Any William & Mary student can confirm, you can’t go through your four years here without getting involved in some sort of completely new extracurricular activity. That’s definitely been the overarching theme of my experience at William & Mary – most, if not ALL of my extracurriculars are things I wasn’t involved in during high school.
“There’s NO way I’m joining a fraternity.”
I remember distinctly saying this to my freshman roommate, Jak, when he asked whether or not I was planning on rushing. My interpretation of Greek Life was based on what you see in the movies, where the focus is on the social aspect and nothing else. Still, I went to a few fraternity rush events just to check it out – I figured that, worst case scenario, I’d still meet some new people.
When I actually got to know some of the guys in fraternities and started to learn more about Greek Life at William & Mary, I realized that my initial impression couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I learned that our Greek community has a service partnership with the Arc of Greater Williamsburg, an organization that provides support for local adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I found out that while social life is a big part of fraternity and sorority life, it’s just one small aspect of a community that has an equal focus on philanthropy, community service, and an overall camaraderie. I ended up joining a fraternity my first semester here!
A big part of my high school life was crew – I LOVED rowing and it was something that took up an enormous part of my life. I wanted to keep up that sports aspect of my life so I joined Men’s Club Volleyball on a whim, thinking I would try it out but not convinced that I would stick with it. Keep in mind, I’d NEVER played volleyball besides in gym class or casually at the beach, so I joined unsure of what to expect. I was welcomed with open arms by the team and, though I didn’t have much playing time in tournaments my first few semesters, I’m really involved in the club going into my senior year! One of my favorite aspects of club sports is the social scene – going into my 7th semester as social chair, my job is to put together and organize social events with other club sports. We’ve had mixers with Men’s and Women’s Hockey, Lacrosse, Basketball, Volleyball, and more, and each one has been a great way to meet new people!
Another really important aspect of student life at William & Mary is our commitment to community service. I’ll be honest, community service was NOT one of my priorities in high school and I never really had the interest or time to get involved with it. However, once I got to W&M, an opportunity to get involved with the Center for Veterans Engagement fell into my lap. The Center focuses on providing creative and artistic programs for veterans and active service members in the Hampton Roads area in three different venues: music, comedy, and writing.
My role with the Center has been as the Director of Writing Programming. Now, what exactly does that mean? My job is to put together and organize bi-monthly writing group meetings where local veterans can come together to write responses to prompts, share some of their past work, and have the opportunity to learn from group sessions with William & Mary professors. My involvement with this organization has BY FAR been the most rewarding experience that I’ve had at W&M. To be able to give back to the very people who have given everything and more to our country is an amazing opportunity, and the amount of personal growth I’ve experienced from getting to know a group of veterans whose service spans as far back as World War II has helped shape me into who I am today.
Something about William & Mary’s campus and our community really encourages students to get out of their shells and try new experiences. Before coming to William & Mary, I can’t say that I planned on joining a fraternity, playing Men’s Club Volleyball, or giving back to the local veteran community. If I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing!
– Yousif Al-Amin ’16