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.
August 8, 2013 by Madelyn Smith
In 1904 James Southall Wilson wrote the Alma Mater of the College. Directly translated to “nourishing mother”, this hymn represents all that has been, is, and is yet to come for William & Mary and the Class of 2013! Tomorrow morning when your name is called and you step up on stage to receive your diploma, you will become alumni of the college. You too, will join in the thousands of students who have taken William & Mary as their Alma Mater.
Hark! The students’ voices swelling echoing through Lake Matoaka, down DOG Street, across the Botetourt Complex, out the windows of Wren and around William & Mary Hall.
Strong and true and clear they share stories of years gone by – memories of Convocation, Homecoming, Charter day and LDOC.
Alma Mater’s love they’re telling with a knowing that these memories will live on in the legacy they will leave behind in the bricks that make up old campus and the tradition that flows throughout the College.
Ringing far and near a resounding spirit of accomplishment for the Class of 2013!
William & Mary loved of old you’ve given us the gift of a strong mind and a community that will never be broken.
Hark upon the gale for the knowledge inspired in us by those who believe in the possibilities our lives represent. Praise for the times our internal chains were shattered and our definition of truth was challenged. Praise for new perceptions formed on the basis of this rich and fulfilling education.
Hear the thunder of our chorus prevailing on despite the trials, conquering that last exam, staying up all night to study and confronting challenges we all have faced.
Alma Mater – Hail for this place we now call, home.
God, our Father, hear our voices as we ask why Anna B. Martin didn’t cancel school that day and what President Reveley actually meant when he said “succulent stories”.
Listen to our cry of rejoice and merriment as we celebrate the last four years gone by, knowing that our next step into a world will continue to mold us, shape us and grow us.
Bless the College of our fathers for the endless moments on this campus that will live on in our souls.
Each one of us equipped with unique insights and a special story, a story written here. This time, a chapter, in the book of life that will last throughout the years. The pages might wilt and the ink might fade, but this chapter will remain. Crisp fall days in the Sunken Garden. WaWa runs. Swem moments. Office hours. Research. Athletics. Concerts. Dances…Sketched on the page and locked in your heart. If ever should you feel alone, remember the Alma Mater of the nation in this place forever home.
Let her never die for in each of us lives the spirit of the Alma Mater, a knowing that William & Mary in our hearts will forever reside…
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.