We Admit It! We love celebrating our major milestones at William & Mary. This past year we just celebrated the anniversary of 100 years of Women at William & Mary and our first female President. Since then, over 55,000 women have graduated from William & Mary. Starting with just 24 women, they soon became trailblazers that didn’t settle for the status quo. We wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the powerful narratives of Her Story. Go ahead and explore some of the links (we put them in there for a reason) to see some of the amazing stories of women game-changers.
Here are just some of the many highlights from this past year:
- William & Mary alumna Glenn Close ’78 will be returning to her alma mater as this year’s Commencement speaker.
- Humans of William & Mary created a physical installation and shared the stories of 18 women nominated by their peers to share their experiences. These include professors, students, and graduates.
- Alma Mater Productions welcomed Misterwives, Ari Lennox, and Daya to campus during their annual Spring Concert.
- William & Mary Women hosted “Love, Mary,” an open mic night where 24 students spoke powerfully about the female experience on campus.
- Representative Stephanie Murphy ’00, the first Vietnamese woman elected to Congress, welcomed students during Convocation. She reflected on her experiences on campus and her backstory coming from a family of refugees.
- The Ladies of Alpha, a secret society founded by Martha Barksdale in 1918, continued to recognize amazing women leaders on campus.
- Throughout the year, so many speakers came to campus to share their perspectives. These included Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Comedian Nicole Byer, and Pulitzer-Prize winning Journalist and New York Times writer Jodi Kantor.
- The first African American students in residence, Lynn Briley, Janet Brown and Karen Ely’ 71, were trailblazers that were honored in the 2017-2018 school year. Since then, we have created a mural in their honor, created a permanent display in the Wren Building, and continue to remember the powerful legacy of these women as we celebrate this year.
- We heard the stories of women entrepreneurs like Pocket Sun ’03 (originally an international student here, but since has been named “30 under 30,” has given Ted Talks, and is a founder of a multi-million dollar company at 27) and Nicole Lewis ’03 (who graduated college as a teen mom, but is now the CEO of a non-profit that helps teen parents continue to get their education)
- Signs around William & Mary’s campus were updated to include the full names of all the women they were named after.
- TIME Person of the Year and one of the founders of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke came to campus and spoke to a full auditorium.
- William & Mary’s field hockey team made history by winning the CAA Championships in a thrilling overtime battle.
- The Geology Department celebrated graduating more female graduates than any previous time in its history — approximately 55 percent.
- Jackie Valles ’19 spearheaded the effort to create a “Ceremony of Roots” to celebrate the accomplishments of LatinX graduates.
- William & Mary hosted its inaugural William & Mary Women’s Weekend, an inspiring and empowering weekend of building community.
Did you know about some of the other famous female alumna that have graduated from William & Mary? This includes:
- Jill Ellis ’88 Head coach of the women’s soccer team who led the U.S. to the World Cup Championship and gave the 2016 Commencement address
- Ellen Stofan ’83, D Sc. ’16 Former Chief Scientist of NASA and now the first female Director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
- Beth Comstock ’82 Co-Founder of Hulu and named one of the “most powerful women in business.”
- Martha Barksdale ’18 The first female graduate of William & Mary. During her time here, she was a Phi Beta Kappa inductee, first President of the Women’s Council, first female House President, and first “Miss William & Mary.” She played on the school’s basketball team and started the Ladies of Alpha Society.
And maybe one day… you!
This is an incredible time at William & Mary as we celebrated where we have come from and where we are going in order to become a more inclusive place for all. William & Mary was joint founded by William and Mary, a king and queen. It is about time we celebrated both sides of that legacy and recognize some of the amazing women that have made the university, and the country, into what it is today.
Here’s to all the women that have passed through these halls, and all the ones that have yet to come,
Assistant Dean of Admissions