is included here — in this place, so that I can walk around the Wren building just smiling.
So who are you, class of 2013? To me, that’s the most awesome part.
In many senses you will always be the you who you were when you first were here — several years younger, running through the Sunken Garden, I hope with your clothes on.
You are fun nights at the Delis before some of you moved over to the Crust. You are forever the one who played hooky and rode the Verbolten or the one who spent 20 hours straight in Swem.
You are rugby rough and community research strong, you are cheering football teams on and sad people up, you are driving classmates you didn’t know before home through Hurricane Irene just because someone emailed and asked you to.
You are on all sides of political activism with passion and intellect.
You are Virginia’s promise, New Jersey’s dream, China’s spirit, part of the TJ posse, and that one kid to make it here from your hometown—ever!
You are somebody’s sibling—either by blood or oath or hope.
You are about to give your mother her best mother’s day ever—even if she can’t be here with you or if you’ve never even met her—even if she is a he.
Some of you are fashion plates and some of you have had on the same sweat pants for 4 years or 8.
But OH MY GOODNESS—I can’t wait to see WHO you will become!
I spend my spare time with my students and have no shame about it. Why? Because each of you is an individual masterpiece. And that’s what makes what I do intertwine with who I am (someone who will be here years from now happy to see you on your return, no matter if you knew me before just now or not.)
A couple of things to think about as you are becoming, you—post-graduation style:
- You could become someone who cleans up your social media. Cuz you know some of that confession stuff ain’t gone look so cute in a year or two. Because who you are is likely to be slightly different and context can be everything. And if it isn’t, share on—do you, boo boo!
- You could become someone who still always takes time to write a few thank you notes. It is amazing to be someone who takes that minute and they mean so much.
- You can become someone who continues to make friends in your class even after tomorrow- you’re gonna meet new people because of where you’re standing or what names are on the chairs in W&M Hall and in your department ceremonies! Say hi all eager like you did in Orientation 2009! It’s not too late! That person may be headed to your new town, or interested in the same type of music, or job as you.
- You can be someone – who even if you don’t care for W&M as a monolith who love the people affiliated with W&M individually – the students who come after you are desperately looking to you for advice and glimpses of what their dreams may look like realized. You can become someone who walks out of here tomorrow never to return or you can become someone who doesn’t miss a reunion or homecoming and either way I hope you’ll connect with the students – come guest lecture, speak at events in your old organizations, Skype with someone from around your way who has a dream of making it to William & Mary— make it a time and a priority commitment.
I’m becoming someone right now because of who my grandmother was that wasn’t even legally possible at the time of her dream. And in turn, the spirit of my grandmother has become the grandmother of a granddaughter who is giving this talk and the grandmother of a grandson who is graduating from here tomorrow. I can think of no better example of the fact that who you will become may actually take generations.
So honestly, there are no words for who we are in moments such as these. For those times when the who and the what are indistinguishable—our ancestors live again and the future is written. And that’s the true definition of swagga.
We’re doing our best tonight to honor that privilege and experience tonight through your triumph, some silence, and flames.
May 10, 2013 by Madelyn Smith
I walked towards the banner today. Slowly, watching it grow larger as I approached from the distance. The last time I saw this banner was four years ago…
The day was hot and muggy. We were all decked out in our preppy attire eager for the grand convocation welcome, and exhausted from a week of orientation. I remember sitting there next to the girls of Spotswood Third Upper day-dreaming about the next four years of college; the adventures, college parties, clubs and organizations that I would join, when all of the sudden the president took the podium. I vaguely remember what he said, other than a resounding welcome for the Class of 2013. What I remember is the faces of the students around me. Excited and smiling, faces full of wonderment and curiosity of what the next four years would bring. A few of us in the row squeezed hands as he acknowledged the bond between the freshman hall and how these friendships lasted a lifetime. It sprinkled rain at one point, but no one seemed to care; we were the class of 2013 and NOTHING could take us down! As the ceremony came to a close there was an overwhelming roar of cheers from the Class of 2013. However, when the crowd quieted down the noise didn’t stop. Somewhat confused my fellow classmates and I looked at one another and shrugged, maybe our ears were playing tricks on us? The next thing we knew the doors to the Wren building flew open and on the other side of the building one could see the heads of hundreds of students all shouting and cheering. Never in my life have I felt so loved and welcomed. One by one each freshman passed through the building and walked out into a sea of upperclassmen smiling, waiting to greet us. The year 2013 a distant thought, it seemed nearly impossible to imagine.
Four years later I walked towards the banner. I smiled thinking how fast this time has gone, and how grateful I am for the many moments here. As is normal these days, I smiled and then I burst into tears… There is no way to put into words the emotions of Commencement. Four years of dedication, hard work and persistence and then, like that, it’s over. Underclassmen, treasure it. It truly does go by fast.
As I looked at the banner hanging above the door to The Wren Hall I couldn’t help but think of the diversity in the Class of 2013. Listening to the ambitions and dreams of my fellow classmates over the past few weeks has been a humbling experience. Nonprofits, business corporations, private entities – you name it, we’re doing it. Our class boasts some of the best and brightest in the nation, yet they are humble and driven by a desire to do good in this world. I could not be more proud to be a member of this remarkable group of individuals.
Sunday morning we will walk under the banner once again. This time, a more solemn tone, but a celebratory walk nonetheless. To the Class of 2013, WE DID IT! I hope each of you will walk with your head high and your heart beaming knowing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself, you are a part of the Class of 2013 and the College of William & Mary!
May 6, 2013 by Kylee Ponder
I have three magical days left of student teaching. Three days left to get in all of the hugs that I can. Three days left to gaze over the shoulders of second graders as they complete their morning handwriting practice. Three days left to see their eyes light up when they walk in the room and I greet them with a “Good Morning” and a smile. Three days left of excited whispers in the hallway when I walk by on my way to observe other teachers. Three days left to beg, borrow and steal all of the incredible ideas from other teachers at my school. And most importantly, three days left to watch my sweet 20 kiddos sit on the edge of their seats as I sit in my director’s chair with a class microphone around my neck reading the last 50 pages of Charlotte’s Web.
I didn’t plan it this way – to be finishing Charlotte’s Web on the last day of student teaching. I started the book and hoped we’d be finished with it already. But with standardized benchmark testing, PALS testing, Spring Break and an incredibly rigid Reading/Language Arts schedule, it’s been hard to work it in. In fact, I’m almost dreading finishing it. I have a feeling my voice will be quivering and tears will be streaming down my face on Wednesday. In preparation, I was flipping through the book and immediately was drawn to turn to the back, remembering fondly the voice of my parents as they read this to me as a child. I stopped when I read this excerpt –
“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Powerful words written by a powerful author. These words helped me realize how incredibly grateful I am for so many different interactions that I have had over my undergraduate and graduate career – the ways in which people continually go out of their ways to help me or to make my life better or easier. There’s just something about William & Mary people. Something in the water we drink. Something in the green and gold blood we bleed. Something in the cobblestones that are under our feet. Something in our love of ampersands. Something powerful. Something that draws us together.
In this last week of my graduate school career, I happily am sitting back, embracing the incredible challenges and successes that this beautiful place has brought me, and remembering all of those people who have helped me along the way. Those people who brought me a coffee when I really needed one. Who took a drive with me on the Colonial Parkway when they knew I’d had a bad day. Who took initiative on a project because they knew I didn’t have time then, but that I would soon. Who motivated me to run and finish my first 5k. Who gave me a hug every single morning when they walked into their second grade classroom. Who forwarded along kind words to help me get further in the job application process. Who have had me over for dinner and wine. Who have met me for coffee and breakfast and chit chat. Who have nurtured me and loved me for the past 5 years.
I am so grateful for those people. I am so grateful for William & Mary. I don’t feel like I deserve it. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything exceptional for it. But just like Wilbur, I realize that sometimes, friends are what gets you through things. They push you farther and make you believe in yourself and achieve your dreams, whether those dreams are not getting turned into bacon by the Zuckermans or finding a teaching job.
Hark upon the gale,
March 14, 2013 by Admission Ambassador
2012 was a great year, so far 2013 is sure to be even better!
May 24, 2012 by Admit It!
Admit It! The close of a school year can be emotional. It’s about looking back and looking ahead; it’s a time to reflect, to remember, to wax nostalgic. We know that the impending holiday weekend will bring about the close of another school year for many high schools across the country. William & Mary’s 319th year closed just about two weeks ago.
As the Class of 2012 took their final finals, were inducted into the Alumni Society, and took their final walk across campus on Commencement day, they were reminded of this storied community of which they are forever a part, of the tens of thousands who had walked – and tripped over – those brick paths before them and that the Tribe will be with them always.
Senior tour guide Danny Green was selected as the student Commencement speaker. In her emotional and heartfelt words she quoted everything from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games. She talked about diversity and unity, challenges and success, friends and family. All of this, as she pointed out, is just a small fraction of the experiences that comes with being a part of the Tribe. So hats off to all of the classes of 2012 who have, are about to or will soon graduate. And may the odds be ever in your favor.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission
May 4, 2012 by Kylee Ponder
There has been a clock ticking away in my head for the past four years – one that has included mental alarms to many sets of firsts and lasts, checklists and detours that have occurred along the way – all leading to the ultimate goal – not simply graduation, but commencement. And it seems as if that little clock in my head is ticking more loudly these days, with Commencement weekend right around the corner, about to rear its head on the graduating class of 2012.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m beyond excited – excited to see old friends coming back to Williamsburg soon, excited to participate in all of these traditions that I’ve talked about for the past four years, and excited to have my experience at William & Mary as an undergraduate student end in such a positive way. But I can’t help but say that I’m experiencing an extreme case of jealousy. Of envy. Having my own personal battle with the green-eyed monster that was the feature of a favorite children’s book of mine growing up. It started slowly when the newest class of summer interviewers was selected. And was even intensified when I worked the day during Day For Admitted Students – seeing all of these wide-eyed and excited potential students on the very edge of the start of their journey at William & Mary. I am simply jealous. Jealous of the experiences that they will have over the next four years for those prospective students. Jealous of the summer that the newest class of interns is about to have – one filled with love, new experiences, kickball, new relationships, and the deepening of their relationship with William & Mary.
And as much as I am reluctant to admit it – even though I’m jealous, I’m beyond excited for these experiences that these people are on the verge of having. And maybe even a little sad that it’s time for all of these traditions that I’ve spent the past three years of giving tours talking about – the Commencement Walk, Candlelight, brunch at Professor Reed’s house for the Linguistics majors, Last Chance Dance – the list could continue.
Before I continue that list – I’ll stop. Because I could write of my love for William & Mary forever. And I’m excited that I’ll be continuing my blog into next year as a graduate student in the School of Education – just beginning to see how my connection to William & Mary will play out post-Commencement.
But, for now – hark upon the Gale.
January 12, 2012 by Justin Miller
While staying the night in Atlanta a few days ago, I received the e-mail from the 2013 class president asking for nominations for the 2013 commencement speaker.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the three names I will nominate, but it’s really difficult to narrow down my list. Below, you will find a collage of my top eight choices that I made while listening to Florence + The Machine’s ‘Shake It Out’. I find each of these individuals admirable and inspiring; they have each made contributions to our world that have sparked discussion, provoked thought, and, in a sense, furthered our joie de vivre.
And though the Board of Visitors may disagree with any candidate who isn’t an old political figure, I can still dream.
Speaker, I’ll see you there.
July 8, 2011 by Isshin Teshima
Long time no see to all of you blog readers! I know that I haven’t been the most frequent of blog posters, and for that I apologize to my readership. (Assuming I still have a readership) Well, it sure has been quite a while since my last foray into the blogosphere and a lot has indeed happened since then.
For one, I graduated. Yup! Look at me, properly commenced (if you can use that term) and minted with the title of “Class of 2011.” To be honest though, other than a tradition filled ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance, I don’t think it’s really sunk in for me that I’ve left William and Mary at all. Perhaps, when August comes along and it turns out that I don’t have to go back to Williamsburg for the first time in four years, it’ll finally hit me.
But yeah, I graduated, with a double major in Government and Chinese Studies no less and my grandparents even drove half the country to watch me with proud eyes. I hadn’t seen their faces light up that brightly in a very long time.
So yeah…I graduated….NOW WHAT?
Trust me, the previous three paragraphs are what I’ve been mulling over constantly ever since Commencement Day May 15th, 2011.
It seems almost weird. I feel like, all this time, my life had been planned out for me: go to school, study hard, pass SATs, go to college…that I never even realized what I would do after the guided tunnel that was my education finally let me out into the open.
I will admit, I was and still am to say the least, dumbfounded. Here I am, bottom of the social food chain again, diploma in hand and ready to change the world…except…how?
All around me, I look at my graduating class and see a hodgepodge of mixed emotions. Some, with deadly intent, know what they want to do with their lives, know what they want to become and how to become it…perhaps that’s what makes them so successful. She wants to be a lawyer and will start law school in the fall, he wants to be a banker and will start working for Morgan-Stanley come July….
While others are just as lost as I am, thinking to themselves, “is this really what I want to become?” and second guessing. I guess 16 years of schooling never did prepare us for this moment…And let me tell you, that feeling and pressure is ridiculously scary.
But while talking to a close friend of mine, he explained to me one very important thing. Right now, in our lives, is the only time in our entire lives, where we’ll have the opportunity and freedom to do anything we choose. And in the end, it’s better to take your time, and choose a life that you want to live, rather than a life you need to live.
And it was these words that stuck with me, and got me over the stress of not knowing what tomorrow may bring. And it’s also these words, which I hope will also help others who may be in a similar predicament as me to get past the fear of not knowing about tomorrow.
I take pride in knowing that what separates me from those individuals who know what they want, is that now may be the only time in my entire life where I’ll get to take a few steps back, and ready myself for the sprint of life up ahead.
May 20, 2011 by Admit It!
Admit It! You know that W&M admission stats are pretty impressive. Our middle 50% SAT range, the number of enrolling valedictorians and salutatorians, the small percent of admits…they all imply that our entering students are pretty darn smart. Our entering students are also always colorful. Each spring, we compile what we call a colorful profile; a list of interesting quirks, accomplishments and character traits derived from those who applied and were admitted early decision. It’s a preview of what’s to come from the newest entering class.
Colorful Profile for Class of 2011 based on information provided in their admission applications
- A real estate appraiser
- A banjo player
- A collector of antique phonographs
- A locomotive engine racer
- A woman’s lacrosse player featured in Sports Illustrated and a men’s lacrosse player who had a patent pending for an adjustable-length, telescopic lacrosse stick
- A student who held to the dictates of her heart and founded an organization that raised $40,000 for breast cancer research, and another student who literally held someone else’s heart during bypass surgery
- A student who runs a 4:11 mile, and a student who took the time to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro
- A student who published an article in Teen Ink and a student who submitted a film to Sundance
- The female captain of a men’s golf team, the organizer of a touch football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and his school faculty, and the only student member of the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Character Education Taskforce
The Class of 2011 graduated this past Sunday. Approximately 1500 students strong; they have accomplished much in their time at the College. They were the fourth class I helped to admit and, the fourth class I saw from beginning to end, the first class for which I oversaw all of our tour guides, and my seventh class of Senior Interviewers. In this class were Hays Watkins and Chloe Lewis, two students I remember meeting during my recruitment trip to Chicago in the fall of 2006. Both made an indelible impression on me. I read both of their applications, which I remember to this day 4.5 years and nearly 10,000 additional applications read later. Both became tour guides. Also in this class, Joe Quinn, whose parents and sister attend W&M (his sister was a tour guide and Senior Interviewer). He just completed a 200+ page honors thesis for his Geology major. Another graduating student: Nick Velleman; a young man with more swagger than anyone I know. As chair of Alma Mater Production’s Music Committee, Nick was instrumental (if you pardon the pun) in bringing The Roots to campus for the inaugural Charter Day concert. Natty Montoya and Casey Sears will be leaving campus to impact our future students; both will be working as teachers next year. Evette Becker sang her heart out as a student in one of our a capella groups. Blair Saunders will be going to South Africa at the end of the summer to continue her research in African history (a scholarly passion she developed as the result of a course she randomly registered for to complete a major requirement). Imad Matini leaves behind a legacy as the outgoing president of his fraternity (the same fraternity my husband was in by the way). Adam Harris has spearheaded efforts for Branch Out international service trips helping to make W&M among the top schools in the country for alternative breaks. Jenn Addison spent a semester in Jordan honing her Arabic skills, Noelle DuVall spent several semesters in a neuroscience research lab preparing her for a future career in scientific discovery. JB Akbar continued to promote the I am William & Mary campaign as the Undersecretary for Diversity and Brian Focarino who helped lead an effort to have the highest percentage of giving ever for a senior class gift. And these are just some of the students I know personally.
Andrew Squires just co-authored a book, Ariana Berger was selected for the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, Kate Ottolini was honored by the Association for Teacher Educators for her research on teacher prep, Kalyani Phansalker has performed in professional dance shows and was this year’s Commencement speaker, the list only gets more colorful.
So congratulations Class of 2011! In the immortal words of Elle Woods “[you] did it!”
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission