“Simply Be and Do Awesome”

How was your senior year?

My senior year was different from the rest of my years. One of the main things is that I stopped running Cross Country. I ran for the team for the past 3 years and this year I decided that I wanted a change. I’ve been running since I was in the 1st grade and it’s the only sport that I have ever really done. After a lot of thought I realized that life here at William and Mary is so full, in so many different ways, and the amount of time I dedicated to running didn’t allow me to experience everything that the school had to offer. I still love running and I go every day, I miss my teammates and still support them to the fullest. The whole experience was a new move for me and, I hate quitting things, but I realized that I would be leaving an amazing experience for another experience that is just as rewarding. It allowed me to have all sorts of new experiences, I could hang out on the terrace in between classes rather than rushing to practice, I could meet my friend late at night that needed someone to talk to rather than go to sleep for a 7 AM practice the next day. Overall the decision was beneficial to me in a whole new way.

What were some of the highlights of your year?

In a weird way, all the difficult trials I had to go through were the highlights for me this year. Through all the tough situations I grew closer to other people and learned more about myself. I realized that it’s very easy to stay surface level with someone and never really get to know them. For example, in clubs that we join we might have a vague sense of who a person is but we never really get a chance to sit down and talk with them. It’s easy to assume that we will eventually grow a close friendship with someone and base that assumption off past friendships that were easily made, but sometimes it just never comes to fruition. Only through making a point to get to know someone will you actually get to get past a superficial level and grow closer to that person.

Another highlight from this year is landing my dream job! It’s an advertising job in New York City that is a yearlong program for figuring out which parts of advertising you prefer. Every couple months you rotate roles and campaigns. Specifically I will rotate between account management and account strategy. Account management is where I can act as the liaison between my company and the client. At the end of the year there is an assessment of what you like and from there you are placed in that section more permanently. Account Strategy is less involved with clients but centers around looking at competitor, the clients internal strengths and how each affects the position of the client.

A great memory I have of the company is when I went for a tour. I absolutely loved it, everyone there was so full of energy and I completely felt “in the zone” while I was there. After that I had the chance to celebrate with all my friends and I got to see everyone I loved that day which really makes that moment stand out for me.

It’s hard to think of all the highlights of the year but I think a lot of them lie in the small moments. For example, when you learn something in class and it intersects with something you love, it feels like a door opens just for you and I love that feeling.

One of my favorite small memories is from my friend Joanna. She will always drive me home, and even though I tell her that campus so small, her excuse will simply be, “I have a car, let me drive you.” She would do that all the time and sometimes we would just sit and talk until 2 AM and I cherish those spontaneous moments of friendship. I almost forget another big highlight; I threw myself my own birthday party. I know what you might be thinking, and don’t worry, there were other people there. It was with my friend Joanna and my other friend Ryan; we never got to celebrate our 21st birthdays with one another since they were at weird times during the year. Ryan and Joanna were celebrating their 22nd birthday and they told me to join and celebrate my 21st—in mid-April, and my birthday is in August. That whole memory was so much fun and I love it so much.

What is one of the most important things you learned from your 4 years attending William & Mary?

I think one of the most valuable things I learned from this college is to pursue what you love and to simply “be and do awesome.” I learned how to make the mundane into exciting and how to turn the challenging into rewarding. I would never think of throwing myself my own birthday party or roommate appreciation lunch. Simply put, the people at William & Mary taught me how to approach life more playfully. Coupled along with that idea is the idea of “Just do it”, whatever it is. It may not work out or you may face obstacles but at least entertain the idea.

What has been the toughest experience you have had at William & Mary?

For me it’s not an experience but just a recurring problem and that’s the feeling of inadequacy. It’s not something caused by the school but simply a problem with human nature.  A big thing for me is trying to figure out if what I have done in the past 4 years has been important. I absolutely love what I have done at this school, but this specific question has afflicted me, mainly in this year. Many people I know have a cause and set up a lot of their activities around that cause. I don’t think I have found my cause yet, which isn’t something I want to rush since I want it to be genuine, but the toughest question I have asked myself was whether I have done enough while I was here.  

What are your favorite spots on campus?

I love the terrace since it’s a place where you can meet with your friends and form new friendships through mutual friends. Another favorite place, which many people don’t know about, is the small study space behind the career center, it’s a beautiful garden which I encourage everyone to see. Another hidden gem is behind the end of the sunken gardens near the Crim Dell where there are the readers’ statues. The two statues are of a boy and a girl reading and those exact same statues were at one of my old schools!

What are your favorite campus organizations that you have been affiliated with?

Probably all of them, I’m very biased. I obviously love HoWM, I think it’s extremely important to imagine people complexly and we do that by sharing their stories with our community. I am also a part of an on campus ministry called RUF and I love it. I have been a part of it for the past 4 years and I feel as if they constantly give to me as a whole, even when I feel as though I can’t give as much back. They feel like a family to me and are so dedicated to loving other people and fostering community growth. I enjoy my work with the admissions office as well and I love welcoming people to our amazing school!

Who are some of the closest friends you have made while at William & Mary?

My roommate Leanna Eisenman, I lived with her for all 4 years. We are very opposite in a lot of different ways, yet also very similar. After being close with her for the past 4 years I have realized that Leanna is the most genuinely kind person that I have ever met. She constantly believes the best in people. She has an amazing forgiving nature, looks for the best in a person. But she is low-key a major badass. She does neuroscience and is extremely hardworking, yet is very humble about it. It’s only through passing that I realize all the major things that she is learning about or the research that she’s conducting. One of my favorite things about her is that she loves adventures; she will be the nudge that pushes me to try something new or crazy. She is the absolute best and puts up with my antics all the time!

Also my other suite mate ZaKiya is incredible. She is a love source for so many people; she’s the person that will give you a hug when you need it the most. She is very wise and insightful and is excellent at reading people, I sometimes feel that she knows me better than I know myself. She will know when I don’t mean something I say and let me know about it, not with words, but just with a simple look. She is basically my conscience.  

Two of my other really good friends are Brendan McNamara and Joanna Hernandez.

I am confident that Brendan will be the next president. Not because he tells you, but because he is someone who I think can do anything. I have the most confidence in him out of any one I know; he will do difficult tasks playfully and graciously and make it seem effortless while being very humble. He is a person who is very thoughtful of others and will make a point to show that he is thinking of you. He’s not the loudest voice in the room but when he does speak it’s very powerful and leaves an impression on you. On top of all that he is pure fun. He’s the type of guy to start body-rolling at the beginning of a party and is always looking to make things fun for others.

Joanna Hernandez is the light of my life and has the biggest smile you will ever see. She’s an amazing Zumba instructor and injects life into everything she does. She is very thoughtful and tries to inject that same love of life into everyone that she meets. She makes me want to be and do better in my every-day life. She makes it look natural but I know she does this with intention. She will always see the best in me even when I don’t see the same in myself. She is an amazing friend to have!

What are some changes that you think should be made to the William and Mary community?

I always believed that we should be more diverse, but genuinely diverse. I believe it’s great that we are admitting students from non-traditional backgrounds but we never see the true representation of all backgrounds here on campus. William and Mary still is a predominantly white school and that may be reflected in our decisions made here on campus. As a community which values equal inputs we have to ensure that people of all backgrounds are represented in that decision-making process. It is better to have opinions that are not reflective of your own in order to foster a stronger community. As a school we are becoming gradually better at making our school more diverse in all aspects, but we still have work to do.

Academically I believe that we are amazing but we should make more of a push to take what we learn in the classroom and apply it to a real world situation. I believe that there should be more classes that embody this idea; this type of learning opens up a whole new side of understanding that we have not been exposed to before.

Outside of the people you have met here at the college, what else will you miss?

I definitely miss the reason that we are all here. I haven’t taken note of this until recently but we are a community that is focused on growing and making the world around us a better place. Once we leave a university setting we may not find an environment where there is inherent curiosity and resources to indulge that curiosity.

Who are your favorite professors here at the college?

Professor Scott Cone is amazing. He is actually a full time psychiatrist and teaches part time. I had him for 3 classes: Community Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Personality Theory. He makes the classes very engaging. He would teach from the textbook and asked us whether or not we agreed with the material that we just learned, he would allow us dispute the material that we learn and not take it for inherent truth. He is very personable as well. He talks to students as equals, has an amazing sense of humor, and pushes us to apply what we learn. He wants us to use what we learn to help people, for example, he would tell us to design our own non-profit using the theories that we learned in class.

What has been the most impactful interview you have conducted for HoWM?

The interviews I conducted for the homelessness project really stuck with me and were amazing. It’s so easy to be set in the student mindset where we believe that everyone in our community is a student whereas that is far from the truth. Going to the Quarter Path Inn and meeting so many beautiful individuals opened my eyes to how closed off we are to an amazing community that’s right in front of us.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to any current William & Mary student?

Take opportunities! These will be the defining moments rather than trying to always get an A on every test. It’s very frustrating to do this since grades do matter a great deal depending on what you are going into, but taking at least on opportunity may last with you for a while. Another piece of advice is to go be an amazing friend to a least one person. So many things can be prevented if there is at least one genuine person looking at for another.

Any special thanks to anyone?

I want to thank every single one of my professors. They go above and beyond and go out of their way for the students. They are kind, generous, and understanding, and care more about the student rather than task completion. They want to have an influence in our big picture. I am beyond grateful to all my friends and they know that—at least I hope they know that. I’m grateful for the behind-the-scenes people that make this campus run and put work into the things that we take for granted and sometimes simply disregard.

Funniest moment at William & Mary?

I was giving a tour and a dad asked me the classic “What is the alcohol policy here?” I gave the honest answer that we are a community that looks out for each other, we educate students about alcohol and school policy yet, we are still a college. At the end of the tour another dad pulled me aside and told me that while I was going over our the alcohol policy of our school a student that was coming back from beach weekend was dropped off behind me, pulled out his cooler and proceeded to take a shot in front of the tour…. While I was going over the alcohol policy, it was simply hilarious.

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