Feature Stories Campus Events

Public Policy: Pepe Estrada ’19 and Jason Renner ’19 International Perspectives, Sophomores Pepe Estrada and Jason Renner participate in public policy discussions at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

“I walked away with a rejuvenated sense of my political prowess as a Latino and gained a better sense of how I can utilize the American political landscape to my advantage.” — Jason Renner ’19

Denis “Pepe” Estrada Hamm and Jason Renner, both sophomores at Washington and Lee University, spent Sept. 13-15 at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. The students received funding for the trip from the Virginia Foundation for Independent College’s Excelencia Initiative, coordinated through W&L’s Career Development Office.

Renner, who is majoring in politics and minoring in computer science, said, “I’m interested in eventually working in public policy and analysis, and, as a student of Latino ethnicity, I thought this was a great way to get involved a bit more. I wanted to get off campus and open myself to new opportunities.”

Every year, the conference assembles Latino leaders, federal and local elected officials, corporate and nonprofit leaders, and supporters to participate in timely discussions of major policy issues affecting the Latino community and the nation. As noted in the schedule of events, panel discussions included such key issues as education, STEM, the economy, work force, labor, health and immigration.

“At this conference, everyone seemed to be united in their efforts to advance the community, even if some of us disagree how to do so,” said Estrada, a computer science and economics major. “I wanted to learn from and meet leaders in the Latino community, and I was most interested in the efforts being taken to address the immigrant crisis in the United States — specifically, how entities were trying to help these people become citizens.”

Renner thinks they were probably the youngest present. “The general vibe that I got was that we were the only college students there. Attendees were mostly from the public and private sectors, but all brought a unique perspective of how to engage more of the Latino community in their various sectors.” He noted that there is a “phenomenal growth of Latino communities, and they have a lot of purchasing power. It will be interesting to see how our numbers can influence public policy.”

While this is an election year, and immigration is a hot topic, Renner said that item is actually ranked fifth on a list of issues that concern the Latino population. “While immigration is important, the expectation that it’s high on our list is a stereotype. We don’t vote from a single platform. What individuals are concerned about is equal opportunity, education, housing and so on.”

Being present at such a large event gave the two students an excellent networking opportunity. “This conference allowed me to develop connections with the leaders of my community,” Estrada said, “and to learn information about everything from corporate structure to immigration law directly from the people involved in those things.” While he made a number of connections, he’s most excited about a representative from Microsoft who asked for his business card and résumé.

Renner, who also lined up several telephone interviews for possible summer internships, said, “I walked away with a rejuvenated sense of my political prowess as a Latino and gained a better sense of how I can utilize the American political landscape to my advantage.”

by Louise Uffelman | luffelma@wlu.edu

Photo: Pepe Estrada ’19 (left) and Jason Renner ’19 attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Career Paths: Tyler Sanderson ’18L

Tyler Sanderson ’18L, a graduate of Centre College from Henrico, Virginia, spent the summer working for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary in Washington, D.C.

tylersandersonprofile Career Paths: Tyler Sanderson '18LTyler Sanderson ’18L

What did you do for work this summer?

I worked as a law clerk with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary in Washington, D.C.  Specifically, I was assigned to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

How did you find/get this position?

Having completed policy work in D.C. prior to law school, I knew that I wanted to get back to that arena my first summer after 1L year.  Fortunately for me, W&L is very well connected in Washington, and I was able to take full advantage of those connections when applying to intern with the House Judiciary Committee.  The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Bob Goodlatte, is himself a Washington and Lee Law alumnus.   A good friend of mine from a previous internship, who is also an alumnae of the undergraduate university, was working in Representative Goodlatte’s personal office on Capitol Hill at the time of my application.  I sent her an email and she responded immediately, offering to contact the intern coordinator and put in a good word for me.  W&L’s alumni network is truly phenomenal, and really helped me get my foot in the door with the Judiciary Committee.

Describe your work experience.  

Similar to most offices on Capitol Hill, my responsibilities and assignments generally revolved around what was happening that day.  As the only law clerk assigned to the Crime Subcommittee, much of my work focused on some of the nation’s larger stories and headlines that took place over the summer.  The week after the horrific shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, I was tasked with continually updating Subcommittee attorneys on the details surrounding the shooting and any information that came to light on the gunman.  In response to the shooting, I had the opportunity to draft a number of legal memos, one of which was requested by the Chairman of the Judiciary and pertained to the constitutionality of deactivating radical jihadist websites with the goal of combating self-radicalization and lone-wolf terrorism.  In addition, I also was tasked with researching and drafting legal memos on a number of different subject areas, including criminal justice reform, the constitutionality of prosecuting juveniles as adult offenders in cases of violent crime, and ongoing efforts to strengthen international law enforcement cooperation.

What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?  

My internship with the House Judiciary Committee was a fantastic place to spend the summer, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in public policy.  Not only was the work fascinating and academically stimulating, but the attorneys I had the opportunity to work under at the Crime Subcommittee were incredibly approachable and always happy to offer any career advice and suggestions.  I also greatly enjoyed the fast paced nature of the office.  While I often was tasked with lengthier research projects, there were plenty of times when I was asked to research issues surrounding pending legislation and report back quickly to our chief counsel, so that she could then pass along any relevant information to the Judiciary Chairman.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?  

While I knew that I had a strong interest in public policy coming into law school, my experience with the House Judiciary Committee has confirmed my desire to pursue a career in government.  It is my hope to be back in Washington, D.C. next summer, either working for a federal agency or a committee on Capitol Hill.

Career Paths: Brian Wagoner ’18L

Brian Wagoner ’18L, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill from Burlington, NC, worked this summer for the USAID Governance for Inclusive Growth Program in Hanoi, Vietnam.  

brianwagonerprofile Career Paths: Brian Wagoner '18LBrian Wagoner ’18L

How did you find/get this position?

I found this position through Professor Rice, one of the upper-level professors here at W&L Law. After expressing my interest in international law and my desire to work abroad during my 1L summer to my Kirgis Fellow, I was directed to faculty that could help direct me figure out where to find opportunities. Professor Rice was able to put me in touch with the program director of the USAID program and assisted me in setting up a skype interview.

Describe your work experience.

I worked in an office of ~40 staff that was mostly locals. My work consisted of locating, analyzing, and comparing laws of various countries that were related to newly proposed laws, or reformed laws that the Vietnamese Government wanted input on. I then compiled my research into memos that the staff were able to use in preparing presentations and learning more about the issues. Additionally, I was able to sit-in on and contribute to meetings with counterpart organizations such as the Asia Development Bank and various ministries and departments of the Vietnamese Government.

What were some skills you developed this summer?

In addition to developing my writing skills, I also improved my interpersonal and communication skills. Being in a country where most of the population does not speak English and that has cultural norms that could, at times, be vastly different than my own required flexibility and adaptability. Learning to work in such an environment could be challenging at times, but was a highly rewarding experience nonetheless.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

During my first year of law school, I worked with Professor Rice in assisting in the development of codes of conduct for two law schools in Ukraine. We would video conference with our counterparts in Ukraine to assist and offer input from our own experiences. This was my first international work experience and my first time where cultural differences were so pronounced. Having this experience before going to Vietnam was useful and would prove to be just a taste of what I would experience in Vietnam.

Career Paths: Matt Donahue ’18L

Matt Donahue ’18L, a graduate of George Washington University from Benicia, CA, worked this past summer in the Office of the General Counsel at Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, CA.  

mattdonohueprofile Career Paths: Matt Donahue '18LMatt Donahue ’18L

How did you find/get this position?

Honestly, I thought about different agencies I might want to work with and Googled them. The District got back to me quickly and I had an internship lined up by mid-January, which was a relief.

Describe your work experience.

The best thing about this internship is that I received substantive legal work on day one. The Office of the General Counsel is a small office in a giant school district (40,000 students), so the work flow is immediate and fairly steady. Because the office focuses on general practice, the work is also quite varied. I wrote memos, conducted research, drafted court orders and responses, and wrote policy guidance documents. Ultimately, I gained experience in areas of law such as special education, contracts, torts, public finance, employment, and public records disclosure.

What were some skills you developed this summer?

The most important skill I gained during the summer was simply confidence in my ability to use my legal knowledge in a real-world context. At the beginning of the summer, it was a little jarring to think that anyone expected me to be able to conduct research and come to any sort of valuable legal conclusion. By the end of the summer, however, I felt much more comfortable giving my opinion and anticipating what needed to be accomplished next. Additionally, I was able to work on my memo writing skills each day, and I feel like that’s invaluable.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

Before attending law school, I was an elementary school teacher for four years. This was very helpful at times when I needed to “talk teacher” with administrators and other school employees, but it is certainly not a required experience. As far a curriculum is concerned, APLP was helpful for due process hearings, and I also drew on many concepts from contract law.

What surprised you about the work you did this summer?

The amount to which the interns were trusted in grappling with substantive legal issues and making recommendations was quite surprising. On my first week in the office, I was assigned as the “on call attorney” for district employees and students who need legal advice. It was very intimidating at first, until I realized I could just say “I’ll get back to you on that,” and ask my boss!

How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?

This internship allowed me to better understand which areas of law I am interested in–and which ones I’m not. For example, I loved contract review, drafting, and interpretation because of the structure, but I did not enjoy working to fire people–i.e., employment law. On a less academic note, I also realized how much I appreciate working in a social environment. Sitting alone all day in a cubicle with little interaction gets old quite quickly.

Career Paths: Austin Woodside ’18L

Austin Woodside ’18L is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He spent the summer working for the International Legal Foundation in Nepal.

austinwoodsideprofile Career Paths: Austin Woodside '18LAustin Woodside ’18L

For my 1L summer internship, I interned for the International Legal Foundation. This organization is focused on establishing public defender systems in countries emerging from conflict. I worked in Kathmandu for the Nepal branch.

The Nepal branch was started in 2008, as Nepal was coming out of a civil war. Common problems that the judicial system faces in Nepal are the lack of representation, and more specifically the lack of effective council. This lack of effective council has led to enormously high conviction rates. The goal of ILF is to ensure that these individuals receive the representation that is necessary for a quality criminal judicial system.

My task was focused on creating a report to illustrate the negative effects that the earthquakes in Nepal had on the criminal judicial system. In 2015, Nepal had two earthquakes that killed over 9,000 people. After the earthquakes, many of the prisons were severely damaged or entirely destroyed. This led to many of the prisoners being put into unsafe and extremely uncomfortable living conditions. Some prisoners even lacked access to necessities such as drinking water.

The ILF, besides criminal defense, is interested in ensuring prisoner rights and is involved in litigation attempting to right these apparent wrongs. My job was to examine the data that we had created and organize this data into a written report. In this report, we integrated Nepal’s constitutional language along with international agreements that Nepal is a member to.  At the end of the report, we finished with recommendations that we believed would be beneficial.

Changing Perspectives: Hannah Falchuk ’18 Changing Perspectives, Shepherd Intern, Bowery Residents' Committee, New York, NY

“The introductions to policy and ethics were instructive, but the lessons in trauma and humanity were invaluable.”

This summer the Shepherd Internship Program allowed me to join a nonprofit whose 800 employees encounter homelessness each day. I was part of the transit outreach and case management teams at the Bowery Residents’ Committee, an organization that provides housing and health services to the chronically homeless of New York City.

I worked with another Shepherd intern during the early daytime shift, leaving our Brooklyn College apartment by 4:45 a.m. to arrive at the Manhattan office at 6 a.m. We finished work in the afternoon, with nearly the whole day to explore the ample (free) concerts and parks in the city.

I needed neither a computer nor a desk. We were “in the field” each day at train stations, shelters, and hospitals in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. The BRC transit program works with transportation officials to conduct outreach in each of the city’s subway stations. Although housing insecurity is not always observable, the outreach team tries to talk to anyone in the station who shows physical or behavioral signs of homelessness.

The job was far from easy. Many of the people we spoke to did not want to leave the train stations, and our offers of service were routinely refused. I learned the importance of meeting clients where they are — whether that is actually stooping to the floor or figuratively taking on their fears — and building rapport for the day when someone is ready to accept our services.

Once a client is ready, he or she is placed into a transitional stabilization or health program, while a case manager begins the application for permanent or supportive housing. I was able to shadow case managers on client meetings, visiting shelters and nursing homes to talk about any social or health issues that arise while adjusting to a new living situation.

Seeing the path to housing from both the outreach and case management sides showed me the necessity of providing a reliable support system at every step of the process. We listened to some clients consider the possibility of leaving the subway stations and helped others carry boxes into their new apartments. Many clients spoke openly about struggles they were facing and about their frustration with the slow pace of housing applications.

One of my biggest takeaways from the internship, though, was realizing the complexity and my own lack of awareness of common mental health disorders like schizophrenia and depression. This internship gave me the chance to learn directly from men and women typically ignored or discredited by society. The introductions to policy and ethics were instructive, but the lessons in trauma and humanity were invaluable.

Hometown: Hockessin, DE

Major: Politics

Minors: Poverty and Human Capability Studies, Philosophy

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Residential Life
  • Traveller
  • Real Estate Society
  • Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity
  • Compost Crew

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Interned with the advocacy group National Community Action Foundation as part of the Washington Term Program (Spring Term 2016)
  • Interned with Bastogne Venture Partners, a social real estate advisory and investment firm in Philadelphia, PA (Summer 2015)

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I have been interested in supportive and transitional housing programs since visiting a unique housing program for people who have been released from prison and are homeless. I wanted to gain a better understanding of homelessness — how it is created, why it persists, and what systems are in place that might cause or prevent it. I also was grateful for the opportunity to do this in one of the most ethnically and economically diverse cities in the county.

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How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? My poverty classes with Professor Pickett and Professor Brotzman (POV 101 and POV 102) gave me a social, philosophical, and historical context to poverty that I was able to consider and develop throughout the summer. Professor Hess’s Social Entrepreneurship course (BUS-381) helped me think more critically about the financial and practical operation of a social organization (whether non-profit or for-profit). I had recently finished the Professor Connelly’s Washington Term Program (POL-466) before arriving in New York, and the Madisonian perspective on competing interests followed me to my Shepherd Internship.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? Everything I saw and heard in New York! I journaled in the park that was the real-life inspiration for the “valley of ashes” in The Great Gatsby and was a member of the audience for a free live taping of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I didn’t quite master the social aloofness of the city (especially coming from W&L), and I had countless conversations with strangers and friends that showed me bits and pieces more of what New York City can be.

Post-Graduation Plans: I would like to work and write for a few years before entering law school or a public policy program. With that said, my ideas about graduate and career choices have grown in my first two years at W&L, and I am not expecting that to change for the next two!

Favorite Class: Professor Pickett’s course on Martin Luther King, Jr. (POV/PHIL 243) fostered some of the most engaging and practically applicable discussions I have had at W&L.

Favorite Campus Landmark: The rocking chairs outside of Holekamp Hall

Why did you choose W&L? The strong academics and tailored attention W&L provides are unbeatable, and — although I did fall in love with New York City — I knew that I would gain a completely different set of insights from going to school in a rural setting.

Why did you choose your major? Politics combines the history of groups, the economics of society, and the philosophy of power. I chose politics, philosophy, and poverty because the three disciplines inform each other in study and define each other in practice.

What professor has inspired you? The energy Professor Radulescu brings to theatre and literature is both contagious and inspiring. Professor Pickett has also helped me think about situations critically while also bringing my thoughts back to the solid, real-life question of “What are we to do with this knowledge?”

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Don’t be afraid to talk to people outside of your friend circles. Call an alum with a cool job, visit a professor you’ve heard about, or talk to a chef you see every day in the dining hall. There are a lot of wonderful people connected to this school, and we all share some common experiences because of Lexington and W&L. It’s never too early — or late — to build a friendship.

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Career Paths: Lizzy Williams ’17L

Lizzy Williams, a 3L from Austin, Texas, graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in History and a Certificate in International Relations. Lizzy is Co-President of the Women’s Law Students Organization, a Burks Scholar, a Student Attorney for the Criminal Justice Clinic, a Lead Articles Editor on the German Law Journal, and a Research Assistant for Professor Todd Peppers. After her 1L year, Lizzy worked in Frankfurt, Germany at a German Law Firm. Before coming to Law School, Lizzy held a Government Fellowship teaching English from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs.

lizzywilliamsprofile Career Paths: Lizzy Williams '17LLizzy Williams ’17L

What did you do for work this summer?

I was a summer associate with Sullivan & Cromwell, LLC in New York City. I mostly worked on litigation assignments, although I did try my hand at a few corporate pieces.

How did you find this position?

I got a phone call from Assistant Dean Jarrett of the Office of Career Strategy at the beginning of August 2015. I was applying to law firms and he suggested I apply to S&C. I had a phone interview with a Litigation Partner and then flew to NYC for my call back interview where I got to meet a litigation partner and associate and a general practice partner and associate, along with recruiting staff and a recruiting partner who practiced in the Estates Group. This gave me a good sense of the firm. The next day, I got a call giving me an offer for the Summer of 2016.

Describe your work experience.

S&C’s NYC office is located in the financial district. The building, which they own, sits on the water, and from my office I could see boats floating in the Bay. I shared my office with a first year litigation associate which allowed me to have someone there, whenever I needed help. This summer, I got assignments through the formal assignment system, from my partner and associate advisors, and from lawyers that I met at networking events. This variety allowed me to work on a litigation project in most of the areas that S&C does litigation. I also took part in a wide range of projects within these fields, from researching, to drafting, to creating interview questions, to helping to organize facts. I was able to get a real sense of what kinds of projects are available to attorneys at S&C.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

Part of being a summer associate is juggling doing work with networking. I think my near over-involvement at W&L Law really helped me to keep both of those under control in the summer and to make the most out of all the opportunities. This summer I ended up drawing on things I had learned in Contracts, American Political Law Process, Complex Litigation: Injunctions, Close Business Arrangements, Publicly Held Businesses, Evidence and even Constitutional Law (for my pro bono project).

What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?

My favorite thing is also what surprised me the most! I was a little nervous about what the people would be like, because there are so many negative stereotypes about Biglaw and NYC lawyers and firm life. But, I am so happy to say that, in my experience, those people are the exception and not the rule! I met so many wonderful people across every part of the firm: from partners, to security. All of the lawyers loved their work, even when they wished for a few more hours of sleep. It was an intellectually stimulating world of people working hard.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?

I have a job! After graduation in May, I will be returning to Sullivan & Cromwell’s New York City Office, as a litigation associate.

Career Paths: Kit Thomas ’18L

Kit Thomas ’18L spent her summer at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, a non-profit trial level death penalty organization located in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a graduate of Centre College and is interested in a career in capital defense and criminal justice.

kitthomasprofile Career Paths: Kit Thomas '18LKit Thomas ’18L

What did you do for work this summer?

This summer I worked at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, a non-profit trial level death penalty organization located in New Orleans, Louisiana.

How did you find/get this position?

I found out about LCAC from Professor Shapiro. I essentially went to Professor Shapiro’s office to introduce myself and to let him know about my interest in death penalty work, but I left with contact information for his daughter who is an attorney for LCAC in their Shreveport office. I spoke on the phone with Meghan Shapiro about my motivations and interest in the death penalty and at the end of the conversation she offered me a summer position.

Describe your work experience.

My work experience included a number of tasks and responsibilities. Each intern was assigned to a case that LCAC is currently working on as well as to a project the office was hoping to accomplish over the summer. I was assigned to a federal habeas death penalty case and a project, which required me to organize and orchestrate an in-house training on a particularized method of voir dire used by capital defense attorneys. With regard to my case, I was assigned numerous legal research tasks, including finding requirements to prove ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to mitigate and fees for Freedom of Information Act requests. I also had the opportunity to participate in a client welfare project, which allowed me to find, purchase, and ship items to our clients at Louisiana’s State Penitentiary (Angola). Additionally, I was able to travel to Angola to visit a number of clients and to discuss their cases.

What were some skills you developed this summer?

I found it difficult to begin a legal job after spending months reading case law and trying to figure out how to use legal search engines. During my summer job I gained a better understanding of how to craft a legal question and what to look for when trying to answer that question. Although courses during law school can help to prepare you for what is expected of you during a job, nothing teaches you better than being thrown a question and spending hours pouring over case law to try to figure out an answer. Coming away from my time at LCAC I feel more confident and competent with regard to my ability to conduct legal research and come to a succinct conclusion.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

A general interest in death penalty work and a strong interest in criminal defense work are certainly necessary to engage in this summer work. Criminal law was definitely the most useful course with regard to subject matter, but my legal research course gave me the background necessary to begin my research tasks at LCAC.

What surprised you about the work you did this summer?

I was surprised at the severe funding crisis that Louisiana capital defense attorneys have to deal with on a daily basis. Disclaimer: This may be an across the board experience for capital defense attorneys, but I can only attest to the situation in New Orleans. The funding cuts leave offices without a number of the resources that law firms have at their disposal, as well as being utterly under-staffed. I find this the most surprising because it is the legal work that deals with life or death, the most severe legal consequence imaginable; it’s hard to believe that a legal field that is so important deals with such terrible funding problems.

What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?

I loved everything about my job, but what I enjoyed most was being surrounded by fiercely intelligent lawyers who were passionate about their work in a way that I had never experienced. I find it easier to picture myself as a capital defense attorney because I have seen the career in action. The position may entail grueling hours, funding shortages, and frustrating decisions, but it also entails the most rewarding victories, compassionate individuals, and a tremendously important cause.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?

My time at LCAC easily reaffirmed my interest in being a capital defense attorney. Because capital defense work is such a niche area of the law, I don’t think that working at anything other than a capital defense office can give you a feel for what such a job would look like. I am glad to have had a chance to see the work on a day-to-day basis and to know that a trial level capital defense position would be something I could see myself doing long term.

How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?

My summer experience has only further focused my interest in doing capital defense work, which helps to give direction to my time at W&L. As a result of my job at LCAC, I have made a number of contacts in the criminal defense world that I believe will help further my career goals. For example, I am going to spend time during this academic year working for a lawyer I met this summer prepare for two upcoming capital trials that his non-profit capital defense office is handling. In addition, it gave me a sense of familiarity with death penalty case law such that I feel comfortable entering my 2L year enrolled in criminal procedure, death penalty, as well as VC3.

Career Paths: Bo Mahr ’17L

Bo Mahr ’17L spent the summer working for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Office of the General Counsel as a Law Clerk. At W&L Law, Bo serves as vice-chair of the Moot Court Executive Board. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Bo received partial funding for his internship from the A. Paul  Knight Program in Conservation.

bomahrprofile Career Paths: Bo Mahr '17LBo Mahr ’17L

What did you do for work this summer?

I worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Office of the General Counsel as a Law Clerk. The CEQ is a part of the Executive Office of the President and helps coordinate and develop national environmental policies and initiatives. The Office of the General Counsel was a small team that included four clerks, four attorneys, and the General Counsel.

How did you get this position?

As a 1L interested in environmental law I was told to talk to Cameron Tommey (’15L). Little did I know at the time, he had previously worked as a Law Clerk at the CEQ. He helped me pull my application together and served as a great resource during the interview process.

Describe your work experience.

Both the breadth and depth of the work done at the CEQ were impressive, and being a part of a small team meant that I was able to contribute from the start. From memos over public lands to briefings about renewable energy credits, I covered more ground in three months than I thought was possible. Overall, it was working with incredibly qualified individuals who cared deeply about the work that set this experience apart.

What were some of the skills you developed this summer?

I refined my ability to communicate with those from other professional backgrounds. A good deal of my time was spent talking with experts in other fields than law. This meant that I had to come up to speed on the technical, economic and scientific side of the issue while being able to frame the legal and regulatory implications in an easily digestible manner. At a place where few people are generalists, this became a key ability to have.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

Professor Jill Fraley, my Law and Geography professor, was key in my preparation for my summer clerkship. Regardless of the issue, legal or otherwise, the ability to write in a concise and understandable fashion was invaluable. While Law and Geography, a writing intensive seminar, covered environmental issues relevant to my work, it was the lessons over sentence structure and organization that proved most valuable.

What surprised you about the work you did this summer?

What really stood out to me was the opportunity to interact with stakeholders from across the country. As a part of the E.O. 12866 process, stakeholders from various States, nonprofits and companies came in and told their stories and were open for questions. Often I can be too consumed with the legal issues in front of me and I forget to step back and understand why I am doing this and for who I am doing it.

What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?

The gravity of the issues we were trying to solve was something I won’t soon forget. To be able to be a small part of an Administration that is tackling conservation and climate change with a renewed sense of importance was truly a great experience.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?

For all the progress that has been made, this summer reminded me just how far we have to go in solving many environmental issues. This experience served to reiterate the importance of working for an organization that is out there making a difference.

How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?

I have a new focus on what it is I want to do and where I want to do it. This means that when I take classes such as Professor Carr’s Federal Energy Regulatory Practicum I’ll be able to retain even more about administrative law than I would have otherwise. It also helps me put into perspective the impact that knowing administrative law can have on solving complex and important issues.

Career Paths: Ashley Slisz ’17L

Ashley Slisz is from Williamsville, New York and graduated from Boston University with a degree in International Relations. At Washington and Lee she is the 2L Vice-President of the Student Bar Association and a staffwriter on the  Washington and Lee Law Review.

ashleysprofile Career Paths: Ashley Slisz '17LAshley Slisz ’17L

What did you do for work this summer?

I worked for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Disclosure Unit in Washington, D.C.

How did you find/get this position?   

I found this job through Symplicity, but I also spoke with a 3L who worked for the agency last summer and she helped me apply for the job. I would definitely recommend speaking to someone who has or has had a job that you want. It may not only help you get the job, but it helps you learn more about the position and manage your expectations.   

Describe your work experience.   

My duties included speaking with whistleblowers, gathering more information about their allegations, helping my supervising attorney determine if the allegations met our threshold, and writing the President of the United States letters informing him of the outcome of the agency’s investigations. I also had the opportunity to attend Senate hearings and the annual Whistleblower Summer Summit.

What were some skills you developed this summer?   

A skill that I improved on through my summer internship was being able to intelligently speak with someone about an intricate technical issue in which I did not have background experience. Most of the whistleblowers’ allegations were about agency issues that I did not have any background in. Therefore, I needed to be able to adjust to each case and figure out which questions I needed to ask in order to gather more information. At first this was very difficult, but after speaking with a few whistleblowers about complex issues, I honed in on certain techniques that I could use to help me get the information I needed out of the conversation and understand the whistleblowers’ allegations.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?   

Definitely Administrative Law with Professor Carr. Having the background about what an agency does and how it operates helped me my first few weeks with putting into context where I was within the agency and how the agency operates with the other branches of government. OSC works with a lot of different agencies and it is necessary to have a good grasp of Administrative Law going in. Professional Responsibility also helped because I interacted with lawyers outside of my agency about issues pertaining to the whistleblowers and being aware of certain professional rules allowed me to do my job professionally. Lastly, Legal Writing is a class that is necessary to any legal job. Employers expect you to know how to write coming in and the OSC was no exception.

What surprised you about the work you did this summer?   

This was the first time I worked for the government and seeing how much works goes into one small agency really surprised me. The work OSC Disclosure Unit does is important and helps keep the government agencies in check. OSC always has a heavy caseload and it sometimes felt like my desk was overflowing with files. But the attorneys that I worked with really care about their jobs and put a lot of time and thought into every tiny decision that they have to make.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?   

This experience showed me a different side to the law that I was unaware of-the regulatory industry of the law. I had worked for law firms and judges but I had never worked for a government agency. This experienced allowed me to explore the regulatory side of the law and is an area I am now considering practicing in my career.

Career Paths: Jessica Winn ’17L

Jessica Winn is originally from Newberg, Oregon and studied Political Science at Carnegie Mellon University. At Washington and Lee, she is involved in Law Review, German Law Journal, Law Ambassadors, WLSO, ACS, and PILSA. With her law degree, she hopes to make our legal systems more accessible and transparent by means of practice or policy.

jesswinnprofile Career Paths: Jessica Winn '17LJessica Winn ’17L

What did you do for work this summer?

I interned at Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc. (BRLS), which is a non-profit legal aid office located in Harrisonburg, VA, that provides legal services to low income people in the Shenandoah Valley.

I also researched death penalty and Supreme Court clerk legal history for one of my professors, Todd Peppers, who, in addition to teaching, writes books and articles about the death penalty and the Supreme Court.

How did you find/get this position?

BRLS attended a large government and public interest legal job fair in Richmond, VA. I submitted my resume and cover letter and interviewed with a BRLS attorney at the fair.

Professor Peppers reached out to me near the end of the year and asked if I might be interested in doing some research. He warned me that it might not be very interesting work, but he couldn’t have been more wrong!

Describe your work experience.

I researched legal issues in consumer law, landlord-tenant disputes, and entitlements for issues that BRLS attorneys were addressing for clients. I attended several hearings and saw my research used in arguments before the judge. Additionally, I worked directly with several clients, helping them to understand paperwork and the process.

For Professor Peppers, I helped transcribe the handwritten diary of one of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ clerks from the 1915-1916 Supreme Court term and researched the context for many of the people, events, and issues referenced in the diary. I also tracked down other information as Professor Peppers asked for it.

What were some skills you developed this summer?

I improved my ability to problem-solve, becoming more resourceful in seeking answers to questions from outside or alternative sources. I also learned about the record management systems of the court and how to use them to gather relevant information. Time management was another important skill I refined this summer, balancing my work at BRLS and my research.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

Professional Responsibility, Civil Procedure, Property, Torts, Contract, and Administrative Law were all relevant to the work I did this summer. Legal research and writing were critical daily components of my work.

What surprised you about the work you did this summer?

I was surprised and a little disappointed about the limited reach of our services. BRLS could only help people address legal issues. Many of our clients were facing a panoply of challenges, only a few of which had legal solutions. While we could help them in these areas, often solving one problem is only a temporary fix, because without addressing the bigger issues, there is a high likelihood that our clients (and many other people) will find themselves in the same situation again. For example, many low income people make informal, unwritten landlord-tenant agreements or don’t possess a copy of their written lease; this results in many landlord-tenant disputes that could otherwise be avoided.

My research for Professor Peppers allowed me, through the eyes of a young law school graduate, to experience the legal and political world of 1915-1916, which bears some surprising similarities to today: Oregon attempted to limit its workday to ten hours, Arizona passed a law restricting “alien” labor, and minimum wage was under hot debate. It was fascinating to look into that time period and see tests we still use today being developed.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?

I took this internship because I wanted to learn more about providing legal aid and the kinds of issues that low income populations are experiencing. My experience this summer reinforced my desire to do policy work, and it has helped me gain a better understanding of the ground-level issues.

I am also interested in clerking for a federal judge after I graduate, and digging into the legal history and legacy of Justice Holmes gave me an opportunity to glimpse the legal world just as judges were beginning to have law clerks. While I know that I won’t be working out of an office in the Justice’s home as early clerks did, I am looking forward to learning from and working with a judge.

How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?

My experience at BRLS has already influenced my class selection for my 2L year, because it demonstrated that I need to have a broad understanding of the basic areas of law, including business. As a result of my summer internship, I am taking Close Business Arrangements this semester.

The other way that my summer experience has influenced my approach to law school is in giving me a more realistic perspective and respect for the practical aspects of advocacy, appearing in court, working with clients, and caseload management. I am interested in the legal theory, but I now have a better idea of how that theory applies in practice.

The projects I worked on as a research assistant have also been incredibly salient. Opinions by Justice Holmes show up in every subject, and it is really useful to have a deeper knowledge of him and the historical context for some of his decisions.

In Depth: Washington and Lee Launches Advanced Research Cohort (ARC) Pilot 12 exceptional students experience a unique summer program aimed at increasing retention in STEM majors.

“The things they’re putting into practice in terms of community building, leadership, mentorship and working with others will pervade and enrich the entire community.”

In 2014, W&L biology professor Helen I’Anson was inspired during a breakout session at a conference, and returned to campus to share the seed of an idea with Marc Conner, interim provost. That idea — to create a program that would increase retention of underrepresented students in STEM through an early research experience — quickly blossomed into the Advanced Research Cohort (ARC) Program, which was piloted on campus this summer.

The objective was two-fold: to get a diverse group of incoming first-year students interested in STEM in the hopes of retaining them, and to help them flourish by bringing them to campus before the fall start so they would already feel at home, having developed relationships early on with one another, as well as with faculty and with current students.

The program focused initially on three specific initiatives. First, creating an environment for faculty to work closely with students. The university had the Summer Research Scholars program in place for current W&L students, and the ARC program presented an opportunity for incoming students to become involved in ongoing student/faculty research. Second, giving students who already had a powerful interest in science, technology, engineering and math an opportunity to exercise that interest from the very start of their college careers. And third, supporting and encouraging diversity in the STEM fields in particular.

As the team charged with developing and executing the new program expanded, so did its vision and scope. Conner and I’Anson continued to serve as the program’s faculty advisors and mentors, and together with Megan Hobbs, assistant dean of students, and Gregg Whitworth, assistant professor of biology, collaborated in organizing enrichment activities and overseeing the mentoring of the ARC students. Faculty and peer mentors were established, and three student residence assistants were selected to provide mentoring out of the labs and to support and enhance the students’ living and social experiences.

The program creators relied on Sally Richmond, vice president for admissions and financial aid, for help in identifying students who would thrive in the new program.

As a new member of the W&L community at the time, Richmond particularly appreciated the collaborative nature of the project. “Working with Marc, Helen and various academic departments in thinking about the students’ intellectual experience on campus and ensuring that it would be as empowering for them as possible was very rewarding,” said Richmond.

Once the program was announced, applications exceeded expectations by 100 percent, and the decision was made to grow the program before it even started, from the planned six to eight students to a well-rounded group of 12.

“Doubling the number of students made it a much more elaborate program than we’d intended,” said Conner. “But looking back, I’m so grateful that we expanded in that way. It gave us this perfect number of 12, sort of the ‘disciples’ of the ARC program.”

Research and Mentorship

The 12 incoming first-year students arrived on campus in mid-June. For five weeks, they spent their mornings in various labs, assisting faculty and their research students on a wide variety of summer research projects. The ARC students were placed with faculty in all areas of STEM, including math, physics and engineering, biochemistry and chemistry, and biology.

“We were very intentional in placing the students in existing labs with our current students, some of whom have been doing guided research with faculty for two or three summers already,” said Conner. “Part of the goal there was to insert the ARC students into already ongoing lab projects so they really hit the ground running and would be both challenged and also able to meet that challenge in their work.

“Another part of it, though, was to give current students an opportunity to work with these very bright students coming in and have the older students be as much teachers as the faculty,” he continued. The upper-division students became role models for the ARC students, demonstrating essential skills such as how to work with a professor, how to conduct oneself in a lab and how to think about oneself as a science student.

Unlike similar summer bridge programs at other institutions, the ARC program was not focused on providing remedial classes or spending time getting students up to speed on the basics of research. The students jumped right into research projects with faculty and current students on work that will ultimately be published.

“They were doing work from the molecular level up to the whole-animal level in biology and biochemistry,” said I’Anson. “They were working on models and mathematical algorithms in physics, engineering and math. They really worked on everything that we do in STEM at W&L.”

According to Conner, “The faculty raved about the students. If anything, the faculty were able to speed up what they were doing. These students — just out of high school — hadn’t had the introduction to science courses that a student typically would have before doing summer research. And from all the reports I’ve heard, the students just threw themselves into it, and they got a lot of support from the upper-division students in the labs, without which this wouldn’t really have worked.”

Beyond Research: Leadership and a Sense of Community

Because the program’s creators saw equal value in the students being exposed to leadership development opportunities as well as research, the ARC students spent their afternoons participating in a variety of leadership development programs, community service and team-building activities, career presentations and alumni networking. Leadership sessions included individual and group work. And, according to Hobbs, who facilitated the leadership training, a lot of personal reflection.

“One student referred to her time with me as being in ‘time out,’ said Hobbs. “Initially I was taken aback, but it actually caught on and became a great way to think about our time together because it was meant to be just that, a time to take a step back and be reflective, which we don’t do enough as humans, but especially when it comes to the four years you have on a college campus to develop yourself.”

The students, often focused on where their studies might lead in the future, participated in a variety of sessions developed by Molly Steele, assistant director of career development, which included meeting with alumni who shared their experiences in STEM, including graduate programs, research and a wide range of STEM-based careers. In addition, Steele talked to them about career opportunities, pay rates and other topics of interest within the STEM fields.

Conner spent time with the group each week talking about academic planning and sharing tips on how to work with an academic advisor and how to choose a major. And Kelsey Goodwin, director of student activities, helped to round out the ARC students’ experience with advice on campus life and presentations on the various organizations and extracurricular activities available to them as first-year students.

“A typical day,” said Conner, “was half in the lab and half doing this whole plethora of other activities, all of which are designed to try to give them this very rich sense of what it means to be a college student at Washington and Lee.”

The program’s creators also wanted to give the students a powerful sense of community. “I think if there’s a buzzword for the program,” said Conner, “community is a big part of it. We want the ARC students to feel like they’ve got their own community at Washington and Lee, and that Washington and Lee is a community that belongs to them, even before they arrive for the start of their first year.

“There is a sense of communities within communities,” continued Conner. “Of course the larger goal is that it grows out from the STEM areas themselves. While a student might be a biochemistry major, he or she might also be a pianist and an athlete, taking other courses — experiencing the whole liberal arts ideal. So the things they’re putting into practice in terms of community building, leadership, mentorship and working with others will pervade and enrich the entire community.”

The First Class of Cohorts, Back on Campus

By all accounts, this year’s inaugural group of ARC students was exceptional. “They were a diverse, inquisitive, exciting and outgoing group,” said I’Anson. “They were keen to be involved, and interacted well with their lab groups and summer research students. The faculty mentors were really impressed by them. Every single one who had a student said they meshed well with their research team and, in some cases, even upped the ante.”

As the program’s creators hoped, the ARC students returned to campus this fall armed not only with a sense of community, increased knowledge and experience, but also with a powerful sense of ownership of the institution and a quiet confidence as they launched into their college careers.

“My advice to them as they were leaving campus this summer was to return with confidence and feel competent in all the work they had done,” said Hobbs, “but to also come back and be humble because they really have an awesome opportunity to be leaders peer-to-peer on their return, especially during those first weeks of transition.”

And the students have done exactly that. Robert Moore ’20 describes his first week on campus as one in which he was able to assist many of his fellow first-year students by guiding them to the right locations on campus. Another benefit of the program for Moore was the “plethora of insightful information from the professors about how to succeed in their respective fields of study.” He added, “It was very helpful when picking classes and setting a nice foundation in the first two days.”

Jenna Kim ’20 had a similar experience. “The ARC program gave me a preview of what college life is all about,” she said. “I know exactly what classes I need to take to pursue my dreams, and what programs I can look into that will help me get the most out of my college experience. I am able to point other first-years to buildings they are not familiar with, and talk about the clubs and opportunities that are offered here. Most importantly,” she added, “the ARC program has helped me prepare the proper mindset to really enjoy all the classes I choose to take here.”

The ARC program had a significant impact on Sasha Edwards ’20, who says the program made the transition from home to school a smoother one. “When I first arrived back on campus,” she said, “I felt that it was easier to connect with people and trust them because I did it in the five weeks that I was here over the summer.

“Academically,” added Edwards, “the research and seminars helped me to prepare for the classroom atmosphere and adjust to the college work load. Going through the program opened up many doors for me both socially and academically, and I am reaping the benefits of it now.”

The Future of the ARC Program

As the ARC programs creators reflect on this summer’s pilot, they are also looking ahead to ways in which the program might expand. The university has already committed to a second year of the program for summer 2017 and several of this year’s ARC students are considering how they might get involved as upper-division students.

Richmond is excited about what an expanded program could mean from a recruiting standpoint. “The ARC program is something we can advertise and make available to prospective students, just as we do Johnson Opportunity Grants,” she explained. “It’s a chance to reinforce the university’s commitment to an increasingly diverse student body in the STEM area, a division of this institution that is becoming more and more important to prospective students.”

“We are seeing that students are ready and eager — and their families are as well — to have opportunities such as the ARC program,” said Richmond. “So whether it’s in the fine arts or another area, I look forward to seeing where it goes next.”

The program’s original collaborators feel the same way. “My vision for the ARC program is significantly bigger that our current 12 students,” said I’Anson. “First of all, I’d like to see it get much larger in STEM, with more students and more faculty involvement. But ultimately, the program has a lot of potential, not just in STEM, but across campus, and is perfect for the liberal arts.”

“I think the most exciting aspect of this going forward is to think about ways that we can improve it and how we can make this an ongoing part of the Washington and Lee education,” said Conner. “And then, of course, I’m always thinking about how we can grow the program, perhaps through corresponding projects in the humanities and the Williams School, or creating other advanced research cohorts in the creative and performing arts. The sky is the limit for the sorts of things we can do based on this very successful model.”

by Drewry Sackett | dsackett@wlu.edu

W&L's Bragaw Interviewed on VA Talk Radio Network

Steve Bragaw, visiting professor of politics at Washington and Lee, was interviewed on VA Talk Radio’s “Mari and Brian in the Morning” about what to expect from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

You can listen to the VA Talk Radio interview online.

W&L's Cantey Interviewed on VA Talk Radio

Seth Cantey, assistant professor of politics at Washington and Lee, was interviewed on VA Talk Radio’s “The Weekend Show With Pattie Martin” on the 2016 presidential election.

You can listen to the VA Talk Radio interview online.

Talk at W&L Considers Whether Plants Have Feelings

Lara Farina, an associate professor of English at West Virginia University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 27 at 12:15–1:15 p.m. in Hillel House Multipurpose Room 101.

The title of Farina’s talk is “Vines, Petals, Nerves: Feeling Floral Skins.” It is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served; RSVP by Oct. 17 at go.wlu.edu/farina or kaow@wlu.edu.

“Do plants have feelings? This question, while often met with ridicule, has been asked with some urgency in both medieval and modern times of ecological crisis,” said Farina. “Lacking faces, voices, gestures and perceptible motility, plants have seldom been considered candidates for the category of thinking beings in the West, but the possibility that they may share our corporal sensitivities opens a realm of speculation about human/plant interaction and its role in shaping environments.

“In this talk, I’ll consider recent scientific discussion of botanical feeling alongside recent and ancient depictions of plant/human hybrids, queer vegetosexual figures that challenge post-Darwinian ideas about botanic sensation, desire and futurity.”

Farina is the author of the book “Erotic Discourse and Early English Religious Writing” (2006); an edited collection “The Intimate Senses: Taste, Touch and Smell” in Postmedieval, 2012; and has published articles on medieval and modern reading practices, queer theory, tactility and disabled sensation.

Her talk is sponsored by the W&L English Department; the W&L University Lectures Fund; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; and Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies.

W&L Students Will Hold Lexington Mayoral Debate

The Departments of Journalism and Mass Communications and Politics at Washington and Lee University will host a mayoral debate on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room of Lewis Hall, W&L’s Law School. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend. The event will not require a ticket but seating is limited.

Students from the State and Local Government Politics class, taught by Kevin Finch, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at W&L, will ask questions of the two candidates. Other students from the class will serve as timers, ushers, green room hosts and other positions. Finch will serve as moderator.

The two candidates for mayor of Lexington are Frank Friedman and Chuck Smith. One will succeed current mayor Mimi Elrod.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Lexington and Washington and Lee communities to hear from the people who want to be the city’s next mayor,” said Finch. “And it’s also a great opportunity for our students to participate in the democratic process at the retail level.”

“We had a successful debate last year, when we hosted the two candidates for Lexington and Rockbridge County commonwealth’s attorney, and we anticipate another successful one.”

Sherry A. Fox ’06L Named a Leader in the Law

Sherry Fox, an attorney with ThompsonMcMullan, has been named to the 2016 class of Leaders in the Law by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

Sherry, a 2006 graduate of the Washington and Lee University School of Law, represents constitutional officers, businesses, adoptive families, adoption agencies, employers and insurance companies.

She is an instructor for the VCU Paralegal Studies Certificate Program; an advisory committee member of the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Paralegal Studies Program; board member for Housing Families First, a rapid rehousing and support service for families in Richmond; and mentor to law school students as part of the partnership between the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association and the Women’s Law Student Association at the University of Richmond Law School.

Leaders in Law recognizes those across the commonwealth who are setting the standard for other lawyers in Virginia. The honorees are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Virginia, significant achievements through the practice of law, leadership in improving the justice system and important contributions to Virginia’s legal community and/or the community at large.

The honorees will be celebrated at a reception on Oct. 27 at the John Marshall Hotel in Richmond.

W&L Emeritus Professor Holt Merchant to Focus on R.E. Lee and the Reconstruction

Lee Chapel and Museum presents “Remembering Robert E. Lee” with a speech by J. Holt Merchant ’61, professor of history emeritus, at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 10 at 12:15 p.m. in Lee Chapel Auditorium.

The title of Merchant’s talk is “Under a Cloud: Lee Meets the Challenges of Reconstruction 1865-1870.” It is open to the public at no charge, and will also be streamed live on Livestream.com.

Merchant’s approach to his talk was to find an angle on Lee that most people didn’t know. “I’ll be talking about Lee’s confrontation with the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which until 1865 had been the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War,” he said. “Lee hadn’t won a major battle since 1863, but he won this one.”

Merchant joined the W&L faculty in 1970, retiring in 2013. He continued to teach part time until 2016. He served as the Martin and Brooke Stein Professor of American History, as chair of the History Department and marshall of the University.

He served in the U.S. Army for six years in both the U.S. and Germany, reaching the rank of captain, before earning his Ph.D. in American history at the University of Virginia.

Merchant is the author of “South Carolina Fire-Eater: The Life of Laurence Massillon Keitt, 1824-1864” (2014). He lectures widely to general audiences, most often on George Washington, Robert E. Lee and the Civil War.

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A Day in the Life: Sonia Brozak ’17 Day in the Life, Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner, Art History in Florence, Italy

“I have been working on reimagining the historic city as it was when much of its art was in situ, originally placed in churches and homes rather than in museums.”

Throughout my time here in Italy, I have endeavored to understand Florence as both a modern city and as a product of the Renaissance. Florence is brimming with culture and Renaissance art, so it’s ideal for an art history student but can at times seem overwhelming given how much is here.

For my project, I have been working on reimagining the historic city as it was when much of its art was in situ, originally placed in churches and homes rather than in museums. A typical day for me starts off by heading to a gallery or church — I have a long list of places that I frequent — and taking notes on what art is there, who created it, where it might have been once, who might have commissioned it, and any particularly defining features. These sites can be difficult to navigate sometimes, as there can be long lines and Florence is packed with tourists in the summer, but it is absolutely always worth the wait and the crowds. By the time I get out, it’s usually lunch time, so I grab a panino at All’Antico Vinaio or Gusto Panino.

After lunch, I try to get to a library. I’ve been using the Syracuse University in Florence campus library as a resource to read up on works by some of the great art historians who have catalogued and written about art as it was before it was destroyed or moved. I usually read and research for about three hours before I head to my Italian language class, where I am slowly but surely learning to speak, read and write in Italian.

After my class, I’ll meet friends for appetitivi at Piazza Santo Spirito or somewhere in the city center, then we’ll sometimes find a place to go shopping or walk around. I have been living with a host family, so I eat dinner with them promptly at 7:30pm when my host mother makes the most incredible pasta, salad, fish or steak (and sometimes all four). Over dinner we talk about Italian politics, art, music or whatever has gone on that day — all in Italian. After dinner, I’ll meet friends and we will find a café or bar where we’ll relax for the evening and meet new people.

On the weekends, I have been traveling to new parts of Europe to see the world and to contextualize what I have been seeing in Florence. Thus far, I’ve visited Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Munich, Prague, Rome, Milan, the Amalfi Coast, Venice, Padua, Bologna, Pompeii and Pisa. Along the way, I have been meeting up with many other W&L students who are abroad right now. It has been incredible to see how the network of W&L extends many thousands of miles beyond campus.

When I return to campus in the fall, I intend to use this summer’s research to create a digital humanities-based resource that will allow students of history or art to see Florence as it once was. Studying Renaissance Florence without being able to visualize the network of relationships, of which the city is composed, has been a challenge for me as a student. I hope to bring the perspective I have gained from seeing those networks in person back with me through cataloguing, researching, and sharing my work with others.

Hometown: New York, N.Y.

Majors: Art History and Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Executive Committee Secretary
  • Pi Beta Phi Sorority

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Florence, Italy (summer 2016)
  • Münster, Germany (summer 2015)

Why did you apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant? I came up with an idea for research that required me to go to Italy in order to see artworks in person, and I wanted to learn Italian. I realized that the Johnson Opportunity Grant would be the perfect resource to support my interests and to allow me to travel. There are very few undergraduate research grants for students of art history, so this was truly a unique opportunity.

How does your work under the grant apply to your studies at W&L? At W&L I study Medieval and Renaissance art history, so being in Florence where the legacy of the Italian Renaissance permeates the city is a dream unto itself. My work researching the city’s churches allows me to see many pieces of art in person that I have studied at W&L through photographs. It has incredible to see the connections between what I learned in the classroom and what I see walking around the city.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your grant experience? I never thought the W&L network would extend as far as it does! I’ve been able to visit W&L friends who are studying, working, or traveling all over the continent. That has made for some excellent weekend excursions outside of Florence.

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Favorite W&L Activity: Monday night EC business meetings. 7:30pm every Monday in Early Fielding. 10 out of 10, would recommend.

What professor has inspired you? Professor Bent is a major inspiration. His enthusiasm for and incredible knowledge of art history are astounding.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Learn a new language. Language classes at W&L aren’t easy, but they’re a great experience. You have to accept making a fool of yourself in front of a group of people, but you come out of it able to communicate with a whole new part of the world. It’s important to open yourself up to learning about different world views. Those courses have been the most humbling and rewarding.

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Putting Words into Action: The Rev. John Cleghorn '84

In his 2014 Baccalaureate address at Washington and Lee University, “Community and the Common Good,” the Rev. John M. Cleghorn told the graduates: “This place and the people who give it life have prepared you for life beyond the comforting lap of Lexington. More than that, they have given you a rare advantage and a set of privileges that call on you to live and lead extraordinary lives, lives that reach beyond yourselves.”

Now Cleghorn, a member of the W&L Class of 1984, has reached beyond himself, as he explains in “Why I Marched, What I Saw,” a Sept. 23 essay for The Presbyterian Outlook that details his participation in last week’s headline-making protest in Charlotte, North Carolina, over the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, an African-American man.

As Cleghorn writes, “I marched because I had heard so many divergent stories about the events of Tuesday and Wednesday nights from my contacts who were in the midst of the action – clergy, city officials and others. I had to see it for myself.

“I marched to bear witness to peace, praying that I might diminish so that my yellow arm-band and religious stole might point others to the Prince of Peace, especially when tempers flared and emotions ran high.

“I marched because my friends and colleagues in the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, 70 faith leaders strong, were out there, some of whom were standing next to the protestor who was shot and killed Wednesday night.

“I marched because I knew there would be both good-hearted protestors and not-so-constructive outside agitators in the mix, and I wanted to try to be on the side of the good-hearted. I wanted to see if I could tell them apart.

“I marched because I see the world through the eyes of a privileged, white, straight male – which gives me dangerous blind spots for understanding the lives of all of my sisters and brothers.”

Cleghorn also writes about the “many, many people of peace and goodwill” he met along the way: police officers, National Guard soldiers, another pastor, and “a young, tattooed man with a nose-ring, bandana and camo-clothing who politely called me ‘Father,’ who carried water and milk for any who might be tear-gassed, and who kept a close, protective eye on me as we both redirected the protesters off the interstate and away from the ranks of police in riot gear.”

Cleghorn began his multi-faceted career as a reporter with The Charlotte Observer. He switched to banking, rising to senior vice president during an 18-year career with Bank of America, before entering the ministry. He has been the pastor of Charlotte’s Caldwell Presbyterian Church since 2008.


Staniar Gallery Presents 10th Anniversary Exhibit

The 2016-17 academic year marks the 10-year anniversary for Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery.

To mark the occasion, Staniar Gallery will present a group exhibition featuring recent works by Studio Art faculty and W&L alumni who studied art in Wilson Hall and Staniar Gallery. “Decade: Staniar Gallery’s 10-Year Anniversary Exhibition” will be on view Sept. 30–Oct. 28.

There will be a reception for the artists on Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. The reception, held as part of the Young Alumni Weekend activities, will be co-hosted with the Music Department which is also celebrating its 10th year in Wilson Hall.

When the Department of Art and Art History moved to the newly constructed Wilson Hall in 2006, Staniar Gallery opened its doors with generous funding from distinguished Washington and Lee alumnus Burt Staniar, Class of 1964. With a mission to serve as a pedagogical exhibition space, Staniar Gallery has hosted over 70 shows in its first decade, enabling students to understand art in its cultural contexts. In addition to presenting contemporary and art historical works, the gallery provides programming to enhance the University’s liberal arts curriculum.

The exhibition will include work by W&L art professors Leigh Ann Beavers (printmaking), Christa Bowden (photography), Kathleen Olson (painting) and Larry Stene (sculpture).

Alumni who contributed artworks to the show include Ebony Bailey ’14; Greg Barton ’13; Kathy Brown ’11; Rosemary Hambright ’11; Amira Hegazy ’15; Alee Johnson ’15; Hikaru Kinouchi ’11; Clara McClenon ’10; Grace McGee ’10; Claire Moryan ’12; Michael O’Brien ’10; Will Paxton ’11; Nicki Ross ’15; Eileen Small ’15; Polly Smith ’08; and Lida Steves ’13.

Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call (540) 458-8861.

Virginia Tech Professor John Casali to Lecture on How to Protect Against Hearing Damage in Military and Civilian Environments

John G. Casali, the John Grado Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering and director of the Auditory Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 12 at 4 p.m. in the Science Addition 114.

The title of his talk is “Military and Civilian Auditory Situation Awareness: The Development of DRILCOM. When Your Life Depends Upon Hearing Cues.” It is free and open to the public. There will be a light buffet after the talk at the IQ Center. If attending the buffet, RSVP to keadyj@wlu.edu.

“Casali will speak on a topic that he helped develop and that is becoming a significant focus in both military and civilian circles,” said John. P. Keady, visiting assistant professor of physics and engineering at W&L. “I have learned that many military personnel have permanent hearing damage due to ripping off hearing protectors during combat. Certain hearing protectors prohibit the soldiers from determining which direction the sniper shots came — an example of auditory situation awareness. Returning fire can also cause permanent hearing damage. Likewise in the civilian workplace where hearing protection is needed for the noisy work environment, people can’t hear warning alarms when a heavy machine is moved.

“Casali will discuss the issues, the evolution from field experiments into a repeatable lab test (DRILCOM), the human factor design issues involved, such as active pass-through sound transmission issues and the current status of development.”

From 1983, Casali was a consultant to over 60 U.S. and foreign companies and organizations on acoustics and hearing protection, ergonomics and warning signal designs. He was an expert witness or consultant on over 40 cases involving product design, industrial accidents, noise and intellectual property-patent litigation.

Selected publications include “Warfighter auditory situation awareness: Effects of augmented hearing protection/enhancement devices and TCAPS for military ground combat applications,” International Journal of Audiology (ed., 2014); “Effects of headset, flight workload, hearing ability and communications message quality on pilot performance,” Human Factors (ed., 2014); and “Auditory backup alarms: Distance-at-first detection via in-situ experimentation on alarm design and hearing protection effects,” Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation (ed., 2012).

Casali’s lecture is sponsored by University Lectures and the department of physics and engineering.

Over There: Kiffin Rockwell, W&L’s French Fighter Pilot

One hundred years ago this month, Sept. 23, 1916, a young man named Kiffin Rockwell became the first alumnus of Washington and Lee University to give his life during World War I — not as an American doughboy, as you might expect, but as a founding member of the French air squadron known as the Escadrille Americaine, or the Lafayette Escadrille.

Kiffin was born in Tennessee, grew up in North Carolina, and studied at Virginia Military Institute for a few months in early 1909. He entered W&L in the fall of 1909, a member of the Class of 1913, studying alongside his brother Paul (Class of 1912). He left W&L in 1911, before graduating.

In 1914, after WWI began in Europe, the Rockwell brothers enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. (The U.S. would not join the fighting until 1917.) Kiffin was wounded in 1915 during infantry combat. After he recovered, he transferred to the French air force. In April 1916, he and other pilots founded the Lafayette Escadrille, made up entirely of Americans. Shortly thereafter, “he became the first American pilot to down an enemy plane,” according to his VMI bio. Just four months later, Kiffin met his final fate.

Kiffin was held in high regard by his fellow pilots, and “Paul’s role as wartime unit documentarian, lifelong unit historian, and preserver of his brother’s compelling story secured his place in the unit’s history,” according to Seth McCormick-Goodhart, senior assistant in Special Collections & Archives at W&L’s Leyburn Library. He writes about the Rockwell brothers in the upcoming fall issue of FOLIOS.

FOLIOS, which comes out twice a year, is a benefit of membership in W&L’s Friends of the Library.  The organization supports the academic mission of the university by strengthening the library’s collections and services.

McCormick-Goodhart also writes: “On April 20, 2016, a large and formal 100-year anniversary commemoration took place at Marnes-la-Coquette, just west of Paris, France. The ceremony took place at the site of the French memorial to America’s first aerial combat unit, the Lafayette Escadrille (LE). The event included a rededication of the large arched monument that houses the remains of 49 of the 68 LE pilots who died between 1916 and 1919. Distinguished guests included families of the original pilots who joined the LE, American and French military and government officials, and historians. Descendants of brothers Paul (Class of 1912) and Kiffin Rockwell (Class of 1913) were in attendance.”

He also explains the brothers’ passion for wartime service: “Hailing from North Carolina, the Rockwells were educated, adventure-seeking entrepreneurs of French Huguenot ancestry. Considering their joint ethos and a history of military service in the family, their decision to fight for the cause of France likely surprised no one, and it didn’t take them long to see it through.”

McCormick-Goodhart and his colleagues in Special Collections & Archives oversee the Paul Rockwell collection, which he writes is “rich in original correspondence and documents, but has no equal worldwide for its photographic holdings which document, both candidly and posed, the original unit members and their experiences. The majority of the photographs were taken by Paul Rockwell himself in the field with the escadrille.” (Like his brother, Paul Rockwell did not graduate from W&L.)

In 2014, Special Collections staff welcomed to W&L Steven A. Ruffin, an aviation historian and retired Air Force colonel. This past summer, Ruffin published “The Lafayette Escadrille: A Photo History of the First American Fighter Squadron” (Casemate). McCormick-Goodhart reports that “at least two more publications and two documentary films are forthcoming, each being the product of individual researchers who have spent fruitful time in the Special Collections reading room over recent months.”

Kiffin Rockwell is also the centerpiece of an exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of History, in Raleigh, “Kiffin Rockwell: A North Carolinian Flies for France.” In another salute to the aviator, it opened on Sept. 23. Tom Camden ’76, head of Special Collections & Archives, McCormick-Goodhart, and Byron Faidley, collections assistant, represented W&L at the event.

W&L's Strong Composes “The Trumpsburg Address”

The following opinion piece by Bob Strong, William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee, appeared in The Roanoke Times on September 23, 2016, and is reprinted here by permission.

Strong: The Trumpsburg Address

As the first presidential candidate debate in this 2016 election cycle gets closer, the Trump campaign is still focused on the challenging task of making their candidate appear to be more presidential. They need fewer photographs in the baseball cap, more words on teleprompters, some speaking engagements that don’t look like high school pep rallies, policy proposals that include a few details and periodic efforts to elevate the tone of the campaign.

Thus far there have been no great Trump speeches. But that may be about to change. It seems that Melania’s speechwriters, who haven’t had much to do since the convention, have recently gotten together, looked at examples of famous presidential addresses and worked hard to give those texts the Trump touch. It’s not really plagiarism; it’s just making speeches great again.

An example of their good work has recently come to light. The speech does not yet have a formal title, but it might be called:

The Trumpsburg Address

Twelve score years ago our forefathers, all four of them, brought forth on this continent a newly constructed nation, conceived in competition and dedicated to the proposition that most people are losers and only a few of us get to be winners.

Now we are engaged in a great uncivil election testing whether that nation, so constructed, has enough losers to make me President of the United States. We are met on a great stage in that election. I have come to dedicate a portion of this stage to vicious and vile insults of crooked Hillary and the media monsters who unfairly support her in a rigged political process. It is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this, believe me.

But, in a larger sense, I can not insult, I can not insinuate, I can not incite on this stage. The things I have previously said, truthful and otherwise (mostly otherwise), have already destroyed this election far above my poor power to now add or detract from that destruction. The world will little note, nor long remember what I say here, but it can never forget my hair, and the desecration I have done to the presidential selection system. It is for me to be here dedicated to that cause for which I gave the full measure of my twitter account — that I here highly resolve that this election shall not have gone on endlessly and in vain — that this nation, under Trump, shall someday have a new wall of freedom — and that publicity of the Trump, by the Trump, for the Trump,shall not perish from cable news networks.

Robert A. Strong | Strong is the Wilson professor of politics at Washington and Lee University and is currently completing a book on the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

Peter Singer is Keynote Speaker for 2016-2017 Markets and Morals Series at W&L

Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, is the keynote speaker for the 2016–17 Markets and Morals series, sponsored by the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics at Washington and Lee University. The event will be Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. in Lee Chapel at W&L.

Singer will speak on “Permitting the Sale of Meat But Not Kidneys or Sex? Some Questions About Markets and Morals.” He specializes in applied ethics and approaches ethic issues from a utilitarian standpoint. The talk is free and open to the public and will also be broadcast live online.

Since 1975, he has written, co-authored, edited or co-edited more than 40 books, including “Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter” (2016); “The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically” (2015); and “The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty” (2009).

Singer first became internationally known after the publication of his book “Animal Liberation” (1975), which is one of the intellectual foundations of the modern animal-rights movement.

In 2005, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. In 2011, Time included “Animal Liberation” on its “All-TIME” list of the 100-best nonfiction books published in English. In 2012, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia, the nation’s highest civic honor.

The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his gift, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is the fitting home.”

For full details of this series and the names and dates of the lecturers, visit: https://www.wlu.edu/mudd-center/programs-and-events/2016-2017-markets-and-morals.

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Roanoke Times: Washington and Lee graduate achieves Paralympic dream

The Roanoke Times featured a story about W&L alumnus Matt Simpson ’12, who earned a silver medal last week as a member of the U.S. men’s goalball team at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Read the full story.


NPR's Stateside Features Interview with W&L's Stephanie Sandberg

Stephanie Sandberg’s play “Stories in Blue: A Pilgrimage to Heal Human Trafficking” debuts this week at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI.

Sandberg, assistant professor of theater at Washington and Lee, was interviewed about the play on NPR’s Stateside program. You can listen to the Stateside interview online.

Read more about Sandberg’s “Stories in Blue” in the recent Faculty Focus feature, “Art with Heart.”

Inside Higher Ed Features Q&A with W&L's Ellen Mayock

Ellen Mayock, Ernest Williams II Professor of Romance Languages and professor of women’s and gender studies at Washington and Lee University, was featured in a recent story in Inside Higher Ed.

The piece discusses Mayock’s new book, “Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace,” and includes a Q&A with the author.

You can read the full Inside Higher Ed story online.

A Day in the Life: Prakhar Naithani ’17 Day in the Life, Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner, North Carolina State University's Forestry Biomaterials Department

“It felt wonderful to be finding something new to learn every day, whether it was tweaking the experimental procedures or getting my hands dirty working on the lab Freeze-Dryer unit to fix a faulty vacuum.”

Paper. A term that many people my age might associate with corded telephones or fax machines. However, just in the U.S., we use over 69 million tons of paper and paperboard. Every year we publish two billion books, 250 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers! And those numbers don’t even account for the variety of consumer goods made from byproducts resulting from pulping processes. This summer I had the distinct pleasure of working at the North Carolina State University’s Forestry Biomaterials Department to conduct research into the chemistry behind lignin fractionation. Before I got started, I had to learn the reason why lignin, a byproduct of the pulping process, was an important area of research.

Lignin is an organic polymer that forms the structural material for supporting plant cells and, after cellulose, it is the most abundant renewable carbon source on Earth. Yet lignin has been underutilized in commercial applications. It is produced at a rate of several million tons per year as a byproduct of the pulping process, but is mostly used as fuel for power and heat generation. One of the biggest problems with using lignin is that since it is a byproduct of making paper products, there are many types of it produced worldwide from different pulping processes. What’s worse is that lignin is a polymer with a complex chemical structure of varying sizes. To even begin to make novel materials with lignin requires, first, a fractionation process to isolate homogenous quantities of the polymer. That’s why I worked in Dr. Dimitri Argyropoulos’s lab at NCSU to develop a solubility model to predict what types of solvents would be optimal in a lignin fractionation process. The lab had already invented a simple and green fractionation process, but they wanted to dig deeper into optimization and figuring out why solvents used in the process worked well in fractionating lignin. That’s where my expertise in Chemical Engineering came into play, as I was assigned the task to figure out the science behind the fractionation process.

My daily goal was to always understand why I was doing what I was doing. That’s a critical part of not only working in a graduate level lab, but also as an engineer who enjoys learning what makes things tick. In this case, I needed to figure out the interaction of lignin in various organic solvent mixtures such as acetone and water. That job becomes hard when very little literature has been published on the chemistry of lignin solubility and current solubility theory relies heavily upon experimental data for figuring out the parameters of a specific processed lignin. Many days were spent in the lab playing around with various solvent systems and lignin to gather enough data to use solubility theory for my model. It felt wonderful to be finding something new to learn every day, whether it was tweaking the experimental procedures or getting my hands dirty working on the lab Freeze-Dryer unit to fix a faulty vacuum. Along the way I interacted with graduate students to coordinate lab equipment, learned experimental tips, and worked to organize and build an inventory of all the lab chemicals. In the end, I came away with the experience of conducting independent research and learning how to swim in the deep end called the life of a graduate student. Currently, I am working with Dr. Argyropoulos to analyze our solubility data and publish a paper based on the model I developed. You could say that it was an amazing opportunity and not at all “tearable” (paper puns)!

I would like to thank Prof. Kacie D’Alessandro for helping me apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant and Dr. Argyropoulos for being a dedicated mentor and allowing me to research in his lab.

Hometown: Morrisville, NC

Majors: Chemical Engineering, Business Administration

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Sigma Pi Sigma
  • SEAL
  • LEAD Banquet Committee

Off-Campus Experiences: Particle Physics in Switzerland, NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates at University of Iowa

Why did you apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant?

I wanted to strike out on my own and conduct research in a department that usually does not have a readily available funding source for outside summer researchers. The Forest Biomaterials Department at North Carolina State University offered me a chance to tackle a persistent problem present in the paper engineering industry, while allowing me to pursue graduate level research. The Johnson Opportunity Grant helped to cover my living expenses as I conducted research on lignin solubility.

How did your work under the grant apply to your studies at W&L?

I worked on modeling lignin solubility in different solvent systems. This requires a working knowledge of the different solubility theories, which depend upon dispersion forces, polarity, and hydrogen bonding. As a Chemical Engineering major, my summer research dealing with solubility required both physics and chemistry to understand what happens when various lignin dissolve in a solvent system. The science behind solubility touches upon topics discussed in my general chemistry and organic chemistry courses such as enthalpy and entropy. Furthermore, solubility will be discussed in my physical chemistry and thermodynamics courses in the fall.

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What was the most unexpected aspect of your grant experience?

Definitely the amount of autonomy I was given in the lab to carry out experiments and guide the progress of the research. I got to set my own schedule day in and day out depending on what I needed to accomplish. It was humbling to be given such independence in research considering I am still an undergraduate student.

Post-Graduation Plans: Masters/PhD program in Chemical Engineering

Favorite W&L Memory: Learning how to swing dance by the Liberty Hall Ruins at night

Favorite Class: Particle Physics Spring Term — It makes for interesting small talk when you can reflect back on the time when a weasel shut down the Large Hadron Collider.

Favorite W&L Activity: Getting food in Coop with friends late at night, because nothing leads to a good conversation like loaded fries.

Favorite Campus Landmark: The Colonnade, which is the best place to play Lee Ball — a cross between cricket and baseball.

Why did you choose W&L? I felt that W&L made the best argument for how it could help me develop not only as a student, but also as a person.

Why did you choose your major? Chemical Engineering allows me to pursue many of my passions from physics to math to chemistry. It does not pigeonhole me in any one discipline and truly gives me the freedom to explore a more collaborative education.

What professor has inspired you? Professor Irina Mazilu and Kacie D’Alessandro in the Physics & Engineering Department have been wonderful mentors for me as I was looking for research opportunities. They provided me with the guidance and support that enabled me to land a research fellowship and the Johnson Opportunity Grant. They are wonderful people who push their students to be their best selves.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Never give up. It sometimes takes many setbacks before the pieces fit into the puzzle that is navigating college. Always keep exploring, and once you have found your niche make sure to give it your all.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Interact with people outside of your class year. Talk with upperclassmen in your field of interest to get a lay of the land and never be afraid to ask for help. Everyone at W&L has something valuable to offer and you never know when a casual conversation will land you your next summer internship.

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Interns at Work: Kassie Scott ’18 Equality and Human Rights Action Centre, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

“I have come to better understand the importance of civil society in acting as watchdogs, advocates, and changemakers.”

What attracted you to this internship?

I began to engage with questions of inequality and social justice at an early age. The suffering of others was never something I could ignore. This tendency of mine was crucial to not only my decision to attend Washington and Lee, which unlike many schools has a Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor, but also my decision to intern with the Equality and Human Rights Action Centre (ACTEDO) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. ACTEDO’s pro bono network for human rights and focus on gender-based violence appealed to my interests in human rights and gender equality, two topics which inform my evaluation of institutions and everyday interactions.

How did you learn about it?

The Shepherd International Internship Program is unique in that you have the freedom to create an opportunity for yourself and the community with which you will work; because the options are endless, actually securing an opportunity requires persistence. Without the encouragement of Lorri Olan (Associate Director of Career Development and Pre-Law Advising Coordinator) and without the help of Fran Elrod (Associate Director for Community-Based Learning), I never could have secured an opportunity that suited my interests. Fran put me in touch with Kate LeMasters ’15, who spent a year in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, with the Cluj School of Public Health after graduation. Kate’s community engagement led me to this opportunity. Without Kate’s connections, I never would have learned about the opportunity to collaborate with ACTEDO through the Cluj School of Public Health’s community practice program; more importantly, without Kate’s example, I never would have thought to come to Romania.

What gave you an edge in landing this internship?

The framework provided by my minor in Poverty and Human Capability Studies, coupled with my experience working with organizations on campus that focus on gender relations, demonstrated a level of preparedness and passion necessary to work with an NGO that focuses on human rights and gender equality.

Describe your daily duties.

On a typical day, I walk an hour to work and arrive at ACTEDO’s office by 10 a.m. Once there, my supervisor and I make coffee while talking about the latest news, interesting books we have read, or our current frustrations with the state of the world. Because ACTEDO is a small NGO with a single office, the rest of my day is spent working as a member of a team, which means that I not only work on my projects but am also exposed to the important tasks the NGO’s key members tackle each day to keep the NGO running smoothly. We eat lunch as a team and decide when to head home as a team, so the schedule varies, but I usually head home between 5 – 7 p.m. My hour walk home is a necessary time to reflect and unwind. In addition to my work at ACTEDO, I recently started to volunteer, usually in the morning before arriving at work, with another organization called Thesaurus. This volunteer work affords me the opportunity to work firsthand with the vulnerable populations ACTEDO serves.

What are some tasks/projects you’ve been working on?

A week after arriving on the job, I started a project on human rights education in local high schools. After concluding this project, I began to familiarize myself with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in preparation for the Romanian Development Camp conference we would attend in Bucharest (Romania’s capital). Now, I am working on position papers and policy briefs to submit to the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Fittingly enough, I will conclude my experience, in a way similar to the way I started, by delivering a presentation to a group of students on Everyday Ethics: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Interactions with Ourselves, Others, and Our World. Once back in the states, I hope to start a crowdfunding project that will benefit Roma youth. Stay tuned.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

At the beginning of my internship, I often worried about what I could contribute to the NGO, given that I had little experience with European Legislation on human rights. More often than not, I found myself answering with a timid “no” when asked if I knew about this legislative document or that human rights case. So it came as a huge relief when my supervisor one day said, “You have so many skills.” When I expressed doubt, she went on to describe how few people have the necessary framework when approaching human rights. Because of my studies with Professor Pickett in Poverty 101 and community engagement in Poverty 102, I was able to make valuable contributions to the NGO. When reading position papers and, especially, when debating issues at the Romanian Development Camp conference, I noticed the salience of my studies as a Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor. I found myself engaging with the key terms, concepts, and philosophers to which I was exposed in Poverty 101: Martha Nussbaum and the ten central capabilities, John Rawls and the veil of ignorance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, absolute versus relative poverty, us versus them mentality, justice, and dignity, to name a few. Professor Pickett’s emphasis on asking better, or more critical, questions, coupled with Professor Eastwood’s approach to poverty as an open system, one that is complex and difficult to study, in SOAN 266: Neighborhoods, Culture, and Poverty, invested in me the patience and critical thinking skills necessary to make the most of my summer internship experience. And as an English major, I must conclude by stating what is obvious to me but grossly overlooked by many: the ability to write critically is arguably the most important skill in any field.

What do you hope to learn by the end of your experience?

There is a quote I read this summer that I now think about a great deal. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “There is much more happiness to be found in the world than dim eyes can see, if one calculates correctly and does not forget all those moments of ease which are so plentiful in every day of every human life, even the most oppressed.” Inspired by this quote, I hope to learn how to embrace pockets of happiness in my life and how to create pockets of happiness for others, even — and especially — the most oppressed.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

Placed in a foreign country and outside of my comfort zone, I came to examine critically my philosophy. Did I have one? Did my thoughts about myself and others fully acknowledge human complexity? No longer numb to these questions, I realized that what we see and what we say tend to be reflections of ourselves, not reproductions of reality. To see the value in each person, I first had to see the value in myself. To do so, I began to take self-care seriously for the first time. To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I needed to treat myself with compassion and respect. And in time, it became clear: if I want to be a human rights advocate, I need to advocate for myself; if I want to listen to voices that are so often silenced and ignored, I needed to listen to myself: body, mind, and soul.

What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?

While in Cluj-Napoca, I had the opportunity to interact with Roma, one of Romania’s largest and most disadvantaged minorities. I witnessed firsthand a clear violation of human rights after a visit to Pata Rât, an area located on the outskirts of the city near a landfill and chemical waste dump to which 300 people were forced to relocated after being evicted from their homes in 2010. Neither an immediate nor a simple solution to this human rights atrocity exists, but I have come to better understand the importance of civil society in acting as watchdogs, advocates, and changemakers, which gives me hope.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

After observing the interplay between civil society and the government during my internship, I have a new outlook on what should be a reciprocal relationship between student organizations on campus and the Executive Committee. It is not enough to seek formal recognition and budget allocations from the Executive Committee. As student leaders, we need be engaged with our student representatives. A good way to do this: attending the Executive Committee’s weekly meetings to make certain this exchange occurs.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Be humble — in the application process, in the planning process, and in the workplace. Ask questions — seize the opportunity to learn something new from each person with whom you interact. Be ebullient — bring good energy to your work environment and your daily interactions.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

My internship experience has confirmed my interest in social justice. While I do not know to what capacity I will be formally involved with the non-profit sector, I know that as a Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor I will continue to advocate for human rights and engage with members of vulnerable groups. The big question facing me for life after W&L still remains: How can I do the most good with the talents I have and the opportunities I have been given?

Describe your experience in a single word.

Awakening.

Read more internship stories »

Kassie’s internship was made possible by the the Class of 1975 Shepherd Poverty Program Summer Internship Endowment. Give to an endowment supporting student summer experiences.

Hometown: Pennsville, NJ
Major: English
Minors: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Organization Name: Equality and Human Rights Action Centre
Location: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Former Member of the Bundestag, Harald Leibrecht, to Lecture on Germany and the European Union

Harald Leibrecht, former member of the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament), will give a lecture on “Germany and the European Union: Current Issues and Challenges” at Washington and Lee University on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

During the talk, which is free and open to the public, he will address the many issues Germany and the European Union face today, from Brexit to the refugee crisis and international terrorism, to controversies surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. He will discuss these matters in the context of their impact on transatlantic relations.

Leibrecht served for 12 years in the Bundestag, where he was a member of the Foreign Affairs committee, the committee of Economic Cooperation and Development and deputy chairman for the sub-committee on International Cultural and Educational Affairs.

In 2011, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel appointed Leibrecht as coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation for the German Federal Government, a position he held until the end of 2013. He serves as president of the board of directors for the Cultural and Educational Programs Abroad Foundation.

Leibrecht’s talk is sponsored by the departments of German and Russian and Sociology and Anthropology at W&L.

Museum of the American Revolution Honors Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest

On Sept. 15, Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest joined hundreds of friends and neighbors at a ceremony for the official opening of the Museum of the American Revolution’s outdoor plaza and the unveiling of the plaque naming the recently completed museum building in the Lenfest’s honor. The museum officially opens to the public on April 19, 2017.

Gerry, a 1953 graduate of Washington and Lee University and a 1955 graduate of its Law School, has chaired the museum’s board of directors since 2005. A significant benefactor of his alma mater, he contributed $50 million in matching grants toward the museum’s $150 million campaign.

At the ceremony, Michael Quinn, president and CEO of the museum, said, “This building is a physical testament to the inspiring vision, unwavering support, and tremendous generosity of Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest. Gerry has been the museum’s most steadfast advocate from the very beginning, and we’re thrilled to be here today to name this beautiful building the Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest Building.”

You can find more details about the ceremony and the plaza here.


Interns at Work: Walker Brand ’18 Hardwire Armor Systems, Pocomoke City, MD

“I think the incredible alumni connections that W&L has to offer allowed me to have a chance at this awesome internship. When I talked to Emily, the president of Hardwire, she told me that her first job was given to her by an alum and that she would be delighted to be able to give another W&L student theirs some day.”

What attracted you to this internship? How did you learn about it?

I knew that I wanted to gain some experience in defense technology going into this summer. When Dr. Kuehner told me about a student that graduated a few years ago that was now the president of Hardwire, doing some really cool things in the defense realm, I looked into what she did and I thought it was awesome. Dr. Kuehner got me in contact with her and she ended up offering me the internship.

What gave you an edge in landing this internship?

I would say the only way I was able to land this internship was because of Dr. Kuehner. If I had not reached out to him to see if he had any connections anywhere, I would have never found Hardwire. I also think the incredible alumni connections that W&L has to offer allowed me to have a chance at this awesome internship. When I talked to Emily Tunis, the president and COO of Hardwire, she told me that her first job was given to her by an alum and that she would be delighted to be able to give another W&L student theirs some day.

Describe your daily duties.

My days were pretty up in the air, and I never really knew what exactly I’d be working on. However, my days usually consisted of collaboration with my boss on how to solve some of the day’s problems; maybe a little bit of work with Solidworks, designing parts; and typically some work in the fabrication shop, assembling what I’d designed.

What are some tasks/projects you worked on?

The main project that I worked on was with the Marine Corps. We had been given the task of trying to relaminate some windows that come from armored vehicles. These windows are several layers thick with glass and while in the field, the layers of the windows have separated (delaminated) and need repair. Our job was to evaluate the windows, fix what was wrong, and make sure they were ready to go back in the field.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

I had to pull from what I learned in all my engineering classes, especially my CADD class with Dr. D’Alessandro. Every day, we used principles and terms that I learned in my engineering classes. While I learned a lot about engineering at Hardwire, if I hadn’t come in with a solid background in engineering, I wouldn’t have been able to collaborate as much as I did.

What did you hope to learn by the end of your experience?

I really hoped to learn more about the design process that goes into making armor. Hardwire does some incredible stuff like making armor for military vehicles and police cars, making bulletproof handheld whiteboards for schools, and making the lightest body armor in the world.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

Being in a place with so much technology and brain power is an awesome experience. With all the cool gadgets and armor all around the place, it is like walking in a candy store. Also, I was fortunate enough to be able to work the gun tunnel one day, and that was sweet. I got to pack the ammunition, load of different arrangements of armor to test, and actually shoot the armor.

What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?

I lived in Oak Hall, Virginia this summer, which is not much of a city. However, I learned a lot outside of work. Some of the biggest things I learned while living in Oak Hall, where I didn’t know many people and where there really aren’t many people, is how to enjoy a simple life and make do with what I have. In such a rural place, there aren’t a lot of big city amenities, and the internet is really spotty. It was actually a great blessing to be able to tune out of the chaos of a wifi-engrossed world for a little bit.

What key takeaways/skills do you bring back to W&L?

I learned a lot about engineering, but more importantly, I learned how to collaborate with people better and to analyze problems more thoroughly. My boss was a very smart man and he did a good job of considering every aspect of a problem before trying to figure out a solution. I was able to spend a lot of time collaborating with him on many different projects this summer, giving me lots of good experience.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

For a student interested in doing anything over the summer, whether it is engineering-related or not, I would recommend they seek out their advisor or check out Colonnade Connections. We are so fortunate to have such knowledgeable and helpful advisors here at W&L mixed with such a wealth of resources. If there is something you want to do, research it, ask about it, and go for it.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

My experience definitely influenced my career aspirations. Going into this summer, I knew I wanted to do something defense-related, and now I know that I really enjoy working in the defense industry. I would even venture as far to say that I will probably do something similar next summer.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Wicked.

Hometown: Roanoke, VA
Major: Engineering
Minors: Computer Science and Mathematics
Company Name: Hardwire Armor Systems
Location: Oak Hall, VA
Industry: Defense
Position: Intern

Author Talk Series Continues on Oct. 20 with Emeritus Professor Tom Williams

The Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series, presented by the Leyburn University Library at Washington and Lee University, continues at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, with a talk by H. Thomas Williams, emeritus professor of physics at W&L.

Williams will give a talk titled “The Secret Life of Schrödinger’s Cat,” during which he will discuss his book “Discrete Quantum Mechanics” (2016). It will be  in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The talk is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Library. It is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

Williams said his book is “a brief look at the history of the development of quantum theory that illuminates two distinct formal approaches to the subject and their ultimate unification. One of these approaches, that of Werner Heisenberg, justifies the use of ‘discrete’ in the book’s title, and motivates the topics it covers. The Heisenberg approach and its modern applications will be discussed with help from the spooky cat conceived by Erwin Schrödinger.”

Williams’ recent publications include articles in journals dedicated to physics and mathematical research in 2016, 2013 and 2012. He retired from W&L in 2011.

“The Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series showcases the creative and scholarly works produced by members of the W&L community,” said Emily Cook, the instructional design specialist in Leyburn Library. “During each talk, a W&L author speaks about a recently published monographic work, fields audience questions and is available to sign copies of the discussed book.”

Talks are sponsored by the library’s Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Endowment. This fund was created in 1988 to support the varied activities of the University’s Special Collections and Archives — including book signings.  All books published by W&L faculty are housed in the library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Annual W&L Seminar to Examine European Refugee Crisis

The 2016 German Law in Context program, an annual research seminar led by Washington and Lee professors Russell Miller and Paul Youngman, will explore Europe’s refugee crisis through a series of lectures, film screenings and other events.

Highlights of the series include a keynote address by Oxford professor David Miller, who has been studying and writing about questions of migration, national identity and citizenship for decades.  The New York Times called Miller’s latest book, “Strangers in Our Midst”(2016), “the deep thinking” we urgently need right now on the “relationship between the state and its citizens.”

Miller will give a lecture titled “The European Migration Crisis: Ethical and Political Issues” on October 7 at 3:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room in Lewis Hall. It will be broadcast live online.

The urgency of the questions raised by the program is clear.  Over the last several years, the civil war in Syria and violence elsewhere in the Middle East and northern Africa have forced millions of refugees to flee to the relative safety of Europe. Germany alone received more than 1.5 million asylum seekers and migrants by the end of 2015. W&L’s Russell Miller notes that Europe’s generous asylum policy, drawing on the lessons Europeans learned from the atrocities of WWII, has been a significant force drawing refugees north.

“Germany will be the unquestioned leader on this issue just as it will have to model the legal and social systems needed to cope with administering the wave of asylum applications and implementing the policies that will promote integration,” says W&L’s Miller.

The impact of this wave of migration on Germany and the rest of Europe has been significant, including causing significant political instability.

“This is the largest wave of human migration since World War II, and it has helped populist political forces gain ground in dramatic fashion, upsetting a decades-old political consensus across Europe,” says W&L’s Miller. “As the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ referendum shockingly demonstrated, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the European Union itself – with its freedom of movement and open internal borders and common external frontier – will be the most significant political fatality of the crisis.”

The seminar, now in its seventh year, involves W&L law and undergraduate students in an interdisciplinary examination of legal issues by exploring how history, politics, social institutions, the economy, and culture help illuminate and explain law and legal doctrine. Many of the law students participating in the seminar are associated with the work of the German Law Journal, which is based at W&L.

Alongside regular seminar discussions of the relevant legal framework, a series of interdisciplinary events is planned, including guest lectures from historians, political scientists, and experts in German cultural studies. The program also includes a film series.

For more information and full schedule of events, visit the 2016 program website.

Interns at Work: Gordon McAlister ’17 Sands Capital Management, Washington, D.C.

“Being a philosophy and business double major allowed me to point specifically to my academic curriculum and experience as evidence of certain capabilities Sands looks for, such as the ability to clearly and concisely express complex theses, the willingness to openly discuss and defend an opinion, and an aptitude for outside-the-box thinking.”

What attracted you to this internship?

During my job search, Arthur Olsen, W&L class of 2016 and a current employee at Sands Capital Management, recommended I consider Sands. I was immediately attracted to the opportunity because it was different than most that are available for undergraduates, which tend to be on the sell-side of finance, and because of the outstanding recommendations that Sands received. Sands focuses on an intuitive, bottom-up, long-term investment philosophy that resonated with me at the time that I was considering applying.

Sands Capital hired me as a tech team intern, so I think that being in the WLU Venture Club and my subsequent experience consulting with small tech startups, naturally gave me a bit more background on that industry group. I also think that being a philosophy and business double major allowed me to point specifically to my academic curriculum and experience as evidence of certain capabilities Sands looks for, such as the ability to clearly and concisely express complex theses, the willingness to openly discuss and defend an opinion, and an aptitude for outside-the-box thinking, coupled with a clear interest in how businesses work. It’s also no surprise that Sands often looks for W&L students and graduates, given that two of their top core values are integrity and trust.

Describe your daily duties.

Day-to-day work was entirely focused on two major projects that I worked on during the course of the summer. The larger of the two involved looking at a mid-cap software company. First I created a company-specific overview, after which I made a first pass at evaluating the viability of the company as an investment. Having decided that the company was interesting enough to warrant a deeper dive, I created a list of key questions that needed to be answered in order to fully develop a ‘buy, wait, or pass’ recommendation. From there I reached out to eight industry/company experts in order to address some of the questions surrounding the business I was looking at. During this time period I also continued to conduct my own research, leveraging a variety of resources available at the firm. Finally, I created a written investment thesis, and conducted a one-hour vetting session where everyone could openly discuss and challenge my investment case. The daily work ranged from hours of expert calls to financial modeling and forecasting, all alongside the challenges that I encounter in creating any thesis, such as constantly reassessing my own biases, playing devil’s advocate to myself, and properly synthesizing all of the research inflow from any given day with what I have already learned. Any given day started from 8:00-8:30 and ended between 5:30-7:30. No clocking in and out — I simply tried to manage my hours based on my efficiency and progress.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

Professor Hoover’s managerial finance class was especially helpful in giving me a base from which I was able to create and understand financial models of companies. Much of what we did in that class directly translated into what I did at Sands.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

My favorite perk was the Washington Nationals tickets that the firm would pass out, which were right behind home base. My favorite in office perk, without a doubt, was the top deck of the building, often utilized for happy hour on Friday, and overlooking the Potomac and all of Washington D.C.

What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?

Living in Arlington, about a mile from D.C., was a great experience. I learned a lot about our nation’s history, not to mention a lot about using public transportation.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

My key take away from this job has been that nobody expects you to be an expert right away. All anyone expects is a genuine curiosity and willingness to learn. I think that’s the beauty of W&L and a liberal arts education — that while you gain a solid foundation of knowledge, what you really walk away with that makes you valuable is an ability and willingness to continually learn.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

If you’re looking at a position like this, then you need to develop some basic knowledge. Take an accounting class or two, even if it’s not a major requirement for you. It’s also important to demonstrate interest, whether that’s through extracurricular activities or outside reading or messing around with a trading account. Being able to point to these types of experiences is crucial. Outside of these basics, focus on developing your own opinion. Whether it’s on current events, macro subjects, or individual companies, investment firms are looking for people who have thought through issues and developed their own point of view. Nobody expects you to be Warren Buffet from day one; they just want to see your potential to add your own voice and value to their team.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

Working at Sands has definitely had a profound impact on the way I view investing, so there’s no doubt that it will impact which jobs I will consider in the future. Given that I thoroughly believe in investing in select growth companies over the long term, the philosophy that Sands is founded on, you’re not likely to find me trading options or shorting stocks any time soon.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Eye-opening.

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Majors: Business Administration and Philosophy
Company Name: Sands Capital Management
Location: Washington, D.C.
Industry: Finance
Position: Tech Team Intern

WLSO Symposium Explores Women in Politics

This month, the Women Law Students Organization at Washington and Lee University School of Law will host the 3rd Annual Lara D. Gass Symposium on Women in the Law.

This year’s symposium focuses on women in politics. The event will take place Friday, September 23 from 1-4:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

The symposium will feature three panel discussions covering election rights, the media portrayal of women, and the lack of female participation in politics. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Lisa Bornstein, legal advisor at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia
  • Georgia Cannan, who works on voting rights for Democratic Party of Virginia
  • Mimi Elrod, Mayor of Lexington
  • Pam Luecke, W&L professor of journalism
  • Margaret Hu, W&L professor of law
  • Melina Bell, W&L professor of philosophy, law and gender studies
  • Megan Fulcher, W&L professor of psychology
  • Robin LeBlanc, W&L professor politics and director of the gender studies program.

W&L Law professors Chris Seaman, Beth Belmont and Speedy Rice will moderate the panels.

The annual WLSO symposium is named for Lara Gass ’14L, who spearheaded the first Women Law Students Organization panel on women in the law before passing away in a tragic car accident during her third year at Washington and Lee Law School.

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Dr. Cyndia Muñiz and Antonio Muñiz-Olán to Speak During Hispanic Heritage Month

Washington and Lee University will kick off its National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration with two guest speakers on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

First, Dr. Cyndia Muñiz will share her experiences working with marginalized communities and her strategies for helping them succeed in college and on their career journey. This presentation will be held at 12:20 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

Next, Dr. Muñiz will be joined by Antonio Muñia-Olán for a panel discussion titled “Herencia (Inheritance): Lessons from a Non-Traditional Past.” The two guests will discuss their academic and professional journeys and lessons learned along the way and will share advice for the next generation of Latino entrepreneurs and leaders. The panel will be held at 6 p.m. in Room 115 of the Center for Global Learning.

Dr. Muñiz recently received the 2016 Top Latino Leader Award from the Council for Latino Workplace Equity, National Diversity Council. She earned her Ed.D. in educational leadership – higher education and serves as assistant director for the University of Central Florida’s Multicultural Academic and Support Services.

Mr. Muñiz-Olán is chief strategist, Muñiz & Associates, the Access and Affordability Experts. He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech and an M.B.A from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College.

The events, which are both free and open to the public, are sponsored by the Latino Student Organization, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Career Development, the Office of the Dean of the College and the Center for International Education.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed each year from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. W&L celebrates the month with a variety of educational and social events that highlight the cultures and achievements of Hispanic peoples across the globe. For more information on National Hispanic Heritage Month, visit http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov.

Paten Hughes: Lights, Camera, Action!

Actress and producer Paten Hughes’ dream role would be to play Hillary Clinton. “I find her incredibly interesting,” she said in an interview with The Tulcan Times. “I want to dig into bringing her to life.” She’d also like to play Juliet.

In the meantime, the recent French and theater graduate of Washington and Lee University has another project that launched Sept. 9 — “Heirloom,” the debut of a nine-part rom-com web series on Vimeo.

In the series, Paten plays a struggling actor in New York City who inherits an old farm in Sonoma, California. “Crazy things happen when growing and selling tomatoes,” she said.

She added, “I co-created and star in the series alongside Margaret Colin (“Gossip Girl”), Tom Wopat (“Dukes of Hazard”), Ryan Cooper (upcoming “Rock That Body”), John Lavelle (“Selma”), and Pascale Armand (Tony nominated for “Eclipsed”). The series was penned by rock star playwright Bekah Brunstetter (“Switched-at-Birth,” “American Gods”) and directed by the insanely talented Michael Melamedoff (“Weakness,” TruTV’s “The Problem with Apu”).

Paten, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, became an original member of Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic New Voices Network, performing in both London and New York in a variety of stage performances, including Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” directed by Eve Best. Her films include “Charity” (2015), “Long Nights Short Mornings” (2016) and “Two Wasted Lives” (2011).

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. She promises extra credit for anyone liking her posts.

Student Leaders: Edward Stroud ’17 and Carley Sambrook ’17 Executive Directors, Washington and Lee Student Consulting

“WLSC’s diverse learning environment drew me to the organization; the group provides an amazing opportunity to develop a multitude of business, creative, leadership, organizational, and presentation-related skills.” – Carley Sambrook ’17

What first interested you in Washington and Lee Student Consulting? How did you get involved?

Edward: I first found out about WLSC during my first-year on campus and knew that it would fill a gap in my in my involvements by providing a co-curricular opportunity to hone useful business and interpersonal skills, in addition to providing multiple possibilities for growth. So, I immediately applied when the time came at the beginning of sophomore year and was fortunately selected to become a formal member.

Carley: I became involved with WLSC my sophomore year with fall recruitment. WLSC’s diverse learning environment drew me to the organization; the group provides an amazing opportunity to develop a multitude of business, creative, leadership, organizational, and presentation-related skills. Members are exposed not only to consulting, but also to marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, community-relations, and the law.

How were you formerly involved in WLSC, and what are some of the challenges and rewards you’ve found in that role?

Carley: I have been a project leader for the past two terms. Both experiences were excellent preparation for a role as Executive Director, emphasizing the importance of effective communication, team organization, and the promotion of shared ideas and approaches.

Edward: I was also a team project leader, where I managed the expectations of our client and ensured that team members were on task in achieving this goal. Some of the challenges included working around changes in our client’s needs. Also, our client lived far away, so communication and initiative were critical to remaining on task with our goals. One of the biggest rewards I have received from this experience is the ability to learn how to determine exactly what our client needs, give them an outline of our project goals, and develop our own work from there.

How do you divide your current responsibilities?

Edward: During the summer we shared the roles of project generation for fall term. We worked with our faculty advisors, reached out to alums and/or prospective clients, and decided together on which projects to pursue, as well as who will be the team leads and team members for each project. This fall we will work on promoting WLSC on campus in order to procure new members. From there we will hold interviews for the potential members. Once projects are underway, and their letters of engagement proofread, we will focus on programming our weekly meetings. Here, we will split responsibility, along with reminder emails to team leads. The rest of the semester will focus on continued programming events and making sure project leads stay on task.

Carley: It will be interesting to share our individual experiences with the group and plan the growth and development we wish to see for it in the coming year together. I think we will be a strong team.

How would you characterize your experience in one word?

Carley: Balance.

Edward: Variety. I would say WLSC has provided me one of the widest ranges of opportunities and experiences to grow from and learn. It truly is a co-curricular organization where my involvement is both influenced by and influences my classwork.

What has been the most rewarding experience with this organization?

Carley: As a project leader, the most rewarding experience is the release of the final deliverable to the client. The teams put so much work into their respective projects throughout the term. We are then able to look back at all that we have learned, the skills we have developed, and the connections we’ve made.

Edward: Recently, we had a check-in phone call with our client to review next steps and receive feedback on our work so far. It was extremely rewarding to hear them say everything was very well done and they were very impressed with our work. This was truly rewarding because we had to develop the work from scratch and ensure that it would be beneficial to the client. It was even more rewarding when they mentioned they would love to have WLSC back next year.

What have you learned about leadership in this role, and what other lessons will you take with you going forward?

Edward: I’ve learned the art of being flexible with whom you are working with, both the client and other team members. Our project had to work around a variety of changes and problems, and we had to change our initial goals and project stages to better fit our client’s needs and expectations. Being willing to work with your client’s needs and make sure they are satisfied is crucial. Likewise, it is important to be flexible with managing team embers and keeping them on task. Going forward I have taken the lesson of always communicating clearly and frequently, as well as learning to take initiative on work.

Carley: I have learned the balance of being a leader and a follower, even when you are designated as the “leader” of the group. To be an effective leader it is important to know when to take charge, when to encourage a stronger work ethic, and also when to take a step back. Working with various members of WLSC has allowed me to experiment with this concept.

What advice would you give to students who may be interested in getting involved?

Carley: Come to our open meetings! This shows that you have an interest in the consulting industry as well as the organization. We love to recruit new members who make an effort to show their desire to be a productive member of WLSC.

Edward: Reach out! I would love the chance to talk to potential new members.

Carley Sambrook

Class Year: 2017
Hometown: Montréal, Canada
Major: Business Administration
Other Activities: Alpha Delta Pi Sorority (former Executive Vice President), Fancy Dress Committee

Edward Stroud

Class Year: 2017
Hometown: Shreveport, LA
Majors: Business Administration and Global Politics
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Other Activities: Nabors Service League, President; LEAD, Service Chair and Executive Member; Outing Club, Trip Leader; Political Review, Editor; Bonner Program, Bonner Leadership Team member

Anything But a Gap Year: Rosalie Bull and Ian Treger Two first-year students take a gap year to live abroad and learn about a different culture -- and themselves.

“The world is so much bigger and so much more complex than I’d ever let myself imagine it to be. It turned my life into an exploration of people’s stories, and I hope I never lose that.” – Rosalie Bull ’20

Most of Washington and Lee University’s first-year students are matriculating right out of high school. But two of them, Rosalie Bull, of Dallas, Texas, and Ian Treger, of Lexington, Virginia, chose to take a gap year before starting college.

Far from taking time off from their education, both lived abroad to learn about a different culture and to learn something about themselves.

Rosalie, as part of the Global Citizen Year Program, lived with a family in the Pastaza region of Ecuador, a part of the Amazon rainforest. She was an apprentice at Parque Botánico Los Yapas, a non-profit organization created by a group of agronomists, biologists and a computer engineer interested in nature conservation. The park works on several projects including reforestation, an orquidarium, endemic palm-tree planting, an organic farm, medicinal plants and essential oil distillation.

“I was interested in doing a gap year because I wanted to be intentional with my education and with life in general,” she said. “College is one of the first big decisions we make as adults, yet it is usually not one we make of our own accord. College is a kick-butt opportunity, and I wanted to make sure that I was doing it for myself. More than anything, I wanted to see the world and widen my perspective before deciding what to do with my life.”

At the moment, Rosalie is interested in anthropology and the Shepherd Poverty Program. Her year abroad “gave me a new sense of wonder. It’s like the saying, ‘The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.’ The world is so much bigger and so much more complex than I’d ever let myself imagine it to be. It turned my life into an exploration of people’s stories, and I hope I never lose that.”

She wrote about her experiences on the Global Citizen Year website.

Ian Treger ’20

Ian spent the year in Bonn, Germany, attending a German high school because, he said, “I wanted to let myself become a more mature person before starting college. I also wanted to travel and to learn German.”

He added, “Taking a gap year also revealed certain interests that I didn’t know I had, especially my interest in languages. Learning German helped my concentration, and living abroad made me independent and able to rely on myself. I’m interested in studying history, German and French at W&L, but there are also many other courses that interest me.”

In his blog, Ian summed up his experience: “It was difficult to come here. A new country, language and people at first made me hesitant. After six months, something clicked, and my German improved immensely, and, as a result, I gained confidence and became more open. I started speaking with everyone and expanding the circle of people I spent time with. Somehow I went from being an exchange student in the first six months, to being something more for the last few. I look at my life in Germany now, today, and there’s nothing negative I can find.”

-Louise Uffelman | luffelma@wlu.edu


Feels Like Home: The Village First Impressions, Brand new upper-division housing and remodeled apartments at Woods Creek give juniors plenty of reasons to welcome the new school year at W&L.

“I feel like I have space, and it is kind of removed but in the best way.” – Diana Banks ’17

Washington and Lee University students watched for a year and a half as a third-year residential community, The Village, steadily took shape on the back half of campus. On Labor Day weekend, as the bulk of the junior class began to settle into the new apartments for the 2016-2017 academic year, The Village came to vibrant life.

Students say the modern, spacious, fully equipped units — all in a neighborhood setting — make them feel as if they are living in off-campus housing. But they need only look out a window or step outside to spot the athletic fields, the footbridge and Old George, a reminder that they are right across Woods Creek from the rest of campus.

Many students said it is truly the best of both worlds.

“I feel like I have space, and it is kind of removed but in the best way,” said Diana Banks ’17, a community advisor (the upper-division version of an RA) in The Village. “That is what I was looking for this year.”

The new upper-division housing, which is made up of two residential groupings called Augusta Square and Liberty Hall Common, is the result of a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees in 2014 that required all students to live on campus through the junior year. The $42 million project broke ground in March 2015 and created a lively residential environment on a slice of campus between the Law School and Liberty Hall Ruins.

The Village is comprised of nine apartment buildings and eight townhouse buildings. Each apartment has four single bedrooms and two bathrooms, while most of the three-story townhouses are made up of six-bedroom units with two full baths and three half-baths. Two of the townhouses each have seven bedrooms, three full baths and three half-baths.

When students moved in, they could not contain their excitement as they wandered through the apartments and discovered not only spacious bedrooms and ample bathrooms, but also state-of-the-art kitchens, furnished living rooms, porches and laundry nooks with full-size washers and dryers that do not require piles of quarters.

“Look, I can control the temperature in my own house!” exclaimed Rachael Miller ’18, as she examined a thermostat in the hallway outside her bedroom. “That is so exciting because it’s nothing I’ve ever been able to do before. I feel like a real grown-up now.”

Parents who helped their students move in were just as pleased with the accommodations. “This is usually what you get after you graduate — or maybe 10 years later,” said Karen Hall, who dropped off her son, Daniel Hall ’18.

Some parents were even a bit jealous. Hayden Combs ’18 reported that his mom coveted his new kitchen, with its modern appliances, granite countertops and dark wood flooring. “She was like, ‘This is nicer than my kitchen!'”

Because university planners wanted The Village to be more than just an on-campus apartment complex, they conducted focus groups with students to determine how to build a housing area that incorporates the comfort and privacy of home with opportunities for socializing and community involvement. As a result, the neighborhood also includes a restaurant, coffeehouse/pub, a fitness center, a dance/exercise studio and common areas for studying and meetings.

The outdoor spaces at The Village are just as inviting and functional as the indoor areas.

The large lawn in the center of Liberty Hall Common is meant to encourage outdoor play and to serve as a location for student events, such as the Sept. 8 low-country boil that will celebrate the official opening of The Village. Augusta Square is the site of the two side-by-side buildings that house the eateries and other common areas. Between those buildings is a courtyard with tables, propane fire pits and rocking chairs.

These common buildings and the courtyard were intentionally positioned with an unparalleled view of Wilson Field, where football and men’s lacrosse games take place. The Village is also adjacent to the field hockey and soccer fields. Whether they are sipping local beer and wine from the new pub, having dinner in the courtyard or hanging out on one of the private balconies, students will have a skybox-quality view of sporting events.

“We’re hoping that this will really assist with boosting sports attendance and fan participation,” said David Leonard, dean of Student Life.

Augusta Square will also overlook a new outdoor pavilion that is currently under construction on the Law School lawn. The pavilion, which will host live music and other events, is scheduled to be completed by Homecoming, which is the weekend of Oct. 21.

Finally, The Village also neighbors W&L’s new natatorium, which is still under construction but is scheduled to open in February. The natatorium will contain a 40-meter pool, as well as locker rooms, a wet classroom and spectator seating.

In October, landscaping at The Village will be completed with the planting of some 170 trees and 400 shrubs. Randolph Hare, director of maintenance and operations for the university, said these plants cannot be placed until October because nurseries will not guarantee the stock if they are planted too early in the season. The selection of trees will include showy species, such as redbuds and dogwoods, which will contribute greatly to the seasonal beauty of campus.

“We generally try to use native plant material and also try to give consideration to what gives us the broadest range of color for the maximum amount of time,” Hare said.

Everyone involved in planning The Village was pleased by the pristine new construction, but the sense of satisfaction was enhanced when students arrived and started adding personal touches such as patio furniture, wind chimes and colorful corn hole platforms. “You can already feel the sense of community, with people putting their rocking chairs out on their porches,” said Tammi Simpson, associate dean of students and dean of juniors.

Dean of Students Sidney Evans said it has been a joy to hear from students living at The Village, and that their reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.

“The move in went flawlessly,” she said, “and I think the most fun thing for me has been to encounter students as they have moved in, to see their reaction and to have them tell us that we got this right. They are very, very excited about the opportunities that this is going to give them to interact with their classmates.”

The Village isn’t the only spiffy new housing on campus this year. Woods Creek Central, one of three buildings that make up the Woods Creek Apartments, has been completely remodeled to include new kitchens, flooring, bathroom fixtures, ceiling fans and fresh paint. Evans said the university will gather feedback and consider remodeling the other two buildings in the future.

Ralston Hartness ’17, a community advisor living at Woods Creek Central, lived in Gaines last year. He said that having a large, updated apartment with his own bedroom makes it nearly impossible to compare the two experiences.

“There is just a sense of freedom here,” he said, “and there is more opportunity to relax.”

– Lindsey Nair | lnair@wlu.edu

Dining at the Village

The entire Washington and Lee University community is invited to experience Dining Services’ new eateries at The Village. Named Fieldside, these new venues consist of Food Side Café and Fire Side Café. Both will be open as of Sept. 9.

Food Side Café will offer cooked-to-order late lunch and dinner options from a menu that rotates every two months. It will open with La Cantina, a Tex-Mex-themed menu of burritos, tacos, loaded nachos and similar fare. Future themes will include Mongo Fresh (Asian), Bada Basil (Italian), Fire House Grille, and Wraps ‘n’ Bowls. Food Side will also sell build-your-own burger and chicken sandwiches with hand-cut fries. Food Side Café will be open Monday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.

Food Side’s sister establishment is Fire Side Café, which offers great stadium views and, when the weather cools down, a cozy fireplace. Fire Side will be both a coffeehouse and a pub, and the pub options will eventually revolve around locally made and sourced craft beer and wine. Diners at Fire Side can enjoy sports bar menu items such as burgers, wraps, salads, pizza and wings. Best of all, Fire Side will be open late at night for those needing sustenance to burn the midnight oil. Fire Side’s hours are: Monday through Thursday, 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to midnight; Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight.

All of the new dining venues accept W&L general debit, flex dollars, cash and major credit cards.

By the Numbers

8: Townhouse buildings
9: Apartment houses
30: Seats at Fieldside Restaurant
200: Number of workers on site at the height of construction
338: Number of beds in The Village
359: Building modules that made up the development


W&L’s Diette Weighs in on Question of Free College on WalletHub

Timothy Diette, Redenbaugh Associate Professor of Economics at Washington and Lee University, weighs in on the debate over free college in WalletHub. Diette argues that a more comprehensive solution is needed, one that “helps low-income and first-generation college students navigate the entire process, from identifying and applying to schools through financial and academic support once enrolled.”

You can read Diette’s piece on the WalletHub website.

Poet Erika Meitner to Give Poetry Reading at W&L

Author and poet Erika Meitner will be reading from her work at Washington and Lee University on Sept. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room (room 101).

The event is free and open to the public, and there will be a book signing after the reading. The reading is funded by the Glasgow Endowment and the Center for Poetic Research.

Her poetry collections include “Copia” (2014); “Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls” (2011); and “Ideal Cities” (2010), which was selected as a 2009 National Poetry Series winner.

Her poems have been anthologized widely and have appeared in publications, including Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, Prairie Schooner, The New Republic and Tin House.

Meitner has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Blue Mountain Center and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She was a U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Scholar in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland (2014-2015).

Meitner is an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the M.F.A. program in creative writing.

David Miller to Give Keynote Address for German Law in Context Program

David Miller, professor of political theory, University of Oxford, and official fellow in social and political theory, Nuffield College, Oxford, will give the keynote address for the German Law in Context Program at Washington and Lee University School of Law on Oct. 7 at 3 p.m. in Millhiser Moot Court Room, Lewis Hall.

The title of his talk is “The European Migration Crisis: Ethical and Political Issues.” It is free and open to the public, and will also be streamed live on LiveStream.com.

“Professor Miller is one of the world’s leading scholars and commentators on issues of citizenship, identity and migration,” said Russell Miller, professor of law at W&L.

He is the author, editor and co-editor of 19 books, including “Strangers in Our Midst: the Political Philosophy of Immigration” (2016); “Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy” (2013); and “Michael Walzer: Thinking Politically” (ed., 2007).

“What is perhaps most distinctive about my work is its use of evidence from the social sciences to inform debates in political philosophy,” said Miller. “My longest standing-interest is in the idea of justice, originally social justice, but now also global justice. In the last decade I have combined work on national issues with work on global issues, culminating in “National Responsibility and Global Justice” (2007). But most recently, I have worked on issues connected to immigration.”

German Law in Context and all programs associated are supported by the W&L Transnational Law Institute; W&L Frances Lewis Law Center; W&L Center for International Education; Grasty Fund of the W&L Department of German and Russian; W&L Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Politics; W&L Law Immigration Rights Clinic; German Law Journal; and Robert Bosch Foundation Alumni Association.

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Jon Philipson ’06 Encourages Dads to Lean Out

When Jon Philipson, a top-billing associate at the Carlton Fields law firm, decided to take paternity leave, his “friends questioned my sanity and told me I was committing career suicide,” he said in an essay published on the Motto website (Time Magazine). “One asked: ‘How do you go from law review editor in chief to tummy time connoisseur?’ “

Although it wasn’t an easy decision, the 2006 graduate of Washington and Lee University knew it was the correct one. He writes, “My decision was simple: ‘lean out.’ Is this a cute turn-of-phrase a take from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s call to arms? Perhaps. But it is directed not to women, but to fathers to push for and to take paternity leave.”

Jon added, “Let’s be clear. Paternity leave is NOT vacation. To call it such is insulting to every stay-at-home parent. From when I woke up until I passed out, I was taking care of my family — from supporting my wife through breastfeeding struggles, to rocking my son asleep, to the black hole of sanitizing bottles. This was not a vacation; this was parenthood.”

He acknowledges that his young son probably won’t remember the bedtime stories he read to him or singing to him. “But my wife and I have now set a tone for how gender does not define familial roles in our household or society.”


Not So Sleepy: 48 Hours in Lexington With two new hotels, a half dozen new eateries, and a thriving music scene, Lexington has awakened from her nap., by Amy Balfour '89, '93L

With two new hotels, a half dozen new eateries, and a thriving music scene, Lexington has awakened from her nap. And now that she’s earned a spot on a brand-new brewery trail, she’s also ready to party.

Haven’t been here in a while? You might be surprised by the convivial vibe. Gone are the empty storefronts and quiet streets. Instead, sidewalks bustle with indie shops, live music jams, farm-to-table eateries and craft beer purveyors. So come on down for a long weekend and use this guide to invade the newest hot spots in the city affectionately dubbed “Lex Vegas.”

Thursday Afternoon

For a bird’s-eye view of the downtown scene, climb past the oversized photo of Robert E. Lee to the breezy terrace at Rocca. This Italian restaurant is perched on the second floor of the new Robert E. Lee Hotel. From this lofty perch, you can see who’s wandering Main Street. On sunny days, the terrace is a fine spot downtown for happy hour. On cooler nights, small groups can huddle around the terrace fire pit.

There has been a hotel or group housing on the site since the 1790s. Restaurateur and business owner Ugo Benincasa, a first-generation Italian immigrant, opened the 39-room boutique hotel in the fall of 2014. The six-story building, which dates to 1926, provided subsidized housing before Benincasa purchased it in 2011. North-facing rooms on upper floors share expansive views of the region, sweeping in the campuses of W&L and VMI.

Thursday Night

The place to be on Thursday night is the Writer-in-the-Round music sessions at The Palms. The brainchild of musician Graham Spice, an audio engineer and instructor at W&L, the weekly concerts feature three singer-songwriters. The sessions are a collaboration between Spice and Jeff Ramsey, who bought The Palms in 2014.

Ramsey, who also owns restaurants in Staunton and Harrisonburg, was a Palms bartender in the late ’80s. As an owner he has added modern touches, from a point-of-sale computer system to a more expansive menu, but the overall look remains the same.

“It just needed some TLC and attention;’ said Ramsey. “I didn’t want to mess with the integrity of what The Palms stood for [in the past]. Something that has been here 25 years or 40 years … you don’t really want to mess with a whole lot.”

The hot brown sandwich is still on the menu, but the baskets of free popcorn? Gone. A decision made before Ramsey arrived. And to keep crowds polite, The Palms now closes at midnight.

Friday Morning

Like a true Italian cafe, Pronto Caffe & Gelateria sells a little bit of everything. In the morning, step up to the counter for fresh croissants and scones, homemade breads and top-notch lattes. Later in the day, grab a gourmet sandwich to go or settle in for a glass of wine or Italian beer. The big draw is the gelato. Owners Meridith and Franky Benincasa (he’s Ugo Benincasa’s son) use a complex hot-process method to create silky gelatos that rival the best in Rome. Free samples are encouraged.

The Benincasas opened Pronto on the ground floor of what is now the Robert E. Lee Hotel in 2012. They imported the minimalist furnishings, as well as the coffee and gelato equipment, from Italy. You’ll likely see a soccer game playing on the big-screen TV.

What’s driving the energy downtown? Franky Benincasa thinks the 2008 market crash pushed a reset button for the city, creating opportunities for young entrepreneurs. The new hotels are also a force. “This is not a big town. So if you have 200 people downtown, who all have to find a place to eat, that might be a drop in the bucket in a big city;’ said Benincasa. “But here that’s a lot of people.”

W&L is also playing a role in downtown’s revitalization through new town-and-gown initiatives. Benincasa is a fan of the Get Downtown project, which started last year. During this first-year orientation event, resident advisors take incoming students to downtown shops (like the Shenandoah Attic) and restaurants (like Blue Sky Bakery), which ply them with food, goodies and coupons.

Get Downtown is a partnership between W&L and Main Street Lexington (www.mainstreetlexington.org), a volunteer-driven organization established in 2013. It is part of the national Main Street program, started 35 years ago to revive fading downtowns. Funding for projects comes from private donations, money-raising ventures, and the city. Today there are more than 2,000 Main Street communities across the United States, and Lexington won designation as a Virginia Main Street Community in March 2016.

Led by Stephanie Wilkinson, executive director; Burr Datz ’75, past board president; dedicated local entrepreneurs; and other volunteers, Main Street Lexington has also spurred downtown’s recent boom. A morning stroll reveals its aesthetic successes: bright flower boxes and an artsy bike rack or two. This June, it spiffed up the alleyway between Main Street and the McCrum’s parking lot with colorful plantings.

Shops and Sidewalks

As you walk the red-brick sidewalks, look for the Righteous and Rascals of Rockbridge County sidewalk pavers (www.rrrockbridge.org). Added in 2014, these engraved granite bricks tell the stories of residents and visitors who’ve had an impact on the city, from Meriwether Lewis to Patsy Cline, from
a suspected witch to the country’s first streaker.

And the storefronts? In 2013, downtown had 16 vacant spaces. Today there is just one. Through the windows of old favorites and new ventures, you’ll see stylish women’s apparel, colorful lunch bags, funny tea towels, bright hammocks for hikers, wide-brimmed summer hats, and artisan edibles, from fancy cheeses to gourmet chocolates. The Bookery and Books & Co. are still keeping everyone well-read. Downtown’s newest shops include fashion-forward Gladiola Girls and the Cabell Gallery, a fine arts gallery featuring contemporary regional artists.

Erin Hutchinson is a familiar face to many younger alumni from her stint in the W&L Admissions Office. These days, however, you can find her presiding over the buzzing community center known as the Stitchin’ Post. The longtime quilter had been selling her pieces at local events like the Rockbridge Community Festival; talking to her buyers, she realized Lexington was ripe for a fiber-arts hub.

“I invited anyone who created with fiber to use my shop as a place to sell, as well as a place to teach and a place to gather with like-minded people;’ she said. “Within just a few weeks of opening, I had over 100 local people selling their work in the shop, and I haven’t looked back’.’

Hutchinson, who’s also the better half of Adam Hutchinson, W&L’s basketball coach, offers summer camps and after-school programs for kids, plus “Yarn Tastings” and “Sip & Stitch” (BYOB) for grownups. Dymph Alexander, retired from the Music Department, holds “Office Hours” for those needing a little extra help with knitting and crocheting. Several other W&L employees past and present also are Stitchin’ Post regulars.

“It awes me that I can be open for eight hours and not spend more than 15 minutes alone here in a given day;’ marveled Hutchinson. “I guess I wasn’t the only one looking for a creative community.”

For products created by W&L alumni and students, step into Old Lex Mercantile, on Nelson Street. Opened by Betsy and Lai Lee in 2014, the shop is dotted with shelves and tabletops dedicated to small-batch goods and specialty products. One display spotlights ‘Chups fruit ketchups, created by Matt Wallace ’06 and his wife, Kori. Another features Vern Clothing, a socially conscious apparel company co-created by Matt Kordonow ’16.

The Lees, who moved to Lexington from northern Virginia, purchased the building in2013 and started a small-business incubator called Start Here. Old Lex Mercantile is a Start Here initiative. To help new businesses launch and thrive, Start Here offers several options inside the shop, including month-to-month leases.

The Lees also run their own pop-up inside the store, selling imported olive oil and vinegars, pasta sauces and wine. They sell easy-prep gourmet dinners as well. For visiting alumni and others who need to make a conference call, scan a document, or use Wi-Fi, the Lees rent private work space in the basement.

Before the Lees, the most recent tenant of the space was internationally famed artist Cy Twombly ’53, who used it as one of his local studios before his death in 2011. The building sat vacant until the Lees moved in. “He would do these huge canvasses;’ said Betsy, “and you could see the outline and the splatters. There was splatter all over the floor and splatter all over the utilities sink.”

Friday Lunch

Curious about what W&L students are eating for lunch these days? Step inside the Blue Phoenix Cafe and Market. With a coffee table, central couches, a few used books, a handful of four-tops, and a communal table, the former home of Healthy Foods Market is looking cozy. And that’s the goal of Amenie and Damon Hopkins, who opened the vegetarian eatery in March.

“The living room in the middle — it’s not very practical, but it’s the idea of community,’ said Amenie, who worked at the Counter Culture Cafe at Healthy Foods before opening Blue Phoenix. (Healthy Foods, the beloved Lexington institution, closed this past winter.) “To just sit and talk to one another, and really connect. It’s so easy to become distant, that whole ultra-connected paradox. Particularly for my generation and the one up-and-coming, we’ve never known life without computers and screens’.’

The cafe brings this collaborative spirit to its business practices, selling easy-prep meals from The Red Hen restaurant and cheeses selected by Cheese to You, both downtown enterprises. And after lunch, you can check out Earth, Fire, and Spirit Pottery, the new business next door.

Hopkins attributes much of downtown’s revitalization to an influx of young citizens with new ideas. “What I see with my peer group is that a lot of us moved away for a while, and then we ended up coming back. And we’re bringing with us all those experiences.”

Friday Afternoon

A one-hour stroll from downtown loops past several construction sites. From the corner of Main and Washington streets, walk north toward VMI. That cavernous building on your right? VMI’s new Indoor Training Facility, expected to open in November 2016. A new pedestrian footbridge across the road links the building to a parking lot beside the post.

The Miller’s House Museum at Jordan’s Point opened in May. It traces the history of transportation at the point, previously a hub for road, river and rail traffic. From the museum, the Woods Creek Trail rises through the woods along the back campuses of VMI and W&L. When the trail reaches the W&L Law School, follow East Denny Circle to Wilson Field. The new third-year student residences, called the Village, overlook the stadium. The adjacent natatorium is scheduled to open in February 2017.

Follow the footbridge to the main campus. Remember duPont Hall? The renovated building now houses the Center for Global Learning.

Friday Night

Don’t tell Jamie Goodin ’10 that Lexington is boring. The “Parks and Recreation” fan doesn’t have time for your lack of imagination. ”A lot of my contemporaries were telling me, ‘Oh, there’s nothing to do in Lexington’. I said, ‘That’s totally false’. In the past two years, there’s been a huge explosion in nightlife and live music.”

Goodin, W&L’s digital engagement manager, returned to Lexington from D.C. four years ago. Disenchanted with the sense of disconnectedness he felt in northern Virginia, he was determined to become involved with the Lexington community.

As a member of Main Street Lexington’s board, Goodin (now the board president) spreads the word about events using social media, websites and more traditional avenues such as newspapers and flyers. The events calendar on the Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County tourism website (www.lexingtonvirginia.com/events), Goodin said, is the best place to find out what’s going on.

Julie Messerich ’91, who moved back to Lexington a year and a half ago, agrees with Goodin’s assessment. “Downtown is happening!” said Messerich. “The food is so much better — as are the beer and wine options. Restaurants are catering to the alumni, college parents and tourist crowds in terms of higher-end dining and lovely places to hang out’.’

One of downtown’s most exciting developments is the return of live music. Goodin, who also serves on the Lime Kiln board, gives a nod to Blue Lab Brewing Co. for spearheading the reappearance of songwriters and acoustic groups. On Friday nights during Live@The Lab, bluegrass, newgrass, old-time and acoustic shows bring locals and university staff to the Blue Lab taproom. Tom Lovell ’91, W&L
associate director of alumni affairs, and Bill Hamilton, W&L biology professor, opened the scrappy but inviting brewery in 2010.

Blue Lab is a stop on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail (www.beerwerkstrail.com), which launched in May. This sudsy path flows past a dozen microbreweries stretching from Harrisonburg south to Lexington. For an overview of some of the best craft breweries in Virginia, step up to the Virginia map painted on the wall at Brew Ridge Taps, a new craft beer bar on Nelson Street. Featured breweries are marked on the map with a bottle cap.

Vicki and Stacy Stevens opened Brew Ridge Taps in the fall of 2015, after moving here from North Carolina. “We had to drive all the way to Roanoke or Charlottesville to get the beer that we’d been drinking;’ said Vicki. The couple thought that was crazy. “Why are we making this drive? Let’s open something in Lexington;’ said Vicki.

With Trivia Tuesdays, Cards Against Humanity competitions, open mic nights, and live music every other Saturday evening, Brew Ridge Taps is a boon for downtown. And that’s without mentioning its 18 craft beers on tap. From the bar’s wall of craft beer, brought in from breweries across the U.S., you can build a six-pack to go. As for noshing, sandwiches here are served on homemade waffles and called wafllewiches.

Other Friday night options downtown? For a free wine tasting, stroll into the back room at Washington Street Purveyors between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. During First Fridays Lexington, held the first Friday of the month, galleries share artwork, wine, snacks and good cheer between 5 and 7 p.m. Afterwards, catch live music at Sweet Treats restaurant or Blue Lab. If you’re in the mood for scares, join a Haunting Tales ghost tour, a 90-minute walking tour of downtown’s spookiest sites.

Saturday Morning

Overnight guests at The Georges can indulge in yogurt, fresh fruit, made-from-scratch pastries and juices at the inn’s European-style continental breakfast, or request a full-service hot meal.

The swank boutique inn fills two buildings on Main Street: the Alexander-Withrow House and the former McCampbell Inn. The five-room Alexander-Withrow house, on the corner of Main and Washington streets, is called the Washington Building. The 39-room Marshall Building overlooks Main Street.

Richmonders Ted and Ann Parker Gottwald opened The Georges in 2014. The inn is named for generals George Washington and George Marshall. As a senior in high school, Ann Parker stayed at the Alexander Withrow house with her future in-laws during VMI football weekends. Ted, a cadet in the VMI Class of 1983, was a team member.

After two of their sons enrolled at VMI, the Gottwalds purchased the inn. “Lexington is just such a neat town that we decided when it came on the market to look at it;’ said Ann Parker. During renovations, she spearheaded the inclusion of modern amenities like heated towel racks and heated floors in the bathrooms.

Make reservations well in advance. “It really books up quickly if it’s a big weekend for W&L.” said Gottwald.

Adventuring in Rockbridge County

Downtown Lexington isn’t just a hub for dining and shopping. It’s also a convenient base camp for outdoor adventures. Hike House Mountain. Cycle the Blue Ridge Parkway. Kayak the Maury and James rivers. Backpack the Appalachian Trail. Or simply flyfish the mountain creeks.

One problem for visitors? Knowing all of their outdoor options. To help, the Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge tourism office shares details about local adventures, along with expert recommendations and outfitter listings, on a brand new website: www.rockbridgeoutdoors.com.

One new adventure with W&L connections is the Little House Mountain Trail. James Dick, W&L’s director of student activities and outdoor adventures, designed the trail. It was subsequently built by then Woodberry Forest students Perry Hammond (now a member of the W&L Class of 2018) and Billy Osterman pursuant to a community service grant. The trail switchbacks up the southern slope of Little House Mountain, which means you no longer have to bushwhack to the summit.

Before heading out, pick up a daypack at Walkabout Outfitters, cheese and crackers at Cheese To You, wine and nibbles at Old Lex Mercantile and Washington Street Purveyors, and fancy sandwiches at Pronto and Blue Sky.

Saturday Afternoon

With the Blue Ridge Mountains shimmering in the distance, the patio at Devils Backbone Brewery on Route 11 is a pretty place to sip a post-hike beer. A stop on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, it houses a popular taproom and an ever-growing production facility. Anheuser-Busch is acquiring the business.

A word of warning if you return downtown for a snack: You might be so impressed by the artisan edibles for sale that you end up buying the store. Just ask W&L Athletic Director Jan Hathorn, now the proud co-owner of Cocoa Mill Chocolatier. ”I’ll never forget the first time I ever put that chocolate in my mouth,” remembers Hathorn of the dark chocolate raspberry truffle. “I was like, ‘This is stellar’.”

Recognizing a great business opportunity, Hathorn and Laura de Maria bought Cocoa Mill in 2006. What does she enjoy most about owning the shop? “Hearing people exclaim how much they enjoy the products we produce.”

Chris and Patty Williams bought Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe in 2003. The ice cream is still homemade, and Oreo is still on the menu. You’ll also find their products at The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, and at the Red Fox restaurant at the Natural Bridge Hotel. (In a recent development, Natural Bridge itself is in transition from a private property to a state park.)

Saturday Night

Tucked beside the lobby inside the Marshall Building at The Georges, TAPS doubles as a Lexington living room. Couches, armchairs and a fireplace flank the bar in the intimate space, which fills quickly most nights with chatty groups of locals. Visiting alumni swell its ranks on weekends.

“A parent at W&L told me, ‘There’s nowhere to just go meet another couple and have drinks and sit down, without waiting in line for a reservation; ” recalled Ann Parker Gottwald. “So that’s why we made the lobby bar area more of a living room.”

The name TAPS gives a nod to the bugle ceremony that follows military ceremonies. (It’s also a combination of Ted and Ann Parker Gottwald’s first names.) An eclectic mix of sandwiches, burgers and snacks are washed down easily with draft craft beers, which rotate regularly. Specialty cocktails are also a highlight.

TAPS is the more casual of the two restaurants inside The Georges. Across the street, Haywood’s draws crowds with nightly live music and chef-driven menu specialties. Haywood’s is named for Ann Parker’s father, a lover of live piano music and Dixieland jazz. Floor-to-ceiling windows, coffered ceilings, and prominent moldings provide a stylish backdrop.

And the vibe? “I don’t think we’re going to do what Bob Dylan did in 1965: plug in and go electric,” said general manager David Groce. “We want people to enjoy the environment, but we also want people to enjoy each other and be able to have a great conversation.”

So Yeah, Lexington Rocks!

From the intersection of Main and Washington streets, Lexington looks much as it did in the late 1800s. Power lines are buried, brick buildings flank the sidewalks, and VMI looms on the north edge of town. W&L peeks into view to the west.

Reasons for the recent reboot are many. The Georges and the Robert E. Lee Hotel have spurred more foot traffic. Bar owners and forward-thinking musicians have energized the nightlife scene with game nights and live music. Dedicated citizens are keeping downtown looking sharp, while passionate artisans are introducing new products. W&L is connecting with new programs and initiatives as well as downtown offices.

But the most noticeable driving force is the collaborative spirit. The Red Hen, co-owned by Stephanie Wilkinson and chef Matt Adams, is a prime example. The restaurant supports nearby farms as well as local craftspersons and food artisans. “It’s really about bringing a whole community together to showcase and embrace and enhance what we have locally,’ said Wilkinson. “So it’s not just what’s on the plate, but the plate itself.”

How sold on Lexington is downtown resident Jamie Goodin? Very. ”A couple of months ago I sold my car. I just use my bike. It rocks.”


Paws-itive Presence on Campus Spanish professor Gwyn Campbell is training Winslow, a yellow Labrador retriever puppy, to be a service dog for someone in need.

“The students went gaga over Winslow, and everybody knew his name.”

W&L Spanish professor Gwyn Campbell and her trainee, Winslow

No matter where she goes on campus these days, Washington and Lee University professor Gwyn E. Campbell is met with adoration.

Campbell, who has taught Spanish at the university for 31 years, is a lovely person, to be sure. But she would be the first to admit that it’s the critter at the other end of the leash she holds who is garnering all the enthusiastic attention.

That fluffy blonde beast would be Winslow, a 6-month-old yellow Labrador retriever who is on the path to becoming a service dog for some lucky individual. Since Valentine’s Day, Campbell has been fostering Winslow for Saint Francis Service Dogs, a Roanoke-based non-profit that places professionally trained service dogs with individuals living with physical or mental disabilities — at no cost to the recipient. Saint Francis absorbs every penny of the estimated $25,000 required to train each dog.

So far, Winslow has spent time in Campbell’s Tucker Hall office and has accompanied her to class on several occasions. Connie Kniseley, manager of the Puppy Program at Saint Francis, says Campbell’s job at W&L was one factor that made her an ideal candidate to foster for their program.

“Gwyn has had dogs before and has a very good idea of what is required to raise a puppy,” Kniseley said. “She was given permission to bring the pup to work and has a crate in her office. What a wonderful experience for our Winslow!”

Dean of the College Suzanne Keen, who approved Winslow’s acceptance to W&L before Campbell first brought him to campus, agreed.

“What better place to train a service dog than a bustling, friendly campus?” she said. “When Professor Campbell brought Winslow to campus, I was delighted.”

As a kid growing up in Canada, Campbell said, “I was not allowed to have a pet of any kind. My father would not tolerate it — except fish.” When she got a job at W&L and moved to a rural location in Rockbridge County, her mother suggested that a dog would be a good protector and companion. Campbell has owned dogs ever since, until her last dog passed away four years ago.

Campbell knew it would be a while before she was ready to adopt again — she is nearing retirement and eventually plans to move back to Canada. When she learned about fostering a service dog, which requires a commitment of up to 18 months only, she thought it could be a good fit.

“I thought, ‘Well, a service dog would work well.’ It would be a real gift to somebody, and the dog could come with me everywhere,” she said. “And that, in fact, is the case.”

Winslow was 2 months old when he came to live with Campbell. Although most yellow Labs are short-haired, a recessive gene resulted in long hair on Winslow and two other pups in his litter. Their luscious locks barred them from being show dogs, so they were donated to Saint Francis.

Because his breeders are big fans of the Eagles, and the musical group’s co-founder Glenn Frey had just passed away, they asked that the pups’ names have some connection to the band. As Campbell pondered a name, that famous line came to mind: “Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona / Such a fine sight to see / It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford / Slowing down to take a look at me.” After deciding on the name, Campbell was surprised to learn that part of Winslow’s registered name includes the title of that very song, “Take it Easy.” It was meant to be — and plenty of girls would soon be slowing down to take a look at Winslow.

During the first three months of his time with Campbell, Winslow’s need to be socialized allowed him to be petted often. Students were happy to help with that process, whether Campbell and her charge were in the classroom, having office hours or touring campus.

“The students went gaga over Winslow, and everybody knew his name,” Campbell said. “Often, students would approach me as I was on my way to the office.”

Now that the pup is older, Campbell is the only person who is allowed to give him affection. That’s because, as a service dog, he is supposed to be committed to a specific person. Affection can also interfere with his training and distract him from important commands. Once he is placed with a human partner, that person will be the only one allowed to pet him and snuggle with him.

At this phase of his training, Winslow attends a weekly class in Roanoke and is learning as many commands as possible. At just 6 months of age, he already knows more than 20 commands, including sit, settle, down, stand, wait, eat, park (go to the bathroom), get it, find it, catch, release and off.

“As for his training, he is right on par with where he should be,” Kniseley said. “He has shown a bit of a stubborn streak that I hope starts to disappear as he matures.”

Winslow has not had much trouble complying with the “eat” command. “Apparently, Labs are notorious for wolfing down food, so he has to have a puzzle eater that has four ridges in the plastic bowl so he has to kind of nose in and get at the food,” Campbell said. “His trick is to just take the bowl and dump it out. He is not a stupid doggie.”

At times, Campbell has had to travel and was unable to take Winslow along. In those cases, he was sent to prison — the Bland Correctional Center, to be exact, where inmates in the Prison Pup Program make sure puppies stay on schedule with their training. The program is also a morale-booster for those inmates, who work hard to earn and keep the privilege of participating in the program.

When Winslow is ready to move on to the next stage of training, he will leave Campbell’s care and begin working with an advanced trainer. At that point, he will learn tasks that will help his future partner, such as picking up items, carrying things, and opening doors.

If all goes well, at age 2 to 2½, Winslow will finally meet his partner. Saint Francis places 10 to 15 service dogs per year in its service area, which includes Roanoke and surrounding areas.

There is a chance that somewhere along the way, Winslow will fail out of the program. Only about 50 percent of the dogs that enter service dog training will graduate. For example, Winslow’s sister is exhibiting signs of motion sickness, a problem that will make it impossible for her to be a service dog. If Winslow fails out, Campbell may be allowed to adopt him permanently.

For now, however, the pup is doing brilliantly, and although Campbell enjoys keeping him and working with him, she is preparing herself for the fact that she will have to give him up. “I know that he is not my dog,” she said. At those times when she returned from a trip to pick him up, “he was happy enough but he was fine where he was, so I think he knows that I am not his forever person.”

Campbell said being a foster mom to a service dog-in-training has been a lot more work than she expected, but she has enjoyed watching him grow and interact with the W&L community. He will still be around campus to enjoy the attention when fall term arrives.

“He is going to give somebody an incredible quality of life,” Campbell said, “and that’s going to make everything worthwhile for me.”

St. Francis Service Dog FAQs

Puppy Program manager Connie Kniseley answered a few more questions about the work they do at St. Francis.

How many dogs are in the “puppy raising” stage at any given time?
Approximately 25 to 30. The majority are in Bland Correctional with inmates.

How many are in the training stage at any given time?
Approximately 12 to 15.

What breeds of dogs are used as service dogs?
We generally use Labrador retrievers. We have some golden retrievers, as well. We have used a handful of other breeds including poodles, poodle mixes, Lab/golden mixes, Aussies, Border collies, Belgium Tervuren, and even a German shorthair pointer. Most of our dogs come from breeders. We get a few pups each year from a breeding cooperative consisting of other service dog organizations. We have had some that came from the pound and rescue organizations.

Are puppies designated as service dogs, veteran dogs, facility dogs, etc., from the moment they enter the program, or are those decisions made later in the training process?
All of our pups are raised the same way and taught the same things. As they go into formal training, it becomes more evident what their strengths and weaknesses are. Once they pass their final test, they begin what we call the interview process. We look at their strengths and see how they might match best with our candidates (people or facilities that have been approved and are waiting for a dog). Each dog will interview with several different candidates. The dog will often tell us which one is the best fit for them.


Interns at Work: Gray Rixey ’18 Gray Rixey '18 spent part of his summer interning for a member of the British Parliament as part of the London Internship Program. He had no idea it would happen during one of the most tumultuous periods in British history.

“History was being made in Parliament, and I was right there in the hub of it.”

rixey_mayor-1024x768 Interns at Work: Gray Rixey '18Gray Rixey ’18 (far right) is pictured with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and colleagues.

Hometown: Morehead City, N.C.
Major: Politics
Position: Executive Policy Research Assistant
Organization Name: House of Commons, British Parliament
Location: London, England

What attracted you to this internship?

I’ve always been interested in politics, but I’ve also maintained the idea of majoring in science and going to medical school. Last summer, I shadowed surgeons in the operating room of my local hospital. To help myself make up my mind about which career path I wanted to take, I decided this summer needed to be spent in the political equivalent of an operating room. For me, that “operating room of politics” was Parliament.

How did you learn about it?

I was lucky enough to land my internship through the W&L-sponsored London Internship Program. I learned about this program late one night in October from my friend Julia Gsell, who was already planning to apply and convinced me to do the same. Once accepted into the program, I wrote down “Parliament” as my number-one internship preference more on a whim than anything else. To my knowledge, nobody from W&L has ever interned in the British government. I never dreamed I would actually be selected to work in the House of Commons under a member of British Parliament.

What gave you an edge in landing this internship?

I owe my internship and summer experience entirely to Washington and Lee and its London Internship Program. The hard work and dedication Professor Oliver, Dean Jensen, Mrs. Wager, and many others made this program an exceptional opportunity. Without their help, I would never have had this summer in London, let alone my internship in the House of Commons in the British government.

Describe your daily duties.

I worked in Westminster Palace, and one of its auxiliary buildings on the Parliamentary estate called Portcullis House. Work was a very formal setting, where I was welcomed into the world of wearing suits. I spent a lot of time in the office, but every work day had me all over the estate. I worked Tuesday through Thursday at Parliament, up to 20 hours per week. On three of those days, I commuted to my MP’s constituency in west London, called Ealing Southall, and worked in his headquarters office. I typically arrived at work at 10:30 a.m., which seemed pretty leisurely for a nation’s government building. Every single day was completely different. I read and responded to constituency mail on current events and issues pretty regularly. I attended several award ceremonies, VIP receptions, lobbying events and debates in Parliament. I corresponded with other members of Parliament, even the prime minister, on behalf of my MP. I wrote speeches for my MP to use in debate and facilitated with the legislation he was working on. After a few weeks, British politics became so unpredictable that I started to check BBC every morning to find out what drastic political events I was about to walk into at work.

What are some specific projects you worked on?

During the duration of my internship, I compiled letters from constituents regarding a current issue on the Heathrow Airport expansion into one large database on Excel. From this database, I pulled names and addresses and sent more than 2,000 reply letters to concerned citizens. I drafted several policy letters on a range of issues for my MP, including radically motivated attacks, leaving the European Union and NHS — the British healthcare system. Before and during the EU Referendum, I campaigned with the other staff members for the U.K. to remain in the EU. This involved passing out pamphlets and stickers, knocking on doors and tallying the number of people who voted in different neighborhoods. The referendum ended with Great Britain voting to exit the EU. My ultimate project was writing a 10-minute speech for my MP to use during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons chamber regarding their healthcare system.

What was it like being in London during Brexit?

This summer was full of unprecedented events in British politics, and was some of the most riveting weeks its government has seen in decades. History was being made in Parliament, and I was right there in the hub of it. I was on the ground watching firsthand while the British government “went to hell in a hand basket,” as some Brits described it. I was there before, during and after the EU referendum and Brexit. I watched David Cameron resign as prime minister the day after the referendum and saw Theresa May become elected as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. I saw Scottish and Irish members of Parliament debate on seceding from the United Kingdom and watched members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet resigning left and right. London was petitioning to become its own nation, while its former mayor, Boris Johnson, was (figuratively) stabbed in the back during his plot to become prime minister. The Labour Party, where I was working, seemed as if it was about to implode — the party voted over 80 percent in favor of having “No Confidence” in its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. It was a fascinating time in politics, and I felt incredibly lucky to be there during it. The Remain posters, newspapers, my security pass and House of Commons stationary that I came home with are some of my most prized possessions now.

Did any courses and/or professors help you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

Global Politics (POL 105) with Professor Seth Cantey and Business, Government and International Economics (POL 295) with Professor Stephen Bragaw were the two most beneficial classes I’ve taken preceding my internship. Dr. Cantey was the first professor to open my eyes to the globalization of the world and the plethora of cultures and governments beyond our American borders. Dr. Bragaw’s BGIE class was instrumental in enhancing my knowledge of international affairs. It was through his class that I learned about Brexit and British politics prior to going to London.

Did you experience culture shock in London?

Yes, particularly at work. I dove headfirst into British politics and quickly learned how very different it is from the American government. Interning under a member of the Labour Party, I was introduced to a democratic socialist’s perspective. Always in good fun, I was constantly being challenged by my coworkers on my beliefs and had to learn how to back up my ideology with substantial arguments. Issues like gun control, the U.S. presidential election, immigration and healthcare were tossed around as daily banter in the office. I found out early on how difficult it is to reason with someone of an entirely different ideology and how open-minded you must be to effectively communicate. While the two parliamentary aides I worked under were British, my MP was born in India in 1947. Mr. Sharma moved to England on a scholarship to study at the London School of Economics and speaks fluent Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu along with English. English is not the dominate language in his constituency, and whites are a minority. It was fascinating to work in an environment with so much diversity, opening up my mind to how many more cultures there are beyond what I know in Lexington.

What did you learn by the end of your experience?

I learned more about the United Kingdom political system and its culture than I ever could have imagined. My understanding of the issues and current events exceeded even my highest expectations. I was on the ground witnessing firsthand one of the most turbulent times in British politics, learning more through experience than I ever could have in a classroom. By the end of the summer, I felt confident conversing with locals, and even politicians, about their government without feeling out of my league. It was awesome to see how far I’d come.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

Definitely the food. If there is one thing you learn quickly about an unpaid internship in the most expensive city in the free world, it’s that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Even so, I had some incredible meals at Parliament. Since I had my security clearance and pass for the palace, I was able to eat at any of the restaurants within the estate. I had buffet lunch on the Parliament terrace overlooking the Thames, pizza on the roof of Parliament with a view of the city, and cafeteria food next to people I was used to seeing on television. I would like to thank the British tax system, because my meals at Parliament were some of the cheapest meals of my whole summer.

What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?

Maybe most importantly, I learned how to use the tube and the bus system without looking entirely like a tourist. By the end of the trip, I had finally figured out how to look for traffic driving on the left side of the road before crossing the street. I also learned that whether you’re thanking the cashier for your coffee or apologizing for bumping into someone on the street, it is always acceptable to say “cheers.” Unfortunately, I never quite got the British accent down pat, but I did come to realize that every conversation with the British ultimately came around to the question of “You aren’t voting for Trump, are you?” The learning curve was steep living in the big city of London, but by the end of July I think we all had figured out how to be Londoners and we loved it.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

I am definitely bringing back to school an appreciation for the W&L work ethic. Even though work in Parliament was a serious affair, the diligence and determination I’ve learned at school had me more than prepared for the work load. While W&L students definitely know how to have fun, we take our work very seriously and work rigorously to accomplish our goals.

I am also happy to report that I am returning to W&L with a newfound set of office skills. I now consider myself proficient with the printer and copier, sufficiently average at Excel, and an expert at making a cup of coffee.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Go for the internship, 100 percent. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are, absolutely apply for it no matter what. The only thing stopping you from getting the job is yourself, so don’t doubt your abilities. Also, do your homework. You won’t learn nearly enough on British politics until you’re there living it, but make sure to build a foundation for all the knowledge you’re about to gain.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

Absolutely. After interning in the real-life operating room and now this “political operating room,” I have decided that medical school isn’t what I want. I loved the energy, drive, responsibility and pressure that I saw in the work environment of Parliament, and I want a job that mirrors those same values. Also, I’ve learned some things about myself. Before this trip, I never saw myself working in a big city, and certainly not far from home. After this summer experience, I’ve discovered I definitely want to work abroad and would leap at the opportunity to work in London once again when I finish school.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Brexit


W&L Commemorates 15th Anniversary of Sept. 11

Members of Washington and Lee’s Executive Committee, College Republicans and College Democrats placed American flags on the walkway between Lee Chapel and Washington Hall this weekend in remembrance of those who lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001.

W&L alumni Rob Schlegel, of the Class of 1985, who died in the Pentagon, and James Gadiel, of the Class of 2000, who died in the World Trade Center, were among those lost.

Rob was on the staff of the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon and had been promoted to commander just weeks prior to the attack. James worked in the equities department of Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 103rd floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

The Lee Chapel bells will ring at 8:46 a.m. on Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of first attack on the North Tower of World Trade Center. Flags on campus will be flown at half-staff, and the University’s women’s soccer and field hockey teams will have a moment of silence for the victims at their home contests, both of which will begin at 12:00 p.m.

You can watch Roanoke CBS affiliate WDBJ-7’s interview with W&L junior Caroline Bones about the commemoration.

Marine Corps to CEO: John Warren ’03 Alumni at Work, From the Marine Corps to CEO of Lima One Capital

“I am very driven to create a great company. The bigger the company gets, the more opportunity I have to impact the markets and neighborhoods in a positive way.”

John Warren was a student at Washington and Lee University majoring in politics when the United States was attacked on 9/11. The Al Qaeda-led attack on our homeland made an impact on Warren that changed his future forever.

When he graduated in 2003, Warren planned to immediately join the U.S. Marine Corps. However, with no openings available, he deferred that plan and joined a fast-track management program with Michelin. During a one-year stint in Atlanta as a territory manager for Michelin, his desire to join the Marines never left him.

His chance came in October 2004. He became a Marine, completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. After more training, he became an infantry officer, commanding the First Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, Eighth Marines, stationed in Ramadi, Iraq.

“Ramadi was known as the graveyard of Marines,” said Warren. A third of his platoon earned Purple Hearts for combat injuries, but “in seven months, we saw an 80 percent decrease in attacks” against the U.S.-led forces.

His experiences with Lima Company and another deployment on a Marine Expeditionary Unit that traveled throughout the Middle East, left lasting impressions on him that surfaced later in his post-military life as an entrepreneur.

Back in Atlanta, Warren decided that creating his own business was the best track for his civilian career. He had flipped a house once before and enjoyed seeing the transformation that takes place when a rundown house becomes a newly remodeled home for a family.

He would need capital to get started, and luck played a role. He was introduced to someone in Atlanta and the two “met over bagels one morning.” He pitched his idea, and the man offered to get him started with a $1 million investment, to be paid back at 8 percent interest.

“This was just after the housing market crash,” Warren said. Thousands of houses in Atlanta were going into foreclosure, and he thought his timing and the investment were enough to get a rental fund started. However, when he went to foreclosure auctions, “I was always outbid.”

He needed more information, so he asked other investors how they were getting the money for their purchases. Most said they were using their own cash, “but it didn’t make sense to me that they weren’t leveraging their capital.”

He discovered that because of new regulations passed by Congress after the housing bust, banks were not lending money to residential real estate investors. Warren began to research the regulations and discovered that 20 percent of homes were being sold to investors, but there was no good source of funding for them. Lenders, called “hard-money lenders,” offered some funding, but at high interest rates and fees. Most investors stayed away from them.

He went back to the investors and asked them if there were “a professional company with fair rates,” would they consider borrowing to increase their business. The answer was yes. “I saw a huge need,” said Warren. He realized the best use of his investor’s loan was to start that type of company.

He formed Lima One Capital, named for his former Marine platoon, and made nine loans with his $1 million. “I learned the business by providing safe, low-risk loans,” he said.

Much of his time became devoted to raising capital. He “picked up a hedge fund in Florida,” and in 2011, he moved the business to his hometown of Greenville, S.C., and focused on growing the company.

Lima One now lends in 43 states and has 60 full-time employees in six offices in D.C., Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta and Orlando, in addition to Greenville. “We have been named the fastest-growing company in South Carolina,” Warren said.

The Marine Corps taught Warren many lessons that he has put to use in his company, especially how to evolve his tactics as situations change. His years at W&L also provided a values base for his life and company. His most challenging classes, U.S. Foreign Policy and the Vietnam War with Barry Machado, who also served as his thesis advisor, taught him “to analyze complex situations, to think critically and to find innovative solutions.”

Warren transferred to W&L for his junior and senior years. “Lots of my high school friends and family went there, and everyone loved it,” he said. He noted that the social life and excellent job placements convinced him W&L was a better fit for him than the college he was at. A Marshall Scholar, he devised a thesis that combined his love of military, history and family. He researched and wrote about his grandfather’s World War II B-24 bomber squadron. In addition to interviewing his grandfather, Warren found and interviewed 30 other surviving members of the squadron.

He returned to campus recently to serve as a judge for the Business Plan Competition and was “blown away by the quality of students at W&L and the entrepreneur classes.”

He also noted the connections within the W&L alumni body. His wife, Courtney, joined Dan Einstein ’83 at Marsh and McLennan Agency. It was Einstein who conducted the alumni interview with Warren when he was applying to the university. “That speaks volumes about the W&L network,” he said.

Today, Warren and Courtney are the parents of 8-month-old son Stevie. At Lima One, he is focused on growing his business even more. As the housing market has improved, the company has diversified into loans for rental property, as well as commercial and multi-family loans with the goal of serving all real estate investors.

“I am very driven to create a great company. The bigger the company gets, the more opportunity I have to impact the markets and neighborhoods in a positive way,” he said.

Planting Seeds for a Sustainable Future Taking part in the Sustainability Leadership Pre-Orientation Program allowed a group of Washington and Lee first-years to understand the many facets of creating and supporting sustainable communities.

“I loved spending the week looking at sustainability through different lenses and on different levels.”

Washington and Lee University’s school colors may be blue and white, but for 13 first-year students who participated in one of the school’s Leading Edge pre-orientation programs, the week of Aug. 28 was focused on all things green.

The Sustainability Leadership Pre-Orientation Program combined guest speakers and campus activities with off-campus trips and volunteer opportunities to educate students about the concepts of sustainability and leadership. But the focus was not just on saving the planet through environmentalism; it pulled in threads such as economic development and social equity, and demonstrated how a well-rounded view of sustainability should incorporate entire communities and a broad range of professions.

“Environmentalism has always been an important topic to me, but I never really knew how much sustainability encompassed,” said Ginny Johnson ’20. “I loved spending the week looking at sustainability through different lenses and on different levels.”

The sustainability program is one of three Leading Edge pre-orientation programs at W&L (Appalachian Adventure takes students hiking on the Appalachian Trail and Volunteer Venture introduces them to service-learning work in nearby cities). The sustainability program was led by Kim Hodge, director of sustainability initiatives and education at W&L, and Molly Steele, assistant director of career development for STEM programs, with help from four student leaders, Matt Lubas ’18, Sequoya Bua-Iam ’17, Anukriti Shrestha ’19, and Uma Sarwadnya ‘19.

After on-campus discussions and a tour of the campus garden, the group gathered at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden, in Lexington, where they heard from guest speakers on topics of conservation, leadership, horticulture and more. The students also spent two hours getting their hands dirty as volunteers at Boxerwood.

A mid-week day trip to Roanoke allowed the group to tour several examples of sustainable construction. The rooftop at Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke features solar power and a “green” roof with plants, a koi pond and a rainwater recovery system. At The Lofts at West Station, students learned how a 100-year-old warehouse was renovated into apartments with environmentally friendly touches, such as bamboo cabinets and countertops made from recycled paper. They also learned that unique architectural features, such as original wood beams, can be preserved and incorporated into a modern design.

IMG_2199-600x400 Planting Seeds for a Sustainable FutureStudents listen as a guest speaker explains sustainable design concepts at The Lofts at West Station in Roanoke.

A roundtable discussion in Roanoke featured former Roanoke County administrator Elmer Hodge (Kim Hodge’s father) and landscape architect David Hill, who talked about the intersection of development and sustainability. They may seem mutually exclusive, Elmer Hodge said, but that is not the case. As an example, they cited new neighborhood developments that threatened to spoil the Blue Ridge Parkway’s pristine viewshed in Roanoke County. Tools such as zoning, thoughtful landscape design and community involvement can create solutions that satisfy everyone.

Hodge and Hill also led the group through case studies of real communities, an exercise that set them up for the next day’s journey to Fries, a tiny town in Grayson County, in far Southwest Virginia. The Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) helped to connect W&L with the town of Fries. Lubas had also learned about the town’s needs last year through the Engineers Without Borders club at W&L (now renamed Engineering Community Development), and he advocated for the pre-orientation group to offer its assistance.

Since the town’s primary employer, a cotton mill, shut down in 1989, Fries residents have been working to revive the community and the economy. Part of that revitalization effort revolves around the town’s community center, which needs physical improvements. Hodge and Steele also instructed the students to use what they had learned about sustainability to brainstorm additional uses for the center.

The students painted bleachers and hung new wall mats in the center’s gymnasium, cleaned the pool liner, fixed doors, weeded the front lawn, mixed mortar and repaired steps and prepped the kitchen for upcoming remodeling. The next day, back on campus, students applied the sustainability development goals they’d learned to the Fries case study. Some of their ideas included hosting open mic nights at the community center, having town hall meetings to generate plans, working with the nearby state park, restoring an historic duckpin bowling alley in the center’s basement, turning the kitchen into a grill, starting a museum and distributing a community outreach pamphlet.

Hodge and Steele said the program as a whole, including the trip to Fries, allowed students to view sustainability through multiple lenses, including those of a city and a rural area. It helped them to think about how an area can leverage its strengths and the talents of its residents to breathe vitality into the community.

“Who needs to be at the table? What skills do you need to have there? Fries ended up being a really good case study for that,” Hodge said.

A recurring theme throughout the week was sustainable food production and how local food sourcing can keep communities healthy by supporting farmers, promoting good land stewardship and cutting down on pollution. Delicious examples of this lesson included a dinner made by University Catering with ingredients from the W&L campus garden and dinner at Local Roots Restaurant in Roanoke, which grows much of its own ingredients and sources the rest from Southwest Virginia farmers.

“This trip is definitely unique from the others,” said Bua-Iam ’17. “It gets students involved in, appreciating, and ultimately caring for not only the W&L community and other areas of Virginia, but also caring on a global scale. Not to mention it provides incredibly delicious food!”

Garrett Clinton ’20 said he enjoyed the opportunity to try “all new food” during the pre-orientation week, as well as the chance to get a head start on building relationships with classmates before the rest of the first-years arrive on campus.

Steele said it was gratifying to see the students using the week to find “a passion and a way to implement their skills in a positive way.”

“I don’t think that any of them would be sitting here if they didn’t pour their hearts into it,” said Hodge. “That’s always been my favorite thing about working with W&L students, knowing that when they graduate they’re going to change the world.”

The following students participated in the Sustainability Leadership Pre-Orientation Program:

Sam Pumphrey ’20
George Barker ’20
Erin McFall ’20
Marshall Howerton ’20
Ginny Johnson ’20
Yavuz Durmaz ’20
Tiffany Ko ’20
Win Gustin ’20
E.C. Myers ’20
Garrett Clinton ’20
David Williams ’20
Deepthi Thumuluri ’20
Abby Yu ’20

Professor Ellen Mayock Leads Off Leyburn Library’s Author Talk Series on Sept. 20

The Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series, presented by the Leyburn University Library at Washington and Lee University, will begin this academic year with talk by Professor Ellen Mayock on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 4:30 p.m.

Mayock, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish at W&L, will discuss her newest book, “Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace” (2016), in the Book Nook on the main floor of Leyburn Library.

The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

Mayock is the author or editor of six books, including “Toward a Multicultural Configuration of Spain: Local Cities, Global Spaces,” (ed., 2014); “Feminist Activism in Academia. Essay on Personal, Political and Professional Change,” (eds., 2010) and “The ‘Strange Girl’ in Twentieth-Century Spanish Novels Written by Women” (2005).

“The Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series showcases the creative and scholarly works produced by members of the W&L community,” said Emily Cook, the instructional design specialist in Leyburn Library. “During each talk, a W&L author speaks about a recently published monographic work, fields audience questions and is available to sign copies of the discussed book.”

Talks are sponsored by the library’s Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Endowment. This fund was created in 1988 to support the varied activities of the University’s Special Collections and Archives — including book signings.  All books published by W&L faculty are housed in the library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Matt Simpson ’12 Represents the U.S. at the 2016 Paralympics

Matt Simpson, a 2012 graduate of Washington and Lee University, posted a photo of himself and the U.S. men’s goalball team decked out in their Team U.S.A. uniforms just before the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which runs Sept. 7 – 18.

After it was over he tweeted, “Awesome experience, now we can focus on the goal. Thanks for all the love and support from home, glad everybody could share that with us!”

Matt, who is visually impaired, has been working toward his dream of competing for the U.S. since he was 10. This competition is especially sweet for him, because the team missed qualifying for the 2012 London Paralympics.

For more background on Matt, check out this in-depth feature we posted on the W&L website. Click on the following links to read about his team’s victory at the 2009 World Championships and the thrilling silver medal win at the 2013 Pan American Games.

You can track the goalball results online and follow Matt on Twitter. Good luck, Matt!


Uncommon Courses: Mad Men

Abby Thornton ’17 had never seen a single episode of Mad Men when she signed up for Professor Robin LeBlanc’s spring term class, The Politics of Race and Gender in Mad Men.

“It’s a lot of binge watching for homework. My friends get so mad at me,” said Thornton.

Mad Men, which airs on the cable network AMC, ends its seven-season run this month. The drama has enjoyed a large and ardent following and earned critical acclaim. Set in the 1960s and 70s, it tells the story of advertising executive Don Draper and his ongoing quest for identity. The show deals with complex themes, including the role of women and minorities in American society.

For LeBlanc, who teaches gender and politics in addition to courses on political philosophy, global politics and East Asian politics, the themes in the show resonated with her, both in terms of what she teaches and her own experiences growing up in the 1960s and 70s.

“I loved the show, and I kept finding that what I was watching on Mad Men was really relevant to what I was teaching in my gender and politics course,” said LeBlanc. “I’d use the examples in class and finally a student said, ‘You should offer a course on this’.”

LeBlanc had other curricular obligations during the fall and winter terms, but Washington and Lee University’s spring term provided the perfect four-week format to try something new. When the Mad Men course opened for registration, it filled instantly. At one point, there were 54 students on the waitlist.

“People were writing long, long letters about how much they loved Mad Men,” said LeBlanc. “There were English students, film students, advertising students, gender studies students — it seemed like people from every area of campus had some connection to the show.”

Washington and Lee isn’t the first university to offer a course based on the television series. A history professor at Northwestern University used the show as a touch point to talk about America’s post-World War II economy. A media studies professor at Whitman College wrote about her experience teaching Mad Men: Media, Gender Historiography in an essay for Slate.

Several texts have been written in the past few years to help academics and the general public better understand the themes at play in the hit show. LeBlanc assigned her students the book, Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s, along with readings on masculinity and whiteness. The challenge, says LeBlanc, is that — with the show only ending this spring — no one’s yet written a comprehensive criticism that covers the show’s entire canon.

Students might have thought a course based on a television show would be easy, but LeBlanc’s syllabus quickly dispelled that notion. The workload is intense. Each night, students are required to do about two hours of reading and watch at least three episodes of the show. Each Sunday night, when a new episode airs, they have to watch that too.

“I’m on the phone with my mom, telling her that I have to go because I’ve got to watch Mad Men,” said Katie Monks ’18. “Because I’ve never seen the show, I’m playing catch up. There was one day I watched 13 episodes.”

LeBlanc says that the challenge for her has been trying to decide which episodes to assign for homework. She’s relied on critical essays as well as online wikis to help identify the most evocative scenes in what now totals 92 one-hour episodes of television. When her students watch an episode, LeBlanc wants them to consider the cinematic choices the show’s director and writers are making and what those choices say about gender and power — both in the 1960s and today.

For the final project, LeBlanc has divided the class into groups and assigned each one to write a screenplay for a pilot episode of a television series that, like Mad Men, would serve as part entertainment and part social criticism. Recently, she hosted a “mocktail party” at W&L’s Belfield guest house, where the students pitched their ideas to their classmates.

“In Hollywood, you’d need to be able to pitch your idea to a producer in just a minute or two at a cocktail party, so that’s the idea,” LeBlanc said.

Students came dressed in 1960s-inspired outfits and sipped on virgin mojitos, Tom Collins and brandy Alexanders. As they pitched their ideas, LeBlanc encouraged them to think about dramatic tension and conflict and to consider what happens to characters when they come up against societal barriers like money, status, race or gender.

“These issues matter when they impede a worthy person’s quest for something beautiful,” said LeBlanc.

Learning in London Seventeen W&L students spent the summer as interns in England as part of the university's London Internship Program.

“By the end of the summer, I couldn’t believe how much knowledge I had gained.”

Washington and Lee University’s London Internship Program, which is sponsored by the university’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics, challenged 17 students to spend the summer juggling jobs, schoolwork and cultural curve balls during one of the most tumultuous periods in Great Britain’s history.

Beginning six years ago, the seven-week program ran in partnership with Hollins University, but W&L operated it solely for the first time this year. It placed students in internships with a wide variety of businesses, non-profits and governmental offices, and provided accommodations in shared flats in the Bloomsbury area of London.

“This was an amazing group of students. They were open to new experiences, they were positive, and they just embraced their opportunities,” said accounting professor and department head Elizabeth Oliver, who is W&L’s faculty liaison for the program.

The interns spent 20 hours per week on the job in addition to attending a weekly class, Contemporary Britain. The class, taught by Andrew Blick of King’s College London, examined British politics, current events and cultural issues, and included both lectures and field trips.

Upon arrival on June 5, the students were immediately immersed in London living, including navigating the city. “The first week, I nervously checked Google maps and got lost a few times,” said Hayley Price ’18, “but by the second week I felt like I could be dropped at any tube station and make it home.”

LIP_thumb Learning in LondonSummer 2016: W&L Williams School Students Studying in London

Price worked for a social enterprise called Artburst, which uses art and drama to boost children’s reading skills, self-esteem and social development. She started the internship running errands and doing projects in Excel, but by the last two weeks she was filling in for her supervisor and managing an intern herself. That translated to one of the most important lessons she learned over the summer, which is that new employees shouldn’t expect power and responsibility until they’ve proven they can handle it.

Another intern, Witt Hawkins ’18, spent much of his time in London with the Channel Syndicate, a specialty insurance syndicate at the Lloyd’s of London insurance market. There, he worked on the political and credit risks team, which is led by Kade Spears ’05, and completed a project that involved statistical analysis of all the 2016 underwriting inquiries.

As his experience drew to a close, Hawkins realized that it had expanded his possibilities for the future.

“I was able to get a clearer picture of what I want my internship and post-grad career plans to be moving forward,” he said. “I was particularly drawn to the specialty insurance industry for its intersection of international business and politics, and surprised that I had never heard of Lloyd’s or political risk insurance before this summer.”

Katherine Worthington ’18 spent the 120 hours of her internship at a marketing media company called Renegade Inc., which is run by the husband-wife team behind the documentary “Four Horsemen,” about the global economy. Worthington helped with the company’s website redesign, as well as social media and newsletters. She was also able to watch her supervisor conduct interviews with “a wide array of interesting people, from billionaires and journalists to pilots.”

When they signed up for the program, the students had no idea they’d be in the U.K. during the referendum that resulted in the country’s withdrawal from the European Union and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. As an intern for Virendra Sharma, a member of Parliament, Gray Rixey ’18 had a front-row seat for Brexit. He spent part of his internship campaigning for the Remain group, which advocated for Great Britain to stay in the EU.

“By the end of the summer, I couldn’t believe how much knowledge I had gained,” Rixey said. “I felt confident talking to Brits, even members of Parliament, about current events and political issues without feeling like I was out of my league. My experiences in the six weeks I had in Parliament taught me more about British politics and culture than any amount of studying and reading ever could have.”

Like Hawkins, Rixey found that the internship may have changed his post-graduation path. He used to be on a pre-med track with plans to major in biochemistry, but now he is considering a career in politics in the U.K. or the U.S. — all after writing “Parliament” on a whim when asked for his first preference for an internship.

“I’m still not entirely sure why a small-town, Southern boy from the United States was determined to be qualified to work as an intern in the House of Commons in the British Parliament under an Indian-British MP representing a predominantly South Asian constituency,” Rixey said, “but I am beyond grateful for the experience and cultural immersion I gained from the internship.”

Read more:

Students who took part in the program, along with the organizations for which they worked:

Hayden Combs ’18, Simbiotik (marketing and advertising)
Dylann Ephraimson-Abt ’18, Civil Infrastructure and Technology Exhibition (CITE)
Jack Gagnon ’18, Let Me Play (sports, education and outreach)
John Green ’18, The Hub (student accommodations)
Julia Gsell ’18, Catch 21 (charitable production company)
Witt Hawkins ’18, The Channel Syndicate (specialty insurance)
Janie Martin ’18, Open Data Science Conference (ODSC)
Robert McMaster ’18, Zenith Street (business consulting)
Zachary Papin ’18, Team Up (charity leadership program)
Cory Paton ’17, Business Launchpad (business consulting)
Alexander Pollera ’18, Brittania Student Services (student accommodations)
Hayley Price ’18, Artburst (helping children through art and drama)
Rachel Randolph ’18, Works4U (connects businesses with volunteer opportunities)
Gray Rixey ’18, Parliament, Office of MP Virendra Sharma
Hermione Wang ’18, Werkin (mobile app for businesses)
William Whedon ’18, TaxPayers’ Alliance (grassroots campaign for smaller government)
Katherine Worthington ’18, Play for Change (helping vulnerable children through sports)


Interns at Work: Aswasan Joshi ’17 Jobscience, San Francisco, CA

“One of the best things in a start-up is that every day is different. I get to involve myself in every facet of the business and actually make a difference with everything I do.”

What attracted you to this internship?

The opportunity to be in the playground of global technology, San Francisco, while getting a hands-on start-up experience at Jobscience was extremely appealing. I had a chance to talk to the VP of Product at Jobscience before accepting my internship. He clearly laid out what projects he wants me to work on, how those projects will help the business move forward and also what I will get out of the internship.

How did you learn about it?

I learned about the opportunity through LexLink. I also had a chance to meet the CEO while I was studying abroad in London last year.

Describe your daily duties.

One of the best things in a start-up is that every day is different. I get to involve myself in every facet of the business and actually make a difference with everything I do. Wearing many hats in a fast-paced, start-up environment, I learned how a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and subscription-based business works while working on enhancing the product itself. I was encouraged to attend every meeting — from daily sales gathering to weekly bug scrubs. And I reported to the VP of Product Development at the end of every day to make sure I was making progress on my work.

What are some tasks/projects you’ve been working on?

In a subscription-based business like Jobscience it is imperative to reduce the churn rate (customer attrition) and make sure the customers are deriving value out of the product. My first task was to implement Customer Usage Tracking System. This allowed us to discern what features are being used by our customers and, more importantly, what features are not being used. This information helped prioritize developmental efforts to better cater to the customer needs. More often than not, there is a gap between what engineers think is cool and what customers actually find value in. I was able to identify our largest users of the product —information that we did not know before, and idenfity accounts that were no longer active, which were removed from the clusters to save us disk space. I was also tasked with determining specifications to a Bug/Feature Tracking System to enhance our customer experience and ensure continuity in the recurring revenues, and working on a test application for our new feature working with API urls and SQL scripts.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

Studying engineering and computer science in a rigorous liberal arts curriculum has provided me not only with technical aptitude, but also a breath of knowledge that enables me to use that technical ability to understand and relate to economic, political and cultural realities. It has allowed me to work effectively and empathize with professionals in other disciplines. Having strong interpersonal and communications skills while being able understand and adapt to new technologies has been valuable.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

Just being in the Bay Area is itself a great perk. Because of the incredible responsibility that was delegated to me, I was making a real impact on the company.

What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?

Living in The Golden City has been a lot of fun. From burritos in Mission and First Fridays in Oakland to Karaoke bars in Japan town and nightlife in North Beach — it has been an incredible summer. There is always so much to do and see in the city. I will also miss the amazing weather and also the view of the Bay Bridge from my table.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

Now that I have a solid experience in the industry, I can start relating concepts that I have and will learn in my classes, and think about solving real-life problems, creating value and hopefully making money in the process. Also, while in the city, I have been able to reach out to W&L alums in the industry and really learn from their experiences and career paths they took.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

We have an incredible alumni base that are ever so ready to work with us. Connecting with them can definitely open a vast array of opportunities. Also the folks at Career Development are always ready to help in any form — specially now that we have an Assistant Director who is solely focused on STEM programs.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

Incredibly so. I have been able to recognize not only what I am good at, but also what set of skills I still need to acquire and work on to be successful in the industry. Also, I realized I really enjoy being client focused — getting out there assessing customer needs and weighing them against the engineering limits at play, and truly recognizing and enhancing value in products.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Invaluable.

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal
Majors: Physics-Engineering and Computer Science
Company Name: Jobscience
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Industry: Software
Position: Product Development

Jack Warren of the Society of the Cincinnati to Deliver 2016 Hendricks Law and History Lecture

On Thursday, September 15, Jack Warren, executive director of the Society of the Cincinnati, will deliver the 2016 Hendricks Lecture in Law and History. The title of Warren’s talk is “The American Revolution and National Identity.”

The lecture will begin at 4:00 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

Warren was recruited from academic life to serve as a director of the Society the Cincinnati in 2002 and has been Executive Director since 2004. He is the founding director of the Society’s American Revolution Institute.

The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation’s oldest private patriotic organization. George Washington and the officers of the Continental Army founded the Society at the end of the Revolutionary War to perpetuate the ideals and memory of the American Revolution.  The modern Society of the Cincinnati is comprised of hereditary members, each of whom represents an officer in the Continental service or the French army or navy who served in the Revolutionary War, and honorary members, who are distinguished for their patriotic service.  The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati carries out the Society’s public mission.

Warren is a native of Washington, D.C.  He has served on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts and the University of Virginia, where he was an editor of The Papers of George Washington.  He has been a leader in the preservation of historic places associated with Washington, including the site of Washington’s childhood home and the house where he lived during his visit to Barbados in 1751.  He has been a consultant to the National Park Service and to many other institutions, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and Mount Vernon.  He is the editor of volumes in the presidential series of The Papers of George Washington and of other works, and the author of several monographs on George Washington, including The Presidency of George Washington, published by Mount Vernon in 2000.

The Law and History lecture series at W&L was endowed by alumnus Pete Hendricks (’66A, ’69L), who has a private practice in Atlanta specializing in land use zoning and government permitting. A history major himself, Hendricks also endowed the Hendricks History Major Stipend Fund and the Ollinger Crenshaw Prize in History at the University several years ago in honor of his favorite professor.

The event is sponsored by the W&L Center for Law and History.

Student Sustainability Projects: Many Shades of Green New student-sourced sustainability initiatives get the green light on campus.

“What I loved about it was it was such a wide range of projects. And that is exactly what sustainability should be.”

In December 2015, Kim Hodge, director of sustainability initiatives and education at Washington and Lee University, put out a call for student proposals related to sustainability projects. With funding from the president’s office — up to $2,000 per project — she hoped to fund campus- or community-related projects.

The proposals, reviewed with help from energy specialists Morris Trimmer and Jane Stewart, Chris Wise (former environmental management coordinator) and Professor Jeff Rahl, were an interesting mix. “What I loved about it was it was such a wide range of projects. And that is exactly what sustainability should be,” said Hodge. “I want students to think about how to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of life. Sustainability is not just about the environment. It has social and economic components to it as well. I also loved that students suggested projects that I would never have even thought about — or that I would have thought about but would have put it off for later. They were able to push forward some things that needed to happen on campus. Students can constantly surprise you.”

By the end of the 2016 academic year, three projects were done and three others in varying stages of completion due to a few snags encountered along the way.

Meera Kumar ’16, who is studying in India on a Fulbright Fellowship, said in her proposal on re-usable feminine hygiene products: “I propose that W&L subsidize alternative options to traditional disposable menstrual products. Reusable products are widely advertised in the developing world, but are seen as unhygienic and as a second-best option in Western countries. This mentality needs to change — and the conversation can begin right here on campus.”

The project was wildly successful. “There was a lot of energy behind this project, and Meera just ran with it,” said Hodge. “That type of project was not on my radar, but I definitely want to continue it next year.”

The W&L Fly Fishers, working with biology professor Robert Humston, took charge of restoring upper Moore’s Creek, which used to have a large trout population. The team leader on this project, Oliver Nettere ’16, organized 40 people to build 14 deep-water holding pools that will help trout survive the long, hot Lexington summers. He noted, “This project will benefit the greater Lexington community by restoring brook trout habitat, improving water quality and providing increased recreational opportunities from members both within the W&L community and Rockbridge County. As fly fishers, we all value the habitat and streams that sustain our sport and feel an inherent responsibility to protect these important resources.”

Tessa Horan ’18, Sequoya Bua-Iam ’17 and Prakhar Naithani ’17 suggested making eco-friendly cell phone chargers available in heavily trafficked locations on campus. For the Fitness Center, they installed kinetic chargers, relying on movement (walking, running, etc.) to deliver a charge. In the library and Outing Club Barn, they set up solar-powered chargers. As members of the Student Environmental Action League and the Lexington chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the three said in their proposal, “We are clearly interested in any and all efforts toward sustainability. Sequoya and Tessa researched solar power last spring as they petitioned for the installation of solar panels to power the third-year housing project, and Prakhar works at the ITS Help Desk, where he has encountered a great number of students in need of a phone/computer charger after leaving theirs at home.”

Additional projects relating to trail work, a campus-wide tree planting and identification program and a clothing collection drive hit roadblocks along the way, but Hodge believes the students can pick up where they left off in the fall.

“These projects involved a learning curve for students,” said Hodge. “Not only did they have to write a proposal, but they also had to research the cost of various supplies and organize a team to carry out their project. I essentially said, ‘This is on you.’ That’s a little scary for them. My job was to point them in the right direction — help them figure out who they needed to talk to and where to find that that person’s office.”

For Hodge, the beauty of these mini-grants is not only that they empower students, but also that they illustrate different sustainability efforts on campus. “These projects helped students learn how to be leaders in areas that interest them. They learned how to get through the process of making something happen. I think that is one of the easiest ways to educate our students. Sometimes, all they need is a little bit of money and support.”

— Louise Uffelman | luffelma@wlu.edu

Above: W&L Fly Fishers partnered with the VMI fishing club and the local Trout Unlimited chapter to restore Moore’s Creek, upstream of the Lexington reservoir. Solar chargers in action on campus.

3M General Counsel Ivan Fong to Speak at W&L Law

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Ivan Fong, general counsel of 3M, will discuss his career as a general counsel. His talk is titled “Off the Record: Life as Outside, Government, and Inside Counsel.”

The talk is scheduled for 11:45 am in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall, on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Fong is Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel of the 3M Company, a $30 billion global, diversified technology company based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Fong has been named one of “America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel” by the National Law Journal, and under Fong’s leadership, 3M’s law department was also recognized by Corporate Counsel as one of the best legal departments of the year and by the Financial Times as one of the most innovative in-house legal teams of 2015.

Prior to joining 3M in October 2012, Fong was nominated by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, leading a team of over 1,800 lawyers in the Department’s headquarters and seven operating components. Prior to his government service, Fong was the Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Cardinal Health, Inc., a $91 billion global healthcare company based in Dublin, Ohio. He was previously Senior Vice President and General Counsel of GE Vendor Financial Services and prior to that was GE’s first Chief Privacy Leader and Senior Counsel, Information Technology.

Fong also previously served as Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice; a partner with the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, DC; and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Abner J. Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fong currently serves on the boards of Equal Justice Works and Minnesota Public Radio. He is also a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way Tocqueville Society Cabinet. Fong has previously served as chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel, chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Science & Technology Law, a trustee of Stanford University, and on numerous national and community-based non-profit boards. He has received, among other honors, the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Justice-in-Action Award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and the Spirit of Excellence Award from the ABA.

Fong holds a B.C.L. with first class honors from Oxford University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He received his J.D. (with distinction) from Stanford Law School, where he was president of the Stanford Law Review, and an S.B. in chemical engineering and an S.M. in chemical engineering practice from MIT. A registered patent attorney, he is admitted to the bars of California (inactive), Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and Ohio.

Matt Simpson '12: The Road to Rio

When Matt Simpson ’12 rang in the new year of 2016, he knew it was going to be one that would change his life.

“It’s a big year; it’s really here,” he said. Simpson has been working toward this year since he was 10 years old and joined his first goalball team. In September, he will represent the U.S.A. in the sport at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Goalball is a sport developed for blind and visually impaired athletes like Simpson, who has a congenital disease of the retina that leaves him unable to see anything but shadows. The three-person teams compete on a court, trying to roll a ball past each other into a net. The balls contain bells that allow the players to hear where they are and try to prevent them entering the net. Because players have varying levels of sight, all players wear blindfolds. With balls coming at players at 50 miles per hour, the sport requires a high level of physicality and agility.

The U.S. team narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 Paralympics in London, and for the past four years, players worked hard to qualify for 2016. That determination has taken a step further, with Simpson and several of his teammates moving to Ft. Wayne, Ind., in January to train full time.

Being able to train together full time “is huge for us,” said Simpson, noting that top teams from China, Brazil and other countries live and train together to attain a competitive advantage.

In order to train full time, Simpson left a job with the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes in Colorado Springs, Colo., which he had held since graduating from Washington and Lee. He now has part-time status with the organization, which provides athletic opportunities in various sports including track and field, Nordic and alpine skiing, biathlon, judo, wrestling, swimming, tandem cycling, powerlifting and goalball.

As membership and outreach coordinator for USABA, Simpson promoted and advanced the cause of sports for people with visual impairments. He worked on grant writing, helped with programs for disabled veterans and children, and worked with partner organizations around the country to build programs on the local level.

“I want people to know they are not bound to a life on the couch or a life of obesity,” Simpson said. Visually impaired people “can be fit and active.”

Goalball has also provided Simpson with opportunities for world travel. The U.S.A. team takes several trips each year, often to Europe. He has competed in Toronto, Lithuania and Poland, and the team will go to Rio in May, where officials will hold “test” matches prior to the official games in September.

U.S. Paralympics is a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee. USOC provides the majority of funds for the team’s travel, entry fees, room and board, as well as a stipend to each athlete. The Paralympic games take place every four years, usually just after the Olympics and in the same host city.

A native of Atlanta, Simpson plays for the Georgia Renegades when not occupied with the national team. Not new to winning goalball titles, Simpson’s Under-19 team won an international title in 2009, and he was a member of the team that won the National Goalball championships in 2011 and 2014, advancing through a field of about 25 teams.

Simpson credits his time at W&L for developing his athleticism. He came to the university as one of the first Johnson Scholars, after spending a weekend on campus and found it a good fit for him.

A political science major, he spent a lot of time in the weight room under the guidance of Chris Schall, associate professor of physical education and director of the Fitness Center. “I told him of my desire to be a Paralympic athlete, but I knew I was not ready,” said Simpson. “He helped me develop the skills, going beyond the call of duty” for a student who wasn’t on a W&L varsity team. “He put as much into my development in the weight room” as he did for varsity athletes, and took Simpson from an “aspiring young person with a dream to one of the strongest people” on his goalball team.

Neil Cunningham, director of physical education and assistant athletic director, “also took an interest in me and helped me with drills” in the weight room, said Simpson.

Academically, Bob Strong, Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics, was Simpson’s advisor, who helped me “all the way.” W&L President Ken Ruscio also encouraged him, along with the entire politics department. “I was well supported by community and staff.”

Simpson also was a member of the Student Judicial Council for four years, serving as chairman his senior year. He was an R.A. and served on the Student Advisory Council his senior year.

Now as he prepares for the biggest year of his life, Simpson is elated. “I get to train every day to be the best in the world in something — not for external gain, wealth or notoriety,” he said. Speaking for himself and his teammates, he said, “We find it fun, and we want to be the best in the world as representatives of the U.S.A.”

Ultimately, his goal is to educate the public about the abilities of blind people. He has done a lot of outreach with schools, talking about the ways that visually impaired people can excel. “We are athletes. I train just as hard as other Olympic athletes,” he said. “I want to be the best athlete I can be who happens to be blind.”

– by Linda Evans


Edward Ayers, University of Richmond Professor and President Emeritus, to Lecture on Civil War History and Digital Humanities

Dr. Edward L. Ayers, the Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The title of Ayers’ talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Civil War History and Digital History.” His talk is sponsored by the Digital Humanities Committee and funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

It will be broadcast live online.

Ayers has written and edited 11 books including “The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction,” which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. “In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863” won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492.

A pioneer in digital history, Ayers’ website, “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War,” has attracted millions of users and has won major prizes in teaching of history.

He is the co-editor of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States at the University of Richmond and is co-host for “BackStory with the American History Guys,” a nationally syndicated public radio program.

In 2013, Ayers received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. He was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003 (a CASE award).

Nigel Smith, Princeton Literature Professor to Speak about John Milton at W&L

Nigel Smith, the William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The Smith’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “John Milton and the Literary Accomplishments of the English Revolution.” The talk is sponsored by University Lectures, Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Department of English.

His major works include “Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon” (2010); “Is Milton Better than Shakespeare” (2008); the “Longman Annotated English Poets Edition of Andrew Marvell’s Poems” (2003); and “Literature and Revolution in England 1640-1660” (1994). He has also co-edited the “Oxford Handbook to Milton” (2009).

Smith also is co-director of the Center for the Study of Books and Media at Princeton. He has published mostly on early modern literature, especially the 17th century. His interests have included poetry and poetic theory; the social role of literature; politics and religion; literature and visual art; heresy and heterodoxy; and women’s writing, among other things.

He is the co-founder of the rock band Rackett (2004-2010), where he was chief songwriter, bass player and backing vocals. He co-founded a new band, Wayside Shrines, in 2010.

Smith has been a member of Princeton’s faculty since 1999. He previously taught at the University of Oxford; Keble College, Oxford; The Queen’s College, Oxford; Merton College, Oxford and the University of London.

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William B. Allen to Give Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 16

The Constitution Day lecture at Washington and Lee University, featuring Dr. William B. Allen, emeritus professor of political philosophy at Michigan State University, will be Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The title of Allen’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Defining Freedom Up: The Constitution and National Character.”

Allen has published extensively, including “Re-Thinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of H. B. Stowe” (2008) and “George Washington: America’s First Progressive” (2008).

He is a Veritas Fund senior professor in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University. He is also a visiting professor in history and American government at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University.

Allen previously served on the U. S. National Council for the Humanities, chairman and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has been a Kellogg National Fellow, Fulbright Fellow and a member of the National Council on the Humanities.

The talk is sponsored by the Provost’s Office, The Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, The Center for International Education, The School of Law and the Law School’s American Constitution Society Student Chapter.

Food for Thought: Robyn O’Brien ’93 on #epigate

“Food allergies are not a niche,” said Robyn O’Brien, a 1993 graduate of Washington and Lee University and founder of the AllergyKids Foundation. “It is a growing epidemic that is challenging how we think about our food and how it is made. Genetic factors don’t change this quickly, environmental factors do. Are we allergic to food or to what’s been done to it?”

Described by the New York Times and Bloomberg as “food’s Erin Brockovich,” Robyn has turned her attention to the skyrocketing cost of EpiPens, a life-saving device carried by millions of Americans at risk for food allergies and insect bites.

Over the past few weeks, she’s used her blog to highlight different perspectives on the issue, posting stories from doctors, Congressional representatives, grieving families and financial analysts. Robyn has also appeared on Fox Business News calling for a Congressional investigation.


Flood Relief: James McCullum ’15 Lends a Hand

When the floodwaters from the August storms in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, finally receded, James McCullum was one of many volunteers to head to the devastated region. A member of the Maryland-based Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, he connected with the St. Bernard Project to help gut homes damaged by the flooding.

James, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2015 with a major in geology, said in an interview with the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, “The media likes a big, catchy headline and story, like a hurricane or another big disaster. This was just a lot of rain, and I don’t think it got the attention it deserved.”

During his trip, he visited a Federal Emergency Management Agency relief camp in East Baton Rouge and also volunteered at the River Center, a downtown arena that was being used as a shelter run by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services with help from the American Red Cross.

“Listening to people tell their stories was extremely difficult,” James said. “I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and trying to be there for these people was hard.”

He hopes more volunteers will travel to Louisiana to assist with the region’s recovery. “These are our fellow human beings, and they need our help,” James said. “And who knows, one day it may be us asking for help from others.”

After his trip, James returned to Albany, Maine, where he is taking community college classes as prerequisites for attending medical school.

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Around the World with Jordan LaPointe ’17

“My advice to those wishing to study abroad is to get lost. If you don’t set a destination for yourself, you’ll find yourself in interesting places that you would have otherwise overlooked.”

Jordan LaPointe ’17
Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, Doshisha University
Kyoto, Japan

Exploring Japan has been one my childhood dreams. To finally get the chance to go meant an opportunity to explore a world entirely different from my own and to immerse myself in a rich culture going back thousands of years. Kyoto’s highlights were definitely the vast array of temples and shrines spread throughout the city and, of course, the people.

One shrine I visited in particular, Fushimi-Inari, was composed entirely of approximately one thousand red gates snaking along the side of a mountain. The sight was completely overwhelming and took an entire day to explore. My advice to those wishing to study abroad is to get lost. If you don’t set a destination for yourself, you’ll find yourself in interesting places that you would have otherwise overlooked.

My W&L: Kiki Martire ’15

“To say that studying abroad in the South Pacific radically reshaped my understanding of knowledge and poverty would be an understatement.”

To say that studying abroad in the South Pacific radically reshaped my understanding of knowledge and poverty would be an understatement. One weekday afternoon early on in the semester, a couple of friends and I were sent on a local Samoan bus to explore. We rode around the main island of Upolu for nearly an hour before getting off at a random village stop and realizing we were most certainly lost. With only a little language training under our belts this early in the term, we were thrilled when a Samoan woman approached us who was visiting her family from Australia and spoke perfect English. With typical islander hospitality she brought us to her home to meet her nieces, sister and sick mother, and invited us to stay as long as we liked. “Stay for dinner! Spend the night,” she crooned with a smile that looked as if she had never been so excited to have company in her life. This might seem odd to Americans, the idea of a complete stranger beckoning you into their home and offering to feed you, but for Samoans, and Pacific islanders in general, giving to others is a way of life–the only way of life.

I was overwhelmed by the family’s kindness and it wasn’t long before my friends and I were playing with the children and eating the most delicious bananas “fa’i” we had ever tasted, picked just for us off of trees in their backyard. As we said our goodbyes to catch the next pasi back, I caught my foot on a rock, stumbled forward, and broke my sandal. The shoe was clearly broken and unwearable. The stone laden road was as hot as lava in the blistering midday sun and I would have had to hop on one leg all the way back unless my friends somehow managed to carry me. The family, however, seemed completely unconcerned with my dilemma. In fact, they weren’t even looking at us. As soon as my shoe broke they all began searching for something, bent over picking through the stone rubble on the ground. We stared at them bemused until one of the sisters jumped up, gleefully holding a bent, rusty nail in her hand as if she had found a diamond. The woman grabbed the sandal from my hand and began manipulating it with the nail. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but it would have never occurred to me to fix a shoe from discarded rubble in the street. Sure, I had five tala to buy a new pair of shoes in town, in fact back at my room I had three more pairs, but I allowed these excesses to make me wasteful, lazy, unresourceful. This family had something more useful than surpluses of money or possessions… ingenuity.

When I returned from abroad I was afraid of two things. First, that when people heard I spent four months in developing Pacific islands, the only thing they would be concerned with asking me is how “poor” the people or villages were. Second, that they would see the photos of me with friends and fellow students from the South Pacific, families I lived with, or the children I grew to love like nieces and nephews, and see just another obligatory photo of Americans abroad spreading images of colonialist propaganda and racism. The pervasiveness of that dominant story about Americans abroad became more apparent to me during and after my travels, and I do not want to add to that void. I did not go to Samoa, Fiji, or American Samoa to somehow “fix” or improve their way of life. I went to learn. I went because I believe that there are values barren from the American way of life that cultures vastly different from our own can offer us. I went because as a Women’s and Gender studies student, I wanted to observe the lives of women and their access to leadership and equality halfway around the world. But more than anything, I went to test my ability to grow as a person, to step far outside my comfort zone, and respectfully come to understand the wisdom of people quite different from myself.

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Major: English

Minor: Women’s and Gender Studies minor

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • LAUNCH
  • The Reeves Center
  • Bystander Training
  • Kappa Delta
  • Repertory Dance Company
  • Pre Law Honors Society (formerly GILS)

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Men Can Stop Rape, Summer 2014
  • Office of United States Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Summer 2014
  • Pacific Communities and Social Change: Samoa (SIT Study Abroad), Winter & Spring 2014
  • Greenberg Traurig LLP, Summer 2013
  • Virginia Program at Oxford, Summer 2012

Post-Graduation Plans: Ideally, I would like to attend graduate school in the next few years. My dream is to work for an organization that focuses on issues of gender equality, but only time will tell.

Favorite W&L Memory: The last three years I have had the pleasure of dancing with the W&L Repertory Dance Company. Last fall I was cast in three pieces, each choreographed by close friends of mine–Kelsey Witherspoon, Alee Johnson and Taylor Hiden. To be able to creatively contribute to a friend’s project, watch her grow as a choreographer and artist, and grow as a dancer myself… I can’t imagine a more rewarding, fun experience.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? From a young age my family noticed I had a very strong sense of social justice, I was always very bothered when one person was treated less fairly than another. It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, but I refuse to be defined or blinded by my privileges. Whether that is the opportunity of a college education, of American citizenship, white privilege, heterosexual privilege… I never want to get too comfortable accepting the world’s inequities as inevitable.

Why did you choose your major? I was lucky enough to study English abroad at Oxford University the summer following my freshman year. After that experience there was no going back–I was hooked.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Take as many different classes as you can. I knew applying to colleges that I wanted a strong liberal arts education, but I never would have imagined the sheer breadth of the education I have received at W&L. I have been able to take classes in 16 different departments outside my major. I don’t think I would have had an academic experience as diverse or extensive anywhere else.

Tea for Many: The Senshin’an Tea Room

Students study the Japanese way of tea in W&L’s Senshin’an Tea Room

Welcome to W&L: Our Global Campus

An International Student Perspective on Washington and Lee.


Around the World: Myrna Barrera-Torres ’15 Around the World, ISA Chile at UAI, Vina del Mar, Chile (Fall 2013), John Cabot University, Rome, Italy (Winter/Spring 2014)

“Both of my semester abroad experiences, Chile and Italy, allowed me appreciate the beauty of the world in a new light.”

Both of my semester abroad experiences, in Chile and Italy, allowed me appreciate the beauty of the world in a new light. My experience in Chile was like being in paradise with its diverse geography, from the driest desert to the end of the world in Patagonia. The port city of Valparaiso was one of my favorite places to be–murals and artwork are part of the city’s character. From the walls of buildings to the sidewalk stair cases, the city has a unique vibe that is incomparable to any other place.

Italy was like a photographer’s heaven. Through my camera lens I took in the beauty of country, such as the night strolls down Trastevere, the countryside of Verona, the artists painting the skyline of Rome and the small shop owner sharing his knowledge of his culture. After living in Rome for four months I learned to embrace their culture. Most importantly, I was able to step out of my fast-paced lifestyle, slow down and enjoy the small things in life.

Around the World: Scott Sugden ’15 Around the World, School for International Training: Biodiversity & Natural Resource Management , Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

“My four months in Madagascar were by far the most personally challenging of any I’ve spent during my studies at Washington and Lee.”

My four months in Madagascar were by far the most personally challenging of any I’ve spent during my studies at Washington and Lee. They made me question my concept of what the “third world” really is, evaluate the relationship between poverty and happiness, and adjust to a culture far different from my own. I was able to improve my French, learn some of Madagascar’s African dialect, and see some of the greatest natural wonders in the world.

Some 80% of the species living on Madagascar exist nowhere else, and in my travels I saw many of them. I had lemurs jump on my shoulders; I was the first white person in over a decade to climb to the top of a mountain where I did my independent study; I spent a week living in a community of subsistence farmers; I learned about the challenges of protecting a unique fragile environment in a country where feeding yourself can be a challenge. There’s no way I could have had those experiences without going abroad, and I wouldn’t trade that time for the world.

For anyone interested in studying abroad, I’d say do it, and worry about things like double majoring or majoring/minoring later. After my time in Madagascar, I realize that I’d far rather spend a semester abroad and graduate with one major than spend all four years on campus and graduate with two. Ten years from now, the abroad experience is going to mean far more to me than multiple majors. I’d also say think about studying in a less “traditional” study abroad country, like Madagascar or other places in African and Asia. You’ll be able to get around western Europe by yourself if you ever feel like going there. I would never have made it to Madagascar if I wasn’t supported by an outside program that showed me how to get around the country.

Around the World: Cathy Wang ’15 Around the World, W&L Winter Term Abroad, Cathy Wang '15 at University College, London

“I sincerely believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, and to experience everything that the world has to offer.”

In the short five months that I have spent in London, I have fallen truly madly deeply in love with the city. Samuel Johnson said it best, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” This is a city full of life, and the possibilities are truly endless. It seems as if each day I discover more to do and more to experience.

During my time abroad, I also realized something—being able to travel is truly a privilege. Far too often, I have walked past elderly people begging on the streets, women with children calling out for help. Sometimes I wonder: what could I have done with the money that I have spent on my travels that could have helped these people that I pass by every day? For now, I can only cling on the hope that I shall be able to help them out at some point in the future, with everything that I have learned while on exchange.

So, it is with a grateful heart and fond eyes that I look back to my experience abroad. Thanks to my time in London, I had the chance to watch West End shows, cultivate my passion for photography, improve my dancing skills, enjoy afternoon tea and scones, travel to various countries in Europe, and above all, establish life-long friendships. I sincerely believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, and to experience everything that the world has to offer.

Around the World: Eric Schwen ’15 Around the World, Johnson Opportunity Grant, Paris, France; Madrid, Spain; London, UK

“While the conferences were very interesting and informative, I enjoyed experiencing the culture of the countries I visited even more.”

I really loved my trip around Western Europe. The main purpose of the trip was to present my research at two physics conferences in Paris and Madrid. It was an excellent opportunity for me to present my research in a truly professional setting and learn about the presentation and publication process in general. The conferences were both international, but they were made up of mostly European physicists. It was very interesting to talk to the Ph.D. students from around Europe and compare the structure of European graduate programs with that of American programs. I am planning on going to graduate school next year and I am in the process of deciding where I want to go and applying to graduate schools. It was great to get the perspectives of current Ph.D. students and recent graduates.

While the conferences were very interesting and informative, I enjoyed experiencing the culture of the countries I visited even more. While staying in London, Paris and Madrid, I visited the major monuments and museums, ate the local delicacies, met the local people and experienced their culture. I gained even more from the experience because I traveled alone. I was forced to meet new people and make new friends every day, and it was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of the trip.

I would highly recommend that other students take the opportunity to study abroad or go on a trip such as mine. The conferences were a great experience and will be very helpful as I prepare for and apply to graduate school. The exposure to other cultures was amazing as well. Do not hesitate to go, even if you are on your own.

Around the World: Samuel Campbell ’15 Around the World, W&L Spring Term Abroad, Business in Ireland

“It allowed me to branch outside my comfort zone and really see the world from a different angle.”

Being in Ireland for a month is an experience that I will never forget. It allowed me to branch outside my comfort zone and really see the world from a different angle. We got to see the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Bunratty Castle, a music festival in Kinvara, tour many different multinational corporations, the Guinness factory in Dublin, and enjoy everything that Ireland had to offer. I would definitely recommend this class to everyone who wants to spend a month in an incredible country and have a wonderful time.


My W&L: Craig Shapiro ’15

“Faculty and staff have supported me in my pursuit of fostering a greater global perspective to bring back to Lexington.”

Over the past few years, the world has become smaller to me, as Washington and Lee has helped to exponentially expand my horizons. Faculty and staff have supported me in my pursuit of fostering a greater global perspective to bring back to Lexington. Being selected as a Leyburn Scholar and Woolley Fellow helped me gain archaeological field experience and cultivate my archaeological skillset in Europe and the South Pacific.

I am privileged to have lived in native villages while exploring the islands of Fiji and Samoa, done fieldwork on an island with no electricity, running water or cars–let alone roads–in southern Vanuatu, learned the hard way that hitchhikers have to walk when nobody picks them up, and excavated at classical Roman sites on an island off the Eastern coast of Spain and in Southwestern Bulgaria. In traveling abroad, I made countless new friends from a diverse array of backgrounds. My willingness to put myself in unfamiliar situations has nurtured my ability to adapt and my love for both exploration and discovery, while providing me with opportunities to forge relationships that created richer experiences while abroad.

My adventurous habits have fueled my growth as an individual and brought me leaps and bounds closer to being prepared for life after W&L. In this sense, I find myself in a unique position as an aspiring Peace Corps Volunteer. I saw first-hand in Samoa and Vanuatu the incredible impact volunteers can have on a community and personal reward they gain from their service. I also witnessed the issues of working in the developing world and the difficulties of living in some of the most remote, culturally different places on Earth.

As a result, my remaining time in Lexington has been focused around sharing my newly widened perspective and urging other students to similarly expand their horizons. Obtaining a greater understanding of the world is an essential part of a liberal arts education, and the communicative character of the W&L community promotes getting to know one’s professors and peers on a personal level. This is one of the main reasons that I chose W&L, and I’ve been fortunate to gain so much from its collaborative nature and benefit from relationships that will surely continue after I move on from my undergraduate experience.

Hometown: Penllyn, PA

Major: Sociology & Anthropology

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Archaeological Field Technician, Washington and Lee University Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Communications and Alumni Affairs Chair, Hillel Executive Board
  • EC Student Representative, Washington and Lee University International Education Committee
  • Peace Corps Campus Ambassador
  • Fiddle and Vocals, Washington and Lee University Bluegrass Ensemble
  • Work Study Supervisor, Washington and Lee University Hillel
  • Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Research Assistant, Australian National University and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Tafea Province, Vanuatu
  • American Research Center in Sofia Archaeological Field School at Heraclea Sintica, Bulgaria
  • The Sanisera Archaeological Institute for International Field Schools: Dig in the Roman City of Sanisera and GIS applied in Archaeology in Menorca, Spain
  • Pacific Communities and Social Change: Samoa (SIT Study Abroad)
  • Swimming Instructor/Swim Coach, Great Neck Park District
  • AIPAC Policy Conference Washington and Lee Campus Representative

Post-Graduation Plans: Peace Corps, followed by graduate school for archaeology

Favorite W&L Event: Alumni/concert weekend during Spring Term

Favorite Campus Landmark: The rotunda balcony in Gaines Hall

What’s your passion? Discovery

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? I play fiddle in a bluegrass band

Why did you choose your major? To gain a better understanding of people, culture, and the world

What professor has inspired you? Professor James Flexner taught my first two anthropology courses and invited me to help with the Southern Vanuatu Mission Archaeology Project.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Be open-minded and study abroad.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Pencil sharpeners are pretty hard to find on this campus so you should have your own.

My W&L: Naphtali Rivkin ’15

“In my four years here, most of my ‘classrooms’ were not in a classroom.”

I’m about to confide something potentially controversial. The most important part of your college career is the time you spend in the classroom, and I loved being in the classroom at W&L. But in my four years here, most of my “classrooms” were not in a classroom. My Russian 403 class was literally one-on-one with my professor. We usually met for lunch the local Co-Op to discuss the books I read and the essays I wrote. I wrote the bulk of my two honors theses in the Lexington Coffee shop on Washington Street, and met with my advisors in their offices to seek advice. I once had a politics class in my professor’s living room. We played with his terriers while we disagreed about Jane Austen.

I think I loved being in the classroom so much at W&L because the classroom is not limited to a single room, here. Once upon a time, the classroom used to be a place where a professor would descend the proverbial mountain and deliver to you new information.Today, all that information is available on the Internet. So the professor at Washington and Lee must be more than just a messenger and the classroom here must be more than just a place to receive information. At Washington and Lee, my classrooms have always been a space where we could fulfill George Washington’s imperative to “seek truth and pursue it steadily.” And I am thankful that my professors here have, like Robert E. Lee, instructed “spiritual and moral sciences.”

Some things you can’t learn without doing — sometimes experience is the best professor of all. So I guess my classroom at Washington and Lee hasn’t even been limited to my time with professors. I had classes about leadership at VMI through the Army ROTC program, but I learned the most about leadership by being on the executive committee of a Greek life organization at W&L. Greek life at W&L teaches students how to be leaders and active participants in civil society in a way no textbook can teach. I also learned from my experiences abroad in Russia, so I guess my Washington and Lee classroom wasn’t even limited to Lexington. When I was abroad in Russia, I met royally opulent oligarchs and migrant Tajik workers. When people in Russia saw my American passport, some wanted to kill me, and others wanted to marry me. There is no textbook that can teach you how to deal with these situations. I figured it out on the fly, and I learned.

Writing this piece, weeks from graduation, I am sad to leave Lexington. I’m not a native Virginian, but this place has become my spiritual home. When professors trust you to work independently — outside the confines of a four-walled classroom — it frees a self-disciplined and self-motivated student to explore and learn while staying grounded in the practical concerns of his family, community and country. Between the Fulbright and my Army post, I will be in Europe, near Russia, for the foreseeable future, because being over there will help preserve what I love over here. One day, when I can’t travel the world anymore, I hope Virginia welcomes me back with a small plot of land somewhere near Washington and Lee.

Hometown: Teaneck, N.J.

Majors: English and Russian Area Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Writing Center Tutor
  • Washington and Lee Equestrian Team
  • Honor Advocate
  • 91.5 WLUR
  • Army ROTC
  • Sigma Nu Fraternity

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Semester in Moscow, Russian State University for the Humanities (Fall 2013)
  • SSIR Grant to Latvia (Researching the affects of ethnic self-identification on political practice), Summer 2014
  • Washington and Lee’s nominee to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress 2014-2015
  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Honors Fellow. 2012-2015

Post-Graduation Plans: I commission as a Military Intelligence Officer in the US Army Reserve and go to Latvia for my research Fulbright.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: When I leave my house on Houston Street for a run, turning right takes me into town and turning left takes me into the country. If I turn left, I have to climb this really steep hill for about a mile. But the view at the top is worth it. I’ve traveled in Central Asia, Europe, and the US, but the view from the top of that hill at sunrise or sunset is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. It reminds me why I fell in love with Virginia. The land here has a spiritual quality. When I run to the top of that hill — exhausted — I feel like I’ve earned communion with everyone who loved this place before me. When you see it, you’ll know what I mean.

What professor has inspired you? Professor Kary Smout. On paper, he’s my English major advisor and English Honors Thesis advisor. But in reality, he’s been more than that over the last 4 years. He has been my personal mentor, and I’m happy to call him a friend. My advice to incoming students is to take professors, not classes. Find a professor who is a good person and take whatever he or she is teaching. You will be spoiled for choice at W&L.

Around the World: Taylor DeVoe ’15 Around the World, W&L Winter and Spring Term Abroad, ISA, Universidad de Pablo Olavide

“Good and bad things will happen when you take risks and leave what’s comfortable, but I promise it’s worth it.”

To me, studying abroad meant leaving my comfort zone and being open to every and all opportunities thrown my way until one day it hits you; you’re comfortable. Even though I studied in Spain, I traveled all across Europe and even into Africa, seeing some of the most extraordinary sights. Though I could list each amazing city I spent time in, the highlight of my study abroad experience wasn’t a place. It was the new life I had formed. I had a family with a 12-year-old host sister who would have sworn we were real sisters (even in spite of my blonde hair), friends who would introduce me to their families and help me work on my Spanish without even knowing it, and a city I knew well enough to give lost tourists directions. To those who are interested in studying abroad, I would tell them not to waste a single day of it. Every second you are there is an adventure, so spend it connecting with as many people as you can, learning as many new things as you can, and traveling as far as you can. Good and bad things will happen when you take risks and leave what’s comfortable, but I promise it’s worth it.

Around the World: Marissa Gubler ’15 Around the World, Global and Public Health / Manipal University and Alliance for Global Education , Manipal, Karnataka

“It is one thing to read about India from books, but to actually experience it is exhilarating.”

I studied Global and Public Health at Manipal University in a South Indian town named Manipal. Studying abroad allowed me not only to enhance my knowledge of public health, but also to learn more about myself and Desi culture. It is one thing to read about India from books, but to actually experience it is exhilarating. I am very glad that I studied abroad at Manipal and got to learn about global health challenges and solutions. There were many highlights, but a few were the weekly field visits to local public health facilities, such as community health centres, a TB counseling and treatment centre, and a cashew processing factory, volunteering at a local orphanage, travel week throughout south India, and learning about and experiencing Ayurveda, which is a traditional Indian medical system and way of life.

To anyone who is thinking about studying abroad, my advice is to do it! You only get four years of college to study abroad, and once you are in graduate school or working, you may have a family or time constraints that make studying abroad very challenging. Plus, while you are in college you can explore another country under a program’s support system, such as that provided by the Alliance for Global Education. Happy traveling!

International Perspectives: Alejandro Paniagua ’17 International Perspectives, Business Administration and Environmental Studies Double Major, San Jose, Costa Rica

“By coming to W&L, I received the opportunity to make the world my classroom and W&L my home. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and explore the world, which was exactly what W&L allowed me to do.”

What are you involved in here on campus?

I am the Translation Chair of ESOL, a member of Washington and Lee Student Consulting, treasurer of the Biological Honor Society, and a member of International Education Committee.

Tell us about home. What do you miss most?

I come from a small family in San Jose, Costa Rica. It is just my mom, dad and my two grandparents. I have uncles and a cousin in Panama, but I don’t see them as often. What I miss about home is just having the weekend with my family to relax, stay home and be lazy. I also miss going to the beach with my close friends at any time of the year. As you could imagine, winter is not my favorite season.

Talk a bit about your prior study abroad experience, if any?

In summer 2014 I did research in Queensland, Australia through the School for Field Studies. I was there for a month and worked with restoration and conservation techniques, Specifically biological control mechanisms for the cane toad invasive population. That fall I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, with DIS, through the entrepreneurship and international business core class. It was amazing to get to experience a new culture and a new way to conduct business.

Last summer I was able to take a student back to Costa Rica to learn about the politics, educational system, and conservation practices of the country and compare them to those in the U.S.

What brought you to Washington and Lee?

I have always been interested in international relations and international business. I love to travel and learn from different cultures and perspectives. By coming to W&L, I received the opportunity to make the world my classroom and W&L my home. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and explore the world, which was exactly what W&L allowed me to do by supporting my interests—something I would never had the opportunity to do back in Costa Rica.

What has been most surprising about W&L and Lexington so far?

What surprised me the most was the strong sense of community fostered by W&L. Even after students graduate or faculty/staff leave this institution, people still feel drawn and connected to W&L.

Favorite Class?

I don’t particularly recall a favorite class, but I did enjoy “Race in the Media” with Professor Colon in the Journalism department, where we studied how race is used and portrayed in media outlets and news.

Tell us about life in Lexington.

Life in Lexington is very interesting. Even though it is not a big town, it is still a very nice place to live with its quaint streets and stores. It is definitely a unique town that I’m glad I got to experience.

My W&L: Joe Yankelowitz ’15

“W&L has allowed me to satisfy my need to wander.”

One day during fall term of my sophomore year, I sat down at a table in the Center for International Education with Kip Brooks and Prof. Boetsch. I came to discuss studying abroad in Italy the following year.

“You should consider this program,” Prof. Boetsch began. “It’s called ‘The Umbra Institute.’ It’s in Perugia.”

“I’ll give it a look. Is there a link to apply on the study abroad website?”

“No,” replied Ms. Brooks. “It’s not an officially recognized program.”

“It’s not?” asked Prof. Boetsch.

“Not currently.”

“Should it be?”

“Do you think so?”

“I think it should be.”

“Okay.”

“Hold on!” I interjected. “Did I just watch the process for officially vetting a program?”

“This is the least bureaucratic department on campus,” Prof. Boetsch responded with a smile.

I attended Umbra the following winter term, after studying abroad at Oxford University in the fall. I consider my year abroad one of the defining aspects of my time at W&L. Oxford introduced me to an entirely new educational style, the tutorial system. Each week, my tutors would give me a reading list and ask me to produce an essay for our next meeting. The system requires the student to take charge of his or her own learning process, with the tutors merely as guides. I found myself applying the writing and critical thinking skills I acquired in my English classes in Payne Hall. I relished the opportunity to use what my professors had taught me at W&L in an Oxford educational system predicated upon personal responsibility and self-validation.

In Italy, I got the opportunity to immerse myself in a new language and culture. I made a practice of talking to shopkeepers whenever I had time, and I learned about the problems facing the people of Perugia and what they thought about the city’s future. Using the Italian I learned in language classes at W&L, I turned the city into my classroom. I interned at a local Fair Trade store named Bottega Monimbò. For this internship, I helped organize a film viewing and discussion of a documentary about the Rosarno riots of 2010, in which migrant workers in the Reggio Calabria region of Italy, protesting against the deplorable work conditions forced upon them, faced violent reprisals from locals. In completing this project, I enjoyed parlaying my community engagement in the store into an opportunity to foster dialogue on an issue of social justice in another part of Italy.

I returned from abroad and recognized that my cultural education neither began nor ended in Europe. Coming from the Bronx, rural Lexington marked a significant departure from normalcy for me. When I first arrived, I felt uncomfortable in my new environment and experienced difficulty finding my place in the W&L community. However, I grew to recognize the value in attending a school outside my geographic and social comfort zone. Engaging with the W&L community allowed me to expand my education outside the classroom. I have learned about different American cultures and ways of thinking.

Most importantly, W&L has allowed me to satisfy my need to wander. Whether heading for a week to Mystic, Connecticut for my first-year spring term class “Whales, Whaling, and Moby Dick,” crossing the Atlantic to study in Oxford and Perugia, or even just experiencing small-town American life, W&L has endowed me with the opportunities to step outside my comfort zone and enjoy diverse cultural experiences. The university has inspired me to take the next step in my life, and I have applied for a Fulbright to teach English in Malaysia and a Luce Fellowship to work professionally in Asia. I am thankful to W&L for giving me confidence and skills to seek out new experiences and learn about the world and myself.

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Majors: English, Global Politics

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Hillel
  • Free Advice Society
  • Writing Center Tutor
  • Wednesday Night Live

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Studied abroad in Oxford, England; Perugia, Italy and Siena, Italy
  • Coach at sports camp

Post-Graduation Plans: I have applied for a Fulbright ETA and a Princeton in Asia Fellowship. I am still waiting on those…

Favorite W&L Memory: Playing wiffleball with my friends on the lawn of the Lodge

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? I hate wearing shoes.

Why did you choose your major? Fall term of my first year, I took English 293: Wilderness in American Lit with Prof. Warren. He mentioned I had a good sense for writing and encouraged me to take English 299, the gateway to the major. I loved that class as well (Ralph Ellison and the Civil Rights Movement with Prof. Conner) and that sort of did it for me.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Carve out time for yourself: Take a walk, read for pleasure, climb a tree. The proximity of social and academic life inherent in going to college can weigh heavily at times. It is important to take an hour here or there to clear your head.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? I wish I had known what “Greek Life” meant.

My W&L: Sommer Ireland ’15

“Being abroad for so long really changed my perspective on many aspects of W&L, and made me appreciate it so much more.”

“Why German?”

As an economics and German major, I’ve had to answer this question dozens of times. Sure, I have my elevator pitch on why I decided to enroll in German for my language requirement, and why I’ve stuck with it for the past four years. But an elevator pitch captures neither the depth nor breadth of how I’ve come to love the language, country, culture and most importantly, the department. Being a part of the German department has shaped my W&L experience in ways I never would have thought possible.

I chose W&L based on three factors: the small class sizes, close relationships with the professors and the affordability of study abroad. I knew I made the right decision when I walked into my German 111 class as one of twelve students. The individual attention from Professor Crockett and his passion for the class left me at the end of the semester knowing I would at least minor in German. I solidified that by participating in an intensive language program in Münster, Germany, that following summer. Towards the end of my program, I received an email that one of the professors (one I had never had a class with) had found a grant for me and the other W&L student in the program. It was a complete (and very welcome) surprise, and more proof that the German department continually went above and beyond my expectations.

Coming back from Münster, I knew I wanted to go back to Germany as soon as possible. Again, the German department made those dreams a reality. Through our department’s partnership with the Universität Bayreuth, I was able to study in Germany for a semester the following summer for just the cost of my plane ticket and food. When I left W&L at the end of winter semester to start my time in Germany, I had no idea that it would be another 9 months before I would be back on campus. I followed up my semester in Bayreuth with the fall semester in Freiburg, Germany, studying the European Union. I learned so much in and out of the classroom that complemented not only my German major, but also my economics major.

Being abroad for so long really changed my perspective on many aspects of W&L, and made me appreciate it so much more. People were amazed when I told them about our Honor System and how it functioned. They were curious about why I chose to go to such a small school in a small town in Virginia. Germans were inquisitive about the Greek System and why I chose to be a part of it. The more questions I answered, the more I was able to think objectively about W&L and all the reasons why I love it so much.

Coming back from Germany was quite an adjustment, but again the German department was there to support me. I threw myself into the German club, participating in just about every event that we planned. I spoke to people interested in study abroad about my experiences. Despite spending so much time away, W&L was still here welcoming me back into the community with open arms.

While senior year has been the only year where I haven’t been abroad, I’ve still been able to do so much with German. I’ve been a Young Ambassador for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) promoting study abroad on campus, president of the German Club, and taught German to first-, second- and third-grade students at Mountain View Elementary through the Languages for Rockbridge Program. All these extracurriculars have been outlets for me to share my love of the country, culture and language here at W&L and in Rockbridge County.

These past four years have helped define my passion for German, a passion that wouldn’t exist without my professors. I’m excited to be able to further that passion next year as and English Language teaching assistant in Austria, thanks to the Austrian-American Educational Commission. Beyond next year, I have no idea what the future will hold, but I know that W&L has given me the tools I need to figure out what that next step will be.

Hometown: Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

Majors: Economics and German

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • First Year Resident Advisor (2012-2015)
  • German Club (President 2014-2015, Treasurer 2012-2014)
  • Pi Beta Phi (2012-2013 New Member coordinator)
  • Languages for Rockbridge German teacher (2014-2015)
  • Central Elementary School READY volunteer
  • Phonathon (2012-2015)

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Intensive German Language Program in Münster, Germany (Summer 2012)
  • Summer Semester at the University of Bayreuth in Bayreuth, Germany (Summer 2013)
  • IES EU Studies Program in Freiburg, Germany (Fall 2013)
  • Economics Summer Research Scholar (Summer 2014)

Post-Graduation Plans: For the summer I’ll be an RA for the Alumni College because I’m clearly not quite ready to leave Lexington. In September, I’ll be moving to Imst, Austria. I’ve been awarded a teaching assistantship to teach English in Austria next year from the Austrian-American Educational Commission. So I’ll be channeling my inner Julie Andrews as I frolic through the Alps.

Favorite W&L Memory: It’s impossible to pick just one for me, but I think being a part of the Residential Life staff for the past 3 years encompasses all of my favorite memories.

Favorite Class: Professor Casey’s Development Economics. It opened up my eyes to an entirely new field of economics and reaffirmed that the econ major was right for me.

Favorite W&L Event: Fancy Dress, hands down. I love how everyone gets so dressed up to dance the night away.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: On Washington Street there is a ‘Non-historical marker’ that says “On this spot, February 29, 1776, absolutely nothing happened.” It cracks me up every time I walk by.

What’s your passion? Travel. Between my two semesters abroad I visited 13 different countries. I’m excited for that list to grow next year.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? I will be graduating without ever having owned a pair of cowboy boots.

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Why did you choose W&L? Of course I loved the campus, the small class sizes, and the close student/professor relationships. But as soon as I found out that financial aid would travel with me for study abroad, I was sold.

Why did you choose your major? I came in knowing I wanted to do economics because it just made sense to me, but German took me by surprise. I was originally going to minor in it until I sat down with Professor Youngman one day my sophomore year and he encouraged me to pursue the major instead.

What professor has inspired you? I wouldn’t be where I am today without Professor Youngman. He’s been the best mentor I could have ever asked for, and I can always count on him for sound and honest advice in anything from academics to just life in general.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Whatever it takes, study abroad. Try and go for a semester if possible (I promise W&L is still the same when you come back), but if not take advantage of a spring term abroad or do a summer program abroad. You won’t regret it.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? I wish I had known how to swing dance! I definitely had to learn on my feet pretty quickly (pun intended).

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International Perspectives: Reem Kandil ’16 International Perspectives, John Gunn Scholar, Cairo, Egypt

“I live at the Global Service House, which is a real pleasure. Our house’s first floor is decorated with items given by previous (and current) international students, from a quirky hat from Bulgaria to a taxidermied piranha from Brazil…sharp teeth included. It’s a very cool place to hang out and live.”

Tell us about your home. What do you miss most?

My home is Cairo, Egypt. Born and raised there, regardless of what my accent may imply. I have a sister and a brother who are both what makes life worth living and the bane of my existence…and parents whom I am very lucky to have. I miss my mum’s cooking, specifically her “Koshary,” which is a traditional Egyptian dish.

Talk a bit about your prior study abroad experience.

My home university is the American University in Cairo, and I have studied abroad in Lund University in Sweden. Lund is a very distinct town with its lovely architecture, cobblestone streets and practically ancient cathedral. I studied Economics, Swedish and a humanities course called “Religion and Politics,” which was utterly fascinating!

What brought you to Washington and Lee?

I was selected to be the Gunn scholar for this academic year. I stumbled upon the scholarship’s brochure by chance in one of my home university business school’s notice e-mails, and I am very glad that I made the decision to apply.

What has been most surprising about W&L and Lexington so far?

How tight-knit the community is. The shift from a big metropolitan city to a small town where everyone knew everyone was a bit of a shock, yet I find myself really liking it! The town is very green to say the least (as you might have guessed we don’t have much of those green things in Cairo), and the fall is unbelievably beautiful.

Favorite Class?
My “Intro to Political Philosophy” course is great, regardless of the not-insignificant reading load. It discusses very interesting content, from Plato to Rousseau to Marx and many others.

Where are you living?

I live at the Global Service House, which is a real pleasure. Our house’s first floor is decorated with items given by previous (and current) international students, from a quirky hat from Bulgaria to a taxidermied piranha from Brazil…sharp teeth included. It’s a very cool place to hang out and live. We also have Campus Kitchen in our basement, so you can’t really ask for more here.


International Perspectives: Rajwol Joshi ’18 International Perspectives, Computer Science Major, Kathmandu, Nepal

“I came here primarily for a liberal arts education (something not available back home), uncertain of what I wanted to do. A year and a half later, I feel like I know the direction I’m headed in, and the journey has been worth it.”

Tell us about your home. What do you miss most?

I come from Nepal, a small country sandwiched between China and India. It is surrounded by a rich cultural heritage and lined with the Himalayas, so I miss waking up to the sight of rustic temples and snowcapped mountains. Since I was born and raised in Kathmandu, a city with a population of a million, it took a little getting used to the smaller Lexington, and I do wish I had access to the options that I had back home. The food is something I really miss, and although I do like the food here, there are days when I wish I was with friends eating some good Nepali dumplings at our favorite restaurant.

W&L has been great so far for me. I came here primarily for a liberal arts education (something not available back home), uncertain of what I wanted to do. A year and a half later, I feel like I know the direction I’m headed in, and the journey has been worth it. I’ve made some good friends who make Lexington feel like home for me, and being away from family has been easier than I thought it would be.

What are you involved in here on campus?

I am on the executive board of the MSA and was part of SAIL’s board for a while. I was also on the leadership of the Iowa delegation for this year’s Mock Convention and am also part of the Sigma Nu fraternity.

What has been most surprising about W&L and Lexington so far?

It is a really small place. I initially thought it would be bigger, but you can get to places here without a car. Also, you end up recognizing everyone you see on the streets since there aren’t a lot of people here, so over time seeing a new face becomes quite rare.

Favorite Class?

It probably is the Drawing I class I took my first term here. Although it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed drawing. Along with learning new techniques, it was also pretty stress-free. I also got a bunch of artwork to hang up in my room after I was done with it.

A Day in the Life: Franklin Wolfe ’16 Day in the Life, Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner, Data Collection in Spain and Switzerland for 3D Geologic Models

“Navigating foreign landscapes, learning new geologic concepts, gaining practical field experience, exploring new cultures and working with Stephen to overcome daily challenges were unparalleled learning experiences.”

I set out with Stephen Ball ’16 on an amazing journey this summer to gather data for creating 3D geologic models of famous rock outcrops (visible exposure of rock) at the Montserrat Mountain in Spain and the Glarus Thrust in Switzerland, and to understand the cultural diversity of visitors to these locations.

Our journey began at Montserrat Mountain, a serrated, multi-peak mountain near Barcelona that is famous for the majestic Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, perched a thousand meters above the valley. Each morning started with a breathtakingly beautiful, and equally terrifying, cable car ride from the valley floor to the monastery. A typical day included hiking the monastery’s grounds on pathways that snaked around the side of the mountain, lined with countless religious statues, engravings, and iconographic images. Through our treks, we took over 500 photos of the monastery and the mountain to use back at W&L in developing our 3D geologic models.

We learned from interviews with visitors that people from around the world converge on Montserrat. At the basilica’s entrance, we met a Catholic man from South Korea who had come to pray at the landmark statue of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat and Infant Christ. My most moving experience happened on the last day. As I entered the basilica, a family rushed up behind me, breathing heavily and frantically, and immediately began weeping and praying when they saw the statue. This demonstration of such raw emotion made the importance of Montserrat extremely real for me.

Next we journeyed to Zurich, Switzerland, where we faced an unexpected challenge on our first day. If you have learned to drive a manual transmission vehicle, I am sure you can relate to this experience: Turn the key in the ignition…Press down the clutch…Shift into first gear…Slowly apply pressure to the gas pedal, while releasing pressure from the clutch…Stall out…Start over… Stall out again. However, I bet your experience did not land you in the back of a Swiss police car. After stalling out many times and creating a 10-car traffic jam (including an 18-wheeler) at an inclined intersection, blue lights flashed in our rearview mirror. From the left-side passenger seat, Stephen said exactly what I was thinking: “I knew we shouldn’t have rented the manual.” Thankfully, the two Swiss police officers were not there to arrest us. Instead, they commandeered our vehicle, put us in the back of their police car, drove us to a nearby parking lot, and gave us a 15-minute driving lesson. After this rocky start, and having “mastered” driving our manual car, we traveled the winding Alpine roads to the Glarus Thrust in the eastern Swiss Alps. Here we collected photos to use in developing another 3D geologic model. The biggest challenge we faced at this location was that we were literally “in the clouds” for most of our time near the rock outcrops of interest. We often had to sit in the snow for long periods of time waiting for a clearing so that we could take the shot we needed.

We are currently finalizing our 3D geologic models. Creating a model utilizes a new geospatial technique known as photogrammetry, in which identical features of the rock outcrops are aligned from multiple photos taken at different orientations to develop a 3D image. The model can then be visualized digitally and rotated in any direction or printed using a 3D printer. We hope W&L geology professors might use these scaled-down models of real world rock outcrops as a teaching tool. We are also preparing our cultural booklet with information about each site we visited and our interviews.

My summer research project was an awesome opportunity, and I am extremely grateful for the Johnson Opportunity Grant. Navigating foreign landscapes, learning new geologic concepts, gaining practical field experience, exploring new cultures and working with Stephen to overcome daily challenges were unparalleled learning experiences, and a highlight of my time at W&L.

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Major: Geology

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • President, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Student Chapter
  • Treasurer, Student Environmental Action League
  • Geology Department tutor
  • Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Alumni Relations Committee member

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • GSA/ExxonMobil Bighorn Basin Field Seminar in Wyoming
  • Keck Geology Consortium research in Nevada
  • Internship with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Mining and Energy Division.
  • W&L Spring Term Study Abroad programs to Córdoba, Argentina (Romance Languages) and New Zealand (Geology)

Why did you apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant? This grant provided me the opportunity to integrate my passion for geology with my interests in exploring new cultures and places.

How does your work under the grant apply to your studies at W&L? Research through the grant introduced me to photogrammetry, a 3D modeling technique that I am currently using in my geophysics course.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your grant experience? Unexpected bad weather while at over 2,000 meters in the Swiss Alps. We once had to run down the mountain through snow to get back to our car for shelter.

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Post-Graduation Plans: I am applying for a Research Fulbright Grant to identify the sources of precipitation and the culture of water use in Ethiopia. I will also be applying for graduate school programs in the geosciences this winter.

Favorite W&L Memory: Tie between pledge class spring break trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama and February break trip to Sun Valley, Idaho.

Favorite Class: Regional Geology of New Zealand Spring Term Abroad

Favorite W&L Event: Space Jam Late Night

Favorite Campus/Lexington Landmark: W&L Colonnade and Cook-Out® Restaurant

Why did you choose W&L? Top-notch academic institution that offered me the opportunity to play collegiate basketball.

Why did you choose your major? Outdoor labs, family-like department environment, and thought-provoking courses that alter the way I view the world.

What professors inspire you? Dr. Jeff Rahl, Dr. Chris Connors, and Dr. Dave Harbor

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Push your boundaries and seek new opportunities.

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My W&L: Alejandro Paniagua ’17

“The one thing that will set you apart and help define you is how you cope with the challenges you face, learn from them and move on.”

Coming to Washington and Lee, I knew I wanted to major in both business administration and environmental studies, but what I did not know was what I wanted to do with these degrees. As my first year at W&L advanced, I became aware of a group called Washington and Lee Student Consulting (WLSC). At that time, I knew very little about consulting and what that meant. I just knew you had to deal with clients and different projects, which was something that appealed to me. Especially considering I get bored easily if I only focus on just one thing. I decided to give it a shot and luckily was accepted into WLSC my sophomore year. I had a great experience working for Blue Lab Brewery trying to develop a marketing plan focusing on social media as my first project. It was a very rewarding experience that taught me a lot of what consulting is about: collaboration.

Fall term of my junior year, I studied abroad in Denmark and took a very interesting class called Creative Business. This class partnered with the Copenhagen Institute of Neurocreativity, whose goal was to improve our creativity level. In order to measure our level of creativity, we worked with the Volvo Group in Denmark as external consultants in a new creative design solutions project for the Chinese market. This experience proved to be a very rewarding and challenging one, since we faced high expectations, strict deadlines and a lot of pressure from Volvo. There was definitely a steep learning curve, but every struggle was worth it. I could not wait to work on another consulting project again to apply my new creative skills and to learn even more.

Coming back from Denmark, I became a project leader for WLSC and my client was the Rockbridge Area Relief Association. This was a challenging project that needed lots of hard work and dedication. Luckily my team members were great, and we managed to create a final deliverable that addressed our client’s needs while overcoming all of our challenges. I also learned a lot about building a relationship with the client and truly listening to their implicit and explicit concerns. Looking back at these three consulting experiences and what I have learned, I found a common thread: I always struggled.

One way or another I always struggled, but in the end I always managed. Each case was hard and pushed me to become a better professional, student and individual. And while I struggled, I noticed that everyone else was struggling as well! I realized that it is not our struggles that define us, but the way we approach and deal with them that will truly make a difference in our lives. Whatever you choose to do as a professional or in life, you will struggle like everyone else. The one thing that will set you apart and help define you is how you cope with the challenges you face, learn from them and move on. It is easier said than done, because feeling overwhelmed can be paralyzing, but coming from someone that knows this feeling way too well, my advice for anyone that is reading this is to always work on yourself and don’t let your struggles overtake you. Deal with whatever you can, at whatever pace you can. You will pull through as long as you always keep moving forward and persevere.

Hometown: San José, Costa Rica

Majors: Business Administration and Environmental Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Washington and Lee Student Consulting, SAIL, PAACE, SEAL, SABU, Choir, Gentleman’s League, FYOC, and Model UN.
  • Leadership Positions: TriBeta Treasurer, Voting Member of International Education Committee, and ESOL Translation Chair

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Summer 2014: Research on Biological Control Mechanisms in Queensland Australia through the Johnson Opportunity Grant.
  • Fall 2014: Study Abroad in Denmark
  • August 2014-December 2014: External Consultant for Volvo Group in Denmark
  • Summer 2015: Johnson Endeavor International Grant and Marketing Intern at Florida Ice & Farm Co. in Costa Rica

Advice for prospective or first-year students? College is a place where you will discover and learn about who you are. Get out of your comfort zone and always be willing to try something new. Challenge your own views to understand why you think the way you do and be respectful and open about other views. As you get to know yourself, don’t let any labels or expectations define you. Be true to what you like and the goals you want to achieve. After all, college is the place where you can make mistakes and learn from them. Enjoy this crazy ride because you’ll only be an undergraduate once!

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Never try to impress others. The sad reality is that most people come and go, but the few people that have a positive, lasting impact in your life are the few that truly care about you because of who you are. So instead of trying to impress others, I would have focused on impressing myself. Always trying to become a better person and overcome personal challenges. By being a more genuine person, I could have achieved a more meaningful relationship with the people I truly care about.

In Depth: Professor Martin Davies Assistant Professor of Economics

Economics professor Martin Davies grew up in Papua New Guinea, a developing country that is currently ranked #157 on the World Bank’s Human Development Index. Davies’ father is Australian and his mother American, and as a young child, he lived with his family in some of Papua New Guinea’s most remote regions. It was easy for him to see that the country faced challenges far different than those of Australia and the United States.

Davies studied economics first at Australian National University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, and then at Oxford University where he earned his doctorate. To him, it made a certain amount of sense to devote his research career to the study of international trade and development. Today, he studies the macroeconomics of developing countries.

“There are a group of about 30 resource-rich developing countries (RRDCs), and Papua New Guinea is one of them,” said Davies. RRDCs are classified as low- or middle-income countries in which at least 20 percent of exports are natural resources. “Over the last 50 years, Papua New Guinea has had a sequence of large natural resource projects that have both benefitted and hurt the development process. One of the questions I’m interested in at the moment is how governments in developing countries spend the wealth that these projects generate.”

Papua New Guinea is unique in that it is a small country that is rich in both mineral resources, such as gold and copper, and petroleum resources, such as oil and gas. The 2008 decision to exploit the country’s gas reserves led to a construction boom; there were plenty of jobs to be had as PNG built new processing facilities and improved its distribution channels.

The ripple effect of the construction boom on Papua New Guinea’s economy was nice, but it was nothing compared to the inflow of foreign exchange the country began to enjoy once the government started selling liquid natural gas (LNG) to other countries in mid-2014. A new revenue stream — particularly one of this magnitude — could pay for roads and schools and hospitals. The question for Papua New Guinea and other resource-rich developing countries is this: should they spend their new-found wealth up front or exercise restraint and spend at a slower rate over a longer period of time?

To answer this question, Davies traveled to Papua New Guinea this summer at the invitation of the Institute of National Affairs, a private think tank based in Port Moresby. He conducted a macroeconomic analysis of the country’s economy, and made a series of policy recommendations based on that data.

“It’s a challenge in resource-rich developing countries. The impulse is to spend upfront because there is a lack of infrastructure. The desire is to build roads, schools and hospitals but there is a shortage of skilled labor for construction, as well as a shortage of teachers to put in schools and doctors to put in hospitals. Constraints on administrative capacity mean that disbursement of revenues for projects can also be a challenge.”

Papua New Guinea’s natural gas project is forecast to have a lifetime of 30 years. At the time it launched, no one foresaw oil prices falling by 50 percent. Since LNG prices are determined by oil prices, the government has had to curb the country’s revenue projections and take a hard look at its current spending.

Davies recommends Papua New Guinea and other resource-rich developing countries in their predicament do two things. First, they must slow government spending relative to revenue. Then they must devalue the exchange rate — something Papua New Guinea is doing, but not quickly enough, in Davies’ opinion. Slowing government spending causes the economy to contract but devaluation will offset this effect.

The PNG government is making adjustments to its spending path, but Davies and other economists argue that the exchange rate adjustment is an important part of the policy mix. The government also needs to be cautious to cut its spending slowly, even if it requires borrowing to smooth the slow down. Cuts to education and healthcare can be particularly painful for citizens.

Davies’ research will go into a working paper published by the Institute of National Affairs and will also be presented to government officials in Papua New Guinea. Before Davies left PNG, he gave a public lecture in which he outlined his recommendations.

“There’s a compulsion to exploit natural resources,” said Davies. “The big challenge is timing the spending of the resource windfall. Ideally, you want to save some wealth for future generations.”

Photo: Martin Davies, photographed as a child at home in Papua New Guinea

– by Rachel Beanland

In Depth: International Immersion

Many students contemplating their college experience look forward to studying abroad. At W&L, we provide our students the opportunity to take things even further. The Certificate of International Immersion recognizes students who demonstrate significant commitment to global interaction through significant time abroad spent in coursework, research, field work, internships or community service.

“The Certificate of International Immersion recognizes extraordinary accomplishments by students who have spent time abroad and who work to draw upon their experiences to contribute to the internationalization of our campus culture,” said Mark Rush, director of international education. “It provides an opportunity for the campus to recognize and appreciate these students who look not only to deepen their own educational experiences, but also to enrich our campus life.”

Since establishing the certificate in 2012, the University has recognized to 34 students based on their overall academic records and portfolios of international experiences. Meet some of the recipients from the Class of 2015 and discover where they went, how their travels informed their overall education, and how W&L supported their experiences.

  • Kate LeMasters graduated with majors in global politics and economics and a minor in poverty and human capability studies. She spent a semester in Geneva, Switzerland, participated in three spring term abroad courses (African Politics in Ghana, Economics of Tropical Seascapes in Belize and Examining 17th Century Paintings in The Netherlands), conducted independent research in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and did a summer internship in Accra, Ghana.
  • Myrna Barrera-Torres graduated with a major in business administration and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies. She spent semesters abroad in Rome, Italy and Vina del Mar, Chile. She also participated in a spring term abroad course, The Environment and Economic Development in Amazonas, Brazil, and had a summer internship in London, U.K.
  • Scott Sugden graduated with majors in English and biology. He spent a semester studying in Madagascar, participated in a spring term abroad course studying coral reefs in Belize and spent time in England conducting research for his honors thesis.
  • Kathryn “Kiki” Martire graduated with a major in English and a minor in women’s and gender studies. She spent a semester in Samoa and a summer in England at the Virginia Program at Oxford.
  • Craig Shapiro graduated with a major in anthropology/sociology. He spent a semester in Samoa, conducted research in Vanuatu, did field work in Sofia, Bulgaria and Menorca, Spain, and traveled to Israel with Taglit-Birthright Israel.
  • Taylor Theodossiou graduated with a major in history and a minor in poverty and capability studies. She spent a semester in Rabat, Morocco (with a side trip to Amsterdam), participated in a spring term abroad course (The History of Paris), and completed two international internships — one in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and one in Limoges, France.
  • Amira Hegazy graduated with majors in studio art and sociology. She traveled extensively to Egypt, spending a year at the American University in Cairo and conducting summer research the following year. She also participated in a spring term abroad course, Drawing Italy.

Summer Abroad: Connor Chess ’17

Why did you apply for the Wooley Fellowship?

The program I was applying to directly related to the description and criteria of the fellowship. With the financial aid I felt I would be able to more comfortably enjoy the experience, as well as have a motive for documenting and sharing my experience with the school.

What attracted you to the program and destination?

I was interested in further immersion into the Spanish language, as well as work experience for the summer. This program filled both criteria incredibly. I got to study Spanish, apply it to my everyday life, interacting with the people in the small town, and work as a teacher and in a restaurant. Also, I had visited Costa Rica once before and the environment is like none other. It is such a beautiful country and it offers tons of incredible outdoor activities. The educational, work and the outdoor aspects of this program made it an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

How did you learn about it?

Professor Barnett, my Latin American and Caribbean Studies advisor, told me about the Academia Español de Nicoya program, which he had recommended to other W&L students in the past.

Describe a typical day.

Every day I would wake up around 6:50, get ready for school, eat breakfast with my host family, and be at school by 8. My class lasted four hours, during which my professor and I (in one-on-one training) would talk about the grammar rules we’d previously discussed and do practice problems, as well as simply talk about life and the Costa Rican culture. After class I would eat lunch and grab a smoothie from my favorite smoothie shop, Juice House, and walk down the street to Chari’s (a local restaurant). I worked there for three hours a day, three times a week. I served as a busboy, taking drinks and food to customers, making as much conversation as I could with them in the process. When the restaurant wasn’t super busy, I’d hang out with the waitresses I worked with, talking about their lives, my experience and joking around. After work I had some down time to catch my breath, do some homework and eat dinner before heading to the Liceo Nocturno de Nicoya. There I would teach my English pronunciation and spelling class (in preparation for the Spelling Bee). This was a great way to get to know kids closer to my age, give back to the community, and have a fun time teaching a great group of kids. After teaching, I’d grab some food with a student or teacher, go relax at the park for a while, or just head home to prepare for another day of constant thought (due to constant immersion).

How does your work this summer apply to your studies at W&L?

My work gave me a better understanding of the Costa Rican culture and a tighter grasp on the Spanish language, which both contribute perfectly to my Spanish major and LACS minor. But more than contributing to my formal education, this experience gave me a new perspective on life. The Costa Rican people, while they aren’t necessarily as rich as the United States, materialistically speaking, they are rich in love and happiness. “Pura Vida” is the national saying that means “life is good,” and this is the attitude I found in so many of the people I met.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your experience?

The most unexpected aspect of my experience was the attention I received from the locals in the streets. Nicoya is a small town and definitely not a tourist location. Being so, the locals are not very used to seeing a gringo walking through town everyday. People would stare me down, which made me a little uneasy at times. But I would just smile and wave or say hi to show that I’m a nice guy, and to clear up any suspicions they had about me. The first couple weeks were tough because I thought everyone really didn’t like me, looking at me with these hard faces, but eventually I realized they were just curious. I brought a little bit of W&L with me to Nicoya — the speaking tradition — and it helped to make for a more comfortable transition into me becoming one of the everyday ticos (Costa Ricans) of the town.

What advice would you give to students interested in a similar experience abroad?

I would say that the most important thing to bring with you is a good attitude. Say yes to every opportunity that presents itself and you will get so much more out of the experience than you could ever imagine.

Did the experience influence your studies or future career plans? How so?

I’ve always been interested in Spanish and living/working internationally. This experience strengthened that aspiration and gave me a love for and connection to Costa Rica specifically.

Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia

Majors: Spanish and Politics

Minor: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Men’s Varsity Football Team
  • Phi Delta Theta Fraternity
  • Southern Comfort All Male A Cappella Group

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Spring Term Abroad 2014 (Cádiz, Spain)
  • 1 Month Internship at Joe Gibbs Youth for Tomorrow
  • Academia Español de Nicoya (Nicoya, Costa Rica)

Favorite Class:

This may not be a fair answer, but my spring term abroad class, SPAN 214 – Contemporary Spain in Context, with Professor Reyes was my favorite class so far. It was my first opportunity to study abroad. I lived with an amazing homestay family in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Professor Reyes’ excitement for showing us his homeland made the experience all the better.

Regarding classes on campus, my favorite class has been SOAN 291B – Chanting Down Babylon. I have always been interested in the Rastafarian and Jamaican culture, starting with my love of reggae. This class gave me a great understanding of the roots of the religious movement, the meanings of the music, and the social, economic, and political situation and history of Jamaica since colonization.

A Day in the Life: Sara Jones ’18 Day in the Life, Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner, Maternal and Child Health in India

“Observing the intersection of culture and family planning practices firsthand enabled me to better understand the extent to which local beliefs and traditions dictate healthcare processes.”

I was fortunate enough to spend the last six weeks in Pune, Maharashtra, India, completing Maternal and Child Health clinical rotations and learning about India’s healthcare system. In Pune, I lived in a guesthouse with several other college students from across the globe, as well as a host family.

Our days began at 5:30 A.M. with sunrise yoga, followed by traditional Indian breakfast with the program’s medical director (I was always hoping for vada, or potato fritters). Then we headed out to our clinical site for the day. The sites ranged from rural, government-funded free clinics to high-end, urban hospitals.

Healthcare in India feels significantly more utilitarian than it does in the U.S.; patient encounters are extremely brief, and healthcare is very much a business. Only five percent of the Indian population has health insurance, as it is a fairly new concept there. Therefore, everything is paid out of pocket. This means that patients in private practices often demand medications or injections and threaten to take their business elsewhere if their requests are denied. In the rural areas, we observed an overwhelming belief that injections are more effective than oral medications; patients are sometimes given saline injections just for the placebo effect. During my time in Pune, I saw several vaginal deliveries, numerous laparoscopic operations (including appendectomies, hysterectomies, tubal ligations, and tumor resections), and a couple of C-sections.

As an anthropology major, I found India to be endlessly fascinating. Particularly, observing the intersection of culture and family planning practices firsthand enabled me to better understand the extent to which local beliefs and traditions dictate healthcare processes. For example, several doctors I spoke with stated that the majority of their patients want two children, who are 3-4 years apart in age. This underlying assumption about a couple’s plans often leads doctors to recommend an IUD for contraception after the first child, and a tubal ligation after the second. Furthermore, a desire in Indian culture for male children previously resulted in an outbreak of sex-selective abortions. Now, a couple is not legally permitted to know the sex of their child prior to its birth. These are two concrete examples of how a cultural climate can dictate medical practices; previously this was a concept that I only understood in an abstract sense.

Following graduation from W&L, I intend to enter a combined MD/MPH program. My ultimate goal is to consult on culturally appropriate strategies for improving women’s healthcare in underserved communities. I am so thankful for my summer in Pune, because it showed me just how important cultural awareness and local knowledge (two topics frequently discussed in the classroom) are to healthcare systems.

On the weekends, we took trips to Agra, Delhi, Jaipur, Aurangabad, and Lonavla to see landmarks such as the Taj Mahal, Amer Fort, the Palace of the Winds, and the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. I am so grateful for the Johnson Opportunity Grant that made this incredible trip possible, as it really helped to clarify and confirm my career ambitions.

Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Major: Sociology and Anthropology

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Student Judicial Council
  • Junior Advisory Group
  • Appalachian Adventure Leader
  • LIFE Peer Educator
  • Running Club
  • Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Stonewall Jackson Hospital Volunteer
  • Oklahoma Surgical Hospital Student Assistant

Why did you apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant? I very much wanted to spend this summer in India, and the Johnson Grant made it much more financially feasible.

How does your work under the grant apply to your studies at W&L? I am a pre-med anthropology student at W&L, and my experience this summer allowed me to combine these two interests in a way that really cannot be done in the classroom.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your grant experience? I have been routinely, pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and willingness to teach of the doctors I have encountered here.

Post-Graduation Plans: MD/MPH

Favorite Class: My favorite class far and away has been Medical Anthropology with Professor Markowitz. It was this class that initially peaked my interest in the cultural aspects of medicine, and I am so thankful for Professor Markowitz’s continued support and advice.

International Outing : Hiking the Himalayas Washington and Lee's Outing Club travels to Nepal for eight-day Khumbu trek

“The landscape was fantastic, and the group dynamics were fantastic. Although we were there for a short time, we got a taste of what there is beyond our borders, and that’s what makes travel so interesting.”

The mantra for the Washington and Lee Outing Club’s eight-day Khumbu trek in Nepal quickly became “Down to river, up to mountain.” A reference to the topographical pattern of the trail, it’s what kept the group going during the unexpected 12-hour hike the day after summiting Chukung Ri (18,000 ft), which proved to be a difficult physical and mental test.

Physical rigor is to be expected on Outing Club trips. During the school year, students go spelunking, white-water rafting, or sea kayaking in the Everglades. The yearly international trip goes farther afield, and this year, James Dick, director of student activities and outdoor education, led a group of 10 on a hike through the foothills of the Himalayas. Over the past 10 years, Dick has led trips to Costa Rica, Belize, Tanzania, Kilimanjaro, Ecuador, Peru and Slovenia.

Compared to W&L’s popular Alumni Traveller programs, the Outing Club expeditions focus on adventure. “The idea is to spend most of the money on the actual experience rather than fancy food and accommodations,” explained Dick. “So we stay in B&Bs, youth hostels, pensions — not quite camping, but close.” He ends the trip, however, in a nice hotel, because “a hot shower feels really good.”

This year, before hitting the trail, the group had a day of sightseeing in Kathmandu, Nepal. They visited a few important landmarks, including the Pashupatinath temple, the Boudhanath Stupa and Bhaktapur Dubar Square. “We also saw a lot of ongoing repair work to buildings damaged by the 2015 earthquake, as well as tent cities of refugees who were desperate for work,” said Dick. One of the more memorable moments was witnessing a cremation ceremony and then watching the ashes being swept into the river. “That was a very emotional moment, seeing the family saying good-bye to a loved one,” he said.

“What struck me about Nepal’s people was their excitement to see tourists,” said Albert Civitarese ’15, who will be attending the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine this fall. “Countless times, they thanked us for visiting. They were excited to share their culture and were eager to learn more about ours. Initially, I was taken aback by these responses, yet in hindsight it fit perfectly with the Nepali people’s personalities. They had a strong sense of national pride and championed what their country had to offer, as both a tourist destination and a home. This was not without realizing its flaws or drawbacks, which they would openly discuss at length, if asked.”

Even though the group had previous hiking experience, the going was tough. “Our first segment, from Lukla (9,000 ft) to Phakding, was hard,” said Dick. “It was a difficult climb in the dark and the rain.” But the next few days offered diverse hiking and visits to teahouses and monasteries. Prayer flags blowing blessings in the wind, and shrines carved or painted with Buddhist mantras, lined the path. “You always walk to the left of them,” noted Dick. All supplies were strapped onto yaks, and the group carried individual daypacks. Meals included lots of carbohydrates — fried potatoes or noodles with vegetables, as well as dal bhat, a rice and lentil curry.

Hiking at altitude presented its own set of problems. “People were really tired,” noted Dick. “We were taking pulses through the night and had some meds on hand to counteract the affects of altitude sickness.” As the group approached the summit of Chukung Ri, altitude took its toll on a couple members. “During our summit hike, James Lewis ’14 and I were laughing the entire way up the bluff,” said Civitarese. “Everything was gut wrenchingly funny, and only our labored breathing could interrupt this apparent comedic act as we inched our way up the mountain. With the timeline of the hike and our elevation change, slight AMS symptoms were inevitable. When we returned from the summit, I developed a strong headache and overall body ache.”

Leading them throughout the trip was Head Guide Karma Sherpa. “He was extremely outgoing and informative,” said Dick. “There were stupas all along the way, and he even led us in a few prayers. He was so outgoing and professional.”

“It was a really tough climb,” acknowledged Dick, “but it was one of the better trips I’ve done in many ways. The landscape was fantastic, and the group dynamics were fantastic. Although we were there for a short time, we got a taste of what there is beyond our borders, and that’s what makes travel so interesting.”

“I both praise and curse James Dick for planning this trip,” said Civitarese. “Without a doubt, trekking in Nepal is one of the most unique and amazing experiences I have ever had. While the national parks in the U.S. would be able to provide similar views collectively, this single trek encompassed so many different beautiful landscapes I do not believe I will be able to ever top it in my life. Thus, my disdain for James. I fear Nepal has ruined me for hiking elsewhere.”

Photo: From l. to r.: Jamie Hayes ’17, Erik Jones ’91, Evan Johnson’16, Albert Civitarese’15, James Dick (sitting), Carlos Elordi (spouse of Monica Botta), Sierra Noland ’17, Alex Fernandez ’13 and James Lewis ’14. Not pictured: professor Monica Botta and Andre Zamani.

by Louise Uffelman | luffelma@wlu.edu


Global Learning: A Vision Realized Your Support Matters, Washington and Lee Dedicates the Center for Global Learning

“When you come to this part of campus, you start a journey.”

Washington and Lee’s new Center for Global Learning began as a vision nearly a decade ago, a concept for a unique space that would embody the university’s evolving global studies program. That vision is now a reality, manifested in brick and mortar, contemporary design and cutting-edge technology.

The building was officially dedicated on May 13, with a ceremony that included remarks from Rector J. Donald Childress, President Kenneth P. Ruscio, and Mark Rush, the director of International Education and the Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law.

“Not only does the mere presence of such a space signal to everyone the importance we place on this element of the curriculum,” said Ruscio at the dedication ceremony, “it also serves as a clear signal to our students about the critical importance of a global perspective as they prepare for the lives of consequence we hope and know they will lead in the world.”

The facility, which combines 8,600 square feet of renovated duPont Hall with 17,700 square feet of new space, is “a physical manifestation of an ever-growing part of the education we provide at Washington and Lee,” said Ruscio. It houses classrooms, seminar rooms, instructional labs, and offices for language departments, visiting international scholars and the Office of International Education. Among the new teaching facilities are global discovery laboratories, where innovative resources can be used to harness the expertise of scholars across the globe, and to promote the study of geography, ecology and the environment.

In addition, a large glass-walled atrium and adjoining garden and courtyard flow seamlessly, bringing the outdoors in, encouraging student-faculty interaction, and providing a venue for special events. The first classes were held in the renovated duPont space beginning in the winter term despite ongoing construction on the back of the building, and the garden and atrium served as the setting for the dedication ceremony.

Carole Bailey, the university’s senior project manager, responsible for overseeing construction of the building, explained what they hoped to achieve with the building and grounds, and how that fit into the more traditional campus setting. “We wanted to create a space like none other on campus, contemporary but still very elegant and approachable,” Bailey said. “Students are loving it so far.”

While the building itself is impressive, several of its most significant characteristics are more subtle. Mostly hidden behind the walls and in discreet closets are servers and cables, neatly tucked out of sight. This new technology provides students and faculty with connectivity to the world at large, through high-quality, easy-to-use video conferencing equipment in the classrooms and a state-of-the-art multiplex in the atrium. The atrium’s multiplex features a large display comprising nine integrated screens, mounted on back-lit, perforated cherry paneling, that have the potential to simultaneously display content from nine individual feeds from around the world.

Other noteworthy characteristics of the building are also hidden in plain view: in the beautifully landscaped outdoor plaza, in the flexibility of the rooms and common areas, in the meticulously selected materials and décor, and even in the shape of the building’s corridors.

“When you come to this part of campus, you start a journey,” said Laurent (Larry) Boetsch, retiring professor of Romance languages and the former director of International Education. “Like a river, everything is curved and winding, with wide sections and narrow sections. The narrow sections naturally pull people together, where they engage with one another, leading to collaboration.” In those narrows are strategically placed seating areas, where students, faculty and visiting scholars are drawn to sit and linger.

Flexible classroom layouts are more accessible and allow faculty to experiment with new ways of teaching and connecting. Common areas also provide flexibility, with furniture that moves around to create nooks and crannies, and interesting places for members of the campus community to gather in a casual environment. The Tea House, which is scheduled to open in the building’s atrium in the fall, will also be a means to draw people to the far north end of campus.

“This corner of campus has been transformed,” said Rush. “I’m excited to see what sort of gathering place the building becomes.”

All of this adds up to much more than just a building. “It was truly intended to be a place of distinction on campus, to bring people together across all departments, and to provide a global perspective,” Boetsch said. As described in a quote from Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph,” which served as an anchor during the construction process, continually connecting the project back to the vision, the Center for Global Learning is indeed a “place where, without admixture or confusion, all the places of the world, seen from every angle, coexist.”

“Global learning is for us not just a phrase, not just a trend, not just a building,” said Ruscio. “It is an essential part of a Washington and Lee education. It will happen throughout the campus, and indeed throughout the world, but especially here in this splendid new space.”

by Drewry Sackett | dsackett@wlu.edu

Carole Bailey, senior project manager, describes her role as one of conductor, coordinating the moving parts on a truly collaborative effort. In addition to International Education, other departments contributed to bringing the project to pass, including staff from University Facilities, ITS, Development and the General Counsel’s office. Also heavily involved were a number of outside companies, including:

  • SMBW, PLLC, Architect
  • Draper Aden Associates, Civil Engineer
  • Fox & Associates, Structural Engineer
  • Pace Collaborative, M.E.P. Engineer
  • Spatial Affairs Bureau, Landscape Architect
  • Convergent Technologies Design Group, A/V Consultant
  • Branch & Associates, Inc., Contractor

Changing Perspectives: Sage Timberline ’15 Changing Perspectives, Shepherd Intern at the Downtown Health Plaza, Winston-Salem, N.C.

“Sometimes you have to see a need and fill it yourself, without being told.”

Thump. I release my bike from my hands as I finally get to the bottom of three flights of stairs.

Watch check: 6:46 am. And off I go, the wind in my face and my feet coming down on the pedals harder every time with that burst of morning energy I always get. My morning bike ride has become a game, a race against yesterday – I know when each light will turn green, I know which cracks to swerve around and which bumps to power through. It is humid this morning, but the slightly downhill nature of the ride helps whisk away the beads of sweat forming on my face. Then suddenly I screech to a halt. Every day I pass a bridge where homeless people gather to sleep, and this morning there is a child there. It shouldn’t surprise me – I know a full THIRD of Winston-Salem’s children go hungry on a daily basis – but I still feel shock and a lump in my throat whenever I lay eyes on a malnourished child. I quickly search through my backpack and come up with an unopened water bottle, a bag of trail mix, a piece of paper, and a pen. I rip off some of the paper and write the Downtown Health Plaza’s address and that of the nearest homeless shelter, and then leave it carefully pinned under the trail mix. The child sees me and looks frightened. I attempt a smile and wave, and then get back on my bike reluctantly. I have no idea if they will be able to find those addresses. I wish I could stay and help them.

Before too long, I pull into the hospital’s massive parking garage, chain my bike behind a bush, and head in to get changed. Thanks to the employee discount, I get two scrambled eggs and an apple from the cafeteria for $1.49, and head up to the 10th floor.

Baker, the resident who has taken me under his wing, hands me today’s list of patients, and Margaret and Kristina, two medical students, pat the seat between them for me to sit. They’ve been here since before I even woke up this morning. I study the patient list, trying to get an accurate picture of each patient’s story before we begin rounds.

Watch check: 8:01 am. Johnson, the 6’3″ attending, comes to the workroom, and we begin rounds. The first patient we see has serious chest pain that worsens with movement. Baker, always seizing opportunities to teach me something, beckons me over to listen to the patient’s heart murmur. Then he pulls up the patient’s chest x-ray for me to read. (A, B, C, D, E – Airway, bones, cardio, diaphragm, everything else.) It doesn’t look so good. The patient tells us that he walked five blocks here with chest pain because he didn’t want to pay for the $700 ambulance ride. He doesn’t have insurance. The doctors are sympathetic in the beginning, but when they find out he has been kicked out of the Wake Forest dialysis center because of inconsolable rage and refusing treatments, they raise their eyebrows. The patient defends himself. “Who wants to spend five hours three times a week in a room with only a machine?!” The more questions the doctors ask, the angrier the patient gets, and finally he yells, “Won’t you just get out and let me get some sleep?” On our way out, I close his curtains and wish him a good sleep. “Thank you!” He tries to say it angrily, but his voice breaks and it makes him sound almost tearful. When we get into the hall, I can’t resist asking, “Isn’t there anything we could do differently for him? Couldn’t he do overnight dialysis?” Baker looks at me sadly. “He would need a family to help him with that. And besides, he told us he can’t sleep during dialysis.” This is a very typical patient – long list of chronic illness including diabetes and heart trouble, no insurance, bad hygiene, mental health issues – but the pain of feeling unable to help never feels typical. We continue, seeing a dozen more patients, some more satisfying and some equally heartrending.

Suddenly, Johnson (the attending) points at me. “Sage! ADLs and IADLs. Go!” Darn, I was hoping he would forget. He assigns everybody topics to research and present to the group, and makes no exception for me. Nervously facing all seven doctors on the medical team, I begin. ADLs – Activities of Daily Living – describe the basics of self-care, such as bathing, dressing, eating, moving, and using the restroom. IADLs – Instrumental Activities of Daily Living – are activities considered necessary to living alone, but not essential for fundamental functioning, such as shopping, getting around, and managing medications. I explain that these are used in a scale to assess patient progress and to develop a plan of care. “And why are these particularly important for the underserved population?” Johnson asks. “The underserved generally have access to fewer resources than others, which makes our job slightly more extensive,” I explain. “Using ADLs and IADLs helps guide us in determining which resources we need to get the patient access to, creating a sort of protocol for a more comprehensive patient care plan.”

Watch check: 11:27 am. Time for Morning Report. This is where a few doctors get together and present a recent interesting case. Usually there is a lesson to be learned at the end – today’s lesson is that we shouldn’t forget about the most common ailments just because they present themselves with uncommon symptoms. I follow the doctor-language as best I can, but my mind is still on the patient with chest pain.

Margaret says I should come to the lunch lecture with the medical students (which I usually do) but today I promised Honey, a retired doctor who runs the Community Garden at DHP, that I would get back to the clinic to water the plants. So I wave goodbye and hop back on my bike to head downtown to the clinic. It’s only another 3 miles, but the ride starts with a humongous hill and it is nearly the hottest part of the day. On my slow and steady way up the hill, a guy in a tight biking suit flies past me. I am surprised and suddenly competitive, and I make my legs work way harder than usual. I make it up in record time. It’s amazing what humans can accomplish when they are in competitive environments. I am filled with a sudden appreciation for W&L.

I get to the clinic and water the plants while I nibble on my lunch, admiring how well the herbs are growing. Then I head inside to change again.

On my desk, I find lots of veggies from the garden that Honey has picked, weighed, and bagged. I head down to the Internal Medicine clinic, and begin handing them out to patients. Most people look sheepish, and need a little encouragement before they will accept. But as soon as I convince them, they always have lovely things to say. “I’m gonna put this in my juicer!” says a woman who just got a bag of carrots. “This is dinner fit for a king!” says a young man with a bag of cabbage greens. I’ve never seen people so excited about vegetables. I tell two little boys to wash their cucumbers before they eat them, but they take them out of the bag and start nibbling anyway. When I catch them, I give them a fake-mad face and shake my finger at them. They giggle and speak rapid Spanish to each other, and then shake their fingers back at me. I show them where the sink is, and they happily splash water over their snack.

Watch check: 3:54 pm. The day has flown by. For the next hour, I work on making health posters – four to promote the new chronic illness management class that DHP is hosting, and two others to encourage staff to support their food bank. Finally, I collapse beside my backpack and pull out my athletic clothes to put back on. I head out to the garden to join Honey in planting the zucchini and squash and picking some green beans before I head back home. Honey tells me some great stories from “back in the day”, when she was trying to pick her specialty. We have a few good laughs. She always makes me think about what my priorities should be – is it more important for me to help as many people as I can, or have as fulfilling of a lifestyle as I can? How much do I care about salary? Is it important to get a year or two off on the long path to becoming a doctor?

After an hour in the garden, I hop back on my bike. It is hot and I have a much harder ride home. But I am grateful because a long ride always gets my thoughts rolling. I speed off up the streets of Winston until I can’t see DHP anymore. I think about the patient with chest pain. Was there something the doctors were missing? Is there a place we should have referred him? Would he really listen to us if we did? I think about the people sleeping under the bridge this morning. What would that child do if he developed chronic diabetes and needed dialysis three times a week like the patient with chest pain? Suddenly, my wheel is dragging. I make a quick detour and pull up to a gas station. I pump up my tire, but it doesn’t hold air. Then it begins to rain. HARD. Here I am in the middle of Winston after a long day, in the rain, with a heavy backpack and a bike, no cash on me, getting weird looks from passersby, but too stubborn to call a friend for a ride. I resort myself to the long walk home. I am only halfway through my route, which means I have about 2.6 miles left. I start to despair. Maybe this is what poverty feels like, I think to myself. The impoverished are on a long, hard road with no option but to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trying desperately to hold on to their dignity. I close my eyes for a second and immerse myself in the feeling.

Watch check: 6:42 pm. I suddenly pause. This isn’t poverty. I have a watch that works even when it rains. I have a phone in my backpack, with a GPS and about 100 people I could call if something goes wrong. I have an apple leftover from lunch, a bag of almonds, and a water in my backpack, should I happen to get hungry or thirsty in the next 45 minuets. I have different clothes at home that I can change into, a hot shower, a clean towel, a comfortable bed. Even when I feel the most hopeless, I am nowhere close to impoverished. With a newfound motivation and sense of duty, I finally return to the condo, dripping, with my tire trailing, barely attached to the rim. I smile as I realize exactly which day I will write about for my Day In the Life Essay.

Hometown: Richmond, VA

Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Founder of Party Pickup
  • Co-Chair of First Year Orientation Committee
  • Resident Advisor
  • Tap into Hope Volunteer
  • Member of Students for Environmental Action and Leadership
  • Member of Connecting Campus and Community in the Context of Health
  • Member of Women in Technology and Science
  • Waddell Head Start Volunteer

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I pursued a position at the Downtown Health Plaza partially because I’ve had an interest in medicine for as long as I can remember, and it gave me an opportunity to gain both inpatient and outpatient experience. But even more than that, I wanted to comprehend the inner workings of their unique combination of resources – which include physical and mental health, legal, social, transportation, financial, and family aid – in one location. I felt that an understanding of these resources and the way they function together would best prepare me for connecting my deep desire to help the underserved population with my future health career.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? My studies at W&L established a knowledge base about poverty and the opinions of poverty researchers, and the work I did this summer provided context, personal motivation, an understanding of the reality of policy application, and the opportunity to develop real-world skills. This year, I will take my experience and skills back to the classroom and think more critically about the problem of poverty and possible remedies. I then hope to repeat this classroom-to-clinic-and-back-to-classroom studying cycle over and over, building a strong combination of knowledge and skills that will pave the steps to an entire career of improving human capability.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? I was surprised by how openhearted each staff member was towards me, and how much respect they had for what I came to accomplish. Despite being 20+ years older than me, my superiors became some of my best friends, and wanted to take time from their workday to engage in thought-provoking conversations with me. I was surprised and grateful to be taken so seriously and to become so much a part of the staff.

Post-Graduation Plans: Hopefully medical school, possibly Doctors Without Borders or Peace Corps

Favorite Class: Poverty 103!

What professor has inspired you? Professor Pickett and Professor Uffelman

Advice for prospective or first-year students? No institution or company or organization has it all figured out. Each is made up of people just like you. The people will often know more than you, but they don’t know everything, and they can’t always tell you exactly what role to fill. Sometimes you have to see a need and fill it yourself, without being told. Are you a member of a club but want to do something extra? Add it to your job description. Is W&L missing an opportunity that you are passionate about? Bring it to campus. If you are passionate, confident, and open to constructive criticism, people will get behind you.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Don’t do things just to check off boxes or fluff up your resume. You will be more productive, you will speak more eloquently, and you will have more fulfilling experiences if you pursue the things that matter most to you. Find what you are most passionate about. Decide what you want to do with it, and don’t rest until you’ve accomplished your goal.

Interns at Work: Leigh Stauffer ’16 The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

“The communication and teamwork skills I learned at The High have taught me how to be a contributing member to any organization, large or small.”

How did you learn about this internship?

After talking with my professors about potential art-focused summer opportunities, I learned that many museums offer summer internships. Growing up in Georgia, I had heard nothing but admiring praise about the High Museum of Art. And, after visiting the High’s website, I was also impressed by its strong sense of community involvement. So, deciding whether or not to apply seemed like a “no-brainer.”

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

If I were to guess what helped me get the High internship, I would surmise it was an amalgamation of the “little things.” My resume demonstrated that I am passionate about the Arts by listing relevant classes. I described my previous work experiences in ways that showed I have developed general skills that would be useful for this internship setting. For my personal statement, I specifically indicated how an internship with the High would help me achieve my future professional goals. And, I was fortunate enough to have a letter of recommendation from a professor who knows me well as a student and had previous personal experience with the High.

Describe your daily duties.

I worked for the Development Department, so I did a lot of research on museum donors, past, present and potential. The High is a non-profit, private museum, so donations are among its primary sources of funds. I thought it was really cool how my department worked to make sure that the High wasn’t the only beneficiary of community members’ generosity. Donations, excluding anonymous donations, were used in a way that aligned with the donor’s art interests, so even the patron benefitted from giving money.

Aside from my work for the Membership and Development Department, the High made sure interns from every department got the opportunity to explore ever area of a museum. Every Wednesday, interns would meet for lunch with a different department to learn more about that department’s role in the museum. Every Friday, a curator would lead interns through a private tour of his or her respective art collection. And, as new exhibits arrived at the museum, all museum employees were invited to “Lunch and Learns” that were designed to educate and excite employees about the incoming shows.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

I loved getting to meet everyone, including other interns, who worked for The High! Everyone was friendly, approachable, and happy to help with whatever he or she could. It also seemed like all employees genuinely enjoyed their jobs. As much fun as working for an art museum already is, I suspect a lot of their joy stemmed from being surrounded by a supportive team of congenial co-workers.

How did you like living in the city where the internship was located?

Living in Atlanta was amazing! Atlanta has a lot of other museums, such as the Georgia Aquarium, Civil and Human Rights Museum, and World of Coca-Cola, that were fun to peruse. The music scene was vibrant and diverse. One night you could be listening to various bands jamming out at Eddie’s Attic; the next evening you could be sitting on a blanket in Piedmont Park taking in all the melodies of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Atlanta also has a lot of hidden gems like the Krog Street Tunnel or the Beltline. There was so much to do, and I really enjoyed getting to explore the city’s many unique facets!

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

I learned a lot about organization while working for The High. It takes a team to accomplish something as vast as maintaining a fine arts museum that is constantly expanding its permanent collection and bustling with new exhibits (all while conserving precious works and keeping admission fees as low as possible). The communication and teamwork skills I learned at The High have taught me how to be a contributing member to any organization, large or small. Specifically, I am currently starting a Running Club here at Washington and Lee.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

The High has something to offer people of multiple pursuits; you don’t have to be an Art History Major or a Studio Art minor to benefit from working for an art museum like The High. There are positions involving public relations, education, design, and advertising as well. Don’t let the art-centered title deter you from applying!

Will you pursue a career in this field after graduation?

I am definitely interested in pursuing a career in the arts!

Describe your experience in a single word.

Fulfilling.

Hometown: Thomasville, GA
Major: Studio Art
Minor: Environmental Studies

Company Name: The High Museum of Art
Location: Atlanta, GA
Industry: Fine Arts, Visual Arts, Museum
Position: Membership and Development Summer Intern
Was the internship paid? No

Interns at Work: Janey Fugate ’15 El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Florida

“I speak Spanish and have a longstanding interest in Latin American culture and politics. This internship perfectly bridged my two majors–Romance languages and journalism.”

How did you learn about this internship?

The Todd Smith Fellowship supports an internship at El Nuevo Herald in Miami for a journalism student fluent in Spanish and interested in international, multicultural reporting. The grant was created to honor Todd Smith, a W&L graduate of 1982 and professional journalist who was killed in Peru while reporting on the Shining Path terrorist group and drug traffickers.

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

I speak Spanish and have a longstanding interest in Latin American culture and politics. This internship perfectly bridged my two majors–Romance languages and journalism.

Describe your daily duties.

The nature of reporting made everyday in Miami different from the one before. I would either be out reporting on assignment, making calls or writing from the office, following python hunters at night, going to the police station or the courthouse.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

I really enjoyed getting to know the reporters and editors I worked with. The Miami Herald/ El Nuevo Herald has a positive atmosphere in their newsroom that facilitated good relationships among employees.

How did you like living in the city where the internship was located?

Miami is an urban wilderness. Nearly every ethnicity is represented there, and the striking contrast between ritzy South Beach and other, poorer neighborhoods like Hialeah or Sweetwater makes the city a story hunter’s paradise. Having lived in South America the summer before, at times I really felt like I was back there and not in the U.S. While I really enjoyed the city’s cultural vibrancy, I am truly surprised that my car and I are collectively still in one piece.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

More than anything else, I learned the value of experience-based reporting. This was something my mentor reporter, Brenda Medina, taught me. This means discussing hunting regulations with python wrestlers, meeting immigrant street peddlers under the hot Miami sun, sitting through tedious city hall meetings, and searching for communities no one else is covering. Every place is a bundle of complexities, just as every human is. With this understanding, I learned that reporters must actively seek out the ignored as much as we closely investigate public figures.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Be ready to hit the ground running. El Nuevo’s editors treat interns like part of the team. I was expected to be ready to produce content for the paper/online and confidently enter new situations right off the bat. My advice is to say yes to every story and then go meet the people and see the places you write about.

Will you pursue a career in this field after graduation?

Yes! This internship really solidified my ambition to become a journalist, especially one that can work in multiple languages.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Adventurous

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Majors: Journalism and Romance Languages

Company Name: El Nuevo Herald, Spanish language sister paper of the Miami Herald

Location: Miami, Florida

Industry: News

Position: Intern reporter

Was the internship paid? No, but I won a grant from W&L’s journalism department that covered costs of travel and living.

Changing Perspectives: Lainey Johnson ’16 Changing Perspectives, Shepherd Intern at Bridges, St. Paul's School , Baltimore, MD

“It’s important to take a step back from the daily grind to think about all that can be accomplished now and in the future for children denied what others have routinely been given.”

“Have you thought about what you want to accomplish by December?”

It was six weeks into my time in Baltimore when my supervisor asked me this question. On a beautiful Thursday evening we were outside enjoying the first simple, peaceful moment after a long day at camp, watching the rising high school students write letters to themselves to be opened in 4 months, exactly one semester into their high school careers. These letters were to be a personal reminder of exactly what they wanted to accomplish in their first bit of time as high school students. I stood on top the highest point on St. Paul’s School campus, overlooking athletic fields, academic buildings, and perhaps one of the most beautiful views of the rolling hills surrounding Baltimore, a beauty that is hard to see and appreciate when grounded in the middle of the city. In the few minutes of quiet that followed, I thought about my summer, how I had spent the preceding six weeks and how that would change my outlook, worldview and goals in the future.

On Monday at the summer institute, elementary, middle and high school students were all at Bridges. High school students had SAT prep classes, essay writing aid, and visits from volunteer speakers encouraging thought on personal goals and aspirations. These students spend the rest of the week at job placements throughout Baltimore, gaining valuable job and life experience and develop and maintain interpersonal skills. Elementary and middle school students came to Bridges for the entire week, taking extensive academic classes in the mornings, while afternoons were dedicated to entertaining and enriching activities including sports, yoga, swim lessons and various art classes.

Bridges has no income or eligibility requirement but simply seeks to serve students that will take advantage of opportunities that they would otherwise not be afforded. To some extent, the majority of Bridges students lack some sort of disposable income, adequate family support or other educational opportunities, but each student differs. Bridges seeks to supplement the students’ opportunities in three areas: home support, quality of education and surrounding people and peers. All low-income students or students that come from single-parent families will not benefit from identical treatment, so Bridges develops programming distinctive to each student’s needs. Bridges meets students and families with what they can bring to the table and builds on their strengths.

The expansiveness of the Bridges program astounded me. In addition to summer programming, 4th-12th grade students receive similar support year-round, including afterschool tutoring and weekend mentoring. The opportunities that Bridges is able to provide to students are incredible. Every student, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, ethnicity or family situation would benefit from participation in a program like Bridges. This leaves us with two harsh realities: these programs and opportunities are not available to all students, and those to which it is available do always not capitalize on the opportunity. Children need support. They need individual attention. They need life advice, and they need job experience (just to scratch the surface). These are things that public schools simply cannot provide. This is why Bridges exists and why programs like Bridges would be beneficial if expanded.

Throughout my summer, I experienced moments of attention-grabbing beauty, clarity and purpose in the midst of days and hours when it was hard to see past the minute details of working with such an expansive long-term program. At Bridges, I saw it when I helped a ninth grader swim for the first time. I saw it when a fifth grader told me he was proud of himself for the progress he made. I saw it when a seventh grader whispered a simple ‘thank you’ on the way home from our tubing trip, a terrifying experience for him that I helped him navigate. I saw it when another seventh grader overcame her immense fear of embarrassment and completed a perfect step team routine with six other girls before a large audience. These small moments of beauty make Bridges a program that is enabling opportunity for many of Baltimore’s children. It’s important to take a step back from the daily grind to think about all that can be accomplished now and in the future for children denied what others have routinely been given. We need glimpses of the daily beauty that emerge in programs with long-term goals for middle and high school students that are able, with tailored support, to accomplish more for themselves and society than we might initially imagine.

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

Major: Psychology

Minor: Poverty and Human Capabilities Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Bonner Scholars
  • Nabors Service League
  • Residential Adviser
  • Kappa Alpha Theta

Why did you apply for this particular internship? Much of my service in the Lexington area is focused on bridging the gap between home and school for students who are not provided with all of the attention or resources in either place. All students need this support to thrive, and Bridges (as the title suggests) exists for this exact purpose.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? As a psychology major and poverty minor, much of my psychology studies are focused on poverty-related issues and how they affect the individual. My time at Bridges also significantly enhanced my Bonner experience, providing me with new ideas to implement in programs I serve in the Lexington area.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? The friendships I made. I found friends in unexpected places this summer – with my supervisors, my roommates, and Bridges counselors, teachers and students. These relationships challenged me in the best ways, provoked me to think about deeper issues in our world, and transformed my internship from an academic learning opportunity to an opportunity to experience more personal growth than I expected in eight short weeks.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: The view coming into Lexington driving down Main Street towards campus. With the mountains in the background, Main Street in the forefront, and both W&L and VMI visible in the distance, it perfectly captures the community feel that makes Lexington simply one of the best places.

What professor has inspired you? Professor Beckley–his lifelong dedication to the work of the Shepherd Program is nothing short of inspiring. His guidance and patience with students (like me) has made it possible for me to find my place in this work and in our community.

Changing Perspectives: Emma Busse ’15 Changing Perspectives, Shepherd Intern at Cooper's Ferry Partnership, Camden, N.J.

“Camden, N.J. was so far outside of my comfort zone that it felt like the perfect place to push myself in the context of poverty.”

Do you notice the beauty of a torrential downpour on a blazing hot summer day? If you have ever been two miles away from your new home without an umbrella while out on a run in an unfamiliar city, the answer is probably no. After a few of these rainy experiences, let’s just say the local weathermen and I are not on great terms. In a way, learning to answer that question positively given those circumstances is an apt parallel for my summer in Camden, N.J., working for Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, a non-profit development firm that uses a multi-faceted approach to make Camden a better place to live, work, and invest.

Camden, NJ, located just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, is known for a lot of things–murder, drugs, weapons, and prostitution (you know, the really bad stuff). Before coming here, I had heard the statistics, seen the pictures, and read the journalistic representations of what Matt Taibbi in a Rolling Stone article coined “Apocalypse, New Jersey.” Despite this negative picture, I thought I was ready to jump out of my small town comfort zone and fight urban poverty head on. I knew it would be challenging, but I felt prepared, both personally and academically. My first week at Cooper’s Ferry showed me that this negative media fails to capture the real challenges of Camden, New Jersey. While crime rates are not something that you want at twelve times the national average, this is not the whole story. One of the biggest, most unexpected issues that I encountered this summer was a fight to overthrow a bad reputation.

Driving up to the Camden Waterfront, the home of the Cooper’s Ferry offices, is much like driving around any city. There are crossing guards, school children, street signs, directions to local attractions, tall buildings, and police officers. It is a normal city. Realizing this normalcy showed me how much a negative stereotype can affect the perception of a city.

But, despite the first few glimpses of normalcy, the more time I spent in Camden, the more I saw the despair. As a native West Virginian, I am no stranger to rough roads, but during my first week working at Cooper’s Ferry, one of my supervisors took me on a driving tour of Camden on roads with more holes and makeshift patches than I have ever seen. I thought I knew about potholes until my supervisor’s sturdy jeep bottomed-out in a one along a main corridor of a Camden neighborhood. This disrepair was the first sign of a cloud in the idealistic picture I had painted of the skies ahead of me this summer–it was the first sign of a storm ahead, like the lingering evening cloud that seemed to dwell outside my window some nights as I headed out for a run. The first week at Cooper’s Ferry was like that day when you look out the window to see clear skies and head out without an umbrella, despite a threatening forecast, thinking that there is no way it could rain with such a beautiful sky. But in the end you wind up soaked, trudging home, defeated.

Seeing the poverty and crime that the negative media advertises as the sum of Camden made me a bit cynical. At first I feared Camden would be solely Apocalypse, N.J., and then I realized that there was innate hope in this place. For a short time, all I saw in Camden was poverty. I bought into the negativity some people have towards this place. It took one of my co-workers to change my perspective. As a lifelong resident of the city, she had an interesting perspective on Camden. She regularly pointed out that negative media sells, and Camden has its fair share of negativity. However, Camden is a unique juxtaposition of crime and of invincibility. Walt Whitman, who spent his last years in the city, called Camden “a city invincible” during a time of economic prosperity. This title has stuck with the city for decades, through economic ups and downs, and remains an apt description of this place, despite those who tout the violence as indicative. People like my Camden resident co-worker believe in this place. She proudly claims the city as her own and believes in Camden and in Cooper’s Ferry. Cooper’s Ferry has become a part of the fight to mitigate the effects of the “Apocalypse, New Jersey” side of Camden, to get the invincibility of Camden recognized again, to get people to understand that a city’s worth is more than the sum of its violent, widely propagandized parts, and to get people to see the beauty in a rainstorm.

Cooper’s Ferry has many projects in progress, and during my summer, I worked on a few projects targeted at small business support and growth. One project involved grants for façade improvements to businesses in main economic zones. As a sociology student, I have studied and debated the merit of the broken-windows hypothesis of preventing crime: that a group of tested propositions (like the ill-repair of the storefronts) can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena (like a lack of efficacy for a community). Through façade improvements, I was able to see that while broken-windows hypothesis may not translate well into the social realm of policing, there is some merit to the view that repairing broken-windows and boarded up buildings can create collective efficacy: a social agreement of neighbors to act on behalf of the common good.

Granting micro-loans to small businesses helped me to see that collective efficacy should be built from the ground up, and that sometimes a small amount of money is the catalyst needed for small business growth. While Cooper’s Ferry is involved in very large-scale deals in Camden, some of its the most important efforts focus on grassroots change. It takes a multifaceted approach to combat poverty in an area so entrenched in hardship that it sometimes struggles to see another way, to remember that the value of this city far surpasses its crime rates, to remember that Camden is simultaneously “Apocalypse, N.J.” and the City Invincible, and to see beauty and opportunity in a place of poverty in a time of rainstorms.

The day-to-day work at Cooper’s Ferry was a lot like work in any business setting. Invoicing, event planning, marketing and grant writing do not exactly sound like poverty relief. But in an area like Camden that has such disenchanting poverty, a corporation trying to improve the area through development innately necessarily touches poverty every day. The arrival of large corporations means jobs for people who have never been employed. Park improvements mean relocation of drugs to make a safe space for children to play. New bike trails mean a safer, healthier means of transportation for those without other options, including children walking or biking to school. All of Cooper’s Ferry’s work runs parallel to Camden’s economic and opportunity disadvantages.

Cooper’s Ferry not only gave me the opportunity to experience business and poverty-relief firsthand; it also introduced me to businesspeople in Camden. These businesspeople touch the lives of Camden residents everyday and affect its reputation. One meeting with the director of a major attraction on the Camden Waterfront stuck out. This successful businessman advocated for Camden and its people. He showed me that an individual working in a for-profit industry can still make a major difference in the community.

The development of the Camden Waterfront has not come without criticism. Many residents say that the Waterfront is too expensive and comes with too many barriers for them to feel comfortable there. However, this director made a point to tear down the physical and social barriers between the city’s residents and the waterfront, to send resources out into the community, to welcome Camden’s people into the developments on the waterfront, and to make these proud attractions of Camden, not mere extensions of Philadelphia.

Seeing this commitment by businesspeople to the City Invincible was the moment when I saw the beauty in the torrential downpour even though I was miles from home without an umbrella. As a poverty minor, I have felt that my path needs to include working for a non-profit that feeds children, teaches kids how to read, gives veterans housing or something else at the forefront of the fight against poverty. I worried that pursuing a career in economics would be turning my back to my time in the poverty department. However, the examples of businesspeople in Camden committed to changing the City for the better help me realize that there are career opportunities in business-like non-profits (like Cooper’s Ferry) and in socially responsible for-profits (like the waterfront attractions), and choosing a route that may not for some look like the path of a poverty minor does not mean that I am turning my back to this study. Maybe following my economics training into business will help to continue bridging the gap between poverty-alleviation and for-profit industry. The Shepherd Program, both during my internship and in the conferences preceding and following my time in Camden, has introduced me to many people who are doing just that. There is poverty-relief work in socially responsible business, some beauty in a torrential downpour, and merit to looking at things from a different perspective.

Hometown: Charleston, WV

Majors: Economics and Sociology

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Money Matters
  • Volunteer Venture Greensboro Pre-Orientation Trip Leader
  • Relay for Life
  • Alpha Delta Pi

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Summer Scholar in Economics
  • Research Assistant in Environmental Studies Department

Why did you apply for this particular internship? Camden, N.J. was so far outside of my comfort zone that it felt like the perfect place to push myself in the context of poverty. I had also heard amazing things about Cooper’s Ferry Partnership from past interns, and I wanted to see this great place for myself.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? As both an economics major and sociology major, the concept of human capital and the opportunity to improve human capital is at the forefront of understanding poverty and poverty alleviation. Cooper’s Ferry Partnership is truly in the business of inculcating Camden’s citizens with human capital through improving local opportunities.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? Learning to love a city. As a native to West Virginia, who aside from the house I grew up in has only ever called Lexington home, living in the city of Philadelphia gave me a new appreciation for life in an urban world.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: Goshen. From my first time there on my pre-orientation trip as a first year to making the drive out there during O-week with friends this year as a senior, the beauty of southern Virginia never ceases to amaze me.

What professors has inspired you? Art Goldsmith and Tim Diette–passion for economics, poverty and sociology in two inspiring people

In Remembrance: A Promise for Kelsey

In remembrance of the tragic accident that happened one year ago today, the Executive Committee has lined the walkway from Lee Chapel to Washington Hall with blue flags. We encourage you to wear your blue Promise for Kelsey bracelets and a blue shirt to recognize the significance of this day.

Tonight, we invite you to Evans Dining Hall at 6:45 P.M. so we can once again gather as a community. We will be showing a video made last spring by the Promise Committee and will conclude by lighting the Christmas tree in front of Lee House. You are welcome to join us for any part or all of this evening. Cookies and cocoa will be provided, and we look forward to seeing you.


In Depth: Science, Society and the Arts

Science, Society, and the Arts is a multi-disciplinary conference involving Washington and Lee undergraduates and law students in the presentation of their academic achievements before an audience of their peers and the faculty. Conference participants share their work via oral presentations, traditional academic conference-style panels, poster sessions, artistic shows, or creative performances.

In the weeks leading up to the conference on March 12-13, we will profile a few of the projects being presented by students.

Briefly describe your research project.

While studying abroad in Samoa last year, I conducted an independent research project on women in politics and what keeps Samoan women from having more leadership roles in both their local governing bodies and the national Parliament system. Samoan women hold an integral and valued place within their families and communities, yet Samoa continues to report some of the lowest rates of female political representation in the world. During my research process I interviewed many village women in rural Lotofaga, as well as fourteen female politicians, aspiring politicians, and experts in the field. This work culminated in the research paper I will be presenting at SSA and is published online at http://digitalcollections.sit.edu/isp_collection/1823/

What about this project called you to exploration?

As a Women’s and Gender Studies minor I was really interested in studying the lives of women in Samoa and how the challenges they face are similar and different to those faced by women in other parts of the world. As is the case in the U.S. and across the globe, Samoa has a government system almost entirely dominated by male leaders. This issue was coming to the forefront during my time there because the Samoan government had recently passed a temporary special measure that will guarantee 10% of Parliamentary seats to women come 2016. They are also the first Pacific island nation to do so. Another name for such a measure is a “quota system,” a tactic that has achieved great success in other parts of the world, especially Nordic European nations, in achieving more gender equitable governments.

What was the most interesting thing you learned while working in this subject matter?

Although some of the challenges facing Samoan women entering politics are unique to their culture, many are somewhat universal. My research found that a network of support from fellow women, especially politically active women who can serve as mentors, would be a positive first step in addressing the constraints Samoan women face entering politics. At a micro level, that is what I have been interested in trying here on our campus. Washington and Lee also has a lack of female representation in student leadership. The group “Launch” that I am vice president of seeks to balance social and political power at W&L by encouraging female mentorship and networking.

What was the biggest challenge in completing this project?

The language barrier is always a concern when conducting research in a non-English speaking nation. I had become proficient in Samoan during my time there, yet I had to be very cognizant of the fact that many concepts and cultural notions would still not translate. It is always a challenge as an American and an outsider to a community to conduct research responsibly. I had many preconceived Western notions about gender equality going in, and the learning curve was steep. Luckily I had a few amazing Samoan women as advisors who steered me in the right direction and helped me to be as culturally sensitive and relevant as possible.

What insight(s) did you gain from creating this project?

As Americans I think we tend to see things in black and white; we love to categorize and simplify. The Samoan culture is much more laid-back and fluid. It would be easy to look at their political representation and say “Samoa is not an equitable society for women,” but political representation is just a small piece of the puzzle. Many of these issues begin in the home, in family and village structures and at schools. Women are highly regarded throughout Samoa and hold vast leadership positions, but the translation of that authority has not yet spread to politics. The international community judges developing nations harshly when it comes to female leadership, but in reality, the United States ranks 75th in global female political representation and Samoa is not much further off at 135th.

What was your favorite part of creating this project?

Speaking with such powerful, influential, and inspiring women. I interviewed women from 35 to 85, and their wisdom was vast and fascinating. As a young woman, I have so much to learn. I was able to interview the Minister of Justice, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who has served for more terms in Parliament than any woman in history, and is arguably the most powerful Samoan woman alive today. I also got to meet the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and the current Samoan Queen. It was a great honor as a foreigner to be welcomed by so many state leaders.

Why would someone focused in other disciplines care about this?

This paper was a lot of fun for me, not only because I was so interested in the issue, but also because it allowed me to investigate many different fields. My paper covers issues from history and political science, to anthropology and sociology, all the way to gender studies and social justice. There’s a little something for nearly everyone.

In your mind, what is the value of considering science, society and the arts in the same context?

In my mind, perspectives are always lost when research is isolated in only one discipline. Examining a topic from an interdisciplinary approach lends to more comprehensive conclusions. Science does not operate in a vacuum from artistic temperament, and certainly neither can be explored with depth and effectiveness when removed from a societal context. My mother is a visual artist who works in the medical field doing cardiac research. Her mixed-medium approach to each field has always inspired me. I appreciate how W&L’s liberal arts focus encourages us as students to look at an issue from diverse vantage points.

My W&L: Mary Virginia Long ’15

“W&L is a community that truly enables and encourages students to step outside of their comfort zones.”

When I came to Washington and Lee four years ago, I was unaware of the abundant opportunities and challenges that awaited me on this campus. Honestly, I thought I had my life somewhat figured out as soon as I arrived for my first day of preseason. In my mind, I had come to Washington and Lee to play collegiate field hockey and to follow a pre-med curriculum in order to pursue my adolescent dream of going to medical school. I had been training all summer for my fitness tests, and I had done my research on the specific classes I needed to take in order to ease myself into the pre-med program. However, while I did live up to my expectations, both as an athlete and a pre-medical student, I am leaving the university to go to Washington D.C. to be a kindergarten teacher for children in some of the most under-resourced areas of the city.

The Washington and Lee community is one of support. It is a community that truly enables and encourages students to step outside of their comfort zones, to test waters and try something completely new and different. Through the liberal arts curriculum, students are allowed to explore and further develop their intellectual curiosities. Furthermore, there are no restrictions in regards to how involved one can or cannot be on campus. For instance, you can be an athlete, active in the Greek system, involved in student government, clubs, etc. It is not hard to see how incredibly unique Washington and Lee truly is, as it allows students to explore so many different avenues and find success in so many ways.

Ultimately, this atmosphere of encouragement was what helped me uncover my passion for working with children in underprivileged communities. My professors and the community encouraged me to explore what I was interested in, rather than follow my initial pre-determined plans, and in doing so I have discovered different pieces of this passion and future career path. Through various courses, such as Race and Ethnic Relations with Professor Novack, different aspects of something incredibly integral to my future career were constantly being relayed and reiterated to me. The problem of educational inequity was presented to me in a profoundly different way — a way that I had never previously explored. Everything I seemed to believe in and understand was challenged, and while that initially did not settle well with me, it ultimately became a driving source of my passion.

After spending nearly six summers working as a counselor at a camp for inner-city Richmond children, I found myself faced with a great deal of uncertainty as the beginning of my senior year approached. While I had always planned on taking a gap year before medical school, I now found myself questioning my future all together. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in which I could help people, in which I could make a difference in the lives of individuals. As a child of two doctors, I believed the most natural way for me to achieve such a goal was through medicine. I never allowed myself to explore different avenues to achieve such a goal. However, when it came time to make a decision about when to schedule my MCATS, I kept coming back to the children I worked with over the summer and not only the hope I helped bring to their lives, but also the joy they brought to mine. After a great deal of reflection, I ultimately decided to put medical school on hold in order to give this other passion a chance to grow and flourish. With the guidance and support of my advisor and peers, I began applying to different teaching programs and started volunteering at a local elementary school. Even though it was completely different, I felt comforted in my decision to branch out and try something new.

If you had asked me a year and half ago if I ever thought I would become a teacher, even just for a year, I honestly don’t think my answer would have been yes. But then again, had it not been for Washington and Lee, I don’t think I would have ever had the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone, especially so late in the game, and discover a new passion.

As I walk along the Colonnade throughout my remaining four weeks as a student at Washington and Lee, I am filled with both sadness and excitement. Washington and Lee will forever hold a special place in my heart — one that can never be replaced. While I do not want to leave this place which has become my second home, I am excited and confident about my future. So when that fateful day comes that I have to say goodbye to this beautiful campus, I can leave with a smile on my face, knowing that I am prepared for whatever tomorrow may bring.

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Major: Sociology

Minor: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Varsity Field Hockey (Captain Junior and Senior Years)
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority
  • 24: Many Sports, One Team
  • Generals Leadership Academy (Graduate of 2014)
  • Peer Tutors Program
  • Volunteer at Mountain View Elementary

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Summer 2012-14-William I. Snead River Program for Woodville Elementary
  • Summer 2012-VCU Life Sciences Research Intern
  • 2014-Spring Term abroad in the Netherlands with Dr. Uffelman studying 17th century Dutch art from a scientific perspective

Post-Graduation Plans: I have accepted a job with KIPP DC to be a Capital Teaching Resident in the Early Education Program (specifically working with kindergarteners).

Favorite W&L Memory: Although it’s nearly impossible to narrow down and choose just one favorite memory, one of my most profound and proudest memories was probably beating Johns Hopkins in field hockey this past year. Not only was it a great way to open our season, but it was also the first time in the history of our program that we had ever beaten Hopkins. It was the first time we were able to see how great our team dynamic was and how much our hard work was finally paying off. It really set the tone for a successful season…not to mention, it was a great birthday present!

Favorite W&L Event: Parents Weekend. I love spending time with my parents and my friends’ parents and seeing them all interact together. I can definitely see from whom my friends get their certain mannerisms and quirks! It’s just in general a great weekend, and a time when I do not think I have ever seen someone without a smile on their face.

Favorite Campus Landmark: The view from the W&L field hockey turf. You can see everything from there — even Mr. Washington himself, sitting on top of Washington Hall can be seen from the field. Seeing the sun rise up over the mountains on a quiet summer morning made each and every one of those sprints I had to run over the past four years worth it.

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Why did you choose W&L? I initially thought I wanted to go to a big state school. In fact, W&L was the only small, liberal arts university to which I applied, and even then, it was only after I found out I was being recruited for field hockey that I decided to apply regular decision. Nevertheless, when I came for my official visit as a recruit, there was something special about this place, and I knew in my heart it was the place for me.

Why did you choose your major? Honestly, when I first came to college, I had absolutely no idea what sociology was, but after I took my first class, I was hooked. It challenged me to think in new ways and to be more accepting of different perspectives. Sociology has forced me to really analyze everything in my life, from my gender to my daily interactions. Everything I’ve learned continues to amaze me and blow my mind, and I find myself constantly wanting to learn more. While, I originally thought I would major in the sciences for medical school purposes, once I found sociology, I knew I had to take advantage of my liberal arts education. I am so happy that I did.

What professor has inspired you? To say that Professor Novack’s passion for teaching and dedication to the success of his students has been inspirational would be an understatement. Professor Novack has gone above and beyond any and every expectation I ever had of a professor. Not only has he been one of my biggest advocates in the classroom, constantly challenging and encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone to see the world from a variety of perspectives, but he also has been a constant source of support for me. If I was not in his office discussing class materials and paper topics, I would be in there seeking his advice. Professor Novack’s guidance and unyielding faith in me pushed me to be the best I could be.

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