Being a member of the Tribe doesn’t stop when you walk across campus and pick up your hard earned diploma. I’ve always known this fact and continued to feel just as much a part of W&M the day after I graduated as the day I moved into my freshman dorm. However, I did not understand truly the passion for the school my friends still felt until the most important day of my life occurred a month ago. My wedding day!
I was lucky enough to have around 40 W&M alumni come to the wedding and witness my husband and I get married. After all the hoopla of the ceremony, the cake cutting, and proper toasting…it was time to break it down on the dance floor. Of course, we had to break it down W&M style, which meant performing an a capella version of our school’s “Alma Mater.” You see, it seems that whenever students are gathering for one reason or another, you will begin to hear someone hum the words “Hark the students’ voices swelling…” Inevitably, another student will pipe in, and another, and another, until the group is anxiously awaiting the best part of the whole song: when we all yell “WILLIAM AND MARY” like our lives depended on it! Singing the “Alma Mater” is a time old tradition any good W&M student loves to partake in, and it is only fitting that the song spurred the most memorable part of our wedding reception for me.
Somewhere in between Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and Kanye’s “Gold Digga” one of my closest friends began to assemble the mass of W&M students into a circle. Always the life of the party, he hopped up onto a chair and began singing the opening verse to the “Alma Mater.” The voices began to swell and the words in the song became more pronounced across the massive tent as more graduates joined the group. By the second time around through the chorus I had tears in my eyes and was laughing so hard that I could barely sing the words myself! So many faces were lit up with excitement! It did not matter if these alumni had known each other while at W&M, had even attended the College at the same time, or in some cases, had even been born yet when others were enjoying their time in Williamsburg! What mattered was the camaraderie and memories which were flooding back while singing those words. The “thunder of our voices” projected the emotion many of us continue to feel months, years, and even decades after we have graduated: those who come here belong here.
It wasn’t surprising to me that on the most exciting and fun night of my life, I was thinking to myself about how lucky I was to be part of this unique community. This is what a tribe is made of, this is what a family of scholars looks like, and this is what true friendship that spans generations feels like. This is William & Mary and I could not love her more!
– Amanda Norris