This week, the father of a prospective student emailed our office regarding his son’s recent visit to campus last week. He started by complimenting his tour guide on an informative and fun tour. He then went on to relay the story of the rest of his son’s visit to campus. Apparently they were staying the night in Williamsburg and his son opted to attend the Alma Mater Productions’ (our campus programming board) Spring Show: K’Naan and Wale. His tour guide, who also attended the concert, saw the prospective student by himself and invited him to join him and his friends for the concert. After the concert, the tour guide walked the prospective student back to where he was meeting his father. The father absolutely beamed about how much that meant to his son and complimented me for choosing such excellent tour guides.
This email came at a time when my colleagues and I are preparing for our Day for Admitted Students. In thinking back upon my own admitted student visit more than a decade ago, I realized that it was a very similar experience that brought me to W&M. When I visited W&M after being admitted, I flew to Virginia by myself and arrived on campus at around 11:00 p.m. I walked into the then University Center (now the Sadler Center) with my luggage, sleeping bag, and pillow and felt like the pathetic high school kid on the grown-up college campus. My host did not appear to be at our meeting location and while I’m not that old this all took place before cellular phones were a commonplace item. Everyone who passed by me (either out of pure sympathy or unadulterated kindness — I choose to believe the latter) stopped and asked if they could take me somewhere or find me a phone or help me in some way. Eventually, through their kindness, I found my host and proceeded to have a weekend full of similar welcoming interactions. At that time I was deciding between W&M and one other East-coast university. As simple as the notion is, I decided at the end of my campus visit that if I was going to go to school far away, I might as well go to a place where everyone is nice and welcoming and friendly. That sentiment and community feel got me here more than a decade ago and has kept me returning here day after day after day. And apparently that same sense of kindness is still being felt by today’s prospective students only now I’m the one in charge of selecting and training those welcoming faces. My experience has come full circle so to speak and I couldn’t be more proud.
– Wendy Livingston