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!
March 14, 2013 by Admission Ambassador
2012 was a great year, so far 2013 is sure to be even better!
August 29, 2012 by Admit It!
I Admit It! I get pretty into William & Mary traditions (not that the last blog post left any doubt). Today is Convocation, one of my favorite (and a favorite among my colleagues as well). It gives meaning to one of my favorite W&M phrases, “Those who come here, belong here.” (And it’s not just my favorite phrase, search “those who come here belong here” from the W&M home page and see how many results you find and what they express about this place.)
Convocation is putting those words into action. It’s not just telling new students this is their new home, it’s showing them with the unfurling of their class banner and having them walk through the historic Wren Building together. It’s not just saying welcome, it’s having hundreds of faculty, staff and students clap for 45 minutes straight as each new student walks through the Wren Building from the non-campus side to the campus side (a literal representation of entering the campus community from the outside worlds from which they came). This is what gives me goosebumps. This is how we bring new students into our community. This is how they know they are home. This is One Tribe.
Not a bad way to cap off the first day of classes if I do say so myself.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission
August 29, 2012 by Chuck Bailey
William & Mary is back in business for another academic year. I teach my first class at 9 a.m. on Wednesday—Geology 110: The Earth’s Environmental Systems; it’s an introductory class with 200 students enrolled. Later, on Wednesday afternoon the College will gather for Convocation, and this is the ceremony that really kicks off the academic year.
In Earth’s Environmental Systems we’ll spend much time during the first week or two discussing the Sun and its relationship to the Earth. Consider the Sun and its path across the sky here on campus during the first day of the new semester, August 29th 2012.
The Sun will rise at about 6:36 a.m. (EDT) and will first appear above the horizon in the east-northeast. As morning progresses the Sun will rise ever higher in the sky, tracking out a southeasterly course. At local noon the Sun will be directly to the south and at its maximum solar elevation angle for the day (~62˚ on August 29th). Watch the animated graph to the see the path of the Sun across the Williamsburg sky.
Here’s a question: why, on August 29th, does local noon occur just after 1 p.m. rather than at 12 p.m.?
Insolation (incoming solar radiation) is the flow of solar energy intercepted by exposed surfaces. Insolation is a rate per unit area (watts/meter2). The amount of insolation received at any given point is a function of the solar elevation angle—the larger the solar elevation angle the greater the insolation. Insolation varies greatly as the solar elevation angle changes during the course of the day. Discerning how and why insolation varies across the Earth is fundamental to understanding the Earth’s environmental systems.
For many years Convocation has taken place in the courtyard of the Christopher Wren building, located on the west side of the Wren building. Convocation begins at 5:15 p.m. at that time the Sun will be 28˚ above the horizon at an azimuth of 260˚ (to the west-southwest), and as the ceremony rolls on the Sun will progress ever westward.
The Wren courtyard is well located to receive copious insolation during Convocation, and as such the temperature in the Wren courtyard is typically elevated to garish levels throughout the speeches and fanfare. Just ask the choir and faculty sitting in the courtyard, all tricked out in their robes and academic finery, about the temperature during Convocation. “It’s like being a disconsolate pig, all trussed up and stuffed into a three-sided brick oven…” groaned one of my colleagues. A three-side oven is an apt comparison as the vertical brick walls of the Wren building receive up to twice as much insolation as the nearby Earth’s surface, this heats up the bricks which, in turn, heat the surrounding air much more effectively than any blustery speaker ever could.
For this year’s Convocation, the College is moving the ceremony from the western courtyard to the eastern facade and front yard of the Wren building- what a brilliant idea! The venerable Wren building will provide shade for Convocation goers. After Convocation the incoming class of W&M students will proceed westward through the Wren building and emerge onto campus as the newest members of our community. This change in Convocation symmetry is a good idea. Paying due diligence to the physical reality of late August insolation and seeking a shady refuge in the Wren building’s eastern yard is a brilliant idea.
October 20, 2011 by Steph Kumah
Given the title of this post, you’ve probably already guessed that this post will be about Opening Convocation. I know, I know. Convocation happened a long time ago. So long ago that you might wonder why it has taken me so long to write this post. The truth is that being a senior is a lot busier than I expected, especially since I am planning to go to law school. As I have explained to countless friends, the first six weeks of this semester were a blur becaue the LSATs took over my life. Thankfully, the LSATs are officially behind me, and I can enjoy the rest of my senior year. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to what this post it really about – Opening Convocation.
Opening Convocation is one of my favorite William and Mary traditions. If you are scratching your head wandering what Opening Convocation is, I will give you a quick synopsis. Opening Convocation is the unique way that we at William and Mary welcome new students. At Opening Convocation, students are led through the doors of the Wren building in the direction of Colonial Williamsburg. On the other side, faculty, staff, and students are assembled, ready to cheer them on as they process through the crowd.
Since this year was my last Opening Convocation, I made sure that I was there early so I could get a prime spot near the front. As new students walked passed me, I cheered as loud as I could and gave the occasional high five. The energy was palpable, and in that moment, I could not help but feel that I was experiencing William and Mary at its finest. Did I know everyone around me personally? No. But somehow, I felt an affinity towards those around me in a way that one only feels when surrounded by members of the Tribe.
So to the future class of 2016, wherever you may be, I have one piece of advice: enjoy Opening Convocation. Allow yourself to be excited and don’t be so shy about giving high fives to strangers. Above all, realize that we are celebrating you and the fact that you are officially part of the William and Mary Tribe. For those of you who have already experienced Opening Convocation, take time to remember what it felt like to walk through those doors and what it meant to you. Realize that, at that moment, you became part of the Tribe family, a family you will be part of for the rest of your life.
The next time I walk through those Wren doors will be bitter sweet. I will be wearing a cap and gown, and my journey at William and Mary will be coming to a close. But, as I walk through those doors, I have a feeling that memories of my own experience at Opening Convocation will not be too far away.
September 9, 2011 by Kylee Ponder
Orientation has ended and now my last official semester as an undergraduate at William & Mary is upon us and let me be the first to say that I am more than ready to hark upon the gale. But I’ll be real with you – I didn’t expect to have so much fun during orientation. Nor to be currently experiencing a severe case of separation anxiety. A few Fridays ago, on August 19th, my co-OA (Orientation Aide), Greg, and I woke up early, and made sure to be at Yates Hall by 7:00 A.M., an hour before the freshmen were allowed to move in, but only after a brief trip to Manhattan Bagel to get some sustenance that would allow us to stay strong all throughout the day. And after a honey wheat bagel, I was ready to rock and roll.
Although I’m not new to the orientation aide experience, I’m new to the Freshman OA experience. Last summer, I served as a PFOA, which stands for Program and Family Orientation Aide. I had two halls, but didn’t have the opportunity to spend every moment of my time with them, so I finished the summer not really knowing that much specifically about either of the halls that I PFOA-ed for. But this orientation experience was so much the opposite. So much the opposite that I’m experiencing some major separation anxiety today now that I’m not with the crazy boys of Yates 3rd North. I knew on the first day when one of their “orientation names” was Judgmental Jim that we’d be in for quite the orientation experience together. And boy was I right. For five days, I was a full-time mother to 25 different 18-year-old boys and now have a renewed sense of understanding for the boys that I was friends with my freshman year.
Before Friday, which was one of my favorite traditions on campus (Convocation), I hadn’t seen any of my OA boys in over a week – and that was crazy! But, on Friday, we were reunited and I was able to watch them walk through the Wren Building with that same wide-eyed-curiosity and excitement that I did merely 3 years ago. Being an Orientation Aide is something that will always hold a special place in my heart and I have a feeling that my role as the OA for Yates 3rd North has only just begun – there will most likely be many trips throughout the year with them to Target, cookies brought during finals, and tearful goodbyes at the end of the year when I graduate and they begin their sophomore years (I’m assuming here that the tears will be coming from me, per usual).
It’s weird for me to not only think that these boys have only been a part of my life for three short weeks, but more importantly, that it’s almost time for me to walk the opposite way through the Wren Building – the scary way that means I’m leaving William & Mary and going on to do big things with my life. And although that involves me staying here for another year and doing the 5 Year B.A. to M.Ed. program in Elementary Education, it’ll be a different year. One filled with grad-school classes and student teaching, not with sorority chapter meetings and Wren 10′s and mug nights galore. I know without a doubt that William & Mary has prepared me to head out into the real world. But first, I think I’ll just take the rest of this year to continue my role as a student at William & Mary and as mom to those crazy boys of Yates 3rd North…
September 2, 2011 by Admit It!
Admit It! Everyone wants to feel like they belong. Well at W&M, that feeling is at no time more evident than on Opening Convocation. Generally held on the first Friday of classes (thanks to Hurricane Irene this year’s Convocation was delayed one week), the entire freshman class and all new transfer and graduate students gather in the Wren Yard to be welcomed by the President of the College and a distinguished alumnus (previous Convocation speakers include Michael Powell ‘85, former chair of the FCC and son of Colin Powell and space shuttle astronaut David Brown ’78).
Additionally, the Student Assembly reveals the class banner for the newest class (the banner is then hung in the Sadler Center dining hall until the class graduates).
Then, as the Wren Bell rings opening another academic year, the new students process through the Wren Building to the other side where the upperclassmen, faculty and staff are gathered cheering, screaming, chanting and high-fiving away.
The entire procession usually takes 45-60 minutes and the hoopla does not die down for any single minute. This is because those who come here belong here. The 1949 version of the College’s student handbook states that while our historic institution is not short on traditions, the most important tradition is the first tradition, the tradition of belonging.
At Commencement, graduating students do this walk in reverse. On the other side, families and loved ones are there applauding their four years of accomplishment.
No one does tradition better than William & Mary. And that’s because we revel in celebrating our community and all those who belong here.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission
September 7, 2010 by Lisa Risely
The end of my senior year came quickly. It seems like it has been forever since I last blogged, but at the same time it seems like just yesterday. The last month and a half of my undergraduate education was overwhelmed by the intense demands of my honors thesis. My thesis ended up being sixty pages long and a 45 minute defense presentation. This sounds and feels like a lot, but the amazing part of it all is that there is still so much more that can be said and done. Originally, I was terrified of the thought of completing a Master’s thesis and especially, a dissertation. I never thought I would do such a thing in undergrad. But, I look back on it now and I have to say that conducting my own senior honors thesis was the best experience of my entire education. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. It is really satisfying to be able to spend a year of your life critically assessing and researching a topic that you are passionate about. And the feeling of success and accomplishment that you get when you finish that defense and know that you did it… that moment is irreplaceable.
I completed my senior honors thesis this May and was awarded High Honors in the department of Psychology at the College of William and Mary. That is a big statement. And it is a statement that will take me places. The topic: therapist interventions used to stimulate paternal involvement in therapy and in the family. The irony: I am now a Masters student at the College of William and Mary’s School of Education for Marriage and Family Counseling. I suppose it was meant to be.
May 2010: I graduated with a BA in Psychology.
Summer 2010: I oscillated graduate school decisions and pondered on how surreal it was that graduation came and went, and life was dramatically changing.
August 2010: The wonderful tradition of Convocation warmly invited me back in those wren doors for another two years of W&M history.
Now… though I wonder where I will end up for my doctorate degree (i.e., UCLA, U of Oregon, Duke, etc) and what exactly I will study (i.e., Counseling, Social Work, Clinical Psychology)… I must tame my typical W&M over-achiever mentality and focus on the new and exciting path in front of me.
P.S. In February 2010 my baby brother was born… and he is absolutely the coolest baby ever!!!
Enjoy life! Enjoy family! Enjoy friends! Enjoy your education… because time flies and if you are not looking it will sweep you off your feet.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
August 12, 2010 by Brian Focarino
The Class of 2014 will be here in a little over a week and with them comes freshman orientation. One of my fondest memories from the College were my first couple of weeks spent here in August 2007, and I have a couple of suggestions for things freshman ought to do to ensure that their Orientation is the most memorable it can be:
- Smile, a lot. You’ll be glad you did. Makes you more approachable.
- Read and learn from the Encyclopedia TWAMPtannica.
- Try to remember people’s names – getting first and last names often helps.
- Bond with your OA – they’ll be a primary guide over the next year.
- Get to know your RA.
- Hangout with your hall 24/7 and take an active interest in their lives; you’ll be living together for a whole year.
- Install your AC unit before you do a single other thing on campus.
- Make a fool of yourself at least once. It’s ok, we’re all awkward here and it creates memorable bonds.
- Think long and hard about what adjective you’re going to use to alliterate with your name if your OA makes you play that game…the sad truth is that the adjective is likely to stick with you for quite a bit of time.
- Wear deodorant. Seriously, just do it.
- Remain hydrated. August is hot and you’ll be sweating a lot.
- Reinvent yourself – if you’re going to do it, Orientation is the perfect time! It’s a clean slate.
- Stay up late talking to your new hallmates and friends. The lack of sleep will be worth it in the end.
- Enjoy Convocation. Take vivid mental pictures, you will carry them with you through your undergraduate career.
- Sign up for about 50 student organizations at the Student Activities fair – you can parse them later!
- Pledge do not lie, cheat, or steal. Our Honor Code is the oldest in the country at 231 years of age! Live it.
- Don’t lose your class button – you will want it as a senior, trust me.
- Say hi to everybody you pass – even if you don’t know them yet, these will be your closest friends in a matter of months!
- Learn your hall cheers.
- Thank your parents for everything they’ve ever done for you.
- Learn the Alma Mater (and I don’t just mean the first verse).
- Don’t correct yourself if you start to call W&M “home.”
- Remember that there is only one William & Mary, that you belong here, and that your relationship to this place will be for life.
- Don’t hate on your freshman dorm – embrace it with pride.
- Self-Determine the rules on your own hall with the help of your RA.
- Get excited for classes! (but really, these teachers will be the best you’ll ever have).
- Follow fife and drums down Duke of Gloucester street to our venerable old College.
- Get lots of things for free!
- Meet and get to know your faculty adviser.
- Go and “Meet the Greeks” just to see what the oldest Greek system in the United States is all about!
- S.H.O.W. up and help out our local community through service with the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship!
- Enjoy ice cream at the Alumni Association – even though you’re brand new to the College, you’re part of a rich 317 year old history. All alumni and members of the William and Mary family want to welcome you!
- Attend your first “screen on the green” and your first “fridays at five” in the days following the start of classes.
- But most importantly, let yourself have fun and get lost in the experience. William and Mary will be your home for the next four years and far beyond, you will meet some of the closest friends you will ever have along these brick pathways, your horizons will be expanded, and you will accomplish things you never thought possible.
As former College President Gene Nichol told the incoming class of 2009 at Opening Convocation in 2005:
“I know, with keen assurance, that this storied institution will make its mark on you. You will be doused in the waters. Your lives will be opened; your frameworks changed. We will expand your sense of the possible. But I charge you today to make your mark on the College as well. Etch your history on these ancient walls. This remarkable community of inquiry is now your own. Engage it. Enliven it. Press your hard won aspirations. Work your magic. Stake your claim.
It would be impossible – and contrary to the patent lessons of history – to assume that anything is beyond the reach of the graduates of William and Mary…Welcome to the realm of the Green and Gold.”
I look forward to meeting all of you as you come home for the first time in 8 days.
Welcome to the College of William and Mary. You have no idea the unforgettable adventure that awaits you.
September 11, 2009 by Admit It!
In the epic musical and film, The Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye (the lead character) and his fellow villagers sing proudly about the esteem they hold for tradition. The tradition they are referring to is actually a patriarchal family structure which is certainly not the tradition practice here at William & Mary. But the enthusiasm and reverence expressed by Tevye and the villagers is stirring, moving, and inspiring. The traditions practiced here at William & Mary are no different.
The College’s 1949 Student Handbook listed many traditions but elevated one above all others and that is the tradition of belonging stating that “those who come here, belong here”. William & Mary is nothing if it is not a community; a community of scholars, a community of minds, a community of friends. We celebrate this tradition every year on the third day of class with Opening Convocation. On a Friday afternoon, all new students gather in the Wren Courtyard to be greeted by the College’s President, the President of the Student Assembly, and a notable alum. Each of these individuals offers a formal welcome. But it is the informal welcome on which the tradition thrives and upon which the belonging truly begins. When the remarks conclude, all of the new students process through the Wren Building to the opposite yard and as they do so they are welcomed by the faculty, staff, and returning students. As you walk through the Wren doors, as the Wren bell rings behind you and the freshman class banner is hung proudly on the balcony, all of your community members are standing, clapping, and high-fiving you and each other to celebrate our new Tribe members. It is truly an unforgettable experience. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.
At William & Mary, just as in the fiddler’s village of Anatevka, tradition gives us a reason to brag, a reason to exist, a reason to sing. It’s who we are, it’s where we come from, it’s how and why we belong.
- Wendy Livingston