Finding Your Center

P: Alright, so our question for today is: What is your favorite spot on campus?

The President’s House garden, because it’s really beautiful and peaceful. And makes it so that I can see the campus, the Wren building, and it makes me feel centered here.

P: How does it make you feel centered?

There’s people here. You know, we missed it so much… having an event like this when so many people are together and they are pulling for each other, it’s not that everybody wants the same thing, it’s all wanting to say “Thank you for something different that matters to us.” Yeah. I think about things like this when I feel out of it. It’s a great place.

P: Do you feel the gratefulness in the air right now?

Yes! It’s really intense. But I’m glad. We could…We worked so hard to be able to be together under the pandemic, and I never had to work through with a community in those kinds of challenges, and I feel like we know what hard work feels like. We can do it; we know how to pull together. It’s really powerful.

G: I know being a sophomore, it feels really cool to be able to just walk out of my class and just see things happening [Yes!] because that hasn’t really been the case so far, so yeah, just… How do you feel about kinda–not that COVID is over–but that we’re coming out of it?

I love it. I’m somebody who’s always–I’m pretty social, you know, I’m an extrovert. And I like it when campus is loud. And my theory is… Let’s be loud right here, in Sunky G! We won’t bother the neighbors, we can be as loud as we want, and people are clearly loving being together, so…

J: That’s really cool. If you want to make it loud, what kind of crazy activities or dreams or ideas can you come up with that maybe are a little bit too insane to pull off, or like, what’re you hoping to do?

Well you know I’m a coach, right? [I didn’t.] So one of my favorite things to do–yeah, I’m an Ultimate coach, I coach high school and college, but high school is my passion–and I love bringing kids together to cheer. I think that–and especially right before you’re about to perform. We usually do a sensory exercise, a mindfulness exercise, and then we cheer together.

G: Oh, cool. What kind of mindfulness exercises do you do before the games?

Visualizing your highlight reel. And usually just really one image, it’s a moment, a physical moment when you’re in competition where you’re doing something with a teammate, and it just is right. The communication is right.

J: What’s that moment for you?

So I visualize the moment before a cheer, everyone on the team has our thumbs on the disc, and we’re looking at each other. And one of my players walks her fingers around the disc, everybody’s thumbs. She did it every time, she touches everybody’s thumbs. And it takes about 30 seconds for me to remember that, that moment, that image, and that just…I can remember the faces of all of the players.

G: That’s so cool! So do you still feel like you’ve connected to them? Even now?

Oh, totally. Absolutely. 

P: Ooh, I have a question. So, you’ve got the disc, right? Everyone’s thumb is on it. In a very unnaturally poetic way, can you describe how that makes you feel? You can take your time for this one.

Unnaturally poetic?

P: Unnaturally poetic. Romanticize it!

So, the thing we say before we do it, I just shout to the crowd Bring it in! And everybody comes together, someone puts it  […], everyone’s got their thumbs on…New players sometimes put a finger on, and somebody on the team’s like […]. I feel like we brought it in. Like, we’re in.

G: Do you feel like you can draw any connections between your Ultimate career and then how the William & Mary community feels now?

Look at us! I mean, this is people all bringing it in. And we just put out the call, you guys are doing it around campus, and the feeling of calling people in and coming in together is amazing. I don’t think we’re ever going to take it for granted.

J: That’s really cool. How is that experience for you? Like, what is that feeling to bring people in and your position being able to motivate people?

It’s the best part of my job. You know, and this is what it’s like to play on a team, or to coach a team…The success is the team’s success, not my success. The success is an individual player’s success, not my success. And that’s watching the growth of other human beings, watching when lots of people strive for something really difficult together and succeed. It’s unbelievably powerful.

Night Owl

Okay, my question for you is are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am absolutely a night owl. Mornings are very hard for me, especially with 8am’s, it’s very hard to get out of bed.

Totally feel that, what is it about night time? Is it more just an aversion to mornings, or is there something about night that you love?

Personally, I’m more productive at night, too. I’m able to focus on my work more and, because I’m getting stuff done and feeling  good about what I’m doing, I end up just staying up more usually, and then unfortunately that means my mornings are a little harder – I’m more sluggish in the morning, more groggy, and it’s harder for my brain to wake up.

What time do you normally go to bed?

(laughs) That’s a funny question because it really depends on how much I’ve avoided my work or procrastinated, so if I’m doing a lot of catch up or I’m feeling good about what I’m doing, it can range from anywhere from 12 to 2 in the morning, and what things I have the next day. If I have an 8am, then I’m definitely gonna wanna go to sleep earlier. But if I have a 9 or 10am, that definitely means I’m not gonna feel bad about staying up as late because I can still get 8 hours.

I feel like college is both the best and worst place for night owls, because you totally have the stuff to do at night to stay up but obligations in the morning that make staying up very hard.

Yeah, mhm.

I’m also a night person and I feel like the quiet of not many people around, not much going on, my head just feels clearer, more calm.

No, I totally understand and completely agree with you. I feel more… centered.

Agreed, and I don’t know the thought of the world being asleep and me doing my thing is very appealing.

Yeah, I get that.

Would you say staying up late is a choice for you? Or is it really only to get work done?

Yeah, it’s definitely a choice. Yeah, freshman year I would stay up until 4am because I found it to be the best time when I could focus. This was before I was diagnosed with ADHD and with virtual classes, I found the very early mornings to be the best time for me to be productive and focus on my work. 

Wow, that is crazy to think about but makes so much sense. Especially when assignments and readings can just take so long, you know?


Guilty Pleasures

Our question for you is…What is a current guilty pleasure you have right now? If you want me to go more specific I can, but I don’t know if anything jumps out in your mind right now. 

I feel like my biggest guilty pleasure right now is Diet Coke. I drink way too much of it and I’m obsessed with it, but there’s obviously no benefits to it [laughs]. That’s like a pretty basic one, I guess. 

No, I love that. 

Are you drinking it at like specific times? 

Just like whenever I feel like it, yeah, I don’t know [laughs]. 

Did you drink it as a kid, like does it have that nostalgia factor?

Um, not really. My mom drank a lot of it or drinks a lot of it, but I wasn’t allowed to start drinking it until I was like sixteen or something because my parents just didn’t really like the whole caffeine thing, so yeah. 

Very fair, very fair. 

Did your family have a go-to meal, rather than Diet Coke? 

Not really, I mean we always had to have milk at meals, so now that I’m here I can have Diet Coke with my meals which is so much better than milk. 

The one thing I feel about college that’s both a blessing and a curse is having so much freedom to do whatever you want, like drinking as much Diet Coke as you want even to the point of ruin but also at the same time you get to drink as much Diet Coke as you want and not feel guilty about it. 

Yeah, no, exactly. 

How do you feel as a freshman coming in with more of that freedom? 

I like it a lot [laughs], I mean like obviously it can be, not dangerous, but you can forget to eat healthy stuff or take care of yourself, but I like the freedom a lot. 

I know for me I was so spoiled my mom would do my laundry, so like that’s one thing coming to college, I forget to do my laundry and I have to find a time to do it. 

No, that’s how I am, too. 

I had to learn how to do my laundry when I first got here, and my friends were like you are so spoiled for that. 

No yeah, I get it. 

Do you have a guilty pleasure meal, like what would your last meal be?

Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. Let me think…I’d probably wanna have In-N-Out, a classic In-N-Out burger and animal-style fries. 

So, are you from the West Coast? 

No, I’m not. I’m from Minnesota, so it’s like kinda weird, but everytime I go to California or Arizona, I could literally eat In-N-Out for every meal. That’s probably the one thing I’d eat for my last thing. 

I love that. 

Do you have family on the West Coast to go there pretty often? 

No, haha. But my mom really likes it there, so most of our vacations are over there. 

Have you been abroad? 

Never, never left the country. 

Do you want to go abroad ever?

Yes, so badly. I have four siblings, so it’s really hard to travel with everyone, so we just never left the country as kids. 

No, I get that. I have two brothers, so not five of us, but I know for my parents it was always such a production trying to get us all in one place.

For sure, yeah. 

Awesome, well thank you!

Favorite Colors

So, the question is, if you were a color, what color do you think you’d be?

Oh, okay! Um, I think I’d be yellow, because it’s such a positive, sunshiny color. That sounds so dumb!


But um, honestly, it’s just my favorite color. And it just always brings a light to the day.

That’s amazing! Do you have any, like, specific memories with that color? Or…

I don’t think so. I don’t know, some time in high school or something it started representing happy times to me, so I then kept bringing it.

That’s exciting! So in high school were you pretty busy with a lot of things?

Yes. Very busy.

What kinds of things did you do in high school?

Um, I had class, obviously. I was a dancer. Then, I also had to play sports for my high school. And then I did lots of clubs. I was like, a high school ambassador. So, yeah.

Yeah, what kind of dance did you do?

Ballet, primarily.

Oh my gosh, how long did you do it for?

Um, I think since I was like three. And then all the way to high school.

Wow. Did you ever want to become like, a professional ballerina?

No. I just loved it for the dancing… The professional ballet world is very intense, and I just did not want that for my life.

Yeah, that’s totally understandable. Yeah, that’s so super cool. I’ve never personally done dance before, but it seems really awesome. Did you do competitions all the time?

No, luckily I was just a performer; like, we just did performances.

Gotcha, okay. Did you have like a favorite performance that you did?

We did this one like, contemporary ballet dance. And it was to the Four Seasons, like, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that instrumental music? But um, we were Springtime, so it was cool because it was like a contemporary piece in pointe shoes. So, that was really fun.

Nice, okay. Well, do you have anything else you’d like to say to the world?

I hope everyone has an amazing day!

Okay, thank you so much!

Freshman Year During a Pandemic

Okay, so, I wanted to ask you what your club experience has been like as a freshman, even  during Covid and whatnot. 

It’s been good laughs, it’s definitely been, it has enhanced my living experience as being a  freshman during a pandemic for sure that coming to campus, I definitely felt a sense of isolation and disconnection to William and Mary itself, and I think getting involved in the slightest things,  being able to meet other people through clubs has been a really, has been really impactful within  entering college not only as freshmen but in the pandemic, laughs. 

And do you find that people who are already in these clubs are helping you integrate into  school life or kinda doing their own thing as they’re adjusting to being back on campus. 

Uh no yeah, for sure, they definitely have helped because they’re really empathetic and they  understand that we are going through this, laughs, well this crazy time all together and they are  just really reassuring, their empathy, and their willingness to understand and be inclusive is  really great. 

Ok, and what clubs are you involved in on campus? 

I am a member of Phi Mu. 

No way me too!  

Laughs, I also am involved in Club Ballroom dance and I also do improv with Dad Jeans. 

That is very fun. And do you feel like getting involved in activities second semester has  been harder than first? 

I definitely think it’s different, I don’t know if it’s harder necessarily but I think it has its own  take and energy, okay, which they’re kind of like, I don’t feel they’re comparable but in a sense,  I think they’re; I think the second semester was a little harder, but I think it’s neither here nor  there. 

And what are you most looking forward to in the fall semester, in the fall, what are you  hoping to see changing? 

Ooo, that’s a great question laughs I’m hoping to see, I’m ready to see, like kind of bring the life  back into campus, and get the energy back up more or less and the sense of involvement, mostly  just the energy shift I feel that’ll come with less pandemic-y fall semester, cause I feel like there’s a large sense of community on campus as a whole but definitely has been taken down a  lot of notches because of the pandemic, and I can’t wait to see that get taken back up, cause I  already feel like it’s a very safe space energy wise and it’s a very welcoming community but the 

fact that that has been knocked down a couple pegs because of pandemic I’m really excited to  see that energy rise back up this fall. 

Yeah, a lot of people tell me, like older sorority sisters say that it’s always filled with people  and energy and I can’t imagine that right now. 

Me either. 


So, I’m really ready for the aura. 

Me too.

The Importance of Comedy

So, your question is: When is the last time you laughed until you cried?

Well, I don’t think I’ve laughed until I’ve cried in awhile, but I don’t know, I feel like my sense of humor is very like, weird and awkward so, I don’t know, I probably saw something on Instagram that was pretty funny, so that’s probably one of the last times I’ve laughed super hard.

Mhm. How would you describe your humor?

I think um, ironic, ‘cause a lot of things that I find funny really aren’t. Like if I saw a horse wearing, like, sneakers, I feel like that’d be kind of hilarious, you know, because you just don’t see that. Who’s putting sneakers on a horse, you know? It’s kind of crazy.

Right, right. In high school, did you feel like you were pretty, um, I don’t know, I don’t want to ask you “Were you funny in high school?” but like, did you do anything with like, comedy?

Um, not really, I don’t think I did anything with comedy. I think in high school I definitely was pretty funny; I think, you know, I’ve been funny a lot. So…But– yeah, you see, you laughed right there! So, you know, it’s proof right there, it’s proof.

Yeah, there you go!

But, I never really really did anything with it, tried to go professional, just like, talking with my friends just makes talking to people a lot more enjoyable, I would say. Just putting a smile on their face, that’s a good thing.

Yeah, that’s awesome. And what do you think is like, the importance of keeping a sense of humor right now?

I think right… I mean, right now is definitely very important, I would say. Especially with some of the stuff going on with the news, a lot of hearty-heavy topics are being spoken about, such as gun violence and things like that. So I think if you’re able to translate a bit of humor into the situation, it’ll make people a lot more comfortable to talk about them and just feel a little more happier about the things going on in the world. So, I think that’s the power of humor.

Yeah, that’s really awesome. Okay, um, I’m trying to think what else… um, yeah, have you done anything recently with um, I don’t know, have you gotten into acting at all? I know there’s some improv stuff…?

Oh no, not at all, not at all. No, I think the closest thing to that I would say is uh, some part of the William & Mary Symphonic Orchestra.

Oh, cool!

Yeah, so I was in it last semester, and I think that’s probably like, the closest thing to acting or performing.

Mhm, so what instrument do you play?

Oh, I play the viola.

Oh, that’s amazing! Okay, I play flute, but I’ve never gotten involved in orchestra.

Yeah, I mean a lot of people really don’t like the viola; there’s like a lot of…there are a lot of negative stereotypes of it. 


Yeah. I mean, if you’re in the orchestra “scene,” I guess you would know, but… yeah, viola really isn’t the coolest instrument out there.

Have you played viola for a long time?

Um, I started in middle school.


So, it’s really not as long as some other people. I definitely started late, but I definitely enjoyed it so I’m still doing it.

Do you feel like it’s kind of impacted your life in a significant way?

Um, I…I wouldn’t say it impacted my life in a significant way, it just, I think it added something to my life, just a different perspective on things. Because I mean, people really don’t think about the music they’re listening to. But I think once you play an instrument, you really get an appreciation for music and just like, just really what composers and just like artists have to go through. Because, I mean, you can try and write a piece of music, but like, if you haven’t had the right amount of training, like you probably won’t be able to do it. And even then, it’s still pretty hard to make something that flows and something that is actually enjoyable for other people to listen to.

Yeah, yeah, no I totally get that. That’s a good take on it… Okay, well do you have anything else to say to the world?

Uh, no, I think I had a lot of good messages in there, so…

Yeah, thanks so much! It was good!

Starting Something New During COVID-19

So, I would just want to know, is this your first year working this job? 

Yeah, this is my first semester actually too. 

Oh! Are you a freshman? 

I’m a sophomore. 

Oh, a sophomore. Okay I’m a freshman so this is my second semester too. Okay. So I was  wondering if you can tell me a bit about what it’s like being a new student especially during Covid. 

It’s been kind of interesting because, like, going through training, they’re telling you, “oh this is like what we normally do or this is what you like would normally do in a normal semester”, but  you don’t really need to know that, because we’re not doing that, but then it’s like, in two years, if  we are doing that, than I’m gonna have to like go back and learn all of that, but its been like  interesting seeing how they’re like adapting stuff to be safe for Covid. 

Ok, so you don’t see yourself using a lot of what you’d normally need to know. 

Yeah, cause I mean they didn’t like even teach us like absolutely everything because, like, I  work at the info desk and I’m also an event assistant, so they taught me like the basics but they  didn’t teach me how to exactly set up tables and chairs because there’s no events. 

Mhm. Gotcha. And I wanted to also ask, do you see yourself having to adapt to situations more  because of Covid and kind of think of what to do on your own or do you find yourself being  trained in what to do in certain situations as well? 

I think it’s definitely thinking more for yourself because there is reduced faculty and there’s not  as many workers so if I do have a question I don’t really have people to lean on, I kind of have to  figure it out for myself and work on my feet basically. 

Do you think it’s difficult having to do it all on your own or is it teaching you really good skills that  you can apply forward as well? 

I think it’s a little good and a little bad, like it’s good cause it’s teaching me to think on my feet  and stuff but then also if I don’t do it exactly how it’s supposed to be then, yeah there’s tradeoffs but overall I think it’s good.

Do you think there’s much of a , I guess like a standard for what’s supposed to be this kind of  year, like are there still standards you have to meet or is it more, I don’t want to say lax, but 

There definitely are standards that we have to meet, okay mhm, um its whether or not you can  meet them on your own or you need more help, okay, it is what I’ve kind of learned. 

And do you find it easy to ask for help especially during Covid, or do you think it’s sometimes  more difficult keeping communication with people? 

I actually think it’s been pretty easy because all of the um managers and stuff are super accessible, so I can just send them an email or a text and they respond, almost instantaneously so  it’s super easy to get help. 

I have a fun question, what’s the number one thing you are looking forward to once this is  all over. 


Oh my gosh I can’t wait to like, this is gonna sound so stupid, no, but when people come up and  ask me questions, not have a mask and a plexiglass and another mask, so I can like hear people better and read lips better. 

I can see all the Clorox boxes right there. 

Yeah all the sanitizer. 

And what has school been like for you academically? 

It- this semester I’m taking 18 credits this semester so I’m taking a lot but it’s been good just um  working a lot and it’s kinda been nice because there is no social stuff going on so I’m able to  focus a lot on academics. 

Okay, so it’s a good time to take the 18 credits for sure. 

Yeah yeah. 

Is there any like parting thing you want to say or like any advice you want to give to other  students, anything at all, just a chance to say whatever, or nothing it’s up to you. 

Um, I guess my only thing to say is keep thriving and surviving. 


Absolutely, absolutely. 

Thank you.

Connecting Through Food During COVID

What’s a nice thing that someone’s done for you lately? 

A nice thing that someone’s done for me lately, I would have to say… like, agreeing to go to meals with me. I know it’s a… like, during times of a pandemic, everyone’s worried about their own health but uh, once… when they just agree to come eat with you, it… it forms a stronger connection, you know, and definitely, like, shows that you trust the other person that they probably don’t have anything related to COVID, so… going out to eat with friends is something that… that’s nice to do. 

Is there a specific place you like to go a lot? 

I actually like to sit down in Caf. I know a lot of people don’t like to because it gets crowded at some points in time, but as long as you go not during the rushes, it’s pretty quiet, pretty empty. So I really like eating in Caf actually. 

Yeah, do you have a favorite thing that they serve there? 

Lo mein, specifically the beef, but the vegetable will do as well. Absolutely. Every lo mein hits differently. Yeah. 

Do you go out to eat with friends often? 

Only on occasion. Most of the time, I end up eating my meals alone. I know that my dorm eats together a lot and I want to minimize my risk so… and only extend that to people that I personally trust. 

Right, like the smaller bubble. 

Yes, definitely. 

So, eating with friends must be like a special occasion kind of thing. 

Yeah, sometimes we end up going to places like Oishii, like off campus and all of that, and I know a bunch of restaurants in the area that have taken a lot of COVID precautions, so I feel safer doing, like, takeout and like, just going to a quiet, secluded place to eat. Yeah. 

Definitely. Is there like a specific… like, when you go pick up take-out, is there a place you like to go eat that?

Merchants Square’s usually pretty good. Like, everyone most of the time keeps their distance, as well as… There’s a series of picnic tables in Colonial Williamsburg that we frequent, so that’s a spot. Yeah. 

Is there anything else you like to do with your friends? Do you spend a lot of time with them?

Yeah, I’d say I spend probably 70% of my time with friends. That includes times when I study. So, studying with friends helps keep me accountable and also just… being in that presence is pretty comforting to me, and it’s a lot better than just being alone in your dorm room. 

Right, it’s conducive to work. 

Yeah, yeah. 

Are you in a lot of the same classes as your friends? Do you, like, do work together?

Oh no, actually. I am not. I don’t have… my friend groups don’t really come from my classes. They come from… from relationships I personally made so I find that… Well, often is the case that we don’t share a lot of classes, but the ones that we do, sometimes we’ll collaborate. Not much though. But when we get together to study, it’s all pretty much independent work. 

Do you like it better that way? 

I actually do, because then we’re not all stressing about the same thing and the atmosphere remains at least… at least partially level. I mean, like, if everyone that I knew was taking, like, bio or chem and had the same exact exam on the same day in the same room, I feel like that level of tension in the room would definitely… sway a bit. So like, it’s a bit of how I manage my work. 

Taking a Chance

And I was just wondering, what was the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you before?

Oh gosh, that’s a tough one!

I have another question if you prefer

I can’t think of a specific piece of advice someone’s given me, but I think something specific to William and Mary is that my advisor is always like “don’t be afraid to just go for things.” And that’s something that I was always really scared of because I’m like “I’m not qualified enough.” 

Is there a specific instance where you applied that here?

I applied for a scholarship, actually, this January for grad school which was really scary!


Because I’m a junior, so I was like “how do I even know this is what I’m gonna end up? Doing this is really scary, but it worked out and I got the campus nomination! I’m just waiting to hear back.

That’s awesome!

I was like “there’s no way I’m gonna get it out of all the people here,” so I’d say it works out most of the time.

What do you study here?

I do psychology and I’m planning to do kinesiology and health sciences, as well, but I have yet to declare that 

Oh ok! Do you have a specific career in mind, or what made you choose that?

Yeah! I think I’m gonna end up doing research, probably, that’s something I got involved with early on at William and Mary so I really enjoyed it. It’s fun and you get to work with people, even though it kind of gets nitty gritty at some points. It’s not fun to just read other peoples’ papers, it’s fun to do it yourself. So that’s what I’m planning to do right now, but who knows. I don’t know where I’ll end up getting into, it’s pretty compettive.

What are some fun projects or research experiments that you’ve done before?

We did “Imagine Contact scenarios”, so it’s basically either a written or visual set-up that people  imagine interacting with someone, and for our purposes it’s a person with autism. Even just imagining contact reduces bias because it’s been shown that actual contact will reduce bias if you just imagine the conversation: “how does that affect peoples’ stereotypes and stuff.”

What about that specifically intrigues you?

I guess the application of it is what I like about it, it can have a real effect on people and on neurodivergent people, specifically. If it can just improve attitudes that quickly, it can be a really cool thing.

We’ve got a lot of good stuff! Are there any final things that you want to say, anything that you want other students to know, anything like that? I think a lot of people want to get into research too, so anything about that as well.

Yeah! I guess I would say one thing was that my freshman year, I had no idea how research worked at William and Mary, and it’s literally just as easy as emailing someone. That’s all you have to do. You find their email, you look at their website, and you just mention one thing about their website and they’re like “oh she knows about me,” and they’ll be more likely to email you back and give a good response, I’d say.

Awesome, thank you so much!

The Importance of Music

So, the question is… do you have a song that you really enjoy that you have attached to some kind of memory?

Um…there’s a song called “Ticket to Ride” by the Beatles. That song, my dad loves that song and he played it a lot, and my grandparents played it a lot in the car. And so we would drive from Virginia all the way to New York, and that song would come on like, a lot. Because you know, when we were kids we only had like CDs, so they’d have a CD with a mixture of songs. I mean, lots of Beatles songs, lots of other old songs, and “Ticket to Ride” was one that my dad really liked, so even when I was home, I was hearing that song. And so it definitely reminds me of like, being a kid, being around my grandparents. And then, when I got my driver’s license, my dad sent me that song, and he said, “Oh, it looks like you’ve got your ticket to ride!” So I um… I guess that song, I’m really attached to it, in that sense.

That’s amazing! So do you have a pretty musical family, you’d say?

Oh, definitely. My dad was a producer for a long time. And my grandfather was a musician, local New York City musician. And uh, I am not as musical. I write poetry, but I don’t, ha, make any music. But I’d say we do have a musical family. A lot of love for music.

That’s amazing. Do you usually listen to genres like the Beatles or…?

Yeah, right now, I have an obsession with Joni Mitchell and other people from the 70s. But I’d say that I have a very wide range. My father grew up in the Bronx during the beginning of hip-hop music, so he loves hip-hop music. So I do, I dabble in all music– I guess with the exception of like, hard metal or something like that.

Okay, that’s fair! Yeah, no that’s awesome. So, yeah, like, you said your dad was a producer?

Yeah, just like, on the local Richmond scene, he would produce music for–we had a studio in our home– and so up and coming talent would come to our house and produce music. So, it was more like, not literally a job, but it was like a side gig that he had.

That’s very cool. So, like, were you able to watch the artists at all ever and sit in?

Oh yeah, definitely! My dad actually ended up managing someone who was really good, very talented, this guy named James, and he was going to… My dad firmly believed that he’d be very famous. Uh, but he had some issues, like familial issues, and so he ended up moving away back to Boston, where he was from, and my dad still talks about that today. He’s like, “You know, he would’ve been so famous if he’d just listened to me!” And that guy called my father one day, he was like, “You know, I’m sorry, I had issues with my dad, and I thought you were… you know, you acted too much like my dad, so I wanted to get away.” You know, because my father wanted him to stop hanging out with girls, stop, you know– focus on your career. But, it didn’t work out that well. In any case, yeah, I did watch a lot of musicians come and go. And I think, yeah, I think my father definitely wishes that he would’ve found that one person who was ready. Because my dad, he couldn’t sing or anything, but he knew how to– he had lots of connections. He was one of the first people that I know who had a podcast, actually.

Oh wow!

And he, it was like, 2008; he had an internet radio show called Triple H Radio, and it was about hip-hop. And he would like, just talk and in our living room, at like, midnight, he’d record it when everyone was sleeping, And he would just talk about things, and he even interviewed– what’s his name– DJ Khaled at one point–

Wow, oh my goodness!

–Yeah, because he would go…because DJ Khaled came to a club in Richmond so my dad like, ran over there and interviewed him for the show. And a couple of other famous folks that I can’t think of now. But yeah, it was an adventurous thing, watching my dad go through his music.

That’s fantastic, oh my gosh. So what’re you here for?

I study English and Government. I’m hoping to get into an MFA program and do poetry.

Oh, that’s amazing!

That’s what I’m really into, which is no surprise. My father writes rap music, and my grandmother was a poet. Not a famous one, but she wrote a lot of poetry. So it isn’t surprising to me that that’s my interest. But yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do. We’ll see what happens, though!

Yeah, that’s also…It’s always so cool that when people have that kind of outlet, like your dad with the music and the producing, and you with the poetry, but yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you so much.

Thank you!

So, yeah, do you have anything else that you’d like to share with the world?

Um, I would say that everyone needs to listen to Joni Mitchell’s album Blue in their life, all the way through, just sit and listen to it. You know, I have this idea that people didn’t love– don’t love– music like they used to, because we don’t have records and we don’t have– like so, we can just listen to music any time, so we don’t… we don’t realize how valuable music is. You know, my grandmother, I talked to her once about “Ticket to Ride,” about the Beatles, and about the first time she ever heard them, and she was like, “Oh, the first time I ever heard them, like every old person, was on TV–” I forget the guy’s name, but it was the famous late night talk show host, and she was like, “That was the first time I ever saw them! And I didn’t hear them for like, two days, and then I heard them on the radio, and then when their record came out, my friend bought it, and we ran to her house, and all of me and my girlfriends, we listened to the Beatles, you know, in this girl’s room, because we didn’t have– you know, our mothers didn’t buy us the record or whatever.” So it’s like, their relationship with music was so like, “This is very valuable,” and so I encourage people to embrace that and listen to records all the way through and really try to think about what the artist was trying to do and show you. Because–and same with my father, when hip-hop was getting really big– he said that he and his friends would buy records, they’d put all their money together and buy it together. And then they would go listen to it, and my dad– this is what made him, what makes him so knowledgeable about music– he would read all the credits and learn all the things about the musician. And so I do similar things now because of his influence but, that was just something that you would do because, you know, you didn’t have instant access to information, so I just encourage people to like, really fall in love with their music.

That’s amazing. Thank you so much.

Yeah, absolutely!

Realizing Your Truth

Emily 02a

E: What’s been the happiest moment of your life?

Happiest moment of my life. Oh, I would have to say it is when I got full custody of my daughter. When she was five. I got full custody of Kaylee and I was able to raise her. And she’s actually in the Navy here stationed in Norfolk. So, we’re able to have a relationship now, which is awesome. I’d say that was the happiest moment of my life—when that happened. 

E: Is she your only son or daughter? 

She is. She’s 20 and I’m 39. So she’s been in the Navy for a couple years. She was on the Lincoln and now she’s on the George Washington. 

E: Oh, you must be so proud. 

I really am. It’s just…we’ve kind of had an interesting past few years. We’ve been all over the country. We left Tennessee in 2014, moved to Colorado, moved to Oregon, moved to California, and finally we’re here. So, we’ve kind of been all over the place. 

E: So has that been because of her involvement in the Navy?

No, so I’m a software developer, so I work remotely. It’s just one of those things where we just decided to leave Tennessee and travel the country, go on adventures, and that kind of thing. We’re both kind of rolling stones a bit. 

E: That’s amazing. As somebody who is a child and doesn’t have children, it must be really cool to raise somebody and see them grow and develop. 

Yeah, it’s, I yeah, I’m really lucky. We’re kind of each other’s best friends. She’s married now. Her husband Chase, he’s a really awesome guy, but her and I, we have a great relationship.

E: What do you think are some of her best characteristics?

Oh gosh. Kaylee is…I think one of the best things about her is her sense of humor. She’s able to laugh at herself and she’s able to, you know, she takes things seriously when she needs to. She’s funny. She’s genuinely a funny person. Like she’ll make me laugh laugh. When we hang out, it’s basically just laughing non-stop basically throughout the whole day. So I’d have to say that’s my favourite thing about her. 

E: Is that one of the biggest things she’s added to your life other than friendship?

The thing that Kaylee’s added to my life is she has… like your kids call out everything that you have. They force you to be the best version of you that you can be. So Kaylee is like..maybe I’m going to bounce something off of her when she’s older, like as a teenager. Like I chose to involve her in things going on in my work stuff and talk to her as I would with any other friend. And she’s into that kind of stuff. 

E: That’s awesome. 

Kaylee, she’s just pushed me to be the best version of myself. And always forcing me to question what I think. You know, well, why do I think this? Or is this response to her the best one that I can do?

E: Oh, that’s a great father-daughter relationship. That’s really special.

Thanks. Yeah, like I said, I got lucky. I got lucky. 

E: And so, if you don’t mind me asking, were you ever unsure if you would not get custody of your daughter? How did it feel to go through that?

From when Kaylee was a year to when she was five, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I spent a lot of nights, a lot of birthdays wondering where Kaylee was and wondering when I was going to see her again. And it was just a very difficult…it was a hard time in my life.

It was a hard time. But, you know, I just kept pressing on and hoping something would turn out and, you know, I was losing the battles but I would win the war kind of thing. But yeah, it was questionable for a while for sure. 

E: It must be hard to simplify everything that went on, too, and because I’m sure so much went on. 

With parenting there’s no manual. There’s no guide. You’re winging it. You’re winging it! For me, I winged it for 13 years. You know, each day I knew a little more and I knew a little more, a little more, a little more. But, feelings of “I don’t know what I’m doing”…that never really goes away. Because, you know, the things they go through when you’re 15 are different from when they’re five. And so, yeah, you have an idea of kind of what has worked in the past but with different problems that have different solutions. So I guess the takeaway from that is that in parenting, you never feel like you know what you are going. You always feel like you’re winging it. 

E: Well it sounds like there has been a good result out of all of that. 

Yeah, so far, it’s gone really well. So I’m thankful for that. 

E: This one loves you, too!

Yeah, so Bosa. As I said, I got him in Colorado. He’s my wingman. He and I, we spend a lot of time together. He goes to see a dog sitter in the day so I can work uninterrupted and he can get that exercise. But yeah, he loves people. He’s my guy. 

Yeah, I’ve been in the area since April last year. I was living in Northern California, and you know, when Kaylee joined the Navy and got stationed out here in Norfolk, it was like, I’ve been on the West Coast for a few years and I thought what a great opportunity to go to the east coast, and just kind of be over here for a little while. So I took Bosa and we drove 10 days across the country. The first four days were in a blizzard—I don’t know if you remember, last spring there was a giant winter storm near like Montana and that part of the country. I was going through that at the time. And so, for the first four days the weather was so bad I couldn’t get out of the car to take him potty for more than five or 10 minutes at a time. It was uninhabitable. It was wild. It was crazy. 

Yeah, I drove five hours a day and then worked for five hours. So I get up in the morning, start my drive… and I had all my hotels planned out ahead of time and reserved ahead of time. So I had to get to my destination in order to have the trip not be a failure because if I was a day late, I was a day late on all of them because they all were reserved ahead of time. So, every day I had to get to my place.

E: Oh my gosh. Yeah, hopefully you have 4-wheel drive.

Yeah, it was. It was an F150. And I had a big U-Haul on the back of it. It was flying all over the place as well. 

E: Well, I’m glad you made it.

Thanks, me too. Yeah, I love the area. I come here, gosh, at least twice a week. For a while it was every night. This was my after work thing I would do every night. I live like 10 minutes away and we just come here and sit right here and just kind of get some fresh air.

E: Thank you for all of that. Do you have any just like thoughts that you’d want to just put out there…about what you’ve been talking about at all? 

Well, the thing that…I mean like I said I’m 39, you know. Lord willing, I’ve got a long way to go. But I think the biggest idea that I have realized is time. Like, time is the most precious commodity we have. It’s the only thing you can’t—you know, like the song says—you can’t buy any more of it. So the older I get the more I realize how precious time is and how job and income and status, and all that stuff…none of that is important, none of that matters. 

Bosa and I, we live over at [a] campground. I’m wrapping up my lease in my apartment and then for the first time in like 15 years, I’m not going to be applying to, you know, rent again. I’m just like, I’ve got a little 35 foot travel trailer and that’s all I need. So, I guess the biggest takeaway for me is: just have what you need. And you’d be amazed at how little, like you really, really need. And how just even having a small amount of things, man, stuff just doesn’t impact your happiness.

E: Are there any hobbies or things that you have that travel with you when you go everywhere?

Well I’m a big gamer. I’ve got a PS4 Pro and I, you know, I’ve never outgrown games. I’ve always been a gamer at heart and an artist. I’m a creative. I draw and I try to do things that keep myself mentally stimulated. Right, so gotta protect your brain. My body’s gonna fall apart, but as long as my brain keeps, you know, keeps on trucking then I’m good.

Other than that, as corny as it sounds, my sense of adventure—that’s the thing that I keep with me. And I know as long as I’m happy with what I have, then I don’t need anything else. Everything else is just kind of gravy. So, simple life I guess

E: I know like minimalism is a big like idea being thrown out or just like popular. Not to say that you’re necessarily a minimalist, but to see the idea be lived out is cool and to see your thoughts about it.

As much as I can be. It’s all about trimming it away and going, do I really, really need this? And I mean it’s not for everybody. There’s nothing wrong with having a bunch of stuff. There’s nothing wrong with making a bunch of money. I mean, you know, gotta pay the bills and you gotta be able to retire. I mean it’s that stuff’s important. But with me, I’ve just realized that it doesn’t impact my happiness, one way or the other, necessarily. It’s all about getting that good night’s sleep. Sleep a good night. What is that worth? 

E: Where do you think you’ll travel to next? Do you have an idea?

I do. I’m going to be traveling to Florida to spend time with my parents. So my parents live in Melbourne Beach, and they’re getting older, so I’m going to spend a few months, at least on the beach in Melbourne, Florida. And then I’m going to Colorado. And I’m going to go back to Colorado and live near Boulder for a little while.

E: Well, I’m glad you found a lot of, like, truths in your life. What brings you happiness. That’s really cool to hear about. 

Thanks. And I like the word truths, because that’s really what it is. We’re all looking for truth, right? We’re looking for things that we know were believed to be true. And then it’s about validating that and going, this is what I think is true. This is the way I think I am. Am I really this way? Your whole life is about realizing those truths about yourself. Which means you get to know yourself even better. The more you know yourself, the better you’ll be able to take care of yourself, right. Because getting to know yourself is like anything else anyone else; it takes effort. It sounds weird, but that’s what I found.

Staying True to Your Values

M: So I guess since you guys were already talking about it, what were you up to here over the summer? 

K: I was working on my English thesis, I’m an English and History double major, and it’s on Othello performances in America, from just before the Civil War, to just after the Civil War. 

M: What made you interested in that or led you to want to do that? 

K: I was in a class last year and we were reading the play and I thought it was really interesting. It’s just an interesting play on race, I don’t know if you’ve read it. But it’s about a Moor, a black man, who is tricked into killing his younger white wife. It’s a very graphic and terrible topic but it was interesting how they talked about race in the play. I also wanted to explore it in 21st century America and see have things really changed, how people see race at this time, and how they interact with the play. 

E: How has that affected the way you go about your daily life and conversations? 

K: It’s made me pay more attention to certain things. Like it’s interesting talking to African American people and also white people about it, because people react a little bit differently. I was talking to a black friend about it and he was telling me about all the stuff that I never really thought about. It was horrifying…for example, he was talking about how he was horrified at his own skin color when he first moved to the United States from Samoa. He would take these intense showers to “scrub the melanin away.” I never thought about race that way. I’m mixed race, so I’m only a quarter white, mostly Latina. I never really thought of myself as white, but that’s one of the tenants of being white in America: you don’t think about it. 

M: What would you say your relationship with your heritage is? 

K: It’s kind of weird because I don’t think about it constantly. I think about it more when certain discussions on campus happen on race. I was born in the US and raised in an environment where I didn’t have to worry about defining myself. But when you go to college, you talk to all these people from different backgrounds. It’s like being in this undefined space. I can’t completely identify with the white experience but I also can’t identify fully with the Latino one either. 

M: Was there a specific moment or instance that highlighted that duality and where you chose to define yourself? 

K: Watching my sister join high school was kind of a defining moment. She obviously has the same genetics that I do, but she was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States. She was too young to remember Puerto Rico that well. In high school, that was kind of her time to try to define herself and she reacted by being extremely Latino and embracing the culture. Almost to exaggerating, you know. For me, that was kind of weird to watch her talk in a slightly different accent as though she had been brought up in a different place than she was. She would only listen to Latino music and hang out with certain people. It felt kind of forced to see that, and I asked her why she was doing that. She said, I’m Latina. But what made her say that? What claim did she have to that? That was kind of the point where I was like, what is fair for us to claim? 

E: That’s a lot, and I don’t think there’s an answer for that either. 

K: I was thinking like, nowadays, what you are is defined by how much you suffered. There’s this doctrine of privilege and stuff. With what I was talking about earlier is essentially describing white privilege. What exactly is that? There are things that factored into my experience, not necessarily race, but gender and where I grew up and things like that, which affected my experience. Defining your experience by just one factor is not the full picture. I think it’s a mistake a lot of people make. 

E: What do you tend to focus on in your background or upbringing that is important in your everyday life? 

K: Education was always really important to me. My mom grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is a very poor part of New York. The way that she really escaped that environment was by pushing herself extremely hard in school. She raised me and my sister with the same discipline, that we should be grateful for our education and that we should push ourselves really hard. Being smart was my “thing” when I was younger, and that was a part of my cultural identity. Like, my parents suffered so now I have to work hard, you know. 

E: How often do you reflect on that? 

K: I actually reflect on that a lot now that I’m a Senior. It’s really hard to find a job right now in English and History, especially a good-paying one. And so, I feel a disconnect from what is traditionally thought of as “education.” I also think it’s because I’ve been talking to so many more people in the poor parts of Williamsburg and Newport News, and I’m realizing that these people have really deep problems. I’m interested in mental health and I’ve talked to a lot of disabled people, and a lot of them have more complex problems than I’m answering by just analyzing a word that [John] Milton [author of Paradise Lost] used. I’m reflecting now, on, why does this all matter? Am I being productive with this, especially if I might not get a job in this later? 

E: Senior year is definitely a lot. What do you want to keep with you moving forward wherever you end up going?

K: I guess I just want to be true to myself. It sounds kind of cheesy but that’s kind of how I define myself. Especially in these transitionary periods, from middle school to high school, and high school to college, there are times as a teenager that you want to act like everyone else. But it’s important to stay true to your values. And I guess A) figure out what those values even are, and B) stay true to them and to yourself. I see that in the way I dress. I don’t wear Vineyard Vines or Brandy Melville, or whatever people are wearing. It’s because in high school, I couldn’t wear certain things, like this [points to choker necklace]. That [inability to wear what I want] limited me. So now, wearing what I want and having my own opinions, while still [respecting] other people’s ideas […] is important to me. That was a very convoluted answer to a simple question!

M: That was a very thoughtful answer! 

E: Props to you for staying true to yourself, it’s definitely hard. There are so many pressures for people to conform in one way or another, or not continue thinking about what their values are. 

M: What do you think holds people back from having more nuanced views or expressing themselves freely? 

K: I’d say social pressure. If you’re in certain organizations or clubs, there’s a push to dress a certain way and act a certain way. I think there’s almost this language that gets developed. People talk the same way and use the same slang, and there are certain assumptions about them. You’re kind of assumed to be a liberal if you go to this campus. So, people will casually talk about how “we” stan AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] or “we” stan Hillary Clinton. Just very collective language like that. It’s difficult on a college campus where everyone is talking like that to speak your truth, because there really isn’t an outlet to. I don’t think there’s a club for people in the middle. I don’t know, maybe you do join a Moderates club and you find out that people are secretly really conservative. What do you do then? 

E: Yeah, it’s a lot to reflect on in a campus environment. 

M: What do you hope to see changed then, like, what would you want for the incoming freshmen after you? 

K: I think there needs to be less of a separation between the staff and the students. I’ve talked to the staff about this kind of thing, and they seemed completely clueless about the environment that the students are in. I think there’s this idea among the students that teachers and administration are like, The Man, and that we should rise against The Man. Which, to a certain extent is true. I think people need to listen to each other more, keep a more open mind, and I guess just talk to everyone. That’s how you learn things. Just talk to people. Talk to people you disagree with, that’s how you grow as a person! 

E: Yeah! Conversations are great when they’re a conversation and not just a “talking at” someone. 

K: I’ve talked to very conservative people on campus that are more open-minded and willing to talk. There are liberal people like that, too. We need to be having conversations, civilly and patiently, for sure. We still need to have dialogue, because otherwise we’re not going to be able to move forward. 

E: There’s always an opportunity for someone to acknowledge truth in something, even if you don’t agree with it. It’s a lot. In the spirit of telling your own truth or the Humans spirit in general, is there anything you want others to know about you? 

K: Personally? I think that’s all! It’s pretty obvious what I believe if you talk to me. I’m a shy person but still have a lot to say. I’m not a conservative, or even really a centrist, but I think that we should listen to anyone who defends their ideas with reasonable points. I hope this interview encourages people to listen to one another, not just jump at every opportunity to lecture them. I am concerned about what will happen to our generation if we don’t learn to listen.

I’ll Follow the Sun

 What is your favorite rainy day activity?

I think my favorite rainy day activity is probably staying inside and either listening to music or playing guitar.

I’m still learning guitar, and I play a few instruments. When I was younger I tried to learn, but it didn’t really work out, so I was like, “I’m gonna give this another shot.” In my apartment my windows are like right next to my bed, and when it rains, I like to open the windows and listen to music. I don’t know, it’s just a comforting thing, and it’s the same with playing guitar. 

 It’s like a really good answer. So, how long have you been playing guitar?

Like 6 months now.

Do you take classes here? Or just kind of self-taught?

I’m just teaching myself. Yeah. Some of my friends gave me tips. I practice chord progressions, and that’s really helpful with playing songs. Like I started off knowing nothing about chords, so I was just looking up songs with three chord progressions and it has helped a lot, especially playing songs that you like. One of the first songs I learned was Jolene, and it’s only four chords, and it’s so easy. That’s kind of the song that I always start off with because it’s so easy, so it just gets myself warmed up.

So what’s your favorite song to play?

I don’t know, but when I first started playing back in sixth grade, my mom got me these two books and they’re all Beatles songs. It has all the chords, and one of my favorite things is to go through and play all the songs I knew as a kid, like “Yellow Submarine” and “I’ll Follow the Sun.” Those are probably some of my favorites to play.

I saw that you have a tattoo.

Yeah, it actually says “I’ll follow the sun.” Last February, my great-grandmother passed away, and it really hurt. She called me her sunshine, it was always “oohh my sunshine,” and “I love you, my sunshine.”  She was a WWII survivor. She lived in France when the Nazis came in. She didn’t talk about it a lot, but her family had to live in the sewers and steal food and clothes. I got really close to her, and I really looked up to her, because she was such a strong woman. So in high school I took French because of her, and I tired to learn so we could speak in French together, but it didn’t really work out because she had a thick southern french accent and I could never understand her. She had Alzheimer’s, and last February I just remember I was in class in the Wren, and my mom texted me, “There’s something going on.” At the same time, my sister was pregnant and my first thought was, “Oh my God, there’s something wrong with the baby.” I was like, “What’s going on?” And my mom asked me if I was in class and I said, “Yeah, but just tell me.” And she was like, “Meme’s not doing well.” And I just got up and left class because I kind of knew at that point. She was 91. Actually this fourth of July she’ll be 93, so, yeah, it just really hurt. I don’t know. I felt like the family on that side didn’t care for her that much, to most of them she was a burden, and knowing how much she loved me, I feel like I didn’t do enough. I didn’t call her enough, I didn’t send her enough letters, I didn’t tell her enough how much I loved her. After that, I just wanted to get something to really remember her.

I really wanna get a kite tattoo in honor of my grandmother, so as soon as you said that, I definitely understand where you’re coming from.

It’s really pretty, too.

Thank you, I actually just got it done three weeks ago. It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now, probably since last February. And my best friend goes to VCU Arts, so over spring break, I asked her to draw me something, like just a simple sun, and I just told her, “Just draw.” So we were at lunch, and she drew this and it was so much more than I thought. I was thinking a lot more simplistic, but when I saw it, I was like, “God, that’s what I want.”

That’s great because, then, you have your friend aspect in there, and it really means something to you.

Yeah, this is probably my favorite tattoo. Last May, I got one on my foot and it’s in my mom’s handwriting. It says “ILYTIAB,” and it’s something we say to each other. It means “I love you to infinity and beyond.” But even as much as that one means to me, I love this one. I look at it constantly. 

So it seems like these tattoos always mean a lot to you.

I’ve only gotten three tattoos, and I’m definitely not against tattoos that just look cool. Like tiger sharks are my favorite, and I love sharks. I wanna get one of an outline of a tiger shark, but the tattoos that I’ve gotten so far are really important to me. I guess I really love tattoos because I can show people what’s important to me. People always ask about tattoos whenever they see them, so I get to tell a story with it, and that’s one of my favorite things.

Thank you so much for talking with us.


Friends are Everything

So what were you up to today before Chick-fil-A? 

It’s been kind of a boring day for me, I’ve just spent the morning working on some paper and projects. I’ve been working on a final paper for my data science class, I’m a junior studying Government. I’ve taken a couple of data-ish classes. 

How do you feel about them? 

It is a pain! [laughs] It takes forever to finish a project–the codes never work the first couple of tries, but when you do, it is very satisfying! 

So what motivated you to take data science classes? 

Mostly through the research lab that I’m involved in, I work with Professor Settle in the Government department. We do a lot of data stuff — we’re interested in the psychological underpinnings of political behavior and what causes someone to lead in a political discussion, specifically people who tend to lie in a political conversation or look like they want to agree. 

Have you felt a lot of frustration when working on these kinds of projects, or were there times you just wanted to give up in the process? 

Oh yeah, all the time! [laughs] 

Can you tell me about a specific instance? 

Yeah! We just had a project due last week, and it’s this thing where I know how to make the code and I know how to write it, but the numbers were not telling you the right thing. I was sitting with my friend in Sadler with fries and just trying to work through it. I never really made a close friend in my class before, but we definitely hit it off really great. 

It’s really great to have that emotional support, especially in a hard class.  

Absolutely! It’s always helpful to have someone that you can tear your heart out to. It’s always great that people can view you where you are, from a class project or to anything like that. I’ve definitely had a solid basis of my group of friends since freshman year, and I never really made the effort to meet the people in my classes besides maybe asking for missed notes. I never really knew this friend before, we kind of just sat next to each other on the first day of classes. We randomly started talking. She is just the most happy and bubbly person. She sat down on the first day of classes to tell me all about her day and all that was going on. I was like, wow, this is great, to meet someone in a totally different context. 

How have these experiences shed light on you as a person? 

My friends are everything to me, whether it’s sitting with them, doing work, hanging out on the sunken gardens, any time I spend with them is the highlight of my day. I love to hear every little detail about what’s going on in their lives. They’re there to support me, to celebrate with me, and I am definitely grateful to have that experience at school. Before I came to William & Mary, I expected that I would meet all these friends and have really great relationships. I thought it was super cool that they were sprinkled all across the country–that we didn’t know who each other, but pretty soon enough we’ll be so important to each other. And it’s so cool, now having experienced that moment. 

So do you think that the expectations you came into college with have been fulfilled? 

I’ve definitely gotten everything and more out of William & Mary that I wanted to. I knew that this was going to be a good experience for me and that this place was going to be my home. And even still, the speed with which that happened blows me out of the water. I feel so special to have that, and it’s special to William & Mary. 

Of Learning and Change

So how are you feeling at this point in the semester?

I currently am feeling pretty good. I know I have a lot of work coming up, so I feel stressed about that. But I don’t know, I feel pretty calm right now, but yeah, there’s a storm brewing ahead.

You’re a junior, right? So how has being an upperclassman been different than the first two years of college?

I really like being an upperclassman. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like on campus. I have kind of taken a bigger workload this semester. Because I want to have a more relaxed senior year. But yeah, I like it.

How have you had to prioritize things in your schedule, because there’s a bigger workload like others, other people or other things that you care about?

I definitely see less of some of my friends this semester than in the past, which is kind of sad. But I’m pretty good about trying to schedule lunch or things like that to see people. But I’ve definitely felt overwhelmed in terms of my extracurricular activities and just setting aside time to do stuff like that and then also just time for myself, working out especially. It’s kind of hard to find time to do that if I have class all day, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. And I don’t want to get up super early. And then when I’m done with class, I’m tired and hungry, and I just want to be alone for a little bit. So yeah, it’s been interesting but I’m kind of starting to find a balance now, now that we’re close to the end of the semester.

What do you wish you could have told like your freshman self now looking back?

That’s a hard question. I would say that people and things change. And you’re not always going to be friends with the same people and you’re not always going to be doing the same activities, and your major is going to change. Lots of things are going to change in a very short period of time, and it’s gonna be very overwhelming, but it’s okay and it’s for the better. And you’ll find your way, and what you’re supposed to be doing, whether it be in college, or not, later on, but you find your way, eventually.

How do you feel about change in general? Are you regretful about anything that’s changed, or is it more like you’re always moving forward?

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to regret anything. So, I don’t regret anything that’s changed. Some of the changes, if I think back on them, it does make me sad but a lot of them have been good and positive, and I think all of it just really helps shape me or the person that I am today. And I’ve learned a lot about myself, these past two, almost two and a half years here. And I’m honestly thankful for all the changes because I have learned a lot about myself and I think it’s good character building and experience and it’s part of life.

What’s the biggest change that you’ve undergone in college, big realization or turning point?

I’ve had a lot of friend changes. Well, I mean I’m still friends with a lot of the same people – I haven’t had a falling out or anything with anyone. But in terms of who I’m closest with and things like that have changed a lot and I think that’s because I’ve changed. I don’t think I’ve changed, and I say this because I’m biased towards myself, but I don’t think I changed in a negative way. I think coming out of high school senior year, I was very comfortable with who I was and I knew what I wanted, I knew what I liked, and then coming here freshman year, I was very overwhelmed. It was a new experience having to make new friends again, having had the same friends since elementary school or middle school. That confidence in myself was definitely shaken, a lot. And I tried new things and just hung out with different kinds of people trying to find who I was again. And I think the past two years, I’ve still been trying to find the confidence in myself that I had when I left high school. I think this year I finally am feeling very good about myself and the things that I like to do, I know myself very well. And I no longer let people around me or my friends or anything influence me in ways that I don’t agree with.

Has there been a specific person that’s like really been supportive of you trying to find that confidence again, in college or family or anyone else?

Yeah – I would probably say my best friend here. She was in my freshman hall. Her name is Mary Cook. She has been a consistent person by my side, since freshman year. She supports me in everything that I do and I don’t know, I just feel very comfortable around him. She’s always there when I need to make a decision and I’m not good at making decisions. So that’s helpful to have. But yeah, I really, really appreciate having her as a friend. And then my family of course. Coming to college, I realized how much of a homebody I am and how much I love my family. I talk to my family many times during the week and I know some people who don’t talk to their family at all. I know I don’t understand everyone’s family stuff, but I really appreciate my family and being able to talk to them multiple times a week is very important to me and they help guide me and my decision making struggles as well.

When you first met Mary, did you think or know that she was going to be such a consistent friend throughout college?

I figured that she and I would be friends, but initially, she was closer with another one of my friends who I thought we were going to be best friends forever like we were two peas in a pod. And we’re no longer as close like we’re still friends, but we’ve kind of grown apart. But yeah, Mary and I grew a lot closer together. So no, I didn’t think that, but as I got to know her better, I realized how good of a friend she is and how well we get along together.

What’s something that you’re looking forward to throughout the rest of the semester?

I’m in the choir. And I was in the Barksdale Treble Chorus last year, which I really enjoyed and I’m in choir, this year. I just really like singing, and my favorite time of year to sing, is during the holidays, especially coming up on Christmas. I just love all that music and all the winter concerts and the caroling and things like that so I’m very excited for that time of year. Even though it’s stressful with other things, it’s kind of nice to take a break and sing because I really enjoy doing that.

Any goals you have for yourself, in terms of personal growth throughout the semester and into senior year?

I’m currently working on self-motivation as a goal because I am definitely a person who gets burnt out a lot. I recently have lost interest in some of the things that I normally would really like to do, including just normal academics. I like my majors and I like the stuff that I’m learning but I just feel like I lack that spark or interest, and so I’m trying to work on being more mindful of being able to motivate myself better and find things that help me in that process. So I guess that’s kind of a very like broad, vague goal, but it’s something overarching that I’m working on

What’s one piece of advice that someone’s given you during college that’s been helpful?

Coming into college, I had a lot of people around me telling me that these are going to be the best four years of my life. And I feel like that puts a lot of pressure on college. You’re supposed to expect it to be the best four years of your life, even though you have no idea what that means and you have no standard to compare that to. And so I think coming into college, I had that expectation a bit. At one point I got upset over something, and it just wasn’t feeling like the best four years of my life in that moment. And I don’t remember who said it, but people were telling me that it doesn’t need to be the best four years – it can just be about the change and the learning process. You’re learning stuff in school, but you’re also learning a lot about yourself and you come out a better person for it. We just can’t put that pressure on school, because I don’t think every year needs to be the best year. So I think it was important, people telling me no, that’s not the case, and you shouldn’t think about college that way.

I remember some random adult telling me, “Oh, just remember college is the last four years, that you have to kind of be a kid,” and I think that’s more helpful advice because then you take advantage of maybe not taking everything too seriously.

Father & Son

CD: We’ll just start easy. So are you an alum, or what brings you over here?

F: I’m not an alum. Today’s Election Day, which is a big deal to us. I like to make sure that my son, my kids—I have a daughter as well—see what the electoral process can be. I do work and fund work like what’s happening here with the campus vote challenge and Young Invincibles to try and get more young and more diverse people into the electoral process. So I’m hanging out around Hampton Roads all day today to see how the different little projects are working out. I love for my son to see what it’s like to help strengthen democracy. 

ED: Can I ask you what’s the coolest thing about your dad?

F: It’s a high pressure question!

ED: One cool thing!

N: That whenever he has a chance to stay home with us he does.

F: That’s a good answer, son.

ED: Is there something fun that you did recently when he was home?

N: Wait, in our house?

ED: Yeah, when he stayed at home with you guys.

N: Well, I don’t really remember. 

ED: But that’s cool that you remember that his presence means a lot to you. That’s really awesome.

CD: I see that you guys have matching shoes! Is there a story there? 

M: Yeah, he got those shoes and he actually wanted to have matching shoes with mine. I had had these for a month or so and he wanted the same ones so we’re shoe twins… What else would you like to know?

CD: You said that you traveled around a little bit, right? What’s the coolest or the most involved place you’ve ever been?

F: Really good question. So, on Sunday we did a pretty cool event at Norfolk State and I was able to bring the actress Kerry Washington into town and so we had a room full of about five or six hundred people that really engaged and we called it the She-roes of Democracy. So she was able to talk to four or five young women and I think all four of them were—yeah, there were four panelists—all four of them were undergrads. And she got to talk to them about the different things that they do to help sort of raise awareness within the community about exercising their right to vote and being a more involved citizen. And I took my daughter to that. So that was very very cool, to see that kind of turnout and that kind of engagement. It was fun. 

ED: What do you think brought you to these wants for your children and these values that you hold? Where do they come from?

F: So I’ve kind of been an activist my whole life and then having gone into the private sector and established a career…a couple of years ago, so many things happened in the political universe that were just so very disturbing. And my daughter who at the time was six came home just bawling her eyes out because somebody had made fun of her and asked and sort of challenged whether or not she was Muslim or something like that. So at that point I realized that it was time to sort of put career things aside and see if we could come out here and make a real difference. So I just want my kids to understand what democracy is supposed to be, and what fairness and inclusion in this country is supposed to be, and just trying to live that out in front of them. 

ED: That’s really cool. It’s really lucky to be able to do that for them for sure.

F: Yeah, it’s important. (to Nelson) What is it like being here today and hanging out on campus?

N: Fun. Well, it’s more fun than I thought it would be!

F: So, tell them—come here real quick—and tell them what we were able to do a few minutes ago with the football over there.

N: Oh, yeah. We thought that we were going to get in trouble because we were in the football stadium and I finally realized that there’s a track, that there’s also a track in football stadiums. And then when the guard came out, he was about to lock the door and then we came out when he was about to lock it then and was just like “I’m glad I caught you.”

F: We found an open gate so we went out there and he caught a football in the middle of the actual football field which was kind of fun. And he’s a super gymnast, he won a gymnastics meet here last spring, I think. 

CD: Wow, congratulations!

ED: How does it feel to be doing all those cool things?

N: It’s fun! Sometimes it can be a little challenging and you can be kind of pressured, but it’s fun. 

ED: Yeah. Did you make friends or did you learn anything really cool through your experiences in gymnastics? 

N: I made a lot of friends in gymnastics, and they’re really good because it’s just fun that you have different people to know that they’re alongside of you. 

ED: That’s really great, yeah. Support from friends is the best. I wish you all the best with that, that’s really cool. My younger cousins, they’re about your age, they’re in gymnastics too. It’s really cool to see them grow through that. 

F: What else would be helpful?

ED: Well, we always just allow people the opportunity, if they have something about their own life or their own story, that they just want to share.

F: Yeah, well, I think we did a little bit of that, right? Talking about why we’re here, what brought me into this field of work and why I make sure that I, you know, rope my kids into it as much as possible. So yeah, and it’s important also just that what we’ve learned and what I tend to invest in in terms of these initiatives is this idea that young people and diverse people are, you know, historically underrepresented in terms of their share of voice. So whatever we can do to amplify that is good. So to see this nice little atmosphere and have them camped out and feeding whoever wants to come by and get something to eat—hopefully that’ll inspire people to get involved and remember at the very least to vote. Because it’s not really, this isn’t really a sexy election year, so we’re doing our best to make sure people remember.

ED: That’s great…Nelson, is there anything else about yourself that you want to share with others?

N: Not really.

ED: Not really? Cool. Well, thank you. Thank you for talking with us today.

Ups and Downs, and Everything in Between.

So how are you feeling about graduation and everything?

Super weird, because – I’ve told people this a couple times, but there was this moment, like, Sunday night before the last week of classes where somebody was like, “This is your last week of undergrad,” and I was like “Holy shit, it’s my last week of undergrad!” And it was just so weird because up until that point, I had been so ready to get out of here, and then all of a sudden I was like, oh, maybe there are some things I’m going to miss…I guess one of the ways I’ve been trying to handle that is by creating a bucket list of things to do before I leave. We’ll see how many of them I actually get done, because bucket lists are impossible like that, but I’ve decided that it’s better if you don’t get everything done on your bucket list because then that means you have to come back.

True, that’s a good way to look at it.

Yeah, I feel like I’m cheating when I say that, because the point of a bucket list is to finish everything…

But you don’t have to finish it now!

Yeah, that’s not my version, so I’m gonna go with that.

What are some of the things on your bucket list?

One of them was to spend some time sitting on my roof outside of my house, because my bedroom window leads right out onto the roof, so my girlfriend and I ate popsicles on the roof the other night while the sun was setting, and it was really fun. Another one was to make pudding pie, which is like pudding and then a gluten-free crust so Nora can eat it…and we tried to make it, but it failed miserably, so it was more like pudding soup but it was still tasty…Another one was to see a movie at Movie Tavern because I had never done that, and I got that checked off. Oh, and then I wanted to eat s’mores at Aromas, have you ever gotten s’mores at Aromas?

I haven’t.

It’s so fun! They bring it out, and it’s like, they have all the makings for s’mores and a little fire in the middle of this tray.

That’s awesome!

Yeah, it was really good. So checked off a couple things, got a couple more to do.

So you mentioned that you had a change from being ready to get out to being a little sad to leave, do you know what brought that on? Was it the last week of classes coming, or anything else?

I think it’s also that it’s finally becoming real that I’m leaving. It’s still not super real, Michelle took my grad pictures with Nora this morning which was so fun. And we were wearing our grad gowns, and when I put it on I was like, oh my god, what if I actually fail some of my classes and this is actually not the time that I’m graduating? Like what if I miss a requirement that I need? So it got to the point that I was really nervous that I was not actually going to graduate—which I think in some ways, like, I’m more cognizant of the reality that I’m going to graduate because I’m so worried about not graduating. That’s, like, very convoluted but it kind of makes sense?

Yeah I get it, definitely. So what do you think you’re going to miss most about college, or being here in general at this point in your life?

I don’t know…I mean I’m obviously going to miss the people. It’s gonna be very weird to not be in a place where I just am with all of my best friends all of the time. I think I’ll end up in DC so I’ll be close to a bunch of William and Mary people, which will be really good, but it’s not like I’ll hang out with them every night. So that’s gonna be a really big change, that I’m not necessarily looking forward to because I’ve found a lot of really great people here. And I also am gonna miss the classes in some way, because I’ve had a lot of fun with research projects I’ve done, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of taking advantage of the academic experience that William and Mary has to offer. It’s also just, throughout my time here, I’ve been really, really excited and passionate about the studies that I’ve been working on. And so, I guess stemming from that I’ve started thinking maybe I want to do some sort of research assistantship for a little while out of college, because I’m not sure if I’m completely done with, like, researching things and using those same things except in a job way, not just a school way.

What’s some of the research you’ve done here?

So my studies over the past couple of years—I’m majoring in Hispanic Studies, and minoring in American Studies—but basically everything that I’ve done has been sort of related to oral history, which has been super cool. Kind of inspired by Humans at the start, which is kind of fun. So I’ve done more and more research on oral history in a variety of different classes, but I think the most important one that I’ve done is, I did an independent study this past fall about a play I saw in Spain. And the play is called Presas de Papel, which roughly translates to “Women Imprisoned in Paper,” and it’s about women who were incarcerated during the Franco dictatorship in Spain. And it’s written by descendants of women who were actually incarcerated, so it’s a very personal history, and it’s a very important history for Spain because there is so little recognition of the women’s experience during the Franco dictatorship. It was a really important play to see, and I really loved it. I messaged one of my professors who taught a class on Franco and his dictatorship’s aftermath, and was like, “What can I do with this? I’m not sure I want to do a thesis, but I really want to continue working on this play because I think it’s really cool and important.” So she suggested an independent study for the fall, and I ended up doing an independent study and I got funding to go back to Spain in November for a little less than a week which was insane, but that’s an entirely different story. And I was able to see a new version of the play as well as interview a couple of different people about their ancestors. One in particular was the descendants of Matilde Landa, who was this super famous icon of the Spanish Republic, and she was a really, really important leader for the Republicans, I guess rebels, counter the Franco dictatorship. That was really amazing to get to talk to them about their experience and their family history and how that’s impacted their lives. And at this point I have a pretty close relationship with the creators of the play and the actresses, and it’s just been really cool to kind of be a part of that and use my skills to help further their story.

That’s super awesome. So, kind of switching gears here, you were studying abroad when you saw the play?


What was that like, how did that contribute to your experience here?

Last summer I studied abroad in Cádiz for the first part of the summer, and then for about a month afterwards I was volunteer farming, wwoofing—do you know what wwoofing is?

No, I don’t.

It’s basically just volunteer farming, but it’s through a website, so I was doing that on a farm outside of Madrid. I was there for about a month, and that was really, really cool. And that’s when I saw the play. And that was also I think in some ways more formative than the study abroad experience, because I was by myself—I only spoke English when I was calling home or calling Nora—so it was a very different experience. It was also really cool to farm because I had never done anything like that before. So that was really interesting, and I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to study abroad, because the fall of my sophomore year I studied in DC, which was awesome, but it meant that I was not quite sure if I wanted to take a full semester to go abroad. So it was super cool that I got to do the Cádiz program to actually go abroad since I was not feeling like I could take another whole semester away from campus.

Yeah, that’s really cool. How did you come into the volunteer farming thing?

Well I had been wanting to wwoof with a couple friends for a while, but it just didn’t work out for me to do it with them and it was a way for me to stay in Spain a little longer and continue to use my Spanish on a daily basis and continue learning Spanish and do something a little different. So I decided that I would kind of just take the risk and try and find a farm that matched with what I was interested in doing, and it worked out pretty well.

That’s really cool, that’s an awesome experience. So you kinda touched on this, but what initially drew you to your research, your major, what you’re eventually going to be doing?

So immediately after graduation I’m going to be going home, and I’m gonna be working with my mom at the Harrisonburg City Public School’s welcome center. We register students for school there. All kindergarteners, all preschoolers, and then grades first through 12, all students who speak another language besides English at home. I’ve done that for the past four summers, so it’ll be kind of nice to return to something normal before going out and doing something completely different. But in terms of how I kind of got to this research project, I think it really did start with Humans, and it also started when I did my DC semester. I studied there with Professor Zutshi, who’s a history professor here, she’s amazing, I love her very much. She taught the semester on conflict resolution and nation-building in South Asia, which was super cool. And so over that semester we had read a book about the use of oral history in post-conflict zones, and that’s when I started doing more research about oral history because I was like, “Oh my god, this is the academic form of what I love about Humans!” I was really excited to find something that combines my passion with academics, and so I wrote a research paper on that which was really, really cool. And ever since then with any class that asks for a research project of some sort, I always do something with oral history just because it’s such a broad field you can tie it into whatever you’re doing. So then spring of my junior year, I took a class called El Franquismo y sus Fantasmas, which is like, “The Franco Era and its Ghosts,” so about the history of the Franco era and also how it is perceived today in Spain. And so that’s what got me interested in that particular history, and I did a little research on oral history following that class as well. And then when I was in Cádiz, I did a whole different project about the Franco era and oral histories and testimony and the use of testimony, which was super cool. And then it all kind of culminated with Presas de Papel.

So it sounds like you kind of got started with that because of your experience with Humans, so what drew you to Humans in the first place?

Yeah! Well, when I was in high school, I discovered Humans of New York and I started a version at my high school, Humans of HHS, which was really fun and rewarding to me. I really loved the idea of just finding these intimate connections with complete strangers and giving them a space to tell their stories. I had been doing journalism for a while at that point—that was my senior year of high school and I was part of the newspaper starting my sophomore year—so Humans gave me a part of the newspaper that was kind of my baby, and I was able to help it grow into something that was bigger than me which was really cool. And so once I got to William and Mary, I immediately reached out to Humans of William and Mary like, “When can I join? I’m ready now!” And they were like, “Wait for the application, we’ll be posting it soon!” So that was really cool, and during my interview I talked with Dani, she graduated, was it last year? No, it was two years ago at this point, that’s crazy! She graduated two years ago, she’s just this really incredible person, and during that conversation, we talked for like an hour, maybe like an hour and a half, and it was just really crazy to be in this space where I was asking this complete stranger all of these questions and she’s giving me these very genuine answers, and that made me be like, “Okay, this is something I really do want to be involved in.”

So have you had a favorite particular moment with Humans or anything like that?

Yeah, so my freshman year we were doing a series of interviews for Charter Day, and reading students a section of the charter and asking them about their feelings about it. And I did an interview with a woman who, as she was reading it she was telling me, “You know, I feel really disillusioned right now.” Because she was going through the reporting process for sexual assault, and it was not at all the system it claimed to be. And so our interview was a lot about her process of maneuvering through that system, and how she’s trying to make it better. She co-founded an organization called 16(IX)3 here on campus, and it’s not very active anymore, but I ended up doing a couple of follow-up interviews with her and the other members of 16(IX)3, which was really cool, and trying to give them a platform to spread their message because it’s really important. It’s called 16(IX)3 and the 9 is “IX,” like the Roman numeral of Title IX. And I ended up getting two of my good friends involved with the organization as well, so even though I wasn’t able to stay part of it, one of them was very involved for most of their college experience which was really cool. But that was one of the few interviews where I really had, like, this immediate, real conversation with somebody, which was really powerful and I’m really grateful for her opening up to me about that. And I’m really happy that I was able to give space to her message.

It’s cool how that became an ongoing thing, like with the follow-up interviews and your friends joining and everything.

Yeah, it was really cool. And, like, I always wish that I could’ve done more with it, but you can look back all you want and wish you could’ve done more with something when it’s not always possible.

Yeah, you can only do so much. Kind of ties in but also kind of different – if you could tell yourself, like as a freshman, or give an incoming William and Mary student a piece of advice, what do you wish you knew?

That’s a really good question, I wish I knew a lot of things. I mean, this year especially has been really tough, but I think I would tell myself to go to counseling earlier and to stick with it because that’s a really important resource. Maybe go off campus earlier for counseling, just because the counseling center here is so overbooked that they can only give you appointments on a semester basis, and I think that I would’ve done counseling more regularly throughout college if I had gone off campus earlier. I would also tell myself, or any incoming freshman, to really listen to what your body wants and what your mind wants and respect that. I know that I have pushed myself a lot to do things that were not the best for my mental health, so I think listening to that a lot sooner and being more selfish about my time and what I want to do with my experience here, I think would have made it easier in some ways. But I also think college is a really important place to learn all of that, so I feel like the biggest one is to just use your resources—oh, and the Wellness Center! So good! Go there all the time, for everything! It’s an amazing resource on campus and there are some really amazing things that people are just not taking advantage of the way that they should. I went to my first yoga class there in April and it was insane. It was so beautiful, the rooms are just really nice and they have these giant floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the trails, so when I went it was all of this beautiful green and it was incredible. And so calming, exactly what I needed. I’ve tried to go every week since then because I know free yoga is not gonna last for must longer, gotta take advantage of it! But also don’t feel like you have to take advantage of everything, because there are so many opportunities here, just find the things that are important to you and do that, and don’t feel guilty about the things you can’t do.

Yeah, that’s true. I have to try that yoga sometime though!

You’ve gotta go! The Wellness Center is so good!

I guess for any of those things, were there any specific points where you really found those things out?

Well I think that this year especially has been really hard, so I’ve learned a lot of this, this past year… Going to Spain in the middle of the semester for, like, not a whole week was really discombobulating – if you’re gonna go abroad at some point within the semester, miss at least a full week of classes, it will be okay! Because that was just crazy, I felt like, as soon as I was getting into a routine there, I was back, and I had no idea what was going on for the longest time. So, yeah, would definitely recommend taking more time when you’re doing those sort of things. And I started off-campus counseling at the end of last semester, and I think I realized a lot of this stuff through that, I’m more aware of judgmental thoughts of myself and how I have a tendency to not be very kind to myself in my head. And so I think being aware of those things is super important, you can’t fix them right away, but so long as you know that they’re happening and it’s not necessarily the truth, then it’s a start. Starting, still figuring things out. It’s actually really funny, I read this note that my mom had written to her parents when she was in college. And it was a beautiful note, really well-written, and she used all these metaphors, like, being tossed around by the waves or something like that, talking about how she felt really alone and confused in college. And in some ways it was really comforting to read that, that my mom had experienced a very similar thing 35 years earlier, and it’s okay to be so confused, and so stressed and anxious. There are people here to support you, and there are people going through similar things. That was really cool to get a chance to look at because I was like, “Wow, I feel like I wrote this.”

That is really cool, to kind of know that you’re not alone in that, especially coming from your mom of all people.

It is really sweet.

And then just one last thing—what would you say has been, if you can pinpoint a favorite moment or experience that you had here, a memory of any kind?

That’s a really hard one…I think one of the most important moments, and also one of my favorites, is the night that I kissed Nora for the first time. Well, she kissed me. I came into college with a boyfriend, thinking I was straight, and then I met Nora, and even in the fall semester when I was still dating this other boy, I had, like, told my friends at home, “Yeah, if I was ever to kiss a girl it’d probably be Nora.” And then that spring after my ex and I had broken up, Nora and I ended up hanging out a lot more and I ended up being like, “Oh shit, I think I really like her.” I didn’t actually tell her that for a long time because I was worried about messing up our friendship because she thought I was straight, and I knew that she was gay, but I didn’t know if she liked me, and it was just very confusing. And so then, one night I invited her over to watch The Terminator 3 because I had to watch it for class. I invited her to watch this really dumb movie with me, and at that point I think she was a little suspicious because it was a really stupid movie. So we watched the movie, and we returned it to Swem, and we were walking around, and we went back to my dorm and we were just laying on my bed for, like, ten minutes in this really awkward silence. And then finally, she was like, “so, about what Vega said?” Because her friend Vega had been, like, questioning about whether or not we were a couple, or into each other or anything, and I was like, “Yeah, I kinda like you,” and she was like, “I kinda like you too.” And then we were quiet for another five minutes, and then she was like, “Okay, I think this is the part where we kiss,” and I was like, “Yeah, I think so too.” And, like, it’s been over three years since then, and I can’t believe that we’re actually graduating, it’s so weird. But I think that Nora is probably the most important thing that has happened to me at William and Mary, so it’s been really cool that she’s been basically here for everything, all the ups and downs and everything in between.

Laugh the Hardest.

When you were coming in as a freshman what were your expectations for the next 4 years?

So I actually didn’t want to come to William and Mary originally because I grew up here. I wanted to go to NYU and be a city girl. I had this weird idea that William and Mary was really preppy and really nerdy and there were people here that are aggressively competitive. And I found that that wasn’t the case really early on. Everyone is very supportive and quirky and cool, so it was really different than what I expected. Also a lot more fun than I expected.

What are you feeling now as you get really close to graduation and is that different than how you expected to feel?

I think I am still in denial. I don’t think I’ve hit a point where I feel like I’m about to graduate yet. But I also feel like everything I do is the last time I’m going to be doing it. I just took a picture on my Snapchat saying I’m going to miss the Sunken Gardens; that’s really corny but there’s just a weird sense that this chapter is about to end and nothing will be the same. Even if I come back, it won’t be the same as it was as an undergrad. I’m very sentimental but I’m not really sad about it – I’m kind of ready to go. I feel like leaving on a high note is always good.

Looking back are you surprised about where you are now…going into the future, would anything have surprised you if you had told your freshman self about you now?

I don’t think I imagined finding my best friends in life. I had a really close group of friends in high school, but I found such an incredible community here that is really amazing and something that I’d be surprised by when I was 17 coming in. I think academically and career-wise, I wanted to do journalism when I was coming in here, and I’ve taken a completely different path.

What do you hope W&M is like if you come back in the future?

I hope to see a greater range of people coming to the College. I think there was a lack of diversity in a lot of important spaces on campus. I’m looking at you B school. Seeing greater diversity in all aspects being welcomed at the College would be really important for when I come back.

If you could do all 4 years again, would you do something differently?

I think I would be more confident in myself, especially at the beginning of my college career. I was really insecure about everything about myself. So I definitely wouldn’t care what people thought of me and would definitely be more open with people. I’ve had great friends so being more vulnerable with the people around me would’ve been something that really would’ve helped me in college.

What do you think is the biggest way you’ve changed or grown as a person?

I think it kind of goes along with that. Learning how to be vulnerable and learning how to be open with other people about my needs and experiences have been the most important way that I’ve grown in college. I feel like I’ve always internalized a lot of my experiences. It’s just part of my personality and part of my life that I wouldn’t openly express my emotions in situations or ask for help easily, which would make me seem really reserved and stoic. Since I’ve come here, the learning I’ve done regarding how to be emotionally open with other people has been the most important. When you’re able to express yourself in healthy ways, people find it easier to be vulnerable with you. This is something I’ve never been good at in the past, but I’m growing now to understand that letting your guard down is necessary.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Asking for help. My dad is always like: “You need to learn how to ask for help.” So I’ve learned how to reach out and having people tell me it’s okay to ask for help.

If you could give advice to freshmen, would it be along those lines?

Mhm, use your resources. And I think we do have great resources here but they’re not super well-known. And also find something to be very passionate about whether that’s activism or joining a club. You should put yourself in the community and fight for what you believe in.

What advice would you give someone that wants to get involved but doesn’t know where to start?

I would just join everything. That’s what I did. Freshman year I just came in and joined way too much. Then I just narrowed it down to communities I felt really welcome in like Humans – I’ve been here since freshman year. So I just found places I felt really comfortable. Not everything you do is going to be for you. But just putting yourself out there is the most important thing.

What are some of the small moments here that you think you may have taken for granted?

I think being within walking distance with your friends – I took that for granted. Being around your friends and being around people who are like you and finding spaces where you feel welcomed is something that I definitely took for granted. As well as being intellectually active. I feel like this was a good opportunity to explore things. Like going to class…I took that for granted.

What do you see in the world that needs changing and how do you think you can make a difference?

I’ve always been a big believer in that being kind or respectful to the people around you is the most important thing. So I think if everyone can just do that, that makes the biggest difference. And also what I said before, finding things that you’re passionate about and getting really involved in them.

When’s the last time you laughed really hard?

I laugh every day. I have a really annoying laugh. People tell me my laugh is high key aggressive. More like a cackle. But who cares? I always laugh the hardest around my best friends; they make me feel the most like myself.

What would your friends say is your best quality as a friend?

I think I have a sense of humor about everything. I don’t really take things too seriously and I feel like my friends appreciate that.  I like to listen to people, and I try not to project my feelings onto other people. Who knows if I’m successful.

The Journey of Doing Things.

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.

Excited about life.

Hello, Rishya!

Hi Sophie, how are you?

Good! So, this is your senior interview. So a question I have for you, is, what made you want to be involved in Humans of William & Mary?

So, I talked about this a little in my application. I wanted to be in Humans of William & Mary since my sophomore year. But I remember being really intimidated by the application because I didn’t really know how to answer a lot of the questions, but then on top of that I’m your typical William and Mary student, overcommitted. Then senior year, I had free time, and I was like, “what do I do with this?” I still had a lot of commitments in the fall, but I knew my spring was  going to be empty, and I was like “this is my chance,” I’ve wanted to do this for three years and now I’m finally going to do it. The reason was mostly because I really like talking to people. Not even talking to people as much as listening to people’s stories. I genuinely love making friends, and I love meeting new people, from the bottom of my heart in the most genuine sense. I love hanging out and just listening to people talk about their stories. I remember when we did our first interview with Michelle, and we interviewed a transfer student, and she was so happy and we just asked her about herself and what she was doing. It was the most basic question, but she had so much passion and was so happy, it reminded me of why I joined Humans and why I joined William and Mary in the first place. You get to see that from people who don’t necessarily come out and talk about what they want to talk about, they don’t have positions in which they are able to do that.

Yeah, exactly. That’s awesome. And I agree that it does make you appreciate it a lot more because it is so easy to get overwhelmed and forget what makes William & Mary special. That’s awesome that you wanted to do Humans because you are a people person. Have you always been a people person?

I think so. I think I have, but a lot of my friends aren’t, so I always thought that “maybe I’m not.” But it took me a long time, like junior year of college, to realize that I actually do enjoy talking to people and enjoy meeting new people. And the reason was mostly through school and through college, all of my friends were introverted, which is totally fine, and I very much appreciate that, and I think the reason that I’m friends with all of these people is because I like listening to them, and they’re usually people who don’t get to talk in big group settings, and that’s who I’m usually drawn to. For the longest time I thought that I wasn’t, because all my friends weren’t people persons so I must not be a people person, and it took me a long time to realize that I’m very much an extroverted person and that I very much get my energy from being around people and from being around people that make me happy. So it’s not that I wasn’t, I think that I always have been, it just took me a while to realize that this is what makes me happy.

Yeah, that’s so cool, and that leads me into another thing that I was curious about, how do you think you’ve changed, now that you’re graduating, since you’ve joined Humans? Or since you’ve been a freshman, what has changed within you?

Let me answer with William & Mary first. I think that they’ve both been very transformative experiences in general, but with any college experience, it’s changed me in so many different ways than I thought were possible, and to this day I don’t think I know how much I’ve actually changed, I just notice things that I’ve done in the past and I was like “wow, that’s so weird, I never would have done that if I was anyone else or if I did things any differently.” A lot of things here have helped me grow through experiences in my life. Like, sophomore year was really rough for me, just like experiences that you wouldn’t expect to happen, like all of my friends are wonderful people, so I just didn’t expect that. I also tend to get attached to people very easily, not in a bad way I think, just I think that these people are good for me, so I spend a lot of time with them and invest a lot of time with them. And then that led to a lot of specific problems and it wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was just the way we reacted to different situations was very different and I had to separate myself from the situation because it was affecting my life. And that really changed me, and I asked my friend last month how I had changed, because they had known me since freshman year and we had gotten closer, and he was like “I don’t even know who you were freshman year,” and I don’t even think I knew who I was. I feel like coming here, meeting so many different types of people that are so passionate all the time in everything that they do has been so much fun, because it made me realize that I could find something that I was passionate about. It’s just so nice when people just like talk about what they care about, it’s such a nice feeling, you can see it in their eyes how happy it makes them. I think that really changed me and made me be more appreciative about focusing time on things that I actually do care about, investing time in people that I care about. I think that’s what William & Mary has taught me, that it’s okay to spend time with your friends if it means that you are happy at the end of the day, you know? And joining Humans, again, after being at a low my junior year, I felt like I was done changing and growing, and that I had one more year of just like, chilling. Humans showed me once again why William & Mary is the place that it is and why it is so special to a lot of people, because every single person that I’ve interviewed and the people in the organization care so much about making the school a better place, and making this organization more visible through spreading love, and that’s something that’s really important. Talking to people has showed me how much more important that was.

That’s wonderful, and it’s been so nice to work with you, I think I’ve learned a lot from the upperclassmen seeing how you guys have interacted with the organization and how you’ve applied it to yourselves and your lives. So you’ve said that you’ve grown a lot through Humans and through William & Mary in general, so going into the future after graduation, my last question for you is, what is your one wish for the future?

I wish that I will do something that makes me happy, and that I don’t settle for anything less. That’s what I’ve been doing already, but in the future. My family tells me to get a job, whatever that is, that will keep me afloat. What I realized in this whole process is at the end of the day I need to be doing something that makes me happy, that makes me realize what I’m passionate about, something that keeps me on my toes every single day. I need to be excited about doing what I’m doing.

Excited about life.

Yeah, excited about life! I need to be able to wake up in the morning and be like “yes, I’m so excited that I’m going to work today or I’m going to school today,” I want to be happy about everything that I’m doing. I think having this has been a really important part of my life. I don’t need be happy all the time, I think that’s unreasonable, but I need to be like, proud of how far I’ve come and be like “I’ve worked really hard to be here, and at one point this was what I wanted,” and I want to be okay with myself.

Learn, think, and grow.

How are you today? How’s everything been going?

I’ve been okay, not super good. Yesterday was fine since I finished my senior seminar. I think today, it hit me a little, that oh lord, I have a final on Tuesday, and stuff like that. I don’t want to freak out about it, but that’s me, I get anxiety. So before this I was working on a take-home essay, which is inconsequential to what I’m going to be doing later.

Is that something you’re doing over the summer?

I don’t know what I’m going to be doing after graduation, it’s probably going to be searching for a job and talking to people.

Ah okay, do you think there’s a reason why these give you anxiety?

I think that’s just the way I am, I stress out about things because I want to do my best. Even though my best may not be A level material, I still stress out because that’s how I get stuff done. If I don’t stress out about things, I’ll just be really lazy about it. Sometimes the work that needs to be done, doesn’t get done. I’ve never turned something in late, but at the same time I’ve procrastinated and had to be like “Okay, I really need to focus.”

Is this something that you’ve been grappling with? Or something you want to change?

No, this is not something that comes in between me and my life. Sure sometimes I stress out about stuff and I might need someone to talk me down off the ledge, but it’s not something that defines me. I guess that kind of answers your question. It doesn’t prevent me from doing anything. I just walk around with a lot of things on my mind. That’s what I like to do – I think a lot.

What has been something you’ve thought about recently?

When I say I like to think, I just randomly notice things. It is random details where it’s something about the bricks. Right now my mind is focused on the bricks on the Daily Grind where it’s smoke charred or things like walking to class or handing in a paper. I randomly think about facts in my head, not like inquisitive thoughts or deep philosophical things.

Has that affected your experiences on campus or the way you approach your work?

I guess in class it has definitely helped make me ask questions when I don’t understand something. I sometimes have Professors who don’t like the way I ask questions that maybe are inconsequential. But it’s a way for me to get a better understanding about something. It’s not a way that I manage my stress, but I kind of just go with whatever I’m thinking and stuff like that. And I definitely think it bleeds into how I write. Sometimes I write without a certain clear train of thought. I put down a ton of words that sound okay in my head. Then I go back and edit it down. It’s weird being a senior and I’ve never looked back at my freshman writing. If I went back, I would not know what I was thinking back then. Versus now, I can see that I have a writing style. Not that many people here, at least, know how to write well. I mean, it’s tough. Compared to being a business major or someone in the sciences, you pretty much have a job right after college. For English writers, you hate what you’re doing but you also like it. It’s a balance between hating writing papers and learning.

Yeah! Every time I see you, you’re always working on a paper in the Daily Grind. Can you walk me through how you approach writing a paper or a big assignment?

I have no idea how to answer that question! I haven’t even thought about that!

Or even, if you’re there most of the time trying to write, how does being in the same environment affect the way you think or come up with new ideas?

I guess with how I start to write, I either have a prompt or I have an idea of a prompt, or I use some Sparknotes.

That was my high school life!

Sparknotes or blogs on poetry or other works is so helpful, especially when you have to come up with your own argument. It’s so helpful to look at what some people have to say about the book and you’re able to compare it to whatever your thought process is. I go for that a bit and then create a thesis statement. And then I edit that thesis statement and start writing. From that thesis statement I should already know what to write. In terms of the Daily Grind, it doesn’t help me write, it’s just where I study in the mornings. It’s just what I do. I could never go to Swem in the morning.

Have you ever experienced just terrible writer’s block?

For a bit. It’s not like super terrible but I’ve had it a number of times. But normally, what I think about writer’s block is that if you have writer’s block, you just don’t know the subject well enough. You just don’t know what you’re talking about. Because if you know what you want or going to say, or even how to say it, you can just write it. I can only write 4 or 5 pages a day or something like that, but I haven’t struggled to come up with a thought. So it’s not necessarily that I have writer’s block, sometimes my mind just shuts down for a bit or I take a break by getting some water. I’m always thinking about whatever paper I am writing about.

Is there any advice you would give other people who may come across a “writer’s block?”

I think it’s mainly having a really concise thesis statement, like X relates to Y or this relationship means this, or something like that. I think it was wrong for me to say that one just doesn’t know the information well enough, it’s also a matter of how do I articulate my argument. And when you have an argument in mind and you want to just follow it, it’s fairly easy to talk about it if you’re also really passionate about it. Sure I’ve struggled to write papers, but I’ve never struggled to write. It’s weird talking to a non-English major because it’s just a skill that you have to do. If you don’t give yourself the space to write, then you would struggle.

What is a topic that you could write on and on about?

Humans rights law and international law. I mean I can write about both subjects, but international law pertaining to human rights is a really broad field and I really like it. I can look at state constitutions and also what the world is doing. And I am able to incorporate my passions. Another topic I can write on and on about is education. That was my senior seminar where I wrote about busing and education and I can probably write more about it in regards to Henrico County in Richmond and Virginia. If I am very passionate about an idea, I can have a lot to say about it.

When did you realize they were topics you were passionate about?

The first long paper I wrote was about, I think, the European Union and I also wrote a really long paper about international law and rights. I think those two papers showed me what it meant to write really long papers and to just go on about a topic. You have to put in a lot of time and effort and if you put in that much time, then you’re going to be very dedicated to the craft and what you’re going to write. If you’ve been following a topic for a very long time then you’re going to be invested with whatever you are doing.

How do you hope to continue this passion after college?

I’m probably not going to. I want to read more after college, that’s kind of something I really want to do more after college. I do want to go to law school. I’ll probably have the opportunity to do super long papers at law school. As the same time, if I don’t want to go to law school, then I’ll be okay. If it fancies me, I might write a research paper, I might not. It just depends on where my interests lie and what my time is like.

Do you still see writing the same way after this?

I don’t think I could work as a super creative writer or a news writer. It’s just not for me.

So what do you hope to do?

I want to be a lawyer. I want to help people. My dream job, I’ve been telling this a lot, I want to work at the U.N. I think it’s a dream of mine and something I really want to do.

Why is that your dream job?

I just want to help people. I think that’s where my talents lie.

How have your experiences at William & Mary then shaped your aspirations?

I’ve known a lot people and I’ve realized that people here are really weird in their own way. Everyone has so many distinct personalities. I’ve learned how to just, deal with people and I think that’s kind of central to what I’ve learned here. Over the last two months, I met so many new people, but I don’t know if I have the time to grow those friendships and just it’s kind of something I’ve learned. To make friends quickly. But I’ve also learned which are the long-lasting relationships versus the people you’ll see on campus only. It’s something I’ve learned that rather than struggling to make friends, I know the people that I will keep in touch with much later down the road. There were some people from out-of-state were they were the only ones that came from their high school. They didn’t know anyone, so they had to make their own way. It’s different for me where I had two really close friends from high school in my freshman dorm. It was awesome. But it also meant that I hung out with them a lot. It’s something like that where I don’t have a lot of close friends. Sure, there are people that I enjoy talking with and hanging out with, but at the same time I don’t know if I’ll still be able to later on. It’s a good thing I know who my close group of people are, I know I want to still be friends with them five years down the road, and I know they still want to be friends five years down the road, too. Junior year was pretty easy because I knew who I wanted to hang out with.

For the friendships that you may not have seen to last long, did you ever have any regrets?

I had some freshman year. Though we might not have meant to be friends, I beat myself up a lot since I felt excluded from things. I was caught up in a friend group that I felt excluded from and wasn’t invited to things. I was in a friend group, or I thought I was in a friend group, but it didn’t work out. I’ll still say hi to my freshman hallmates, but we are not really close. I think that’s a good question to think about. My freshman hall was a bad group of people, not bad as in personality or character, but bad as in we did not see each other eye to eye. And I kind of thought we were going to do pretty well, but I straight up have no idea where people are. Where they are working after graduation and whatnot.

How were you able to come to terms with that? Was there something or someone that helped?

Colin, my roommate. I met him my second semester freshman year. Also joining Humans of William & Mary where I really bonded. I think I joined Humans because I wanted to friends. I applied on a whim, and I did not care whether or not I got in. I got an email back saying I got in and I was like, oh, something is actually happening! It was, yeah, kind of the moment that I realized I was actually part of something. Coming into sophomore year was a good time. I kind of knew everything. I thought I was able to know who I was at William & Mary. Joining InterVarsity as well, I had a good group of people to be around as opposed to freshman year when I was always with my freshman hall. It played into who I hung around. It was an environment that was not, habitual, I guess? LIke I appreciate what we did, I’m happy that I got to hang out to them. Out of respect, we’d say hi to each other. And but I’m not going to go out of my way to do so.

Yeah, I totally feel you on that. I had a similar freshman year experience.

Yeah, but I’ve still hung out and talked to some really cool people.

Well, I guess last question. Now that you are leaving, is there something you wish to see happen on campus? Or maybe something for the future incoming classes?

I haven’t thought of this… I think for me, there are a lot of things I wanted to do. I just didn’t do them because I didn’t know how to balance my time. I wanted to explore more than what I have done. But I am not going to say about the whole college, because if you know what you want to do, then do it. And if something comes along, take the opportunity to do it. If you want to do it, then do it. I’m also not telling you to do everything. If I explored every opportunity, then I would not have had the time to study. You come to college to become a better student and person. These opportunities are not there to stress you out. They are meant to be outlets, outlets to enjoy being around people. You’re meant to really learn and think and grow. That’s kind of what I’m going to say. Just to learn, think, and grow.

That was a great answer!

I mean I tried. [laughs]


Path of Spirituality.

So how’ve you been lately? How’s everything going with senior year?

My senior year has been interesting because I think for a lot of people, when they think of senior year, they think that, “oh! It’s going to be the most fun year, and it’s going to be exciting and all that.” Honestly, it’s been one of my header years at this school. Part of that is because, academically speaking, even if you’re taking classes that you enjoy they get more difficult in level. You have more work in them. Your involvements have grown and you have a lot of people you want to spend time with, too. It ends up adding up to be a lot. But, I think that on the other hand, it’s been steadily bringing me to a point of feeling more okay with the idea of leaving. I feel that I’ve gotten the value that I would have by being in this place. At the same time, I will for sure miss the people that I’ve interacted with. In that sense, it’s a freeing feeling.

Did you come into senior year with any expectations, and how they did go?

I thought that I would be better balancing my own mental health and my social interactions with the work that I had to do. That didn’t really end up panning out the way that I expected it to. But at the same time, on the other hand, the types of bonds and close relationships that I wanted to have at this point, I feel like I’ve been able to get them. With everything, there are things that turn out the way you want them to and some that don’t, but you learn to adapt. My plan for after college was going to grad school but then I got rejected from the grad schools that I applied to so I had to rethink what I wanted to do after I left. What I have now for after graduation is a really cool job and I think it will help me out of my academic burn out more than going straight to a PhD program would have. Sometimes the path forward isn’t the path you envisioned first, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad path.

Where there a specific instance(s) that made you realize you had to reconsider certain choices?

I don’t think there was a specific instance, but something that I notice in myself is that when I feel overburdened by life, I tend to retreat inwards. I would start to isolate myself from the activities and the people that I generally enjoy being around. Something that is or was a warning sign for me is when I find myself spending a lot of time by myself. I am an introvert and I enjoy having time for myself, but I think there’s a difference between using that to recharge and actually using that to avoid everything.

How do you feel during those times? Is there something that helps you through them?

One of my hobbies is music. This year I actually started learning the guitar and before that I had played the piano since the fifth grade. I’ve been singing for a while, too, and I didn’t formal start doing voice until college. This last year, I was like, “yeah! I want to pick up a new instrument. I might as well.” So I picked up the guitar, and the nice thing about it is that unlike a piano, I don’t have to worry about portability as much because it’s easy to take anywhere! I really connect with music so I really enjoy being able to play. That sometimes helps me work through times where I’m not feeling that great. I also like writing a lot, fictions specifically. I think it’s interesting sometimes to be able to tackle problems I’m experiencing in real life, but to put them onto a character in a different setting, and write them working through it. It ends up informing my own thoughts about how I can deal with whatever is happening to me. It’s also really nice because, academically speaking, the geology department is very supportive. I feel very connected to it. It’s nice that I can just walk in there and talk to some of my peers and professors. That also tends to help me feel better. There’s also friends, and spirituality, and all that.

Have you been doing music and writing for a while or was that something you picked up in college?  

I’ve been doing both for a bit. I’ve always been connected with music because my parents have always been so that was just a part of growing up. My dad knows how to play six different instruments and my mom sings. He knows how to play the harmonica, the harmonium, there are also classical Indian instruments, like the bulbultarang (which means “song of a nightingale” and kind of a like a banjo but different because it has keys), there are also these drums, called the tabla, and then the wooden bamboo flute called a basuri.

In what way did your dad and all his instruments influence you to pursue music?

In general, his appreciation for music, aside from playing, but to listening and all that, has been an influence on me. I didn’t start playing an instrument until fifth grade, which was when I started piano and that was a really nice journey for me. I was doing lessons regularly until I graduated from high school. It’s been nice while I’ve been at college because Ewell has the practice rooms. Sometimes I go in there and practice for a bit. And like I’ve said, recently I’ve acquired a new instrument.

Has your relationship with music or the way you perceive music grown or changed over the years?

Yeah, I think so. When I was really young I just wanted to do things by the rules that my teacher was giving and I didn’t experiment as much. As I got older, I experimented more by putting the melodies I heard around me into piano outside of lesson time. That was all very intuitive. It wasn’t something I was doing formally necessarily. When I came to college, I was thinking about what I would minor in. And I chose to minor in music, which was an interesting dimension to add because I hadn’t ever really thought about things like theory, ethnomusicology, where you study the different relationships music has with cultures. I hadn’t thought of those things as much. When you look at old composers like Beethoven and Mozart, you don’t just look at their music but also their lives and what was happening in their lives that influenced their writing. You kind of get to their emotional state. I hadn’t even considered any of those dimensions until I came to college and started studying it. I think that overall, I have more of a comprehension and appreciation for it than I had previously. And it’s nice because music is one of those things I want to hold onto, at least as a hobby, for the rest of my life.

That’s awesome! Besides music, have there been other things that have been constant throughout your life or your college experience?

I did mention writing – that’s something since seventh grade, so it’s something more recent thing but still something I’ve been doing for a long time and I enjoy that a lot. I write all sorts of things—poems, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, novels. Well, I haven’t finished a novel yet but we’re working on that. It’s hard to write a novel when you’re a full-time college student.

Do you hope that one day you will finish a novel?

Yeah I think it would be nice. It’s hard because when you’re a writer you have so many ideas. For me, I sometimes get to five or ten pages in a concept and then I’m like “okay, now how do I move forward from this?” There are some people who spend a lot of time outlining and all that, but I’ve never liked outlines. [laughs] But then I just end up sputtering words sometimes.

I would also say that something that has always been a constant for me has been religion and spirituality. My parents are both really religious and spiritual people but I’ve never felt forced. It has just come naturally to me as I’ve grown. When I came to college, the first organization I joined was the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh Organization here. I spent the last two years as President of the club. That is definitely something I’ve been very invested in as I’ve been in school, too. It’s been interesting because when I was at home and surrounded by my spiritual community, I don’t think I ever appreciated the extent to which it was important to me. I was around it all the time and it was something that people talked about. When I came to college there was not that many people that practice Hinduism and there are even less that are Jain or Sikh, so our school hasn’t been the most diverse in that sense. You really have to fight for the representation and to even be able to have enough of a following to put on events. At the same time, it’s also inspiring because our events like Diwali and Holi end up bringing these huge crowds, like 100-200 people, when there was like five people that made the event happen. There are people that are connecting and enjoying, and that has been very rewarding. I also think that some of my best conversations at the College have been through interfaith dialogues. And that’s something I didn’t really do much of before I came to college because I had my community around me and it was easier to just stick with them. But when you’re in a new environment, you have to branch out and try to understand other people’s perspectives more. I’ve really enjoyed any part that I’ve had in both one-on-one conversations and at interfaith events at our school because I think that’s really important. At the core, a lot of religions have the same beliefs, and obviously the way they go about them is different. Instead of focusing on those differences, but focusing on the similarities, there are a lot of opportunities for growth.

Was there anything that really struck out during these interactions?

I was always very accepting of other people’s religions but until it was actually explained to me and laid out, I didn’t know that there were that many similarities. I thought that was really cool, actually. That means you can have conversations with people around the same framework even if you’re not doing everything the same way. There are the rituals and all that that people do, but then there’s the philosophy at the core of the religion. I think if you talk about those similarities more, it leads to more interesting conversations.

Was there a conversation that really resonated with you?

Yeah, so there’s this guy that graduated last year, his name is Akbar. He’s Muslim but there was this time that we were having a conversation in Jamestown, I mean, Hardy. And we were actually talking about specific verses from the Bhagavad Gita, which is a prominent Hindu text and the Qaran. It was really interesting to see the way those ideas lined up. There was this time he was talking about the idea of idol worship and how Abrahamic religions don’t like the idea of idol worship. People look at Hinduism, especially people who look at it from a Western perspective, as worshipping the idol itself. That’s not actually what’s happening—it’s a symbol meant to symbolize God’s presence. But we think that God is everywhere and in everything, every atom and all. It’s like, he used a metaphor in that when you’re trying to describe a feeling, that you can’t get that abstract, just intuitively. That’s why we use things like poems and art forms to conceptualize the vastness of the universe into something we can all visualize and comprehend. That’s kind of the way I see having idols in Hinduism, we could not imagine that on our own, so we are using that symbol to connect that energy. I just thought that that was an interesting way of thinking about it.

Having been the president of your organization for two years and also being able to meet people of differing religions, has your personal relationship with religion changed?

I was more regular of a practicer at home than I have been in college, and I think that tends to happen to a lot of people because it’s hard when the schedule picks up. It’s also hard because Williamsburg doesn’t have a place of worship for Hinduism. If you want a temple you have to go to Richmond. Especially in Hinduism when you conceptualize God as being everywhere, you don’t have to go to a temple. But just in general, the lack of support from adult figures has been difficult to an extent. I guess a good example of that was in sophomore year, there was a panel on interfaith, and I was asked to be the panelist representing Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and every other person on that panel was either a professor, a reverent, or some other kind of religious figure. It was a huge honor to be on that panel and represent my religion, and I appreciated it a lot, but it also hurt on another level because I’m like, a kid! Not like actually a kid, but you know, I guess I could speak to Hinduism, but Sikhism and Jainism aren’t even my religion so I felt weird about that. Another thing about that is activism, like religious activism. I didn’t encounter much of that when I was at home. I would get bullied about my religion at school sometimes but I was generally in a comfortable setting. Then when I came to school here, the administration hasn’t necessarily been supportive to the greatest extent. We are a minority group and our voice hasn’t been the loudest. There aren’t that many students on this campus interested in being involved in an organization like HSJA and a lot of the responsibilities have fallen on me. Taking that all on me has been challenging at sometimes but I don’t think that’s turned me off from my religion. It’s just been difficult that it’s something that I would want to love and freely practice but I have to be caught up in the administrative aspect of all that. That’s not my tendency so it becomes difficult.

So to end, what do you hope to see for William & Mary and the incoming freshmen in terms of the space we have for minority religions?

I think that the school has been getting better over the years that I’ve been here in supporting religions. I think the school has a lot of work to do, definitely. But it is also difficult if you don’t have the resources to support people of diverse backgrounds because they won’t want to come to the school. But if they don’t want to come to the school, then the school doesn’t have an incentive to make those resources, then it ends up being a bad example of a Catch-22. Something has to start somewhere though, so that burden should fall on the school because at the end of the day, the student has the right to choose a school they feel they will be most supported in. I also think the generations following in our organizations are getting more interested and are collaborating more with other organizations and having a more formal prayer space instead of a classroom. So I think if we’re able to implement things like that, then it will be easier to get more people more motivated to participate in that. It’s hard because when the organization is small, there’s only so much you can do yourself so you have to work hard to attract people to come. Like I said, I think the school has gotten better so hopefully things can continue on that trajectory.

One Loving House.

I see you guys are eating the new Mediterranean bowls, how is it?

J: So I’m not on the meal plan, but last week’s tacos at the truck seemed cool. Didn’t we say we were going to come here and try the different menus?

A: Mhm. Last we were going to have tacos on Friday but then I got strep!

J: I’m out of food right now because I have to go grocery shopping, so the truck came at good time!

Are you guys upperclassmen, then?

Both: We’re juniors!

Ok, how’s that going?

J: I think it’s going well!

A: I feel kind of old though, I don’t know half of campus anymore though, like you knew people older than you and then new people keep coming.

J: Especially since living off campus, if I’m ever here for more than 5 hours, I feel like I’ve been here for too long, it’s weird! I don’t live in a dorm anymore.

A: Not living in a dorm also separates you, too.

Do you guys live together?

A: Well I live upstairs and Joanna lives downstairs.

J: Yeah, I live directly below Alexis. She likes her music and podcasts loud.

A: In the morning I like to be in the kitchen listening to the Daily or something.

J: We live with three other people too, so it’s a full house.

How did you guys all meet?

J: Well, Alexis and I met at a pre-orientation trip, Pathways. And then one of our other roommates, I knew from high school, she’s one of my best friends. We were really good friends in high school but we didn’t room together coming in because she didn’t know until the first day of August when she got off the waitlist. She nagged a single because they just gave her a single and got really lucky! The other two of our roommates was on [Alexis’s] hall freshman year, in Yates. The four of us roomed together last year. Our friend was on the Lacrosse team and four of her teammates moved out of the house, so we four, as a unit, just moved in together.

A: And I went to high school with her, so we’re all very interconnected! People at William & Mary know each other in all different ways.

How’s living together? Have you guys grown closer because of it?

J: Well we’re living together again next year!

A: We feel very adult, now, because we have to do laundry and dirty dishes, grocery shopping, the cooking, and swifering now. And bills!

And just one last question, what’s your favorite thing about each other?

J: I think my favorite thing about Alexis is that she’s just very genuinely herself. She’s one of the most genuine, and wholesome. I think that she, not that’s stubborn, but she doesn’t compromise her values and she will go into anything herself. You can always count on her to be herself.

A: It’s funny she says I don’t compromise my values, because I commended her about this yesterday, but she’s very into personal growth. And I think it’s a very commendable thing to look out for yourself, but also she’s a super compassionate friend. There are so many good things! [Joanna] is also a great listener – if I need to talk about something, Joanna is not going to interject herself into the conversation, she really wants me to express my feelings, and that’s a really good thing to have in a friend. Even for herself, she aligns her life with her values, and she’s taking this Flourishing class so you can really tell she’s flourishing, and we’re yoga buddies!

How cute!

Gratitude Journal.

Okay, so you’re doing homework. What are you working on?

S: I’m just drawing.

Drawing. On your iPad?

S: Mmhm!

Wow. That’s incredible.

L: Yeah she’s really good.

How’d you get into that?

S: Well, I just can’t bring all my paints and stuff here, so then I just started drawing on my iPad.

Okay, how long have you been painting, drawing, doing art?

S: Forever.

Forever? Okay, so when you came out of the womb…

S: I just came out of the womb and I started drawing.

Okay, awesome. What are you drawing right now?

S: My sister.

Are you an art major?

S: No, I’m thinking physics at the moment. I’m not sure yet.

Okay, so art’s just a hobby.

S: Yeah. But I do want it part of my career. I don’t know how to incorporate it.

Art and physics? There’s gotta be something.

Do you have any hobbies?

L: I like to run and read. And bake.

Do you have a favorite book?

L: Not really, actually. I don’t know. I like a lot of different things.

What are you reading right now?

L: I’m reading the third book in the Me Before You trilogy. It’s really good.

Oh, that’s sad.

L: Yeah, it is pretty sad. But–

S: We like our sad–

L: We like our sad books. [laughing] Yeah, I like sad, realistic fiction.

Have you seen the movie?

L: Yeah, pretty good.

Yeah, that got me. Do you have a favorite recipe?

L: Not really.

You just bake whatever?

L: Yeah.

So why do you guys like to hang out in the Wellness Center?

L: It’s pretty.

S: It’s really calming. We like to sit in the sun. Like before this, we always have bench time. After class we sit in the benches outside of Small for, like, hours. Well, we sit in between for an hour, but then I’m just like always there. Because we just love sitting in the sun and doing work there.

Then bench at Small?

S: It’s like the circle benches and the trees all have pink flowers that fall on you. And there’s a lot of bugs, but we still really love it anyway.

L: But it’s been too cold, so we come here instead.

How did you guys meet?

S: We’re hallmates.

What year are you guys?

L: Freshmen.

Where do you guys live?

L: Lion L.

S: GGV. I totally forgot what it was for a second. [laughing]

Did you guys know each other before?

S: No, our friend group just like formed.

L: From people in our hall.

S: Yeah. And now we do everything together. Like all the games. Every single one.

Do you do Caf dinners together?

L: Yeah.

S: Yeah, we do Caf and Sadler. We always play games. We love Just Dance. There’s so much Just Dance. Like my roommate’s incredible. Gets five stars on every single one.

Who has a Wii?

S: We have a hall Wii in our-our–

L: In the lounge.

S: And all of us brought games. Like I brought all the Just Dances. This other guy brought the Wii and we all just play. This other guy brought all the controllers.

Oh that’s amazing. Do you ever whip out those dance moves in any other context.

S: I mean I feel like–

L: [laughing] No.

S: Just besides dancing while we walk. Or like, sing. But that’s mostly what I do.

L: Yeah that’s a you thing.

S: That’s a me thing–dancing and singing. I always have a song in my head. Like I wake up with one and I just like constantly sing it. So I look like I’m talking to myself when I’m walking, but I’m just constantly singing.

I love that. What song do you have in your head right now? Or today?

S: Uhh, hmm. What song was I–

L: You always have one. Oh, you were just singing!

S: I was singing this entire time.

L: I forget what you were singing, though.

S: Right this morning I was listening to a song called Butch by Saint Motel, which is like an indie rock band. And that was really good. And then I started singing a bunch of bad pop songs that just came in my head. Recently, I’ve been waking up with the Alma Mater suck in my head and I don’t know why.

Oh my God. Go Tribe. I don’t think I actually know the words to the Alma Mater all the way through.

L: I just know, like, when you scream William & Mary.

S: I just know ‘Hark upon the gale.’ That’s basically all I know, but that’s always in my head.

Okay, so what’s your favorite thing about each other?

L: That’s a hard question.

S: I like how caring she is. Like she’s always looking out for me and making sure I’m okay. Like, even yesterday everyone thought I died at dinner because I got distracted because I saw my other guy friends from the dorm, and I sat and talked to them for forty minutes and then she was like looking around–

L: I searched the dining hall. I was so scared. I went out to the bathroom and looked under the doors to see if I saw her feet. And then I went back into the dining hall and left again and there she was.

S: And when I’m upset she’s always there for me. And now we started a gratitude journal together, so know we’re writing stuff that we liked about our days and stuff we jointly did together that we enjoyed.

L: Yeah, that’s a fun time.

Is that just with you guys or the whole friend group?

L & S: Just us.

L: I think they’re secretly jealous.

S: I think they are too.

Do you write in it every day?

L: Yeah, well–

S: For the days we started. [laughing]

L: Yesterday was only the second day, so.

S: So I started one in the beginning of the year. And we were dying at what I wrote because it’s really cringey, like who I used to be friends with.

L: It’s fun to have stuff to look back on.

Especially in these years.

L: We’re hoping that if we do it together then we’ll keep each other accountable. I like how fun Sindu is. Like she can be serious if you need to be serious, but also she has her own pizzaz that she brings to everything.

S: I’m kind of more of the distracting one and she’s the one that gets us focused. I need her for my study sessions. We were in chem last semester together and then I would always talk and sing. And I would always draw on both of our notebooks.

L: She drew on my notebook all the time. She said that our teacher looked like a pear and so my whole notebooks just has, like, pears.

S: And with bob haircuts on them. I’d draw like a bunch a flowers and then I’d turn them into turtles. And then I wrote song lyrics in them and that’s like all over all my stuff. I can show if you want.

Wow. We would love to see.

L: Now she’s teaching me how to draw turtles. I’m not as good as an artist as she is.


S: I have like another big page of stuff in here somewhere.

Oh my God that’s beautiful.

S: And I always have lyrics everywhere.

So you have class together. What is this class you have?

S: Last semester we had chem together.

L: Now we don’t have any classes and it’s very sad.

Dang it, you’ll have to plan for that.

L: Yeah.

S: I think we’re going to take bio together. Basically I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, so I’m just going to take things and everything.

L: And I don’t really know what I’m doing, either. So it works out well!

That’s fine. That’s totally fine.

L: We’re trying to take the MACE career exploration course together to figure things out.

I always wanted to do that. And then I got too old. ‘Cause you can only do that as a freshman or sophomore. And then I was like, um, I still don’t know what I’m doing. I could still use that; that’d be great.

S: ‘Cause I love creative writing and art and everything, but then I also love science and I don’t know what to do about it now. Because I only took, like, physics and math and everyone was like, “Oh, I’m going to get a PhD in physics,” and I went around saying the same thing. And then I’m like, wait a minute. I don’t even know if I want to do that anymore. Because I don’t think I can do anything that doesn’t incorporate creativity.

What about you? What are you interested in?

L: Um, I know I want to work with kids. But I don’t know in what context necessarily. So, I’ll probably major in psychology or education or health science or something. But, we’ll see.

So, because you’re a freshman, I have to ask this question: What is one thing that you’ve learned at William & Mary so far?

L: I’m kind of learning that there’s a lot of opportunities out there and you kind of gotta figure out what you want to do and what’s more important. I think it’s been hard to try and figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life. And also, just my time at William & Mary. I’m figuring out there isn’t time for everything and you got to leave time to just hang out with your friends.

S: Yeah.

Sit on the bench at Small.

L: Exactly.

S: I’m learning, too, how to have fun and relax with people and not be afraid to be myself. And surround myself with people who are similar to me in a sense that they respect each other. And we just have fun and we don’t have a lot of drama in our friend group at all. All we do is just laugh. Like we’re the really loud ones in Sadler. So everyone just turns around and is like, uhh.

That’s character-building, being that friend group.

Did you guys form this friend group during orientation, or was it more towards the middle of fall?

S: I think it was during orientation.

L: It was mostly during orientation.

S: Yeah. Most of our hall is good friends with each other. It’s like us, a solid six-girl group, and then we’re friends with some of the guys. I think I’m friends with a lot more of the guys than you. There’s one guy who lives below us, and to tell him I was coming, I stomped really loudly on my floor. And then he was like, why are you breaking the building? And then I ran downstairs.

L: The walls are very thin in GGV, so you can hear–

S: Everything. There’s one girl who sings “Country Road” and “Mo Bamba” at three in the morning.

L: Like opera-y.

S: I try to harmonize with her and everyone’s like, we can all hear you.

There’s truly nothing like a freshman dorm. And then you get into sophomore year, things start to change.And you feel so nostalgic for your freshman dorm.

S: One of my friends and I talk to each other through the ceiling. So she lives like, this side of me, and we open the ceilings, we can see each other’s head, and we use our flashlight and we start talking to each other.

You can open the ceilings?

L: Yeah, you push up the tiles.

S: Yeah we open the ceiling tiles and we went into the ceiling and then we talk to each other. [laughing]

L: The wall isn’t all the way up, so you can see into the other person’s room.

S: And it’s easy to reach the ceilings. Every morning I hit my head because I’m here and the ceilings just right there.

You climbed in the ceiling? Let me get that straight.

L: Wait, no, no, no. ‘Cause her bed–

S: Her room is like right across that way. It’s on the other side of the hall.

So you can see her through the hallway?

L: Like when you push up the ceiling tiles, you’re in the ceiling. But the wall between their rooms doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling. So you can see over it. So if they pop their head up.

S: And we were like dying. My roommate was just watching as all the ceiling dust was crumbling on the ground. And she was like, “What are you doing?” And me and my friend were dying of laughter.

Yeah, I lived in Botetourt and we had the ceiling tiles. And we would always check to make sure that things weren’t hidden up there. Because some people would just hide stuff. And it’s just like a treasure hunt.

S: Some guy in Lion K found a Chewbacca suit up in the ceiling. We’re just like, uhhh.

L: But there’s nothing in ours. We checked.

L: We had one day when one of our friends came over to all of our rooms and we checked each others’ ceiling.

Okay, so if I have one more question: When was the last time you laughed really, really hard?

L: Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like we laugh a lot. It’s too much laughing. But that’s not a bad thing.

S: Like we have one friend who can’t listen to a word anyone says and then she’ll just start laughing. And we just look at each other and we die of laughter. Oh, it was dinner when we saw the football player. We laughed really hard at that.

L: Oh yeah. When you started–

S: Okay, so we are obsessed with all the games here. So we go to gymnastics games, basketball, football, soccer, field hockey. We’ve been to all of them. And we know a bunch of players by their numbers. Like, yo, number 19 is in our class. I, like, died when Chase, the 9th grade basketball player was in my COLL class. Like, I was so excited. And then during dinner we saw… who was he, Number 19?

L: Number 9.

S: He’s Number 9 on the football team. And we saw him and my friend was like–we stopped our conversation–we’re like, Number 9 is here. And then I got up and craned my neck. And I was just like, Sindu, sit down! I was like, where, where?

I used to be like that with basketball team.

L: It’s cool to know them.

Yeah, they’re like normal college athletes roaming around.

S: We’re like so excited to see all of them. [laughing]

That’s funny.

Sindu, is this a snitch on your backpack?

S: Yes.

Books or movies? Or both?

S: Both.

What’s your favorite book?

S: Half-Blood Prince.


S: Um, well, I like how they brought in love and normal teenage  problems into it. And then I loved all the action and I loved the backstory of Voldemort because I think he’s an amazing character.

And I love the story of Snape, too, and how he’s the half-blood prince to Harry and stuff.

It’s always amazing to me how she came up with that. Like how che conceived that.

S: But I like a lot of them. The Deathly Hallows is also one of my favorites. I didn’t like it as much as a movie, but as a book I really enjoyed it because it was super action-packed. I love the Chamber of Secrets because I love snakes and spiders. One of my friends told me he hates the book because he said snakes and spiders ruined it. And I was like, we can’t be friends now.

Do you have a favorite book series?

L: As a kid, I used to be obsessed with the Series of Unfortunate Events. But that was elementary school. I was never super into Harry Potter.

S: See, I’m in love with Harry. I think of the perfect guy for me, and I think of Harry.

L: Well I came to tour the college and I really liked it. My mom’s like, if you’re gonna go here, you need to read Harry Potter. Like, you’re going to be so left out of everything. So that summer I was like, alright. And I read one through five. And then..I stopped.

S: You skipped the two best ones, Leah.

L: And I haven’t really seen the movies either.

S: No, I only read the books in high school. Like, that’s when I read them for the first time and I loved it. And it became my favorite. But I watched all the movies before that. I told myself I hated fantasy books, and I realized I love fantasy books. Like I read my sad, realistic fiction books–

L: I’m more of a realistic fiction.

S:–and then sci-fi movies.

L: And rom-coms. We do a lot of rom-coms. We usually do a rom-com a weekend.

That’s incredible. Do you guys have any plans for Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day?

L: Probably a rom-com.

What’s your favorite rom-com, or what’s one that’s on the list for this weekend?

L: Hmm. What did we watch the other night that was a little weird? Oh–

L & S: Easy A.

S: I did not like that.

L: I did not like that one that much. We watch a couple Christmas-y, cheesy ones.

S: I liked To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Oh that’s a good one.

S: I was like, I relate to this girl; I’m terrified of driving, I romanticize everything in my head and never do anything in real life. I was like, this is me. And then she actually got the guy in the end, and I was like, yes.

L: Yes.

S: I see this future.

That’s funny.

S: What other ones have we even watched?

L: I don’t know. I lose track.

S: Yeah. But we’ve seen so many movies. Because we always go to our friend’s room. Even if she’s not there, I’m always like, we’re having a party in [her] room.

L: She has the softest carpet, so.

S: She does.

L: We all just sit there.

S: And then I have the biggest computer and we all watch a movie on it.

I made a list of all the movies I watched in 2018 and I got through January, and then I just gave up.

L: That’s a good idea because then you can look back.

S: Yeah we watch horrible movies.

L: We also watch Kids Baking Championship together. It’s a really good show.

S: [laughing] We watched it at the Wellness Center on Tuesday.

L: ‘Cause we’re watching the current season, so we have to wait. It comes out on every Monday, so on Tuesday we watch it.

So is it like the Great British Bake Off, but with children.

L: Yeah, sort of. It starts off with like, 10 kids-ish and then each week someone gets eliminated. And we just laugh at all the kids.

S: They’re always super extra. BUt they’re also really sweet. Like if one of them is crying and other people are done, they’ll come and help them even though they’re in a competition.

L: It’s pretty wholesome.


Just Engaged!

So since you guys just got engaged, how did you meet?

Caroline: We met online!

Devin: On Match.

C: A long time ago. Six months ago. When we met, it was his first time meeting someone online, and it was me having a really bad day and not wanting to go, but then we ended up meeting. And I think we’ve spent every single day together ever since.

D: Since August 28th, we’ve spent every single day together.

C: He’s in the Navy and I work locally, so we’re making it work. He’s about to be deployed, so I’m excited to have the same last name. We just got him [the puppy] recently, and Jamie [the older dog], I’ve had forever.

What’s his name?

C: Jackson. Right now, he’s just a little bit of a toddler. He chews on everything, poops on everything. But Jamie is really obedient. So, we’re trying to get him to watch her.

How did the proposal happen?

C: So, I grew up in Williamsburg, and actually worked in Williamsburg for most of my life, so I come down here and tell him everything. My brother was in the Fife and Drum Corps and that kinda thing. To me, this is nostalgic, now that we live in Hampton. He proposed on the Palace Green, and that’s where I used to work, so it means a lot to me. And this is the place that he picked so it’s a good spot. And my parents approved. It’s been a big day. When we started talking about marriage, I said, “Please don’t propose on Valentine’s Day,” and he waited one whole day!

D: It was gonna be last night when you got home from work.

C: But now, we’ll have our own story. We’ve been talking about it, I think we’re gonna get married next month. We’re just ready. His last name is Sibby, so my name will be Mrs. Sibby and that’s hilarious. I’m ready to be Mrs. Sibby.

Do you guys know where you want to get married?

C: Probably in Hampton. He has family out of town and I have family here, so just trying to find somewhere really simple. I know what I want and it’s gonna be really easy and simple.