So, why did you pick William and Mary in the first place?
The school itself. Honestly, I think when I look back at the application process for college, I didn’t begin the process until fairly late–not until the beginning of senior year. That was when I heard William & Mary’s name come up from other students in my high school who had gone to William & Mary, or from teachers who thought that William & Mary would be a good fit for me. I knew that in my college search process I wanted to focus on smaller schools, because of my desire to have a stronger relationship with my professors; to engage more in class, and to grow more as an individual and student. So with those factors in mind—I applied. I also really liked William & Mary’s application question! There was one open-ended question, I still remember, that allowed students to assemble something, whether it was an art display, or to write an essay. I chose to design a shoe-box collage of supplies, and I designed the supplies in the form of different fashion trends, combining two of my quirky passions: supplies and design. The application question was a good way for me to know that William and Mary values more than just the academics, or the typical college admission essay.
Now, as your time at William and Mary comes to an end, do you think that the school was able to satisfy those expectations?
I think that the school presents multiple avenues for you to express yourself beyond the major that you chose or beyond your academic interests, but you do have to seek them out. I think it can be difficult if you are academic centric (which I definitely was when I was in high school) to encourage yourself to broaden your involvements. The fact that most William & Mary students are heavily involved around campus inspired me to seek out these opportunities. The activities that you can join also combine multiple interests. For example, joining Humans of William & Mary allows me to learn more about people while also dabbling into other creative outlets, such as photography and interviewing. I am passionate about both these activities, but I might not have pursued them independently if they weren’t part of one community, or one house under which I can explore multiple avenues.
Do you think that you synthesized the things that you learned from Humans of William and Mary into your academics? Do you see those things intermingling ever?
That’s a really good question. To be honest, when I first started getting involved in extracurriculars at William & Mary it was more separate. It was like filling different boxes: school friends, classes, and extracurriculars, which mirrors the mentality I had in high school, where not all activities (i.e. honor societies) are integrated into one’s growth. I think I’ve grown to see my activities as part of my independent growth—like my classes, they enable me to think about the world and develop new questions. Being part of Humans, for example, provides me with a sense of community and opportunities to meet people outside of my routine involvements. I have been particularly helpful to engage in conversations with others and to be exposed to others’ vulnerability and thinking. I think these learnings from Humans allows me to better express myself and alter my perspective of extracurriculars as things on a checklist, and instead as avenues to grow myself in different dimensions.
So you mentioned how Humans has allowed you to engage in conversations with yourself. What are those types of conversations that you have?
I think when I talk to people I am often surprised at how these conversations do not shy away from vulnerability, doubt, and depth. I’ve really grown to appreciate people’s vulnerability. It has, in turn, helped me grapple with challenging aspects of college, be it mental health, or the limited mentality that plays into being fixated on grades. I think that when I have conversations with people who are willing to be vulnerable it inspires me to talk to my friends and to do the same. I can balance expressing my positivity, while also reflecting on more challenging emotions, so that others get to know me beyond just one side of how they might see me on a normal day.
If you could pick one location on campus that could be considered an effective representation of everything that is William and Mary what would it be?
I think that if I had to pick a place that I enjoy and one that also embodies William & Mary it would be the terrace. I feel like there are always opportunities on the terrace to meet people, engage in spontaneous conversations, or run into friends. These are not only indicative of a small school, but also people’s willingness to engage with each other despite busy schedules. Because I do spend a considerable amount of time working independently on campus, studying on the terrace always brightens my day. There is rarely a time that I do not see someone I know in between classes and activities. Many people at William & Mary are incredibly busy, but even those short conversations or hugs are incredibly meaningful to me.
Do you spend a lot of time on the terrace?
I spend more time there since I’ve moved off campus, because when I lived on campus I spent more time in my dorm. Since moving off campus, I don’t like going back home in between my schedule, so I have found more places to unwind, and the terrace is one of those. I really like the Wellness center too! &, of course, The Grind. That entire area of campus is a good place to relax and do work outside of the typical work environments (for example, the library or a classroom). Plus, there is usually someone to talk with for a wholesome study break!”
Do you have one meaningful memory or a collection of memories from your experience here?
Definitely a collection. I’d say from Freshman year on there have been several defining memories. I think Freshman year many of these meaningful memories were with my Freshman hall. I lived in Botetourt, Fauquier specifically, so a lot of our outings and dinners were at The Caf as a freshman hall. I realize now how much I cherish these moments, because it’s wonderful to have meals with people and process the day, which can be harder as people get busier. In terms of other moments, I’ve had special moments around Williamsburg and off campus–for example, taking walks in CW or visiting the Williamsburg Botanical gardens. Senior Year has also been full of great memories. I took a trip to VCU to visit friends, and it was wonderful because they are friends that I’ve had since middle school. I think overall these moments occur when I embrace spontaneity and traveling!
Do you have a favorite place off campus?
A lot of times I go to New Town, usually for Panera Bread! New Town was also the first place my Freshman Hall explored off campus, where we all had Sweet Frog together by the fountain. That was a good time! Since then, and because I have a car now, I go to New Town to visit Panera or the Bookstore. I love spending time in bookstores. Another one of my favorite spots is the campus bookstore in CW. That’s a spot where I like to retreat to if I don’t want to study in Swem.
Do you have anything that you want to add?
I’d just say that while thinking about graduation, I feel a mixture of emotions. In some part, though, I feel ready to branch out and try something different. I’m thankful that much of my college experience taught me to embrace difficult emotions because of the invaluable learning that comes out of it, such as facing rejections, which was a strong component of my Freshman year. Many people question whether they would change something, or do something differently. I have thought about this question, but each time, I have concluded that I would not change anything about my college experience. In the end, whatever opportunities came my way, or didn’t come way, led me to a place where I am understanding myself better and leading with more confidence. I think that is part of the journey of doing things, not understanding them in the moment, and reflecting on them later. I think that, unlike in high school, college teaches you that you are not alone. It is also important to realize that what one sees is not always the truth. If someone was to judge me from the outside, they could incorrectly assume that “she’s so happy all the time,” which is not the case. Recognizing that our first judgments are normally incorrect is a lesson I definitely take away from college. People do not simply snap their fingers and feel happy or accomplish what they have. It takes hard work, much of which lies behind the scenes. Therefore, when we compare ourselves, we compare ourselves to a highlight reel, or our idealized viewpoint of a person. Of course, our campus is full of smart and talented individuals, but it is important to realize one’s limitations: we can’t tell what people are going through, so it’s not worthwhile to assume and compare yourself.