William and Mary


Homecoming and Surprises

October 30, 2013 by

In my opinion, surprises make Homecoming. You never know just who you’ll run into, which famous alumni will walk around the corner, which upperclassmen will show up again at your club’s reception. Homecoming radiates mystery and that’s why I love it.

I did not expect to meet former Director of the CIA, former Secretary of Defense, and current Chancellor Robert Gates last week, but as it turns out, Chancellor Gates had room in his schedule to meet the staff of the William & Mary Review, the literary magazine Gates worked on as an undergraduate. I sat in a room with Robert Gates for ten minutes and discussed the literary magazine we both work on and walked out thrilled that I articulated my opinion to someone who carries himself so eloquently.

The Review staff meets Robert Gates.

The Review staff meets Robert Gates.

Homecoming surprises heightened when my good friend, who is spending the semester in Washington, DC, knocked on my door. She had come down for Homecoming Weekend and lured me to the W&M vs. JMU football game.

Full disclosure: I did not realize William & Mary had a football team until Orientation ended. Football games, you may say, are not high on my list of priorities.

But I went to the football game and had fun! (For a little while, at least.)

So much Tribe Pride from the pep band.

So much Tribe Pride from the pep band.

My final surprise Homecoming Weekend came when I discovered the band Freelance Whales was to play at William & Mary’s own Sadler Center. I found out Freelance Whales would perform at William & Mary from a text from my friend from home seconds after William & Mary friends told me about their performance. I have not felt the same vein of pleasant elation since I discovered the party I wandered into circa summer 2003 was my own surprise birthday celebration. It came as no surprise, however, that Freelance Whales’s performance made my night.

Freelance Whales plays for students.

Freelance Whales plays for students.

Seeing the terrace as full as the first beautiful day in spring surprises me. Hearing alumni talk to students with the earnestness and interest of a young professional talking with his or her first brilliant hire surprises me. Seeing the football stadium filled with green and gold T-shirts (especially my own) surprises me.

But of course these events shouldn’t surprise me, because they abound at William & Mary. William & Mary’s environment brims with the pleasant surprise of winning the lottery through its illustrious teachers, caring students and beauty.

So, happy post-Homecoming. I hope the ways William & Mary surprises you this week make you smile.

Halloween Homecoming

October 30, 2013 by

Unlike a majority of those in Williamsburg this past weekend, I was not reconnecting with William & Mary alumni, watching football…or singing along to the Jackson 5? Instead, my sister and I were walking the darkened streets of Colonial Williamsburg (more affectionately known as “CW”) and scaring ourselves silly at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Homecoming – with all of its social splendor, but I figured that, in a town as creepy as Williamsburg, you really have to take advantage of Halloween-time (yes, Halloween-time) – exploring haunted houses, graveyards and dark alleyways. I’m not exactly Wednesday Addams, but I love Halloween – and I really like being scared!

My sister and I went to Howl-O-Scream, first. I had gone this past September for William & Mary Day, but, let’s be honest, those roller coasters are addicting; and, although the wandering characters can be annoying, they add to the eerie atmosphere. My sister isn’t a fan of too much height, thus we only ventured onto the Loch Ness Monster and Alpengeist, spending a majority of our time on the ground amongst crazy pirates and werewolves with chainsaws. The weirdest thing was that when I was at Howl-O-Scream for William & Mary Day, one of the English “wanderers” chased me all throughout England; this past weekend, he found me again! For some reason, he’s never satisfied with a simple scare – he needs to, literally, chase me out of the park with a bloody knife.

I hope that I’m actually encouraging readers to go to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. I’m just now realizing that my description is a bit dramatic. All in all, it’s always a fun time, and being a Senior, it was nice to experience it one last time.

After Busch Gardens, my sister and I embarked on a “Spooks and Legends” ghost tour – which was voted #1 on Trip Advisor. Considering the rating, and my desire for fear, I was expecting a lot; I’ve been on ghost tours that were devastatingly mundane, and I wanted some spine-chilling tales. I have to say that this tour was incredible! It was the best ghost tour I’ve ever taken and it officially creeped me out. The Peyton Randolph House had, by far, the worst history. Its ghosts trap unsuspecting victims inside, driving them insane with strange sounds and whispers. Also, you wouldn’t believe the stories surrounding all of those “cute” little houses lining DoG street. Don’t let those white fences fool you – there are some scary goings-on behind those walls.

So, no – I wasn’t dancing to the cover band outside the College Delly (which played ALL weekend), but I still took advantage of what William & Mary had to offer: Halloween-time creepiness.


Raise the Green and Gold

October 28, 2013 by

As almost every William & Mary student and alum knows, this weekend marked Homecoming 2013, that long-awaited event each year in which alums old and new flock back to the tree-lined serenity of campus. This year’s Homecoming was a landmark event for two reasons: 1. It marked the first homecoming game the Tribe has won since I have been a student here, and 2. There were no hurricanes, establishing 2013 as the first year I have not evacuated campus in advance of a hurricane. Both are exciting distinctions.

Homecoming this year was especially meaningful to me, as for the first time I was able to see returning alumni that I knew and recognized from previous years. My sorority welcomed back dozens of alumnae with our Homecoming Brunch on Saturday, allowing me the opportunity to reconnect with the sisters who helped make my first year in Greek Life so memorable. I was also able to reconnect with Natalie Applegate, former campus celebrity and my tour guide mentor freshman year.

It’s amazing to me to see how my friends have grown in their respective time away from the College, how their careers have changed them and how they themselves have made such an impact on my own college experience. Homecoming is a reminder that no matter how far life takes you away from William & Mary, there is one weekend each October when it’s still there, waiting for the return of the thousands of faces who came before us, our ancestors who helped to create the grooves in the brick staircases, the carved initials on trees, and whose class years line the Senior Walk on Old Campus. They return as recent graduates, as families, as elderly couples who crossed the Crim Dell Bridge holding hands so many decades ago

I have only one more Homecoming to spend here as a student, but I anticipate many more to come—many more visits to the ‘Burg, at first in solidarity—then perhaps with a spouse in tow, and maybe, many years from now, as the parent of a William & Mary student. One Tribe, One Family—for now, forever—hark upon the gale.

Creating a Community

October 28, 2013 by

Branch Out held a Homecoming reception this weekend to welcome back alumni who participated in alternative breaks while they were here.  It was quite a crowd, with people buzzing in from all over the world.  Some of those I talked to had come from places as far away as Ireland, San Diego and Tanzania recently.

One student director alumna is working with migrant workers in North Carolina, developing education sessions on health and safety practices to share with them to mitigate the high risks they face in their labors.  Another alumnus is studying for his master’s in higher education, and continues to be involved in alternative breaks – no longer as a site leader, but as an adviser. One former site leader talked about her work, which isn’t quite in the field she wants to be in, but she is busy finding ways to connect her experience in environmental sustainability to what she does. Another alumnus, who is now a community partner for one of our national trips, told me about his meeting earlier that day with the site leaders he’ll be working with this March. And one alumna wasn’t part of our program but stopped by to tell us about her recent time in East Africa, and to see about ways that she could support our two international alternative breaks that go to countries where Swahili is spoken.

The vision of Branch Out alternative breaks is to create a community of active and educational individuals dedicated to the pursuit of social justice.  Throughout the year, I see this happening in different ways.  I see it when our site leaders gather and work together to develop trips that will support community-driven work for social change.  I see it when participants on a trip laugh together over simple meals eaten in community center basements, and later struggle together in reflection about how to tutor better tomorrow.  And last night, I saw how this community continues even when it is dispersed across the world, as breakers who continue to live out their unique commitments to social justice met up with current program leaders and participants who welcomed them back with gracious hospitality, eager to hear their stories and glimpse into their futures as active citizens.

Homecoming: the Highlights

November 2, 2012 by

In high school, homecoming consisted of a singular night of dressing up and dancing, perhaps accented with a pep rally and school spirit.  At W&M, it is an entire week of non-stop revelry that students begin planning for as soon as the school year kicks off.  With an overwhelming amount of activities- every single organization on campus feels the need to make their voice heard in the din of school spirit that is homecoming- it can be overwhelming.  So I’ve brought you the highlights of what is my personal experience with the homecoming hysteria.

1. Monday night: Paper due at 11 am Tuesday morning, yet I still offered up my house to host my sorority’s float-building.  (During homecoming, sororities and fraternities will pair up for a week of parties and usually create a float together to enter into the Homecoming Parade.)  As I sit in my room at the desk I never use I try to block out the sounds of music and shouting and planning that is bursting through the paper-thin piece of wood that is my door.  Literally impossible.  Instead I spend twenty minutes destroying a German chocolate cupcake from Extraordinary cupcakes (lived up to its name) and watching an episode of The League. Two hours later, after giving up on work, paying a visit to the float building, trying to go to my best friend’s house next door, blasting my headphones in hopes that it will block out the noise, and debating going to the library (Swem) for a minute before realizing I am far too lazy to ever walk that far, I give up any vain attempt on writing this essay and mournfully set my alarm for a sharp 7:30 am.

2. Wednesday night: If you ever thought that maybe you belonged in the 70’s, you probably should have hit me up Wednesday night.  Thanks to the incredible overachiever-ness of one of my best friends and member of our partner fraternity, we hosted the Right On Band in the Sunken Gardens for Wednesday night of homecoming.  Complete with fro’s, glitter, platform boots, and dancing go-go girls, the Right On band (who has played for the past four presidents and at Obama’s Inaugural Ball) led a huge groovin’ love train around the Sunken Gardens.  Far out.

3. Thursday night: As Vice President Event Planning (pretentious title drop) for my sorority, I do a lot of work that I wouldn’t necessarily say I jump out of bed for: kicking rowdy people out of Formal, harassing local venues to get me their contracts in time, managing finances… This night, however, I had been planning for since June.  I’m sure by now you’ve caught on to the “raving” trend that has snowballed into quite the phenomenon (Taylor Swift dubstep? really?).  Well I’ve got to admit I’ve caught the bug.  Guilty as charged.  So I set to planning a rave for my sorority and fraternity’s Thursday night of homecoming.  We did the whole nine yards and brought in a production company with laser lights, black lights, strobe lights, fog machine and, of course, a heavy bass.  The result was everything the little raver in me dreamed of and more.  Ninety girls and fifty guys (good odds, eh gentlemen?) piled into the room in neon, rave tutus (do they have an actual name?), fluffies, sequin shorts (guilty), face paint, and excesses of glitter.  The same ninety girls and fifty guys left two hours later in a disarray of glow sticks, sweat, and sore dancing muscles.  A successful night if ever I saw one.  I hope the drivers on Richmond Road enjoyed watching us parade past in full rave apparel.

4. Friday night: Time for a classier turn of events; tonight is the members-only opening for the Muscarelle Museum’s 12th Faculty Show.  As an intern for their Advancement Department (kind of a mash-up of marketing, communications, and development), I like to pretend I have VIP life status by attending these events.  They generally consist of a classy array of wine, cheese, and elder residents in pearls and hats that would make any derby run proud.  As an Art History major, the museum satisfies my every innate nerdy desire to pretentiously gaze at and evaluate art.  Making it even more appropriate that I dedicate the beginning of my Friday evening to dressing up classy (happens about once a year) and sneaking gourmet cheeses from a back table while listening to my Professor (Distinguished Scholar in Residence Dr. Spike) lecture on everything from Close to Preti.  There’s always time for dancing when the opening ends at 8.

5. Saturday night: One of the harder decisions of my homecoming career.  I work at the local bar Paul’s Deli (the bars here are called Delis or Taverns), and homecoming Saturday is hands-down the busiest night of the year.  Non-stop packed from wall to wall from noon until close at 2 am.  I worked this shift last year with my roommate/best friend and saw several girls cry, one couple break up over a beer, an alumni pass out in the bathroom and took home an entire pizza because whoever ordered promptly forgot about it.  And not going to lie, the tips are out the wahoozers.  So in the end, it’s worth sacrificing the one evening of revelry with friends because all of the tips enthusiastic alumni shove on the poor college bartender (that’s me!) are going straight into my piggy bank for my spring semester in Paris.

In every corny and sentimental meaning of the word, I have had more singular bonding experiences and lasting memories with my friends during homecoming than any other week of the year.  Half-way through and already sad to see it go, welcome home Tribe!

Follow me on twitter! @wmkaitlin

Reverse Evacuation

October 29, 2012 by

William & Mary folks are a strange (but awesome) family in a strange (but awesome) place – and Homecoming brings the annual memory jog that this has always been W&M’s M.O.

This weekend’s been a strange (but awesome) weekend. As the rest of the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy’s approach – ‘playfully’ dubbed the “Frankenstorm” – by evacuating coastal areas and taking to grocery stores, members of the W&M family from all areas and all decades have reverse evacuated to the old College, living proof that in the logic of all W&M alumni, homecomings > hurricanes.

As the clouds gather and the winds begin to kick up, College Delly has never been more crowded, and never have more people been seen falling down the Green Leafe’s still-disastrous front steps. Confusion Corner hasn’t seen such dishevelment since last October. Just walking down Richmond Rd exposes you to the constant threat of un-prompted, rib-crushing hugs from our oldest friends with the most familiar faces.

But while the W&M family gathers to share a reunion, a beer, a booth, a back-slap, a re-kindling, a laugh, a memory, a tailgate, and the many, many moments of our most-formative years in this place, we also gather to bask, in some way, in a larger fact.

Profound in its simplicity is the fact that the W&M experiment has always stood apart from anywhere else. Our alumni stand apart. Our campus stands apart. Our friendships, our accomplishments, and our pride stand apart. Yesterday I watched members of the Class of 2016 speak richly, laugh, and trade stories with new friends from the Class of 1955. I watched as students hosted their parents – and their parents classmates – in Lodges where different members of the same family have lived, and learned, across generations. I watched as parents from classes in the 90s and 00s, decked in green and gold, walked along with their children, clad in green and gold—future members of the Class of 2032.

W&M stands apart because in a world that is profoundly divided, this college is profoundly shared. As I walk past generations of the W&M family walking these old familiar brick walks this weekend, I’m vibrantly aware of the continuity of W&M.

It is said at W&M, and it is true, “We have all drunk from wells we did not dig, and been warmed by fires we did not build.

It’s fallen on me and my friends now to stoke the fires of W&M, and that’s a responsibility and a privilege I bear gladly.

To all returning to this grand old place I’d say:

We’ve kept the lights on. Welcome home.


October 22, 2012 by

Hey there! I’m one of the interns with the Undergraduate Admission Office and a new student blogger for W&M. I thought I would use my first entry to talk about Homecoming week at W&M, and why it is arguably the best week of the year.

Every fall, the College has a Homecoming football game and along with it, a week’s worth of celebratory festivities before hand, just to get really pumped up. This year, the Tribe will take on University of Maine, which will undoubtedly be a thrilling game (that we will win, of course). But, at W&M, the Homecoming experience is much, much more than a football game. There are a ton of activities that take place during the week leading up to the game (aka Homecoming week) that are just as fun as the game itself. From Greek social events to parade float building to free concerts on campus, there seem to be about a hundred things going on in preparation (or should we call it celebration?) of Saturday’s game, and yet, there’s always that one teacher that thinks it a good idea to schedule a midterm.

By Friday, after successfully juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and social events for 5 days straight, you get to reward yourself with a flurry of Homecoming Weekend festivities. Friday is marked by the Homecoming parade, followed by a Pep Rally, and wrapped up with a Block Party right in the middle of Williamsburg. And then after all of that, you still have Saturday to look forward to.

Homecoming Day has tons of great events, including a cappella shows, tailgates, brunches, concerts, pig roasts, and BBQs (yes, I realize that most of them are centered around food), not to mention the actual football game. It’s even crazier than the rest of the week because alumni of all ages flood back into Williamsburg to revisit campus, watch the game, and catch up with old friends. On top of all that, the day usually ends with a free concert on campus (this year it’s Ra Ra Riot!). While it is definitely as exhausting to partake in as it probably just was for you to read about, the fact is that Homecoming is one of the most fun weeks of the school year and one of my favorite W&M traditions. It is truly a celebration of every element of the College in one single event. It incorporates current students, alumni, Greek organizations, student clubs, and of course, athletics, and in doing so, it really captures the W&M experience.  As a senior, I am a little sad to be going into this Homecoming season for the last time as a student, but am comforted by the fact that I know I’ll be coming back for years to come.

Gearing back up after fall break

October 18, 2011 by

We all enjoyed our fall breaks, and we were off from classes on Monday and Tuesday, (Oct. 9 and 10).  It was nice to have a break!  We’re back in the gym now working hard, and balancing classes.  This past Saturday, the whole team participated in the JDRF 5K.  It was a walk to raise money to find a cure for diabetes, so we all received pledge donations from our friends and family.  Thanks to everyone who donated!  We all really enjoyed the walk.  It was nice to be able to do that charity event as a team.

This week is Homecoming week!! Yay!  We are all really excited for the game on Saturday.  We’ll be playing Towson, so hopefully it’s a good game. :)  As a team, we are selling 50/50 raffle tickets before the game starts to fundraise for the team.  We’re all very excited too that alumni from the men’s and women’s teams are coming to visit for Homecoming.  Melissa, Taryn, Karla, Dina and Teenie are all coming to visit, so we are looking forward to spending the weekend with them!

We have all been working hard in the gym, and are starting to work routines for this season.  Green and Gold is coming up!  Team spirit has been high, and everyone has been supportive of each other as we get our routines ready.  Let’s keep that up!

I’m excited for a great season. :)

Caitlyn Furr

Now & Always

October 10, 2011 by

I thought that by moving to Scotland I’d be a bit further away from William and Mary than I’ve been used to for the past four years, but while the physical distance between me and the colonial capital may have increased, William and Mary is as present as ever in my life. In ways both noticeable and less so, the College left me with friends, grounding, confidence, a community and the ability to thrive and make the most of novel opportunity. William and Mary taught me the meaning of persistence.

Your relationships from W&M will be with you, Now & Always.

Here are a few of the ways W&M has manifested itself in very noticeable ways during the fall so far in Scotland:

  • I’ve spent time in St Andrews and Edinburgh with alumni Brit Fallon ’11 who is pursuing her PhD at St Andrews studying chimpanzee communication.
  • I’ve caught up with a cohort of the W&M students studying abroad at Scottish universities this semester.
  • Last week I stayed up until 2 a.m. GMT/BST so that I could take part via Skype with the Young Guarde Council and Alumni Chapter Representatives fine-tuning last minute details for what promises to be an amazing homecoming weekend.
  • This past weekend, I traveled down to London to take the LSAT and was hosted and hung out with the family of a fraternity brother from W&M. I took the LSAT just a stone’s throw away from St Paul’s Cathedral in the city, where Sir Christopher Wren, who designed both the famous Cathedral and the arguably more agreeable Wren Building at W&M, is buried.
  • This Saturday, I’m headed west to Glasgow to spend the day with a fellow W&M alumni, Hayley Rushing ’11, who is pursuing her MLitt in Master’s and Playwriting at the theatrical powerhouse.
  • A week from today, I’ll head up to St Andrews where William and Mary has a joint degree partnership. There, I’ll be catching up and breaking bread with Jodi Fisler M.Ed ’05, Ph.D ’10, the Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs who will be in St Andrews working on the degree program.
  • In 19 days, I’m flying to Porto in western Portugal where I’ll meet up with a W&M alumni taking a year off between undergraduate and law school to live and au pair in Paris. We’ll spend four days relaxing on the Portuguese coast and likely reminiscing about W&M.
  • For a week in November over Thanksgiving fellow blogger Bailey Thomson ’10 will be visiting me in Edinburgh. The packed schedule includes a potential trip down to London for Thanksgiving day for an expatriate meal in the city with other fellow W&M alumni.
  • Later in the year I have plans to visit several other alumni who are attending graduate school, pursuing Fulbright scholarships, and doing democracy monitoring in Florence, Bulgaria and Bosnia respectively.

There have been less noticeable contributions from W&M, too:

  • This past Saturday I was interviewed for a law school by one of its alumnus. The interview, which was probably supposed to be a quick assessment of my fitness for law school, lasted almost an hour and a half as the successful alumni and I discussed and laughed about everything possible regarding school, undergraduate education, current events and life in the UK. My education at W&M taught me that those who have a human touch will always accomplish more than those who lack it. As a result of my time and opportunities at W&M, I thrive in interview settings.
  • I am interning and doing research for an MSP at the Scottish Parliament. My time at William and Mary that I spent interning in the Virginia General Assembly and coordinating the College’s Richmond Interns program taught me everything I would need to know to work in any political environment – even if that environment is in a different country. My time at W&M furnished me with the experiences necessary to interview my way into an internship position otherwise not open to students and the ability to work with the majority nationalist party despite being a foreign national at a truly formative time in Scottish history. My research experience from W&M allows me to turn out politically, linguistically and legally important research and has given me the opportunity to potentially transform my masters dissertation research into a motion that will be of political benefit to my MSP and wind up becoming a motion before the sitting Parliament.
  • This week I am standing for multiple student government positions in the student body elections for the Edinburgh University Students’ Association. W&M taught me that if there are things you want to change – stick your neck out. The transforming nature of student/administration interaction at W&M is where real progress is accomplished; that’s a model I plan to continue to implement at Edinburgh if elected. Whereas some students graduate from university asking “Why should it be me?” William and Mary students graduate asking: “What more can I do for others?” and “Why not me?”
  • Next week I am meeting with the Directors of Development and Alumni Engagement at Edinburgh to discuss developing an internship wherein I’ll be able to put into practice a number of the things I learned at William and Mary in Development and the Alumni Association. On a whim I sent an email to the directors of the respective initiatives. I got an email response saying they’d never had a student reach out with such interest and had recently been talking about how nice it would be to take on a selected student who would have the opportunity to work with the trust and development boards as well as the alumni association to achieve new levels of student/administration collaboration. William and Mary taught me that if there’s something you want to do that doesn’t exist – create an opportunity for yourself.

Perhaps the reason W&M has been on my mind these past few days is the most obvious of all: in 11 days I am boarding a flight headed back to Williamsburg for 4 days to enjoy homecoming. The missed class, layovers and jet lag don’t deter me at all. My journey will involve trains, taxis, buses, cars and airplanes. But nothing bothers you when you’ve been away and you finally find yourself returning to the place and people that created, well, you.

That’s an odd sensation, isn’t it? Returning to the place where the ‘you’ that you’re familiar with started; to the people you were with when it happened. I owe a great deal of myself to the circumstances of William and Mary.

My gmail has been blowing up with messages to and from fellow alums exchanging our plans and excitement for the weekend. Elaborate schemes are hatching. Even my parents are coming down for events and meals.

Out of all the exciting places and new opportunities presenting themselves in October, it’s safe to say none are more exciting than the prospect of returning. On October 20-23rd there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be than William and Mary.

I’ve been thinking to myself: In 11 days, I’ll be home.

I really, really like the sound of that.

Brian ’11

We Are The Champions My Friend

March 9, 2011 by

Here on campus I am involved in a social fraternity, Kappa Sigma. Involved might be the understatement of the year, I love my fraternity and the guys who are in it and wouldn’t have had nearly the same great experience here at the college without them. Being part of Greek life in the fall gives me a few things to look forward to like the start of rush, getting new members, and of course the best of all Homecoming. Homecoming is a week full of fun and games, a time when you get to see your graduated friends when they return to campus and meet alumni from the college who graduated before you were born. Also during this week you get to compete in different spirit competitions that all culminate at the parade Saturday morning before the football game. Usually a fraternity and a sorority will pair up to build a float together and this year my fraternity paired up with the ladies of Delta Delta Delta to win the float competition. In the picture you can see a group of guys all standing around the seven or eight foot tall Griffin that we had built for our float. I still maintain that that Griffin is what really won it for us.

On a side note we were also able to enter the marching competition which we took second in. I would explain what we did but it would be better if saw it, so here it is:

Overall I had a blast building the float and being on our drill team. The Homecoming parade and everything that comes with it is something you should definitely look forward to when you arrive on campus in the fall.

- David Murphy ’12