William and Mary

Traditions and Events

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

August 27, 2013 by

We Admit It!  We are pretty biased when it comes to William & Mary.  We wouldn’t do what we do if we didn’t think this place was special…make that extraordinary.  But if there’s one campus tradition that demonstrates just how extraordinary this place is, it’s Opening Convocation.  I don’t doubt that other campuses have great openings to the academic year.  I don’t doubt that those celebrations are storied and special.  But Opening Convocation, to us at least, seems even more so.  At its heart, as with all things special to W&M, is the sense of community that pervades the Tribe.  One Tribe.  And this is how we make it theirs.

Tomorrow, on the first day of classes of William & Mary’s 321st year, all new students will gather at the Wren Building to be greeted by the College’s President and by a distinguished alumnus, this year, Emmy-award-winning producer, Nancy Gunn.  Then, to symbolize their entrance into W&M, each new student will process through the Wren Building.  On the other side, the upperclassmen, faculty and staff (including numerous admission deans) will be there to cheer them on, high-five them ‘til our hands hurt and welcome them with enthusiasm and pride until each and every last student has processed.  There is so much spirit and fervor and excitement in that moment (or those 45 minutes that it takes for the procession to unfold), it’s hard to put into words.  But we all feel it, we all embrace it, we all live it.

Nothing reminds us here in the Admission Office why we do our job and why we love doing our job more so than Opening Convocation.  This is William & Mary.  This is our community.  One Tribe.  And now it’s theirs.  Welcome new students.  Welcome to William & Mary’s 321st year.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

W is for Wedding

August 27, 2013 by


Allison graduated in 2009, but stayed at the College for a year as an Americorps volunteer until I graduated in 2010.

In two days, I am flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to Washington D.C. to celebrate my best friend Allison’s wedding in northern Virginia.  This is the story of our “soul friendship” and the way that William & Mary inevitably introduces its students to the people they need the most.

Allison and I met in Morton Hall in our Comparative Politics class in spring 2008.  Truthfully, we never really met.  Allison approached me one afternoon, introduced herself, and revealed that she had orchestrated an interview for me to join her as a teaching fellow for a fall 2009 civic engagement seminar for Sharpe Scholars.  (If this isn’t the definition of a nerdy beginning to a William & Mary friendship, I don’t know what is!) A few weeks later, I met with Professor Schwartz, was accepted for the position, and the adventure began.  Allison and I were promptly joined at the hip inside and outside the classroom.


Allison came to Rome with me in spring 2009. Here we are on Palatine Hill.

Allison has a penchant for intellectual conversation, surprises and relentless compassion.  During our time together at the College, Allison and I found ourselves on sand dunes in North Carolina, exploring Rome over spring break, surrounded by friends at surprise birthday parties, celebrating holidays together with our families and eating way too many cupcakes.  We talked without end about civic engagement, political theory, existentialism, feeling lonely and finding love.  We were nurtured by many of the same professors and challenged each other academically.  We were surrounded by friends who taught us to be better friends and family who taught us to love, to have patience and to persist.

I was honored to speak at a dinner with former Chancellor Sandra Day O'Connor in attendance, and Allison came with me.

I was honored to speak at a dinner with former Chancellor Sandra Day O’Connor in attendance, and Allison came with me.

After I graduated from the College and Allison finished her year as a Americorps Vista, we both moved to California.  I began Teach For America in San Jose as an elementary school teacher, and Allison began her PhD at Stanford.  For two years, we were pieces of home to each other though we lived 3,000 miles from our families and our beloved college.  I had the pleasure of watching Allison’s relationship with her now-fiance Andy flourish.  Andy moved to California to join Allison and proposed last year.

When you meet a soul friend, you know it.  I moved to Johannesburg 13 months ago, and Allison is still one of a handful of people who know me best, with whom distance doesn’t matter.  And while to William & Mary readers, this might seem normal, know that it’s not.  William & Mary is a place where the relationships you cultivate last.  As Convocation for the Class of 2017 happens this week, my hope is that these same important and lasting relationships have already begun during Move-in and Orientation.  I am grateful that my alma mater is a place where great people meet and build a foundation for a lifetime of friendship.

Go Tribe (and congratulations, Allison!),


Welcome Class of 2017 – Define Your Dreams to Determine Your Future

August 27, 2013 by

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington I thought it appropriate to address the Class of 2017 with a promise on the power of dreams…

I remember fall 2009 when I moved into Spotswood along with 72 other freshman dreamers excited about where the future would lead, somewhat anxious to meet new friends and build a reputation, and curious about what the next four years would bring. As time passed, we grew more comfortable with one another and realized that we would spend the next four years learning and growing alongside of these people and hundreds of others. We learned that our horizons would be broadened with each passing day, that we would be challenged to think in entirely new ways, and that we would define our dreams in the context of this brilliant academic setting.

To the freshmen – now is the time to dream. Now is the time to set your sights on the most ambitious feats that you can imagine and chase them. Tell yourself that you can, and you will. Make connections with professors (they are there for YOU!), pursue your academic pursuits passionately, take time to reflect on the emotions you are feeling now, and don’t ever forget them.

For many of you, this is the first time you have experienced what it feels like to establish a reputation for yourself individual of your parents, family or other associations. You can chose who you want to be – what a beautiful thing! Use this time to try new clubs, push yourself out of your comfort zone to meet new people, and make the most of every activity. You get out of life what you put into it, so I would challenge you to meet every day with a happy heart and a courageous mind and move forward knowing that you are going to ROCK W&M.

You were selected because you are one of the finest students in the country. You are highly capable, brilliant and well-rounded. The Class of 2017 brings one of the most diverse, dynamic and bright classes the College has seen yet. Get to know your classmates. Make a point to build community.

As an alumna of the College, I also want to remind you that by joining the Class of 2017, not only are you joining the 5,000 undergraduates who you will study alongside of for the next four years, but you are also joining a network of thousands of William & Mary alumni who are here to help you. We were all freshmen once and remember what it feels like to travel through this period. We are here to provide help, mentor-ship, advice and whatever we can offer. The incredible thing about W&M is the College community extends well-beyond your four years in Williamsburg.

Welcome to the Tribe, Class of 2017, welcome to the Family.

As One Class Closes, Another Begins

August 23, 2013 by

We Admit It!  Move-in Day is a pretty exciting day on our campus.  New freshmen and their families come to campus with anticipation and enthusiasm.  Returning students, in various shades of neon t-shirts, volunteer to assist in welcoming the newest members of the Tribe.  It’s a busy, chaotic, whirlwind of a day that’s filled with Tribe Pride.  It’s also a day our office has very little to do with.  Yes we enjoy the excitement and the energy.  And we’re just as eager to join in the revelry as other campus offices.  We recruited these students, we reviewed their applications, we admitted them, and now we are hard at work on the class that will experience their own Move-In Day one year from now.  So as we welcome the Class of 2017 and our new transfer students, we’re eagerly awaiting what the Class of 2018 and those who apply as transfers this year will bring.

To that end, those wishing to apply to W&M this year will be happy to know that the W&M Member questions are now live through the Common Application.  You can now fill out, complete and submit your application for freshman or transfer admission!  That being said, it’s okay to take your time.  Our first deadline isn’t until November 1 (Early Decision freshman applicants and spring transfer applicants).  The freshman Regular Decision deadline is January 1.  The fall transfer deadline is March 1.  So no pressure to submit today, tomorrow, next week or even next month.  We will not begin to process any applications submitted for a little while yet anyway.  As always, we will be here throughout the course of this application cycle to assist you with anything you might need.

So welcome to campus, Class of 2017 and new transfer students.  And welcome to the application cycle, Class of 2018 and transfer applicants.  Whether you are moving in or just considering the possibility for next year, our office is honored and thrilled to have worked or to be working with you.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

Reflections of a Senior

August 12, 2013 by

I was on the phone with my advisor yesterday talking about my upcoming honors project. Somehow the conversation turned to the incoming freshmen and Orientation. He chuckled and asked, “When you were a freshman, did you have any idea you’d be where you are now?”

I was speechless. I didn’t know whether to laugh hysterically or break out in tears. Because exactly three years ago, I had absolutely no idea where my time at William & Mary would take me. I was conflicted with both excitement and doubt, worried deep down that somehow college wouldn’t be the life-changing experience everyone had promised it would be.

I was wrong.

I’ve experienced more in the three years at William & Mary than I ever could have imagined. I’ve known both love and deep, shattering loss. I’ve learned the importance of asking for help, even when you’re terrified to admit defeat. I’ve seen people I love struggle through unthinkable hardships and learned what it means to be a true friend. I’ve broken the rules and certainly procrastinated more than I’d like to admit. I’ve stayed up all night for absolutely no reason at all. I landed my dream internship after being denied from a slew of others. I’ve spent late nights with friends debating politics and religion, even though sometimes we had no idea what we were talking about. I’ve had a class kick my butt, and I learned to fight back. I’ve discovered research I’m passionate about, and successfully applied for my first research grant. I’ve skipped class simply because the day was too beautiful to go inside.

The Dupont crew- friends to this day!

The Dupont crew- friends to this day!

Looking back, I can say with certainty that I’m where I am today because of the people I met at William & Mary. Some of the people I met on the very first morning of Orientation would become my closest friends, and still are to this day.  I know I’m extremely lucky to have a group of people who love me even when I’m at my worst (and trust me, sometimes college classes will bring out the worst).  They have supported me and challenged me, and I am confident that our bond will last far beyond graduation day.

But there is more to my story than the influence of fellow classmates. There were professors who took even my most far-fetched ideas seriously, encouraging me to pursue them even when they seemed impossible. There were administrators who taught me the values of a good leader and alumni who showed me that my William & Mary experience extends far longer than four years. And of course, my parents, who while always supporting me in my exploits, never failed to remind me the importance of getting enough sleep and not over-committing myself.

There’s no way of knowing whether I would have had these same experiences at another college. But one thing is for certain – I have felt more love and encouragement at the College of William & Mary than I could have possibly imagined. I couldn’t be more excited to embrace my senior year alongside the people who have made the last three years so exceptional.

I can’t help but smile when I think of the class of 2017. In just a few short weeks, they will be starting their freshman year, just as nervous and clueless as I was. And three years from now, maybe they will be posed with the same question.

“Did you have any idea you’d be where you are now”?

I bet they’ll say no.

Candlelight Ceremony: The Class of 2013 Alma Mater

August 8, 2013 by

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…



Kickball = Community

July 30, 2013 by

We Admit It!  We enjoy the lead-up to the annual deans vs. Senior Interviewers kickball match.  We enjoy winning the match even more (which this year we did – for those of you keeping score at home that brings the deans’ all-time record to 7-3).  What we really enjoy however is the camaraderie of good colleagues and friends.  Kickball is a good time; a really good time.  And it’s a great example of the sense of community that exists on the W&M campus.

Community is a W&M buzz word.  It’s why students and staff love being a part of this campus.  There’s a sense of belonging here, of friendship, of support for one another.  On this campus we bring together a wonderfully diverse, intelligent, talented, thoughtful, engaged, truly nice group of people who care about something greater than themselves and who are eager to participate in all that W&M has to offer.  This sense of community pervades all aspects of campus from the top administrators to the newest students on campus.  It’s a community that takes what it does seriously, but doesn’t take itself too seriously (as evidenced by last week’s kickball antics).  It’s a community that lacks traditional hierarchy, boundaries and cliques.  The annual deans vs. Senior Interviewers kickball match is a small but important symbol of what the W&M community is all about: good people having a great time on an amazing campus.

And one more time for good measure, #teamdeans = victorious!

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

The Jack-O-Linterns Strike Again

July 24, 2013 by

We Admit It!  We kind of look forward to what each part of the escalated kickball challenge will bring. Yesterday, we found more cupcakes with another premature declaration of victory (to which we of course responded).  Not sure why this particular group of Senior Interviewers has such an affinity for baked goods (they claim that they’re trying to fatten us up).


After lunch today, we each found what is supposed to be an intimidating note about our impending metaphorical death taped to our office doors.  Each note was tailored to that individual dean’s interests, hobbies or connection to the Senior Interviewers.


But hey Senior Interviewers, this isn’t the deans’ first time at the dance.  We’ve done this kickball thing nine times already (with 6 wins nonetheless),  and nothing scares or intimidates us.  We are ready for tomorrow.  So bring it on.  And dear readers, please remember to cheer us on. #teamdeans

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

July 22, 2013 by

Admit It!  You might have thought our last blog about the upcoming Deans vs. Senior Interviewers kickball challenge was a bit of exaggeration.  We promise you it was not.  Today, the official challenge was issued.  The Jack-O-Linterns are in the house and have their game face on.

The Jack-O-Linterns make their presence known by issuing an official kickball challenge

The Jack-O-Linterns make their presence known by issuing an official kickball challenge

The deans, no strangers to half-hearted attempts at intimidation, responded in kind.  Not only did we eat their home-made cupcakes, we left an intimidating message of our own.

The deans respond to the official challenge

The deans respond to the official challenge

Now we just wait and see what the Jack-O-Linterns do next.  Although regardless of any additional baked goods, messages or attempts at intimidation, we all know that victory is determined on the playing field.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

Kickball is Coming

July 19, 2013 by

We Admit It!  W&M people get pretty excited about traditions.  In the Admission Office specifically, we get pretty amped up about our annual Senior Interviewers vs. Admission Staff kickball game.  Ten summers ago, on a random trip to K-Mart, a Senior Interviewer found a kickball for sale (you know, the legitimate, big, red, reminds-you-of-the-elementary-school-playground kickball) and bought it.  She then suggested a “friendly” game of interns vs. deans.  And a tradition was born.

Every summer since, on what is inevitably the hottest day of the year, the Senior Interviewers and the admission deans gather in the Sunken Garden for a no-holds-barred, fight-to-the-death, all-in-good-fun grudge match.  This year’s date has been set: Thursday, July 25.  T-minus six days and counting.  We expect the official gauntlet to be thrown by this year’s Senior Interviewers next week (stay tuned as this blog will update you as we lead up to the game itself).  We also expect them to lose (hey, they may be younger, but we the deans have experience on our side).  We’re not 6 and 3 for nothing.

Kickball is an example of the William & Mary spirit at its finest: work hard/play hard, take what we do seriously, but not ourselves too seriously, a community of diverse people enjoying each other’s company and camaraderie.

The trash talk is on.  The strategy is being set.  Now we just await the game.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission