By Ana Suárez
Global Research Institute
On Wednesday, July 10th in Washington D.C., over thirty William & Mary alums beat the summer heat in the city by spending time with current students to offer them professional advice and insights.
Every summer, the Global Research Institute hosts DC Day, an event where students interact with W&M alums in the D.C. area. During the day, the alumni hosted students at locations such as USAID, Capitol Hill, the World Bank and Booz Allen Hamilton. Ellen Stofan ’83 D.DC ’16, delivered a keynote address over lunch at W&M’s Washington Center, capturing the importance of the work being done to support a diverse and inclusive future for air and space exploration. This year for the first time, the Global Research Institute held a reception for students to partake in rapid-fire conversations with alums who shared mentorship and advice for students on breaking into their desired fields.
Ellen Stofan ’83 (right) talking to W&M student and AidData Research Assistant, Elizabeth Pokol ’20.
The event, which emphasized students’ professional development, resonated with Tim Brady ’97, Marine Officer currently detailed to the Joint Staff. “I’m not sure who benefited more that night,” says Brady. “I was thoroughly impressed with all the students, their current studies, and their future goals. I did a lot more listening than I did talking!”
Brady believes that mentorship is not a one-sided coin. This event embodies that belief by exposing students to life beyond the bricks of W&M, while alumni give back and reconnect with the Tribe.
Akela Lacy ’15, Political Reporter for the Intercept, shared with students how W&M shaped her current worldview. “William & Mary gave me the tools to think critically about the world and know that there are so many ways to make an impact,” says Lacy.
Lacy also stressed to students the varying degrees of success by which they should evaluate their careers. “There’s not necessarily one set path, you don’t have to go to business school or law school or become a CEO of a company to be successful, there are many different definitions of success,” says Lacy. “Community…is really important.”
Students left DC Day with business cards in their pockets and the assurance that the pathway to their desired career is more attainable than previously thought. Claire Peterson ’20, was particularly glad to connect with alums. “ I am really grateful I had the opportunity to attend DC Day. As a psychology major, I have never come across a William & Mary event that takes you to DC for networking or a conference.”
Student and alum chatting at the reception.
The event, which ran longer than anticipated due to lively conversations around the room, was a notable success and met its goal of bringing members of the Tribe together and promoting meaningful interactions.
Many of the alums in attendance, such as Brady, completed their undergraduate studies before the Global Research Institute was founded in 2008. However, they now contribute to its growing professional network, which provides students with connections essential to shaping their future.
Group of students with James Comey at the W&M Washington Center.
“I absolutely loved my experience as a student and have thoroughly enjoyed the continued opportunities William & Mary has provided me throughout the years,” says Brady. “Giving back is important to me and serves to strengthen the entire Tribe community.”