Tomorrow I am presenting a session on community engagement at Day for Admitted Students. I will also be celebrating ten years since I decided to attend William & Mary at my very own admitted students day in 2007. That’s right, it’s my aluminum anniversary with William & Mary. I have written before about how terrified I was on my first day at college, but I want to share today how uncertain I was choosing William & Mary in the first place.
Celebrating Adam’s graduation in 2008
For a little context, I am the younger sister of a pretty brilliant older brother. Our three year age gap means that each time I started a new school, my brother was already there and many teachers first knew me as his little sister. It also meant that my freshman year of college would be his senior year…at William & Mary.
Eighteen year old Elizabeth was clear she didn’t want to follow her brother to college. Back then I was pretty insecure about my own intelligence and social skills, and I was worried I would never live up to my brother’s time here. I was smart, I thought, but was I smart enough? Cool enough? Ready enough? Plus, wasn’t college the time to forge a new path? Even though I found cities overwhelming, shouldn’t I head to a big city campus so I could transform into the cool new college version of myself who rode subways and drank coffee? Or I could move across country to a small rugged college where I would learn to love camping. College, I thought, was about choosing your destiny, and I was desperate for a sign of what destiny I should choose. I even seriously considered one school because they had my favorite brand of cookies at their college fair –we must be a match.
In this mindset, I was hesitant to apply to William & Mary and only did so at my parents’ urging. When my mother handed me my acceptance letter, I was surprised to be elated and deflated. Now I really had to face the possibility of me at William & Mary.
That’s how I found myself at Day for Admitted Students ten years ago. And I really mean I found myself here that day. As I wandered around the activities fair, sat in sessions, and took a few minutes of quiet on the bench in front of Tucker, I realized that at William & Mary I felt like myself. My worries about being smart enough, cool enough, and ready enough were reasonable, this was a big change in my life, but they were answered by this: at William & Mary I could be myself and I could learn. Not only was I smart enough, but here I could become even smarter. I was already cool enough (whatever that means), but at William & Mary I would try new experiences and make new friends. And ready enough—well that’s never the case, but we all figure it out day by day.
When I was a tour guide, I would stop my tours on the Terrace and explain that on this spot, on that day, drinking a chocolate milk from our student grocery store, I decided to go to William & Mary. Even in the hubbub and excitement planned for admitted students, it was that moment of just living my life that told me this was home.
For those of you coming to Day for Admitted Students tomorrow, I know you each come with your own reasons and perhaps worries. I can’t promise you that you’ll have your chocolate milk magic moment or that all of your questions will be answered on this one day. I don’t know that William & Mary is the right place for you, but I sure hope it is. I hope that like me, you will join William & Mary and discover so much more about who you are. And I hope you stop by my session, Paths to Active Citizenship: Community Engagement at W&M in James Blair Hall Room 223 from 1:30 p.m-2:10 p.m. or 2:25 p.m-3:05 p.m. After all, I am celebrating ten years and counting.
Celebrating my own graduation in 2011