I came to college to get a degree. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true … I came to college to get a degree and have fun along the way. As an incoming freshman, I had heard all the anecdotes. College is about finding yourself, about meeting new people, and discovering new passions. All of this while studying hard and building the foundation for a strong career in the future. Pretty standard.
I knew right away that I was in for some amazing experiences. I quickly bonded with my hall mates, explored the campus during some late night adventures, and joined every club I could get my hands on. In my mind, I knew I only had four years to enjoy the W&M experience, so I was determined to take advantage of every minute. I knew that once I walked across the stage as a senior to receive my diploma, that was the end. Of course I would always be a proud alumnus and probably revisit the campus for a few reunions, but that would be the extent of my W&M connection.
It didn’t take me long to realize that was absolutely wrong. What I want to explain now is hard to put into words, (and it will probably sound overly emotional), but please stick with me.
William and Mary is not simply a college. To everyone else, maybe that’s what it looks like. But in reality, William and Mary is about being part of something larger than yourself.
Being a member of the Tribe means being a part of a deep and rich history. We share our alma mater with the very founders of our great nation, along with numerous others who have helped shape it every step of the way. It means being connected to thousands of others in every corner of the world who have trod over our beloved campus as students. It means an inevitable swell of pride every time you hear the tune of our Alma Mater. Being a member of the Tribe means a lifelong bond to the campus, to its students, and to its history.
From the outside looking in, you can’t understand, and from inside looking out, you can’t explain. What I can explain, however, is that William and Mary is not a place where you come for four years—it’s a community that you join for a lifetime. Your time on this campus will shape you into the person you will be for the rest of your life, and will continue to shape you long after you’re gone. No matter where your life leads, you will forever be apart of this community. William and Mary will always be a home, and its students will always be a family.
I came to college to get a degree, but I will leave with so, so much more. When I graduate, I will walk through the doors of the Wren building with the entire William and Mary community, past and present, supporting me. And for the rest of my life, whenever I meet a fellow member of the Tribe, we will have a connection that cannot be broken. When I leave this campus, I’m not really leaving at all.
As my sophomore year comes to a close, my friends are shocked that our time at W&M is halfway over. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Our William and Mary experience is just beginning.