I figure I have this platform for only a few more weeks until I’m no longer a student (shudder) at the College, so I might as well take full advantage of this thing to get my message out there to people about how wonderfully amazing this place is and what it can do for the members that belong to this community. And, since my friends are getting sick of me blubbering on about how much I love this place, I need to get it out somewhere, so it might as well be on here.
WARNING: these probably will come off as overly sentimental to many, but hey, you spend 6 years here and see what it does to you.
The first thing I want to talk about is that over-used mantra that we wave like a victory banner over our heads every chance we get: Community.
Ok, so I know it’s trite and it’s been done 100 times in these blogs, but I truly believe that this is the ONE thing that makes William and Mary the special place that it is. When I think of Community here, two distinct areas come to mind: undergrad student life, and faculty/student interaction.
Undergrad life is the heart beat of William and Mary. We all know that and see it. It’s obvious. But what makes it so special? I see the relationships built, projects started and years spent with our undergrad friends on this colonial campus as the foundations for the rest of our lives. The experiences that we have with these people around us shape who we are and what we become. I never would have imagined coming into the College back in 2003 that I would have been traveling toNicaragua with people I led Young Life with, living with the captain of the swim team for 3 years or sharing a house as a graduate student with fraternity brothers who I’ve known for four years now. These relationships have played such an integral role in who I am today that I can’t imagine what life would have been like without them. The College is such a ripe place for developing these bonds. Our Orientation program drives home the importance of building relationships, contributing to the community and investing in campus life. The Greek Life system is flourishing here and despite whatever misconceptions may exist about fraternity life, I can vouch that the brothers I have through Kappa Sigma have been some of the most stalwart friends that I could have ever hoped for. The OSVS has begun to truly cultivate a tradition of service at the College and the impact it’s had on the community and campus is indeed palpable. I can’t tell you how many times I feel like knocking someone upside the head when they tell me that there’s nothing to do at William and Mary. Open your eyes. Enjoy the Undergrad life that will be some of the best years of your life.
Another earmark of the College is the faculty/student relationships that develop here. Where else do you find this stuff? I still remember my freshman advising meeting with Carla Buck in Hispanic Studies. Two years later I traveled to Spain with her on the Cadiz summer program. My freshman seminar professor Sylvia Tandeciarz sparked in me a desire to dive into issues of identity and cultural policy that eventually led to a complete shift in my own conception of the world and how we live together. During my sophomore year, Regina Root invited me to travel to a conference at VCU on Latin American Studies and five years later, I’ve been able to present at the conference 3 times now. Dot Finnegan, my graduate advisor, works tirelessly to ensure that we are producing work that is meaningful to us as practitioners. She pushes us to develop our own programs for our assistantships, to dive into new and uncharted academic territories. This type of investment in students is what makes this such a special place. Make sure you take advantage of this. Make sure that you seek out your professors, ask to do research with them, ask to be a part of their programs. Doing this will ensure that you tap into the greatest resource this university has to offer.
The community that we cherish here at the College is so unique and special to this place. I’m not sure if we know that all the time. I know that it took me a few years to realize what a different place this was. But one thing is certain, after spending six years behind these bricks, I’m not sure if I’ll ever come across a place that shares the same bonds and values to such a high degree that we do here.