Feature Stories Campus Events

Rules of Engagement Professor Angie Smith's spring term class grapples with the question of just war theory in an age of terrorism.

SmithClass1 Rules of EngagementFrom l. to r.: Lilly MacDonald ’18, Anders Ashforth ’19 and Grace Armacost ’20.

The Ethics of War
Angie Smith, the Roger Mudd Professor of Ethics and Professor of Philosophy

War is a pretty heavy, wide-ranging topic. How did you narrow it down for a four-week term?
I taught this class for the first time in 2011. At that time, I felt we’d been at war for nearly a decade, and with the rise of the use of drones, it seemed to me to raise new and very complicated questions about war. We just don’t talk enough about it. We have this all-volunteer army that’s doing its job, and yet citizens, it seems to me, don’t have to think much about war anymore, and yet we should. The use of drones, especially, made me think about the lack of democratic accountability. I was also very concerned about the reports of abuses that came out of Abu Ghraib, and continuing debates over the status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. We’re facing a new kind of threat — terrorism — and we’re engaged in a new kind of asymmetric warfare where we’re not really clear about what the rules of engagement are anymore.

While this is a huge topic, and in some ways deserves a full 12-week term, it’s an intense-enough topic that I believe it is helpful for students to just be taking one class and thinking about it in a very focused and intensive way. It can be emotionally draining, so it can be helpful for them not to be distracted by other classes at the same time.

What is the main focus of the class?
Philosophical approaches to thinking about war tend to fall into three categories. The first camp thinks that when it comes to war, anything goes. Ethics has nothing to do with it. On the other side of the spectrum is pacifism. This group believes ethics applies to questions of war, and the conclusion is that one should never go to war. The amount of carnage and death that is involved, particularly in modern warfare, means you could never have a justification for engaging in war. The middle position is just war theory. This has a very long history, going back to Aristotle and Cicero, but also includes sophisticated expression with St. Augustine in the 4th century, St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, and Hugo Grotius and Emerich de Vattel in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The thesis of just war theory is that war can sometimes, but not always, be morally just. A whole set of principles have been developed to explain when you can be justified in going to war and also how you can conduct war in an ethical way.

The most famous contemporary just war theorist is Michael Walzer, a political theorist and emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In his famous book, published in 1977, “Just and Unjust Wars,” he examines the tradition of just war theory and applies it to modern war conflicts. Walzer has released five new editions of this book over the last 40 years to respond to new questions that have emerged about war and its conduct.

So the guiding question of the course asks, “Does just war theory still work for us today, particularly with these new asymmetric conflicts between state and non-state actors?” These principles were developed at a time when states typically engaged in war with other states, so now we’ve got new things to think about. The upshot of the course, hopefully for the students, is that this theory still does work pretty well. It may need some tweaking in certain ways, but the framework that’s been developed can still be helpful for thinking critically and humanely about war and its consequences.

On the reading list
“Just and Unjust Wars,” by Michael Walzer
“The Bush Doctrine: Can Preventative War be Justified?” by Delahunty and Yoo
“The War on Terrorism and the End of Human Rights,” by Luban
“From My Lai to Abu Ghraib: The Moral Psychology of Atrocity,” by Doris & Murphy

Documentaries/Films
“Sometimes in April”
“Eye in the Sky”
“Standard Operating Procedure”
“Hurt Locker”

Entrepreneurial Journalism Helping the Charlotte Observer figure out what, where, when and how millennials consume news.

SwaseyClass Entrepreneurial JournalismFrom l to r.: The winning team of (l. to r.) Hudson Bennett ’20, Caroline Holloway ’18 and Elly Cosgrove ’19,

Marketing to Millennials: Creating New Strategies for the Charlotte Observer
Professor Alecia Swasy, Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism

Millennials are a hot topic right now. What trends did your class focus on?
I don’t care if you’re McDonalds or Honda or a newspaper, you cannot ignore the millennials. This demographic, usually defined as 18- to 35-year-olds, is bigger than the baby boomers. Boomers used to be the big spenders, but they are aging out of their consumer years. The millennials are forming households — that’s their prime area for spending, and if you don’t get them now, you’ve just lost them to your competitor.

This class on entrepreneurial journalism focused on helping the Charlotte Observer develop new products, features, campaigns or events to help North Carolina’s largest news organization attract more younger readers to its website, mobile and print editions. That’s actually been a goal of a lot of papers over the past 40 years — how to catch the elusive younger reader. W&L has sent a number of summer interns to the Observer in the past, and they loved the idea of hosting us and opening up their newsroom to the class. The paper has gone through several downsizings, which has pretty much decimated its staff. In fact, one of the things that shocked the students when we were down there was how few people there were in the newsroom. Right now, and this is true of most papers, the print edition is a very minor part of their production. Papers are far more invested in digital content, and I think the biggest weakness for the Observer is that it doesn’t have enough millennials in its newsroom.

How did you prepare for your trip to the Charlotte Observer?
We spent the first two weeks in the classroom and covered a lot of the basics of introductory journalism — why do we care about news, why is it important for democracy, and how do we pay for it with declining advertising revenues. We also discussed the latest trends in entrepreneurial journalism, from start-ups to incubators inside legacy news organizations. We took a deep dive into market research and practiced how to interview people about what, where, when and how they consume news and information for their daily lives.

The CO also gave us its millennial playbook from the last time it studied this issue, which was awesome. The students absolutely devoured it.

Then we parachuted into the Charlotte Observer’s newsroom for three days to observe how journalists operate in a 24/7 digital world. The Observer’s marketing and advertising folks talked about different strategies to attract more revenue to its products. The students, grouped into three teams, held focus groups with readers to gauge their interest in each team’s idea before hitting the streets to interview more millennials about what they like, dislike or crave from local media outlets.

On our return, the teams worked on their pitches based on the research they did in Charlotte. The final day of class they presented their ideas to their classmates, guests and a panel of judges, including an editor from the Observer. It was like “Shark Tank.” It’s been great to see their adrenaline flowing. One of them ran the financials to create a profit and loss statement. Another proposed a mobile app, while a third team redesigned the Charlotte Five website. One team even put together a newscast. The biggest question they had to be able to answer is who is going to do the work to create new content and who is going to pay for it. I told them to get creative. There’s no wrong answer. These are nuggets of ideas that the Observer can build up. I can’t wait to see how the Observer uses their input.

Washington and Lee Graduates 443 Students at 230th Commencement

“Awareness of our own ignorance is a virtue: knowing that we do not know everything makes us humble, patient, open to compromise and collaboration. You may have noticed that these qualities are in short supply. Embracing your ignorance is good for you and it’s good for the world.”

Graduating seniors at Washington and Lee University today were given a primer in existentialism along with four pieces of advice from President William C. Dudley.

Having the university president give the commencement address is a custom at W&L that dates back to the 1930s. This was Dudley’s first such address since he became president of Washington and Lee in January.

Grad45-1024x682 Washington and Lee Graduates 443 Students at 230th CommencementPresident Will Dudley distributes diplomas to the Class of 2017.

“Existentialism gets its name from the fact that our existence (the simple fact we are here) precedes our essence (what we are),” Dudley said in his address. “We make ourselves into who and what we are over time, and hopefully we learn something in the process.”

Dudley told the 443 members of the Class of 2017 that the courses their lives take will contain twists, turns and surprises that they cannot currently imagine. How it unfolds will depend upon circumstances beyond their control, but also upon the decisions they make in the shifting circumstances in which they find themselves.

Dudley also offered four pieces of advice: do what you love and work your tail off, don’t be afraid to change course, continue your liberal arts education and embrace your ignorance.

“Learn things beyond the bounds of your professional concerns,” he said. “Expand your horizons and avoid becoming too narrowly focused. Seek out experience that transcends your current limitations. Doing so will enrich your life and it will also sustain your success in a world that is constantly changing.

“Ignorance is bliss,” he added. “Without sufficient appreciation of our own ignorance, we cease to be curious, we cease to be receptive to new ideas and we cease to be respectful of other people. Awareness of our own ignorance is a virtue: knowing that we do not know everything makes us humble, patient, open to compromise and collaboration. You may have noticed that these qualities are in short supply. Embracing your ignorance is good for you and it’s good for the world.”

Read the full address >

Wilson Miller, an economics and studio art double major from Dallas, spoke on behalf of the Class of 2017. Miller was a member of the Executive Committee of the student body for four years, serving as class representative, secretary, vice president and, most recently, president. In his remarks, Miller challenged his classmates to take two of Washington and Lee’s most venerated traditions – the Honor System and the Speaking Tradition – with them wherever they go.

Grad36-1024x682 Washington and Lee Graduates 443 Students at 230th CommencementWilson Miller ’17 delivers Commencement remarks on behalf of the Class of 2017.

“Life at W&L exists at the unique intersection of its renowned honor system, abundant opportunity, the speaking tradition and legacy,” said Miller. “These are the great attributes of a Washington and Lee education, and our class will draw from its days in Lexington to make W&L a part of our future communities.

“I challenge every one of us to apply a smile and friendly word in whatever community we might find ourselves,” Miller continued. “While this may not do much on crowded subway rides or busy city sidewalks, I expect your neighborhoods and workplaces will come closer together through a speaking tradition of their own.”

Among Washington and Lee’s graduates were 13 who earned both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science degree. Altogether, the Class of 2017 earned degrees in 36 majors. One-third of the class completed more than one major, with three students completing three majors, and 37 percent of the class completing at least one minor.

For the first time in its history, W&L recognized five students as valedictorians, each with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. The five were: Brooke Donnelly of Kennesaw, Georgia; Stephen Mitchell of Columbia, South Carolina; Zoe Ottaviani of Silver Spring, Maryland; Zach Taylor of Syracuse, New York; and Pasquale Toscano, of Kettering, Ohio.

Matt Carl ’17 Profiled in The Roanoke Times

“An avid soccer player who was a member of the university’s team, Carl used what he calls the ‘universal language’ of soccer to organize games – overcoming a language and cultural barrier to connect with the refugee children.”

Reporter Laurence Hammack of The Roanoke Times profiled graduating senior Matt Carl in today’s commencement story, “W&L graduate used the ‘universal language’ of soccer to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Germany.”

Read the full story online.

W&L Mock Trial Team Takes Sixth Place at National Mock Trial Championship

“This year’s success has put W&L mock trial back on the map of elite programs. But most important, this year’s success makes all the hard work, late night practices, missed social events, traveling and lost study time worthwhile.”

Picture-2-800x533 W&L Mock Trial Team Takes Sixth Place at National Mock Trial ChampionshipW&L mock trial team

In its best-ever showing at the American Mock Trial Association’s Intercollegiate National Mock Trial Championship, Washington and Lee University’s undergraduate Mock Trial team finished sixth in its division at the competition, held in Los Angeles April 21-23.

Mock-Trial-Seniors-400x600 W&L Mock Trial Team Takes Sixth Place at National Mock Trial ChampionshipW&L mock trial team seniors, Emily Webb and Avery Field

The group was led by the organization’s president, senior Avery Field. Field has twice been awarded All American Attorney status for his outstanding performance at the national tournament. “Mock trial has certainly been my favorite part of my time at W&L,” said Field. “It has been a source of some of the most important and meaningful relationships I’ve had at school, and it has given me an opportunity to develop a lot of skills that you can’t learn in a classroom.” After graduating this week, Field plans to move to Memphis, Tennessee, where he will be teaching in an elementary school through Teach for America and volunteering with the National Civil Rights Museum.

In addition to Field, the team included Sal Diaz ’18 (external vice president), Justin Gillette ’18 (internal vice president), Emily Webb ‘17, Keeghan Sweeney ’18, Ben Schaeffer ’18, Kalady Osowski ‘19, Balen Essak ‘20 and Campbell DeNatale ‘20. They won a bid to this year’s national championship after taking first place in the regional competition in February, followed by a second-place finish in the Southeast’s opening in March. More than 600 teams competed in the preliminary rounds, and 48 teams competed during the annual national collegiate competition.

“It was an incredible accomplishment for this team,” said Field. “Four years ago, the W&L mock trial team was ranked 108th in the country. This year’s team finished in the top 10, meaning that our team ranking for next year will be 16th out of more than 600 teams. This year’s success has put W&L mock trial back on the map of elite programs. But most important, this year’s success makes all the hard work, late night practices, missed social events, traveling and lost study time worthwhile.”

Beth Belmont, clinical professor of law and director of the Community Legal Practice Center at Washington and Lee School of Law serves as the faculty advisor and coach for the team.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Marc Conner, Washington and Lee’s provost. “Our mock trial team has been strong for years now, and this is an especially impressive showing. Professor Belmont is to be credited with guiding the students to such a great season, and the culmination of such a strong finish is wonderful. It’s a testament to the combination of brilliant students, dedicated faculty guidance and very hard work.”

Washington and Lee Mock Trial provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills and an understanding of the American justice system and its practices and procedures through preparing for and engaging in trial simulations in competition with teams from other colleges and universities.

Studying Health Here and Abroad: Jake Roberts ’17 Jake Roberts' study abroad trip started with an earthquake, and ended with him finding a passion for public health.

“I began to realize my true passion for medicine and providing care to those with limited access to health-care resources.”

Jake_Roberts-800x533 Studying Health Here and Abroad: Jake Roberts '17Jake Roberts’ study abroad trip started with an earthquake, and ended with him finding a passion for public health.

I believe that many of my experiences since coming to W&L have helped to develop my passions and career goals. During my sophomore year, I decided to use the Johnson travel stipend to go to Nepal and explore the delivery of health care in a different cultural setting. While I went to Nepal to volunteer and observe medicine, my experience changed dramatically when the country was hit with a massive earthquake just three days after I arrived. For the next seven weeks, I remained in Nepal and would learn much about life in a country where the combination of weak infrastructure and an unpredictable natural disaster had profound impacts on political and economic stability, and created implications for public health.

Much of my stay in Nepal was spent helping to provide post-earthquake recovery aid to those in need by volunteering with the Mountain Fund (NGO). Many people living in rural areas similar to where I was staying had lost their homes during the earthquakes and did not have the means to rebuild on their own. While staying in a village called Mankhu, I worked with the Mountain Fund at Her Farm — a farm established for and run by women and their children. In maintaining their own farm and providing assistance to others in the village after the earthquakes, the women at Her Farm helped to demonstrate to others in the community that women could actively lead and manage resources in a country in which they often face severe limitations on their freedom.

Throughout my time on the farm, I was amazed by the willingness and collective effort of the women to help others while they had faced struggles of their own. While volunteering at the farm and a nearby health post, I began to realize my true passion for medicine and providing care to those with limited access to health-care resources. I was able to see just how few health resources were available in rural Nepal, especially in terms of preventative care, reproductive health care for women, and care given to those of lower status. No doctors were present in these rural areas, and with the earthquakes threatening to expose individuals to poor living conditions and flooding during the imminent monsoon season, rebuilding homes and ensuring the availability of food resources were essential parts of preventing a public-health crisis. As a result of this experience, I have developed a passion for learning more about public-health issues and utilizing my background in poverty studies to find solutions to social injustices in health care and increase health-care access to those with limited resources. I hope to return to Nepal as a physician some day and lead health camps in areas that would normally have limited access to doctors.

My research experience at W&L has allowed me to explore public-health issues as they relate to women’s health. I began conducting research with Dr. Natalia Toporikova during my first year at W&L and continued this work through two summers. Much of our research focused on the effects of diet and obesity on measures of reproductive function, and I have been able to explore particular areas of interest through this work. In particular, I recently completed the publication of an article in Biology of Reproduction on research that focused on the effects of diet on parameters of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In finding that diet was able to induce disease in both the metabolic and reproductive forms in our female rats, we were able to demonstrate how aspects of lifestyle such as diet and other factors that contribute to obesity could have impacts on disease development and result in impairments of reproductive health.

Working on this publication has allowed me to study women’s health as one aspect of public health, and with my career interests rooted in issues of poverty and a desire to help those with the most need, I hope to become a physician who takes the lead on tackling public-health problems and recognizes the social aspects of health and medicine throughout my career.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Jake

Hometown:
Kansas City, Missouri

Major/Minor:
Neuroscience Major, Poverty and Human Capability Studies Minor

Extracurricular involvement:
– Men’s Track and Field
– Shepherd Poverty Program Advisory Committee
– Volunteer at Stonewall Jackson Hospital

Why did you choose your major?
I chose to major in neuroscience because of its interdisciplinary nature. Neuroscience draws from a wide range of disciplines such as biology, biochemistry and psychology, but it also allows for focusing in on particular areas of interest within these broad fields. I was especially interested in the research component of the major.

What professor has inspired you?
I think that Dr. Toporikova has really inspired me and taught me a lot about research and the skills that I will need as I move on to the professional world and medical school. Dr. Toporikova has supported me throughout my time at W&L and has given me the opportunities to explore my research interests and achieve my goals of becoming a published research author.

What’s your personal motto?
I think that it is really important to always keep the right perspective in mind, and trust and enjoy the process of getting to where you want to be.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Bistro. I could probably eat only the bread and be perfectly content.

Post-graduation plans:
I will be completing a gap year conducting research and hopefully be traveling while applying to medical school. Following my gap year, I plan to earn both a medical degree and a master’s in public health in order to combine a career in medicine and public health.

Favorite W&L memory:
I would have to say that winning both the Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field ODAC Championships with my teammates this year has been among my favorite W&L memories. It was an awesome experience to complete the triple crown with a close group of friends and teammates.

Favorite class:
My favorite class has probably been Medical Anthropology with Dr. Harvey Markowitz, since it allowed me to explore the intersection between medicine and culture. I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my own experiences from Nepal, where I had seen the direct impact of culture on the implementation of health-care practices.

Favorite W&L event:
My favorite event is probably Homecoming Weekend because of the many athletic events and the opportunity to catch up with older alumni friends who come back to visit.

Favorite campus landmark:
Some might joke that the Science Center is my favorite landmark because of the time that I spend working there, but I would have to say that my favorite spot involves sitting out on the green in front of the Colonnade.

What’s your passion?
Throughout my poverty studies at W&L, I have been able to focus on issues of public health and grow my passion for improving health outcomes for vulnerable populations. I hope to become a physician so that I can directly help those patients with the largest health needs and address health status holistically as the result of both biological and social processes.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I probably eat more yogurt than is considered socially acceptable.

Why did you choose W&L?
The Johnson Scholarship really provided me with an irresistible educational opportunity. I was also drawn by the amazing campus, the strong alumni network, and the desire of the professors to help their students succeed.

Relationships Are the Best Prize Participating in Mock Trial required loads of time for Avery Field '17, but he wouldn't trade the experience and relationships for a whole case of trophies.

“At the end of my four years at W&L… I know that the relationships I’ve developed with the people I got to know in pursuit of those trophies will last a lifetime.”

Field.Avery_-1024x682 Relationships Are the Best PrizeAvery Field ’17 considers relationships – not trophies – the true prize when he competes

If I had a dollar for every time I told a friend or a professor “I can’t, I have Mock Trial,” I wouldn’t have paid a dime for college.  I tried to think about the number of hours over my four years at W&L that I spent practicing, planning for, or competing in Mock Trial, but I quickly realized that was an impossible task.  Between practice three, four, five, sometimes six times a week, work outside of practice, and competitions on weekends, I easily spent more time on Mock Trial than I did on classes. 

All of the hours and the practices and late nights and times I had to say “Sorry, I have Mock Trial” paid off in a big way this season. There is plenty to say about the success we had this year, but I don’t think that is where I want to go with this. Earlier this year, The Radish posted an article poking fun of the Mock Trial team for posting pictures of the team with trophies all over social media – it was a funny piece, and we had fun laughing at our own expense at the article. But honestly, the trophies weren’t the reason for those pictures; they were just an excuse to take pictures as a team.  

When you spend as many hours working as a team as the Mock Trial team does, there is no way you couldn’t get to know each person on the team well. And I don’t just mean their strengths and weaknesses in the courtroom. Over my four years in Mock Trial, I’ve gotten to know where my teammates are from, what their family backgrounds are like, what they are passionate about, what they want to do with their lives, what their beliefs are, what they see as their purpose as both as a student at W&L and in life. Every year we tell new members of the Mock Trial team the same cliché: that Mock Trial becomes your family at Washington and Lee. And we tell them that because it’s true – because we spend hours working together, eating together, sweating together in stuffy courtrooms, and celebrating together.     

My W&L experience has truly been defined by Mock Trial; not because of the successes I’ve had individually or that we’ve had as a team, but because of the people I’ve gotten to know in the process.  At the end of my four years at W&L, all the Mock Trial trophies are already gathering dust on a bookshelf in our coach’s office, but I know that the relationships I’ve developed with the people I got to know in pursuit of those trophies will last a lifetime.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Avery

Hometown:
Hendersonville, Tennessee

Majors:
Politics and American History

Extracurricular involvement:
– Mock Trial
– Hearing Advisor

Off-campus activities/involvement:
Volunteer for Maury River Middle School’s after-school program

Why did you choose your major?
I knew what I wanted to study before I came to W&L. My interest in history was gifted to me by two awesome history teachers – one in middle school and one in high school. My interest in politics has been a natural progression from my love for history and for people – history books are filled with individuals involved in politics, because politics is an avenue through which you can impact and improve others’ lives.

What professor has inspired you?
Professor [Robert] Strong. I’ve taken a number of classes with Professor Strong, and I appreciate the passion and insight he brings to each class he teaches.

What’s your personal motto? 
“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Maybe that’s just the Southerner in me, but I think it speaks to the importance of civility, kindness and relationships.

What’s your favorite song right now?
Anything on the “Hamilton” soundtrack, but specifically “One Last Time.”

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
The Southern Inn, and I always get the fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and a glass of sweet iced tea (is there anything else on the menu?).

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
That you can’t walk between the columns under Graham-Lees; that first Chinese test would have been a lot easier if only I had known.

Post-graduation plans:
I move to Memphis, Tennessee, a week after graduation to start work with Teach For America, where I’ll be teaching elementary school at Aurora Collegiate Academy. I attribute a great number of the successes and opportunities I’ve enjoyed to teachers who have invested not only in my education, but also in my character. I couldn’t be more excited to have this opportunity to pay forward my teachers’ investment in me to students in Memphis.

Favorite W&L memory:
Just two weeks ago, the Mock Trial team got back from Los Angeles, where we were competing at the National Championship. I’ll remember that trip and our success for the rest of my life. When I joined the Mock Trial team my freshman year, our program was ranked somewhere north of 100th in the country. This year, we finished sixth in the country, better than W&L has ever finished before. When you put as many hours into something as we put into Mock Trial this season and the past four seasons, and when you become as closely knit as the Mock Trial team is, that makes our success that much sweeter. Our trip to LA was also in a lot of ways the culmination of some of the relationships most important to me during my time at W&L. The SoCal sun and Newport Beach didn’t hurt either.

Favorite class:  
My freshman year during Spring Term I took a class called the Natural History of Rockbridge County – it was a biology class that fulfilled my lab science requirement. We spent all of Spring Term hiking around the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking under rocks, looking at trees, and admiring springtime in Lexington.

Favorite W&L event:  
Mockmas. It is the Mock Trial team’s annual Christmas party. We dress up, do a big dinner and a gift exchange. It’s a lot of fun.

Favorite campus landmark:  
Cliché perhaps, but Lee Chapel. I love history, and Lee Chapel embodies so much of W&L’s history. Lee Chapel also is a symbol for the Honor System, which is flawed at times, but is one of the most important parts of a degree from W&L and makes the W&L experience unique.

What’s your passion?
People, which is why I’ve enjoyed my time at W&L. I love opportunities to have lengthy conversations with people, conversations about important topics like religion, current political events, worldview, societal problems and how to address them, how challenging life can be, anything that challenges my own thinking and allows me to get to know and understand someone else. My passion for people is also why I joined Teach For America; I believe every person deserves the opportunities I’ve enjoyed.

Why did you choose W&L?
If I’m honest, W&L actually chose me. I was enrolled at a different school when I got off the wait list for W&L. W&L made a financial offer I couldn’t refuse, and I knew Washington and Lee had great programs for studying politics and history. I prayed about it a lot, talked with family and friends about it, and realized W&L was where I was supposed to be.

Consulting a Career: Stephen Mitchell ’17 Stephen Mitchell '17 credits students, alumni, and W&L academics for helping him to find the right career path.

“I would say that W&L’s alumni network, the willingness of other students interested in consulting to collaborate, and my Mathematics major were the three things I gained from my time at W&L that helped me the most during the recruitment process.”

image1-512x768 Consulting a Career: Stephen Mitchell '17Stephen Mitchell ’17 credits students, alumni and W&L academics for his success in career change.


I spent the summer after my junior year as an intern at an investment bank in San Francisco. While this was a fantastic opportunity that provided me with great experience and exposure to interesting firms, I decided late in the summer that I wanted to explore different career options.  

I ended up in the Career Development Office and surveyed the landscape of entry-level jobs for undergraduates. Based on my long-term career interests and my background, I determined that management consulting would be a great place for me to start. I made a spreadsheet with the contact information of W&L alumni at firms in the industry, and I started to try and figure out if I had a shot at breaking into management consulting.

Very quickly, a group of alumni emerged who were especially responsive and supportive of my efforts. I was surprised at their willingness to help, and their advice ultimately convinced me that I had a chance at finding a job in management consulting if I worked diligently to prepare for interviews. After weighing the pros and cons of my various options with the help of Dean John Jensen, I made the difficult decision to not return to San Francisco after graduating, and I set my sights on the management-consulting recruiting process.

I spent months preparing for case interviews using a number of books and online resources. Thankfully, many of the alumni whom I had contacted during the summer were willing to take the time to conduct mock interviews with me, which gave me much-needed live practice. I was also able to practice live interviews with Dean Jensen and Dean Rob Straughan. I found further opportunities for practice with a group of hopeful consultants at W&L, and we all made sure everyone was aware of deadlines and requirements for applications (which was a pleasant surprise, since we were all technically competing).

I found a company named Bain and started the recruitment process with them. I interviewed twice with the firm – once over the phone and once in person. I felt well prepared for these interviews, given the practice mentioned above and the fact that W&L alumni at Bain had been particularly responsive and willing to help me prepare specifically for their interview process. While it was challenging, alumni at the firm helped me overcome this obstacle.

Looking back on the process, I would say that W&L’s alumni network, the willingness of other students interested in consulting to collaborate, and the problem-solving processes I learned through my mathematics major were the three things I gained from my time at W&L that helped me the most during the recruitment process. My previous internships at a family office in Austin, Texas, and my investment banking internship in San Francisco were also valuable in that they helped clarify my career interests and thereby allowed me to better articulate why I wanted to be a consultant to interviewers.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Stephen

Hometown:
Columbia, South Carolina

Majors:
Mathematics and Business Administration

Extracurricular involvement:
– University Singers (Tenor Section Leader)
– Southern Comfort (President)
– Williams Investment Society (Energy Group Head)

Why did you choose your major?
I would like to eventually hold a management position at a company in the food industry or start my own firm, and I thought that the business administration major would help me prepare for this career. I chose mathematics as a means to improve my problem-solving abilities, and I also enjoyed the abstract nature of the material (in contrast to the focus on real-world material and applications in the business administration major).

What professor has inspired you?
Professors Gregory Dresden and Wayne Dymacek.

What’s your favorite song right now?
“The General” by Dispatch or “Biking” by Frank Ocean.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
The Palms; always the Southwest Wrap.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
I wish I had known to take more classes that counted toward my majors or FDRs early on. That would have allowed me to avoid taking my hardest class schedules during my Fall and Winter terms of senior year.

Post-graduation plans:
In October, I will be starting work as an associate consultant with Bain & Co., in Atlanta. Before October, I will be traveling.

Favorite class:
Graph Theory or Business of Contemporary Art.

Favorite W&L event:
GAB May Day Concert at Lime Kiln.

Favorite campus landmark:
The view of Lee Chapel from the lone tree in front of Robinson Hall.

What’s your passion?
Food and beverages.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I’ve never seen “Titanic.”

Why did you choose W&L?
The school was generous, and I liked the small classroom setting and easy access to professors.

Class of 2017 Move-In Video: Commencement Edition

For more information about Washington and Lee University’s 230th Commencement and Baccalaureate, please click here.


Choreographing with the Stars: Elliot Emadian ‘17 Dancer, choreographer, musician, mathematician: Elliot Emadian '17 has many roles, both on and off the stage. 

“If you want to do something here, you can. You just have to ask someone. It will happen and someone will help you do it.”

image2-400x600 Choreographing with the Stars: Elliot Emadian ‘17Dancer, choreographer, musician, mathematician: Elliot Emadian ’17 has many roles – both on and off the stage!

I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old. I started in tap, jazz, ballet, the typical small-town basics. I wasn’t introduced to modern dance until college, but professor Jenefer Davies truly opened my eyes. I joined the Repertory Dance Company in my first semester, and I began exploring choreography in my second. She’s been an amazing resource throughout my time at W&L, both in teaching me herself and in introducing me to opportunities for growth at and outside of W&L.

The Theater Department as a whole has been an amazing place to root myself, actually. I’ve received grants to attend the American Dance Festival, the Dance Department has sponsored performances in New York where I was able to present choreography, and I’ve had many other opportunities and experiences. I’ve been so fortunate with Professors Collins and Evans as department heads who really want to promote student-driven art.

Along those lines, during Spring Term of my junior year, I was involved with a Mindbending student play called “Police Squad In Color!” It was my first time acting in a straight play, although straight-faced, I was not. (It was a hilarious play.) After it ended one night, professor Jemma Levy came up to me with a proposition for an independent study for my senior year, choreographing “Dracula,” by Steven Dietz. At the time I thought “Dracula” was a musical, and, naturally, I was stoked. I later discovered that it was another straight play and that I was in for one of the biggest challenges of my W&L career. I had choreographed before, but only for my own pieces, contemporary-modern works set on members of the dance company. For this, I had to develop a movement vocabulary that was not only based on a pre-existing story and script, but also could be executed by a cast of non-dancers.

At first, I was nervous about whether our visions would line up, and how much she exactly wanted me to contribute, but almost as soon as we began to work we developed an awesome dynamic. We would step into a scene, both having our ideas about its direction, and begin to chip away until we had a fully formed unit. There were moments when I would take the actors through a specific piece of choreography or movement, and Jemma would step in to clarify or make a suggestion, while other times she would be directing and would stop to ask me if I had a suggestion for how someone could stand, or how to make “Dracula” seem more magical.

Working on “Dracula” with Jemma was an absolutely eye-opening experience, and the incredible foray into theater that I had been craving since starting college. I was so fortunate that she let me take on such a major role as choreographer. So, when Jemma asked me to work with her on “Macbeth” this summer, as my first post-graduation job, I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew I wanted to work with her again. My rehearsals start two days after graduation, and the show opens July 7th at Agecroft Hall in Richmond.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Elliot

Hometown:
Normandy, Tennessee

Major/Minor:
Mathematics, Dance Minor

Extracurricular involvement:
ResLife
– W&L Repertory Dance
– Traveller
wlulex

Off-campus activities/involvement:
I’m a freelance dancer/choreographer as well as a musician (Elliot Reza) and photographer (Rezalution Photography).

Why did you choose your major?
I grew up competing in math contests throughout middle and high school (because I am a nerd), but when I came here, I thought I would stop doing math. I took Multivariable Calculus with Dr. Carrie Finch Fall Term of my first year, and declared my math major in winter, with Dr. Finch as my advisor.

What professor has inspired you?
Oh gosh, so many. All of them really. Jenny Davies, my dance professor, has really been my biggest cheerleader for me pursuing a career in dance, though. She gave me the opportunity to dance in her company in New York, Roanoke and Richmond. She has shown me how dance can be a driving force for change and community throughout history and the present day, and I’m excited to hopefully continue that trend.

What’s your personal motto?
“That’s what she said.”

What’s your favorite song right now?
“Scholasticism” by Purser, but “The Cure” by Lady Gaga is a close second.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Blue Sky. I get the California Sun-Dried.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
If you want to do something here, you can. You just have to ask someone, who probably knows someone, who works with someone, who knows someone else who absolutely wants to help you do that thing. It will happen and someone will help you do it.

Post-graduation plans:
I’m pursuing a master of fine arts in dance at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in fall 2017.

Favorite W&L memory:
I have so many amazing memories, but one of my favorites was the summer I spent here doing research with Dr. Finch. Walking up the Colonnade on a brisk foggy morning with an iced coffee and my notes in hand, I felt very academe chic.

Favorite class:
British Literature: Queered Science, Spring Term of junior year (very closely followed by Aerial Dance, Spring Term of senior year).

Favorite W&L event:
QuestBridge Ball or the Equality Gala, or both…back-to-back weekends of dancin’.

Favorite campus landmark:
The Graham-Lees archway.

What’s your passion?
Netflix . . . also broadening access to dance via social media . . . also pizza.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I’m half-Iranian.

Why did you choose W&L?
The community.

From Global Scholar to Global Citizen: Steven Yeung ’17 Steven Yeung '17 has been in classrooms from Lexington to Ghana to Shanghai and back — and now plans to run a classroom in Japan.

“W&L has fulfilled its mission statement with me because I know that I am fully ‘prepared for lifelong learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.'”

Steven-Yeung-400x600 From Global Scholar to Global Citizen: Steven Yeung '17Steven Yeung ’17 has been in classrooms from Lexington to Ghana to Shanghai and back and now plans to run a classroom in Japan.

I really wanted to study abroad to improve my Chinese language skills, so my faculty advisor, Fu laoshi, along with Kip Brooks helped me navigate the study abroad process. They suggested two programs: Alliance for Global Education in Beijing, and CET Academic Programs in Shanghai. While Alliance was more language-focused, I was drawn to CET for its internship component. As a triple-major, I had no real idea what I wanted to do after college, so I desperately needed any and all experiences to help me figure that out.

After I sent in my interests to CET, the staff secured me an interview with FTI Consulting which led to an offer to work part-time during my time in Shanghai. I was ecstatic; I would be able to apply the skills I learned through student consulting in a professional setting while also utilizing my Chinese language skills.

The tremendous support I received from W&L faculty and staff attests to their dedication to prepare students for a global and diverse society. I would not have been able to study abroad without their guidance. Nonetheless, I could not have secured this internship if it had not been for my co-curricular activities and my summer experiences. I am forever grateful for the phenomenal W&L alumni who are always available to help students with their career prospects and provide opportunities for them to succeed. Without the alumni support and the numerous job and internship opportunities, I would not have been considered for this position.

It is rare for underclassmen to intern at a large, prestigious firm during their summers, but W&L provided multiple opportunities specifically for sophomores. Career Development has been instrumental in helping me determine the right career path, and everyone in the office has helped shaped my career aspirations. I can rest assured that my application and quality as a candidate is second to none thanks to all the services provided by Career Development, from last-minute resume and cover letter reviews to interview prep (shout out to Ms. Olan and Dean Jensen). It is through them that I learned of an internship at Goldman Sachs specifically for a W&L sophomore. I interviewed on-campus with Anthony Nardini ’08, Burke Anderson ’13, and Ginny Spilman ’11 , and was fortunate enough to receive an offer.

This unique internship experience was brought up in my interview with FTI Consulting and they remarked at how incredible it was for a sophomore to have such a tremendous opportunity. My experience at FTI convinced me that consulting is what I wanted to pursue. I sought Dean Jensen’s advice on how to break into the consulting industry domestically and we figured out a plan. From there, I attended info sessions, networked with alumni, and practiced case interviews.

A.T. Kearney, a Chicago-based management consulting firm, held an info session hosted by two W&L alumni for their new liberal arts recruitment program. What really piqued my interest in the firm is its global mobility program, which allows its employees to work in one of its international offices either temporary or permanently. After studying abroad in Ghana and China, I knew I wanted a career that offered international opportunities. Speaking with Will Mooney ’15 and Michael Ooms ’10  heightened my desire to work for the firm. They took some time out of their busy work schedules to help me prepare for my A.T. Kearney interviews and I credit them, along with every other professor, faculty, and staff who have shaped me as an intellectual and as a person, for my success in obtaining a full-time offer.

W&L has fostered a passion for international experiences within its students. After my Ghana trip, I actually went to visit some of my fellow classmates who were in Frankfurt for the AmCham program, a US-Germany internship exchange of sorts. Between all of my experiences abroad, I knew that I needed to traverse the world a little more before starting a full-time job. I am lucky that A.T. Kearney has a “Flexible Launch” program where it offers you the choice of when to start. I have decided to capitalize on this opportunity to teach English in Japan and to live in Australia.

I am indebted to W&L for the wealth of opportunities it has provided me. I know that as an alumnus, I will give back to the school which has given so much to me. W&L has fulfilled its mission statement with me because I know that I am fully “prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Steven

Hometown:
Melfa, VA

Majors:
Politics, East Asian Languages and Literature (Chinese), and Business Administration

Extracurricular involvement:
– Pan-Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE), Treasurer
– University Ambassadors, Advisory Committee
– Student Consulting
– Real Estate Society
– College Democrats
– Questbridge

Off-campus activities/involvement:
Fun fact: I used to work at Haywoods as a server and at the Rockbridge Swim Team as an assistant swim coach. Student consulting has also exposed me to various organizations and members of the community.

Why did you choose your major?
Funny story for my Chinese major: I made a deal with my mom in middle school and I’m following through with that promise. My mom tried to teach me Mandarin when I was a kid, but I absolutely hated it since I could have used that time for much more fun things like watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now you may be wondering, “Hey, aren’t you Chinese?” Yes, my family is Chinese but we speak a local dialect called Fuzhounese. So, every Sunday we’d have Mandarin lessons and I absolutely hated it, so I made a deal with my mom that if we would stop, I’d major in it in college.

I’ve loved politics and have been involved since high school, so that was a no-brainer. I was really interested in business administration and the careers associated with it. In the end, I didn’t want to give up any opportunities, so I was able to fandangle my schedule to accommodate all three majors while graduating on time.

What professor has inspired you?
Since day one, I have wanted to have a class with Professor Dickovick – his reputation precedes him. I tried to register for his Introduction to Global Politics class freshman year, but by the time our registration opened it already had a 40+ person wait list. I ended up signing up for his African Politics class where we went to Accra, Ghana. I got to know Professor Dickovick a lot better, and have looked up to him as a role model ever since. When he’s not chirping me, he provides invaluable advice. His work as a Peace Corps volunteer is inspirational in and of itself, but after having him for class and speaking to him one-on-one, he has deepened my appreciation for global affairs and made me a more globally minded citizen.

What’s your personal motto?
Just go with the flow because everything will turn out okay.

What’s your favorite song right now?
“Bidibodi Bidibu” by The Bubbles

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
I get Mapo Tofu at Hong Kong’s because my dad makes it at home, so it’s nice comfort food. But the penne vodka at Frank’s is fire.

Post-graduation plans:
Teaching English in Japan, utilizing the work-holiday visa in Australia, and then starting my full-time job at A.T. Kearney.

Favorite W&L memory:
Everyone gathering together on snow days, or trying to study in the Late Night Library

Favorite class:
African Politics with Professor Dickovick or Cool Japan with Tashiro Sensei

Favorite W&L event:
Lunar New Year Festival or rush week – it’s great seeing the excitement (and relief) when a first-year gets a bid.

Favorite campus landmark:
It’s cliché, but the Colonnade never gets old. I love sitting on the lawn during warm weather days.

What’s your passion?
Helping others succeed.

Why did you choose W&L?
Two reasons: the professors and the community. I absolutely loved W&L when I stayed overnight because everyone was so friendly and welcoming. The professors also showed a genuine interest in their students and wanted them to succeed. I know now that the professors are truly invested in their students and will go to great lengths to see them succeed.

Ethics in Leadership: Zachary Taylor ’17 and Austin Piatt ’17 Zachary Taylor '17 and Austin Piatt '17 believe leadership, collaboration and responsibility are the keys to a successful conference.

“Whether it is through our Honor System or our robust form of student self-governance, W&L absolutely nurtures the idea that students should take the reins of their four years here and make of it what they want.”

— Austin Piatt ’17

Zack-Austin-800x533 Ethics in Leadership: Zachary Taylor '17 and Austin Piatt '17Zachary Taylor ’17 (left), Editor-in-Chief of the Mudd Journal of Ethics, and Austin Piatt ’17, Director of the Mudd Center Undergraduate Conference in Ethics
You both were involved with the Mudd Center Undergraduate Conference in Ethics. What were your roles?

Austin: As director of the conference, I was responsible for finding someone to deliver the keynote address as well as coordinating the behind-the-scenes logistics of the whole thing. I was greatly helped by both Zachary Taylor and Professor Angie Smith (wouldn’t have been able to do it without them!) and this year we were fortunate to get Professor Sahar Akhtar from the University of Virginia to come and deliver an amazing and intriguing talk about religious travel bans.

Zachary: I am editor-in-chief of the “Mudd Journal of Ethics,” one of the only ethics-based, undergraduate philosophy journals in the United States. I lead a team of six editors who work collaboratively to select papers for final publication in the journal. I also assist Austin Piatt, the journal’s associate editor, with the Mudd Undergraduate Ethics Conference, at which students whose papers are selected for publication have the opportunity to present their work.

What made you get involved with the Mudd Center and this conference?

Austin: Last year, I was involved in the journal and the conference as one of the editors for the journal. I once again served as an editor this year but I was asked to step up my involvement and direct the conference because the previous director graduated. I was happy to take on this responsibility and do the best I could to live up to the greatness of the previous director, Teddy Corcoran ’16.

Zachary: My close friend Teddy Corcoran founded the “Mudd Journal of Ethics” last year and asked if I would serve as an assistant editor. I readily accepted his offer and worked closely with him in an effort to ensure a successful inaugural publication. At the end of last year, he recommended to Professor Angela Smith that I serve as editor-in-chief. Given how much I enjoyed my previous work on the journal, and my support for the Mudd Center’s mission, I enthusiastically took on that role for the second volume, which will be published in just a few weeks.

I see my work as contributing to a unique opportunity for students passionate about ethics to share their work with other students of philosophy, via both the journal itself and the Mudd Undergraduate Ethics Conference. The editors and I aim to engender stimulating ethical dialogue. Moreover, while not all of the students whose papers we accepted this year intend to pursue philosophy at the graduate level, most of them do, so we hope that the Mudd journal will not be the last academic journal that features their excellent research.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Austin: Being proactive instead of reactive when it comes to planning things out so that I don’t get behind on my duties.

Zachary: The publication of an academic journal, even at the undergraduate level, necessitates quite a bit of work. There must be a call for papers; editors must read the submissions; papers must be selected, edited, and proofread; the journal must be compiled; citations must be checked and double-checked for consistency; and, ultimately, the journal must be printed. The Mudd journal is truly student-run, so much of this work falls to the student editors. Fortunately, I have been able to rely on the advice of Teddy Corcoran, the journal’s founder; Professor Angela Smith, the director of the Mudd Center; and the helpful staff in the Publications Office throughout the entire process, which lasts around six months. Without their support, we never would have been able to publish this second volume.

What has been the greatest reward from this experience?

Austin: Seeing the enjoyment and knowledge everyone got out of the conference, including fellow students and other professors. Knowing that I could help put on this conference so as to bring a weekend of ethical discussions to this campus was by far the greatest reward. Also, seeing how interested everyone was in the keynote address was very rewarding.

Zachary: I am passionate about the study of philosophy, and especially about the study of ethics, not just because I find ethical debate intellectually invigorating, but also because I view substantive ethical dialogue as essential to the pursuit of justice, the beloved community and the good life. I sincerely hope that the Mudd journal facilitates such dialogue. Perhaps one of the student-authors gives a copy of the journal to a family member who, in turn, discusses its ideas with a friend or colleague. Perhaps a student at Washington and Lee happens upon a copy in the library, reads an article or two, and shares the authors’ conclusions with her peers or professors. The potential is endless once the journal is published for all to read, critique and analyze.

What insight, or insights, have you gained?

Austin: I have realized that sometimes it’s the thankless, behind-the-scenes work that is the most important. It has given me a greater appreciation for all the people we may not see on stage, but who are nonetheless crucial for such events like this.

Zachary: The publication of an academic journal is a highly collaborative effort. I often think of myself as a relatively self-reliant, self-sufficient person, especially with respect to academic matters. I realized quite soon, however, that if we hoped to publish another successful journal and host a second fruitful conference, I needed to trust the advice and assistance of other people.

What lies in the future for the journal and the conference?

Austin: Even though I am graduating, I plan to take on a consulting role for next year’s team and continue to help out any way I can to ensure the future of these projects.

Zachary: The journal is only in its second year, and if future students at Washington and Lee continue to value its ethics-based academic vision, then I foresee many more successful volumes in the forthcoming years. I only hope that more students from a diverse variety of universities across the United States will submit papers to the journal so that future students can increase the scope and size of the Mudd Undergraduate Ethics Conference.

What does leadership mean to you?

Austin: Leadership, for me, has always meant leading from within, not leading from above. I believe strongly in servant leadership, which is a concept I learned in high school and which I try to apply every day. A leader is not someone who tells his/her followers what to do, but rather someone who serves his/her followers in ways that best benefit the team. This requires a leader to be humble, selfless and a good listener, three qualities that I believe immature leaders lack. Washington and Lee has reinforced this servant leadership in me, whether it’s on the court, as Head RA, or within the Mudd Center.

Zachary: I have never been fully comfortable at the center of attention, with all eyes trained on me. Instead, I prefer to work behind the scenes, making small differences that not everyone notices or necessarily hears about. I try to practice this rather quiet and reserved leadership style at Washington and Lee. In my view, the best leaders persuade other people to care about problems that they think matter by posing difficult questions and facilitating respectful dialogue. I would like to think that the “Mudd Journal of Ethics” accomplishes both of these tasks.

Why is student leadership important on W&L’s campus?

Austin: Washington and Lee places an immense amount of responsibility on its students. Whether it is through our Honor System or our robust form of student self-governance, W&L absolutely nurtures the idea that students should take the reins of their four years here and make of it what they want. Every student has the opportunity, and it fosters an immense sense of leadership as students are galvanized to be active agents on campus instead of passive participants. This is all part of how Washington and Lee gives its students more than a college education; it gives us a holistic college experience, which enables students to enter the world as engaged citizens, lifelong learners and, most importantly, strong and principled leaders.

Zachary: When students assume leadership roles at Washington and Lee, they also assume a number of consequential responsibilities outside the classroom. I find this to be an essential part of personal development while in college. Moreover, the most effective student leaders cultivate a valuable sense of community among students, faculty, staff and the residents of Rockbridge County. I greatly admire students whose leadership efforts bring together people from these different, yet interconnected, groups.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Austin

Hometown:
Dayton, Ohio

Majors:
Politics and Philosophy

Extracurricular involvement:
– Head-RA
– Basketball
– Owings Fellow
– Community Grants Committee
– University Ambassador
– President of Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy Honor Society
– Director of Mudd Undergraduate Conference on Ethics

What’s your personal motto?  
I think my personal motto is best captured by the Mark Twain quote: “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.”

Post-graduation plans:
I plan to work on Capitol Hill for a few years before heading to law school.

Favorite class:
Washington Term during Spring Term of my sophomore year. I was in Washington, D.C. interning with an Ohio congressman while taking a six-credit politics class taught by the legendary Professor Connelly.

A little more about Zachary

Hometown:
Syracuse, New York

Majors:
Classics and Philosophy; Minor in Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:
– Hearing Advisor Program
– Chief Editor of the Mudd Journal for Ethics
– Community Assistant
– Latin Tutor
– Secretary of Phi Sigma Tau
– Writing Center Tutor

Favorite class:
My favorite course was on Martin Luther King Jr. and how his philosophical and theological ideas related to poverty and social justice issues. It was taught by Dr. Howard Pickett, who has inspired me greatly. If he teaches that course again, I highly recommend it to students interested in social justice movements, religious ethics, and the pursuit of beloved community.

Favorite song:
At the moment, I have been listening quite a bit to the new Kendrick Lamar album. I am consistently amazed at how well Kendrick weaves together social commentary, storytelling, and poetry in his music. He is truly an inspired artist.

Favorite campus landmark:
My favorite building on campus is Mattingly House, home to the Mudd Center of Ethics and the Shepherd Poverty Program, both of which have influenced my academic and career interests. Formerly a fraternity house, Mattingly now symbolizes — in my mind, at least — a collective passion for civic engagement and ethical debate shared by many Washington and Lee students.

It’s All Bilingual To Me: Melina Knabe ‘17 Melina Knabe was inspired by her own bilingualism to study the effects of knowing two languages on the brain.

“This project was an extraordinary way to translate my experiences growing up as a bilingual into a rigorous scientific study.”

Melina_Knabe-800x533 It's All Bilingual To Me: Melina Knabe ‘17Melina Knabe 17 was inspired by her own bilingualism to study the effects of knowing two languages on the brain.

Can you describe your project?

In my project, I investigated the bilingual advantage hypothesis, which claims that having command over two languages leads to enhanced non-linguistic cognition. By non-linguistic cognition, I specifically mean executive control functions or processes that help you to flexibly adapt, suppress and select behaviors necessary to achieve a goal. The need of a bilingual person to maintain both languages active simultaneously, inhibit one, and flexibly switch between both is very similar to the primary domains of executive control known as working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility.

Research on this topic shows very mixed results, so I was interested in identifying at what age, if at all, one might see a bilingual advantage and how a person’s language background impacts performance on tasks measuring executive control. For this purpose, 300 participants between the ages of 18 and 89 completed three tasks measuring executive control functions and reported on their linguistic and demographic backgrounds.

What about the topic made you explore it?

As a bilingual, I was personally invested in the question of bilingualism’s effect on brain structure and function. Beyond this, it provides an application to educational policy, which I find especially intriguing. This includes questions like how do we best implement second language learning, what time is the best to learn a second language, how does being a second language learner impact learning and academic outcomes, and how does it intersect with questions about linguistic diversity and immigration.

What was the most interesting thing you have learned while working on this project?

While this was not a part of my project directly, I stumbled upon fascinating research by Lera Boroditsky at Stanford University on the way language shapes thought. Examples of research on this topic include comparisons of the way speakers of different languages make sense of time and agency, and perceive color. It’s a fascinating topic!

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was grappling with the volume of data and possible ways of analyzing and making sense of the data. As a researcher, you are a type of translator, which is a weighty responsibility. You learn that there is no agreed-upon formula for answering your questions and that a variety of choices are made along the way. First, in terms of data analysis. Second, you make choices in how to interpret the patterns you see albeit in the framework of current literature and in how you tell the story.

What insight or insights did you gain during the research period?

In respect to the project, I learned that asking yes or no questions does not suffice. Especially in terms of the bilingual advantage, it is far more valuable to ask if it does exist, when and why does it emerge. Further, I learned that theory-based research is extremely important and that your statistical tools impact the kind of questions you can explore. Personally, I grew more and more passionate about the topic and learned to rely on the expertise of others.

What is your favorite part of creating, researching or developing this project?

One of the most valuable experiences in developing this project was two-fold: For one, it allowed me to reconnect with alumni of all ages from my German-American high school in Berlin. Receiving their support and hearing their interest in the project was extremely fulfilling and exciting. Second, by reaching out to various language professors on campus, I had the chance to be in conversation with different departments and voices, which really brought the topic to life in a multidimensional way. Whether discussing science policy with Lucia Cespedes, the Spanish TA, or hearing about Dr. Boetsch’s passion for interdisciplinary learning, I left more fulfilled and enlightened as a result.

What advice would you give to other students who are considering a thesis?

One thing another student emphasized to me during the process was welcoming, even craving, critical feedback. There is a desire to want to have all the answers when meeting with professors rather than admitting that you’re a beginner in the process. It is challenging to open your work to such vulnerability because you identify deeply with the product. By welcoming criticism, you are doing yourself and your final product a favor. Moreover, when else do you get the chance to pick the brains of brilliant experts who want to see you succeed?

As a senior, how did this project serve as a culmination of your time at W&L?

This project was an extraordinary way to translate my experiences growing up as a bilingual into a rigorous scientific study. With a deep interest in philosophy and language, I have always mused about the way in which language affects how we perceive and interact with the world. In that sense, it allowed me to intersect my passions for psychology, philosophy and language. In essence, neuroscience is an umbrella term for these very domains of study. Further, as I was working, I realized that as objective as scientific endeavors are cast, we always pursue questions of personal interest and significance. In that sense, we all have a perspective from somewhere. This became clear in the literature, where you find a very heated controversy about the veracity of the bilingual advantage. After all, bilingualism has extensive sociopolitical implications as it relates to education, immigration and feelings of identity.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Melina

Hometown:
Berlin, Germany

Major:
Neuroscience with a Philosophy Minor

Extracurricular involvement:
– Friday Underground
– Women in Technology and Science
– InterVarsity
– First Year Orientation Committee (FYOC)
– Peer Tutoring
– SSA Steering Committee

Why did you choose your major?
I chose neuroscience because the brain serves as the ideal platform to explore the human experience from a multidisciplinary perspective. Neuroscience, in particular, also encapsulates a diversity of fields.

What professor has inspired you?
Dr. Blythe, because she has been a phenomenal mentor, is willing to implement novel approaches in her classes, and has modeled being both a professional and a caring mother simultaneously. Finally, she also holds herself and others to the highest of standards.

What’s your personal motto?
This motto was adopted from someone I know, but is very meaningful to me: “Will and work for the good of others.”

What’s your favorite song right now?
Any Dermot Kennedy song: “After Rain,” “A Closeness,” “Glory,” and “An Evening I Will Not Forget”

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Too many. Bistro’s beer bread may be my favorite, but that doesn’t quite count as a meal. Haywood’s Andouille Penne Pasta.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
Time is a valuable commodity on campus, but give it freely to yourself and others. Invest in others and relish the opportunity to learn from brilliant scholars.

Post-graduation plans:
I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Favorite W&L memory:
The time a friend from Berlin was visiting and we got stuck in the heaviest downpour during a typical Lexington summer thunderstorm and ran into Blue Sky absolutely dripping like we had stepped out of a shower.

Favorite class:
Once more, too many. But if I had to choose, then Prof. Verhage’s Phenomenology of Perception.

Favorite W&L event:
Science, Society, and the Arts – nerdy, I know, but it’s the epitome of a liberal arts education.

Favorite campus landmark:
Really anything where red brick meets lush green grass and blue sky on that perfect fall afternoon.

What’s your passion?
Sparking passion in others and discerning how what I learn can positively impact others.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I acted in German TV movies as a child. Never rose to fame, fortunately or unfortunately.

Why did you choose W&L?
One of the most compassionate people I had encountered was an alumnus of W&L who spoke of its commitment to integrity, community and character. Further, W&L was the most financially generous institution, and Admissions assured me that big city kids could also fall in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains – they weren’t lying.

Leadership Through Experience: Amirah S. Ndam Njoya ’17 Amirah S. Ndam Njoya ‘17 believes leadership, travelling, service, and scholarship are all vital parts of the W&L experience.

“From my first day on campus until now, I have grown and become a stronger and confident person.”

Amirah_Ndam_Njoya-800x533 Leadership Through Experience: Amirah S. Ndam Njoya '17Amirah S. Ndam Njoya 17 believes leadership, traveling, service and scholarship are all vital parts of the W&L experience.

 
Q: How did you first hear about the Johnson Scholarship?

I saw it on the Common Application. I was basically applying for all the scholarships I could find, and  I stumbled upon the Johnson Scholarship. Actually, I think it is my sister who pointed it out to me.

Q: Why did you ultimately choose W&L?

I chose W&L because of the small classroom settings, the amazing study abroad opportunities, and primarily because of the Johnson Scholarship. Coming from Cameroon in Central Africa, I couldn’t believe that I could receive a full scholarship to college in the United States. I remember those first few days after I received my acceptance letter, I constantly checked my email to see if all of this was really true. I could not believe that I could go to college without having to pay anything. It was only when I got to campus in August 2013 for international student orientation week that I realized that it was real. I can never say how thankful I am for this opportunity as it has really changed my life.

Q: How has Johnson affected your views on leadership and integrity or on academics?

Being a Johnson pushed me to take leadership positions and step out of my comfort zone, whether it was becoming a leader in different organizations or traveling the world and spending the semester in a different country and living with people I barely know. From my first day on campus until now, I have grown and become a stronger and confident person. I have grown to really love and appreciate the world and every moment of life.

Q: What is your favorite story about your W&L experience, if you had to pick one?

My favorite W&L experience was during my intro to geology class when we went in a cave not far from Lexington. The cave was cold, quiet, and at one point we all had to crawl underwater to get to the other side! It was quite an experience!

Q: What extracurricular are you involved in right now that you are extra passionate about?

During the summer of 2015, Jenna Biegel ’17 and I were awarded a grant through the Center for International Education and Endeavor Grant. We conducted research in rural, agricultural and urban regions of Western Cameroon. My partner and I planned a summer program with children at the village of Mandekene, and tested different sources of drinking water quality in rural Madenkene, agricultural Koutaba, and urban Foumban.

In collaboration with the Foumban municipality, we were also able to contribute to the rehabilitation of the Mandekene school building where our summer camp took place. The work included cementing the floor and plastering the walls. In addition, we donated bookshelves and 40 fruit trees to the school, so that they could plant and sell the fruits for revenue to the school.

During the fall term of 2014, the Student Association of International Leadership (SAIL) nominated my project proposal for the Maternity School of Foumban. SAIL bought an ultrasound machine for a maternity in Foumban, Cameroon. We fundraised $1,000. The ultrasound is now in use at the maternity.

Q: What leadership experiences do you think have shaped your experience at W&L?

I served as president of the African Society from 2014 to 2015. I helped coordinate social events to promote the African culture, most notably African cuisine, on campus. Every fall term we have Taste of Africa, an amazing event where everyone, African or not, cooks an African dish. Everyone is invited to the dinner and the event usually ends with a lot of dancing. In African Society, I also planned and directed “Emerging Economies and Turbulences in Africa Week.” That included documentary viewings, debates, a cultural evening and a 5k run fundraiser for the Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone for Ebola orphans. We raised about $800.

As the president of Ladies Club on campus, we coordinate social events including Breast Cancer Awareness week and Fairy Glam Mother Project to donate prom dresses and makeup for underprivileged high school girls in the Rockbridge County.

My work-study is at the Staniar Gallery in Wilson Hall. I help Clover Archer, the gallery director, prepare and display artwork for gallery shows, maintain the gallery’s digital archive, and meet and work with exhibiting artists.

Outside of Campus Activities, when I am in Cameroon, I volunteer at the Foumban Municipality and I am working on a museum in Foumban, curating and archiving the museum’s collections.

Q: How has the Johnson Scholarship added to your college experience?

The Johnson Scholarship allowed me to study abroad in Bath, England, during Summer 2015 for the Advance Study in England program; in Aix-en-Provence, France, at the Marchutz School of Fine Arts fall term 2015; and a Spring Term abroad in Italy, Drawing in Italy—2016.

Most importantly, the summer grant from the Johnson Scholarship helped me fund during my junior summer a six-week program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design Career Discovery program that I got into. During those six weeks, I learned about urban planning and I realized that I really want to do urban planning in the future. Without the summer grant that funded my tuition and my room and board, it would have been very difficult for me to finance the program. I am extremely grateful for the Johnson Scholarship as it allowed me to do many things that I would not have been able to do without it. The scholarship truly allowed me to explore not only parts of the world, but what I would like to continue doing after graduation.

Q: What is your favorite campus tradition or piece of history?

Liberty Ruins. The ruins are beautiful at sunrise. I love jogging behind campus early in the morning right after the first rays of the sun have stretched across the sky. What’s even more beautiful is the deer that calmly cross the road in the early morning light.

Q: If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to “first day on campus” you?

Close your eyes, take four long deep breaths. Everything will be all right.

Q: If someone asked you “why choose W&L,” what is the one reason you would tell them?

Choose W&L and you will get amazing professors who are passionate about their respective fields and about teaching and making you love their subjects. You will also get small classrooms, genuine trust in your community, and the chance to live in a beautiful, quiet and picturesque town.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Amirah

Hometown:
Yaoundé, Cameroon

Majors:
Global Politics and Studio Art, with a minor in Creative Writing

Extracurricular involvement:
– President of Ladies Club (2014-present)
– President of African Society (2014-2015)

Off-campus activities/involvement:
When I’m in Cameroon I work at my parent’s coffee shop and coffee plantation. I also help nonprofit originations or the town hall of Foumban, Cameroon.

Why did you choose your major?
I like art and I like politics so I decided to merge the two together for a double major in global politics and studio art! In the future, I would really like to become an urban planner.

What professor has inspired you?
All my professors are inspiring. It’s very hard to choose.

What’s your personal motto?
“Be the change you want to see in the world” Ghandi

What’s your favorite song right now?
“Wayeina” by Oumou Sangare

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Southern Inn, Classic Southern Pecan Pie

Post-graduation plans:
Graduate School. Masters in Urban Planning

Favorite W&L memory:
Fireworks at the Freshmen Carnival

Favorite class:
Drawing in Italy—Spring Term abroad in Italy

Favorite W&L event:        
Taste of Africa by African Society

Favorite campus landmark:
Liberty Hall Ruins

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I am terrified of squirrels.

Why did you choose W&L?
Because it’s a small school in a small town, and it has exceptional professors.

Washington and Lee University to Celebrate 230th Commencement, Baccalaureate

Washington and Lee University celebrates its 230th undergraduate commencement Thursday, May 25, when it will award bachelor’s degrees to more than 440 students.

University President William C. Dudley will address the graduates at the 10 a.m. ceremony on the Front Lawn of the main campus. J. Wilson Miller, past president of the Executive Committee of the student body and a graduating senior from Dallas, Texas, will speak on behalf of the Class of 2017.

Commencement festivities begin Wednesday, May 24, at 10 a.m. on the Front Lawn with the traditional baccalaureate service, featuring speaker Rebecca Linder Blachly. Blachly is the director of the Office of Government Relations for the Episcopal Church, where she oversees the church’s advocacy on national and international policy issues. With a focus on the environment, refugees and immigration, and international development and conflict, she leads a team that engages Congress and the Administration, develops strategies for grassroots organizing and mobilization and builds coalitions.

Most recently, Blachly was the senior policy advisor for Africa in the Office of Religion and Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where she worked with religious communities throughout Africa, including in Mauritania, Chad, Nigeria and Ethiopia. From 2007- 2008, Blachly was acting chief of the Strategic Communication Division at U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Prior, she served as the special assistant to the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she focused on humanitarian assistance, disaster response and peacekeeping.

From 2003 – 2006, Blachly was a research associate in the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She has conducted fieldwork and research in Sudan and South Sudan, Kenya, Afghanistan and Oman, and she has published on civil-military relations and collaboration in complex environments. She received her B.A. in philosophy from Williams College and her M.Div. from Harvard University.

Also speaking at the baccalaureate service are this year’s recipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, Kayla Sylvester of Yankton, South Dakota, and Conley Hurst of Little Rock, Arkansas. Sylvester and Hurst were selected by the faculty as individuals who best demonstrate high ideals of living, spiritual qualities and generous service to others.

During the commencement ceremony on Thursday, W&L will recognize 22 retiring members of the faculty and staff, who represent a total of more than 605 years of service.

Two graduating seniors have been awarded Fulbright grants for postgraduate international work.

  • John Dannehl of Atlanta, Georgia, will teach English in the La Rioja district of Spain, while also working on engaging the public in the form of a video blog about recent Spanish history, specifically the repercussions of the Franco dictatorship on Spanish culture and politics in the 21st century.
  • Harrison Westgarth of McKinney, Texas, will work in the lab of Drs. Amilcar Tanuri and Loraine Campanati, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, who are working on establishing an animal model of Zika virus infection that exhibits both adult and congenital infections that can be used for pathogenesis studies and antiviral testing.

Two other seniors also received scholarships for postgraduate work.

  • Sierra Noland of Shoreline, Washington, received a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State, to participate in a language and cultural immersion program in India.
  • Colin Wallace of Crozier, Virginia, has been awarded a Rotary Skelton/Jones Scholarship, providing support for one year of post-baccalaureate study outside the U.S.

In addition, Pasquale Toscano is among the 2017 class of Rhodes Scholars. Toscano, who graduated in December, plans to pursue a master’s in English and a master’s in Greek and/or Latin languages and literature at the University of Oxford in England.

The Class of 2017 hails from 35 states, the District of Columbia and nine other countries.

In the event of rain, events will be held at Virginia Military Institute’s Cameron Hall, and the University community will be notified by broadcast e-mail, a notice on the University’s website and other means. Full details on all commencement activities at W&L can be found at www.wlu.edu/commencement. The commencement ceremony will be streamed live online at https://livestream.com/wlu/ugrad-2017.

Four Law Faculty Members Named to Chaired Professorships

Washington and Lee School of Law has announced the appointment of four law school faculty to chaired professorships. The appointments take effect July 1.

BondJohanna_101012__014-257x350 Four Law Faculty Members Named to Chaired ProfessorshipsJohanna Bond

Johanna E. Bond has been named the Sydney and Frances Lewis Professor of Law. An expert on international women’s rights, Bond came to W&L Law in 2008, having taught previously at the University of Wyoming College of Law and Georgetown Law Center. Her 2001 Fulbright led to the publication of her book “Voices of African Women” in 2005. She was selected for a second Fulbright in 2015, which she spent researching access to legal aid in Tanzania. She currently serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the law school.

Bond’s recent publications include “Gender and Non-Normative Sex in Sub-Saharan Africa” in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law and “Zika, Feminism, and the Failures of Health Policy” forthcoming with the Washington and Lee University Law Review’s on-line journal. In the last year, Johanna has contributed book chapters to two edited volumes: Gender and Post-Colonial Constitutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Constitutions and Gender (Helen Irving, ed.) (forthcoming 2017); and The Challenges of Parity: Increasing Women’s Participation in Informal Justice Systems within Sub-Saharan Africa, in Gender Parity and Multicultural Feminism: Towards a New Synthesis (Ruth Rubio Marin and Will Kymlicka, eds.) (currently under review by Oxford University Press).

danforthbob-257x350 Four Law Faculty Members Named to Chaired ProfessorshipsRobert Danforth

Robert T. Danforth has been named the John Lucian Smith, Jr. Memorial Term Professor of Law. Danforth joined the faculty in 1997 after practicing law in the trusts and estate arena with a number of highly respected firms in DC and Virginia. He has co-authored a casebook entitled Estate and Gift Taxation, the second edition of which was published by LexisNexis in 2013. He also serves as a co-author of a casebook entitled Federal Income Taxation of Estates and Trusts, a law school casebook the third edition of which was published in 2008.

Danforth has a consistent record of selfless service to W&L Law and the broader University. Most notably, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs during the period in which the Law School considered, adopted, and implemented an ambitious change to the curriculum to emphasize experiential education.

josh_fairfield-233x350 Four Law Faculty Members Named to Chaired ProfessorshipsJoshua Fairfield

Joshua A.T. Fairfield has been named the William Donald Bain Family Professor of Law. Fairfield is a nationally recognized scholar on privacy, electronic commerce, online economics, virtual worlds, electronic payments, and cryptocurrencies. He came to Washington and Lee in 2007 as an Associate Professor of Law. Prior to joining the faculty at W&L, Fairfield served as Associate Professor of Law for two years at Indiana University School of Law’s Bloomington campus.

During his time at W&L, Fairfield has earned many notable awards. In 2012-2013, he was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research related to trans-Atlantic privacy law at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. In 2013, he was elected into the American Law Institute (ALI) and he received the W&L Law Lewis Prize for Excellence in Legal Scholarship. In 2014-2015, he was recognized as the Ethan Allen Faculty Fellow for Scholarship. In 2012, Fairfield earned the Jessine Monaghan Faculty Fellowship for Teaching, and in 2010, he was recognized as the Huss Faculty Fellow for Law and Technology. In addition to numerous important publications over the years, Fairfield has also been working on a book soon to be published with Cambridge University Press. The book, Owned: Property, Privacy and the New Digital Serfdom, has garnered considerable advance praise from privacy law experts around the country.

russ_miller-233x350 Four Law Faculty Members Named to Chaired ProfessorshipsRussell Miller

Russell A. Miller has been named the J.B. Stombock Professor of Law. Miller joined W&L from the University of Idaho School of Law in 2008. He is a leading contributor in his fields of research, including the foreign study of German law and legal culture as well as the study of comparative law methods and theory. Miller’s scholarly profile has been recognized by policy-makers and practitioners. He has been called upon to offer expert testimony and to serve as a consultant, including testimony before the German parliamentary committee investigating the NSA-Scandal and the Council of Europe Committee debating reform of the European Convention on Human Rights. He has established himself as an internationally recognized authority in comparative constitutional law, as well as in German law in particular.

Miller is a highly productive scholar, and most recently served as editor and principal contributing author of the Cambridge University Press book entitled Privacy and Power: A Transatlantic Dialogue in the Shadow of the NSA-Affair, a manuscript that undertakes an interdisciplinary examination of the dramatic differences over issues of privacy and intelligence-gathering between the U.S. and Europe. Miller expects to publish another book with Cambridge University Press later this year, a new English-language textbook entitled Introduction to German Law and Legal Culture: Text and Materials. In addition, Miller has continued his service – now in the 18th year – as Editor-in-Chief of the German Law Journal, a peer-reviewed, open-access forum for scholarship and commentary on developments in German, European and International jurisprudence.

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Finding Common Ground in Lexington: Shaun Soman ’17 Shaun Soman ’17 has found an unlikely home at Common Ground, an intentional community where he did his environmental service learning placement.

“I feel fortunate to have found a community here that has been invaluable to my development as a person.”

Shaun_Soman-800x533 Finding Common Ground in Lexington: Shaun Soman ’17Shaun Soman ’17

I believe things happen for a reason; however, I’ve come to learn that life doesn’t always make those reasons apparent from the outset. In regards to my time at Washington and Lee, it wasn’t until my second semester that I felt I had made the right decision in coming here. During the winter of my senior year of high school, I felt confident that I would attend Reed College the following autumn. Having resided in rural Wisconsin nearly my entire life, I craved the experience of being in the city. Goodbye cows, hello people! By the time I had received my offer of admission, though, my decision had been complicated by one factor: money.

Throughout high school, I pushed myself to attain a full scholarship from a top university; while I certainly preferred to enroll in a school on either coast, it was more important to me that I didn’t financially burden my family. Given this, I tried to remain open to any and all options – including a small liberal arts school in rural Virginia called Washington and Lee. I wound up visiting the university for the Johnson Scholarship competition after I had applied through QuestBridge solely because the application didn’t require any additional essays. Even though I thought – and was oddly relieved – I had botched my interviews, I was stunned when I read a letter a few weeks later congratulating me on my selection as a Johnson Scholar. Goodbye Portland, hello Lexington.

Several months later, I was attending my first class at W&L, Intro to Environmental Studies, taught by Leah Green. Over the summer, I had been uneasy about my decision to come here, but that course changed everything. One day, we were visited by Ben Eland – who is now Professor Green’s husband – and learned about Common Ground, the intentional community where they lived. I was taken instantly. I spoke with Ben after class to inquire about Common Ground, as he had mentioned that they often welcomed students to intern there in the summers, which was a strange calling for me. Even though I’d come from a rural area, I was by no means a “farm kid.”

With Professor Green’s recommendation, I wound up doing my environmental service learning placement at Common Ground the following term, and ultimately spent a summer there after my sophomore year. During this time, I was able to truly connect with various members of the university and Common Ground, in addition to Ben and Professor Green. Suddenly, it clicked; I believed I had discovered why I was meant to attend W&L.

In many ways, Washington and Lee is a special place. In my mind, though, it wouldn’t be quite as special without the people. I feel fortunate to have found a community here that has been invaluable to my development as a person. Whether chatting with a professor for hours over coffee during a time of personal crisis, or being encouraged by another to fully explore my academic and artistic interests, the people here at Washington and Lee have afforded me the opportunity to flourish intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. While I’m not sure where my path in life will lead me next, I am grateful that it led me through Washington and Lee.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Shaun

Hometown:
Rewey, Wisconsin

Major:
Philosophy

Extracurricular involvement:
Co-Music Director at 91.5 WLUR FM
– President of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club/Shadowcast
– Editor-in-Chief of MUSE (Literary Arts Magazine)
– Captain of W&L’s Ethics Bowl Team

Off-Campus Activities/Involvement:
– Participated in the People’s Climate March in NYC in 2014
– Interned at Common Ground during the summer of ’15
– Studied film at Tisch School of Arts (NYU) during the summer of ’16.

Why did you choose your major?
I have this incessant need to question everything, and genuinely enjoy pursuing knowledge for knowledge’s sake, so majoring in philosophy seemed like the move to make.

What professor has inspired you?
I’ve been inspired by several professors during my time here, but I rediscovered my passion for art after taking a class with Elliot King this term, so I’m particularly grateful for that.

What’s your favorite song right now?
“The Gun Song (No Trigger Version)” by Car Seat Headrest. It’s more than 15 minutes long, but it has stuck with me. Anything by CSH is fantastic, really.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
It’s a toss-up between Sushi Matsumoto and Napa Thai. I always order the shumai and sushi regular at the former, and fried rice with shrimp at the latter.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
I wish I had known there was a radio station; I got involved the second semester my first year, but wish I had been a part of it from the beginning of my collegiate experience.

Post-graduation plans:
I’d eventually like to be a filmmaker, but I’m hoping to take a break from academia by DJ’ing for a radio station in Portland, Oregon, and joining the “Rocky Horror” troupe there for a couple years.

Favorite W&L memory:
I’ll never forget the first time that we performed “Rocky Horror” in Stackhouse. There were about 70 people there, which was beyond my expectations, and everyone in the cast had a blast.

Favorite class:
British Literature: Seeing Gothic with Jess Keiser, who is now teaching at Tufts, inspired me to minor in film. I actually had a paper I wrote for that class published in “Film Matters,” an undergraduate film studies journal!

Favorite Campus Landmark:
Woods Creek

What’s your passion?
Music, film, and the arts in general keep me going. I once encountered a quote which said, “The artist is a philosophical craftsman.” I couldn’t say it any more eloquently.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I am an absolute Green Bay Packers fanatic. Go, Pack, go!

Why did you choose W&L?
I guess you’ll have to read my essay!

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Price Named Associate VP for Academic Services at Maryland Institute College of Art

wprice.jpeg Price Named Associate VP for Academic Services at Maryland Institute College of ArtWendy Price

Wendy L. Price, associate dean of the College at Washington and Lee University since 2010, has accepted a new position, as the associate vice president for academic services at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Baltimore. She begins her new job on July 17.

“Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of working with exceptional staff and outstanding faculty across the university,” said Price. “I value those collaborative efforts and the positive impacts we made on campus. I look forward to building similar connections at MICA and to being part of such a prestigious art and design community.”

In her post at W&L, Price administered a large portfolio, including College buildings and classrooms; operating, discretionary and capital budgets and accounts; and oversight of non-faculty College staff and the foreign-language teaching assistants. She handled undergraduate disability accommodations and collaborated with other staff members to address student health.

“It has been my privilege to work for five years side-by-side with Wendy,” said Suzanne Keen, dean of the College and the Thomas Broadus Professor of English. “I have relied on her every day to manage the College’s part in major renovation projects, in capital and operating budget processes, in our work across campus with different divisions, in assisting College staff, and in supporting students who require accommodations.

“She has been one of my most important interlocutors behind the scenes,” continued Keen. “She leaves the budgets, records and procedures in the College in tip-top condition for the next associate dean. I am bursting with pride in her accomplishment in securing this exciting new position at MICA, where her various skills and experiences will be put to great use. And I will miss her wonderful laugh.”

At MICA, Price’s extensive duties will include a wide range of academic services, including the capital budget and facilities planning. She also will oversee exhibitions, the fabrication studios, international education and the technical labs.

MICA, founded in 1826, has about 1,800 undergraduate students and 300 graduate students and offers undergraduate, graduate and continuing-study courses in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts and professional studies. It bestows the B.F.A., M.A., M.A.T. and M.F.A. degrees.

Price joined W&L in 2010 after serving as a team leader in historic preservation at Historic New England. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, where she earned a B.A. in history, Price also holds a law degree from Duke University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Georgia.

After practicing law for three years, in 1996 she joined the University of Mary Washington as assistant professor of historic preservation; she became the department head in 2002. In 2005, she joined Historic New England, the oldest and largest regional preservation organization in the United States.

In 2013, she was chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges and the American Leadership Institute to participate in a yearlong Senior Leadership Academy.

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Sydney Internship and Study Abroad Program: John Bozeman ’18

As I write this blog post, I have been outside our beloved United States for nearly five months, and what an exciting time it certainly has been… Wow, it feels like a lifetime ago when I was curled up in a ball of stress cramming for Professor Guse’s Micro Theory final in Huntley. As an Economics major participating in a program targeted at Accounting students, I decided to opt out of an internship during the two-and-half month span between W&L’s fall semester and University of Sydney’s first semester in order to travel. Since packing up my belongings from third year housing and departing Lexington in December, I have knocked four countries, two continents, and a host of adrenaline-intoxicating activities off my bucket list, met hundreds of people from every corner of the planet, and been inserted into some of the most ridiculous situations you could never think of. It has been the opportunity to explore far-off places and interact with so many people who have certainly never heard of Washington and Lee University, or probably even the state of Virginia, that has been the most rewarding aspect of my study abroad experience.

I started off with my family for a relaxing couple of weeks in Australia scouting my future home before heading to Thailand with W&L students Nate Frank and Sam Taylor. After experiencing a rural Thai wedding, a week of bed bugs in a hotel room whose windows welcomed both rain and mosquitoes, a moped crash deep in the Thai jungle, crippling food poisoning, an open water SCUBA certification class, dozens of savory dishes, and the hazards of simply moving about the civil planning circus that is Bangkok, Sam and I said goodbye to Nate and hopped on a flight to Singapore. Singapore is unique in that it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, chewing-gum is illegal, a one-hour drive will take you across the entire country, beers cost eighteen dollars, and one in six citizens is a millionaire.  During our week-long stint in Asia’s second smallest country, Sam and I fattened up and learned about the country’s strict-law-enforcement, low-tax business model that makes it the attractive international commerce hub that it is before flying to Auckland, New Zealand where we began what will likely be the most exhilarating month of our lives.

We were joined on our first day in NZ by Sam’s older brother, Alex, who had flown forty hours from Stuttgart, Germany, and the newly-spawned travel trio joined an eleven-day bus tour of the country’s less-touristed North island. It was on this segment of the trip that our eyelids hung heavy from late nights chewing the fat with backpackers from England, Germany, Australia, Canada, and Brazil, and our adrenal glands worked overtime to accommodate the bungee jumping, sky-diving, black water cave rafting, and whitewater rafting down twenty-two-foot waterfalls we found ourselves taking part in. After a whirlwind eleven days, it was with much regret that we had to say goodbye to our new friends and fly to Queenstown where we launched our two backpacking trips on what are called New Zealand’s “Great Walks.” We hiked the Fjordland backcountry for a total of six days before wrapping up our trip with another week in Queenstown and finally flying to Australia to start our studies.

Our time in Sydney has been incredible as my peers’ previous blog posts have outlined, and I can only imagine that our last two months will only continue to follow that trend. Classes are both challenging and rewarding, the hustle and bustle of Oceania’s most populous city offers an exciting break from the hills of the Blue Ridge, and the Australian people continue to amaze me with their outgoing personalities and lust for life.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of our time entails… Stay tuned to find out.

– John Bozeman ’18

W&L’s New Natatorium is Making a Splash

Washington and Lee University’s new natatorium is open! Located just below Augusta Square, part of the new third-year housing that opened earlier this year, the new swimming facility is a bright, open space with an impressive pool, second-floor observation area and wet classrooms.

Learn more in The Natatorium By the Numbers and watch the W&L men’s and women’s ODAC-winning swim teams inaugurate the new pool in this Quick Hits video.

The Natatorium By the Numbers

It cost $22.4 million, took about 24 months to complete, and occupies just under 1 acre of land.

It holds 589,000 gallons of water.

The 25-yard stretch pool has a 4-foot-wide bulkhead to create 2 zones for swimming.

It has 8 lanes for competition.

The shallow end starts at 4 feet, then goes to 5, 7, 10 and finally 12 feet deep.

The bump-out at one end of the building allows for the possibility of adding 3 springboard platforms.

The project required 6,000 cubic yards  — 600 truckloads — of concrete for the foundation.

It took 42 blasts to facilitate excavation of rock from the pool basin.

The new system injects carbon dioxide into the water to keep the pH at about 7.4.

A complete turnover of the water through the filtration system can be completed in 4 hours.

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W&L’s Brock Weighs in on ‘Witch Hunts’

“Brock says that she’s not suggesting that we completely retire the term, which has been used to refer to a number of other political scandals. But she does think that we need to be mindful of its context and historical significance.”

brockm.jpg-150x150 W&L’s Brock Weighs in on 'Witch Hunts'Michelle D. Brock

Michelle Brock, assistant professor of history at Washington and Lee University, talked to Motto: Words to Live By by the editors of TIME magazine, about use of the phrase “witch hunt.”

Read her interview on Motto.

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W&L Welcomes New Trustee Helen Sanders Sanders joined the W&L Board of Trustees on May 19.

Helen H. Sanders, of Hughes Development Corp. (HDC), in Greenville, South Carolina, joined the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees on May 19, at the board’s spring meeting in Lexington.

SandersHelen_0007_051817ph--400x600 W&L Welcomes New Trustee Helen SandersHelen Sanders

Sanders graduated from W&L in 2004 with a B.S. in business administration, and from Clemson University in 2009 with a master’s of real estate development.

During graduate school, Sanders interned with East West Partners, a resort developer in Avon, Colorado. Upon graduation, she started work at HDC, her family’s real estate development business, which originated in 1938 doing residential development. It now focuses on mixed-use urban-infill projects, but in 2015, Sanders re-started the residential division and is working on multiple residential developments in South Carolina.

While at Washington and Lee, Sanders served three years on the Executive Committee of the Student Body and was the first undergraduate woman to serve as its president. She also served as an Outing Club trip leader and a manager for the Traveller Safe Ride Program, and played on the varsity basketball team in her first year. She belonged to Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, coached basketball for Rockbridge Area Recreation Organization, tutored an eighth-grader at Lylburn Downing Middle School, and volunteered at the Kendal at Lexington retirement community. As an alumna, she continued to serve W&L as president of the South Carolina Piedmont Alumni Chapter, on the Class of 2004 fifth reunion committee, and as co-chair of the Class of 2004 10th reunion committee.

In her community, Sanders participated in the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Greenville program, belongs to Christ Church Episcopal, and advocates for pediatric congenital heart disease. Sanders is married to Ansel Sanders (also a 2004 alumnus of W&L), and they have three young daughters, Field, Walker and Stuart.


Shenandoah Announces 2017 Prize Winners

shenandoah_mast1-600x198 Shenandoah Announces 2017 Prize WinnersShenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review

Shenandoah has announced its annual prize winners for 2017. The Volume 65 winner of the $1000 James Boatwright Poetry Prize is Thomas Reiter for his poem “St. Wynfed’s Parishioner,” which appears in the Fall, 2017 issue (number 1).

Reiter is a professor emeritus at Monmouth College and author of several collections, including “Catchment” (2009.) He has received grants and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of American Poets. The winning poem is about a wicked man who experienced a religious vision and became a hermit saint. The poem is narrated by a follower who defies orthodoxy and the doubters to rejoice in the grace of Wynfed.

The runner-up in poetry is Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Michael Derrick Hudson for “The Last Days of Calamity Jane,” which relates the sad story of the earthy muleskinner and western heroine who, in her sunset years, haunts a bar and remembers a lost love and the spurs he left her.

The winners of the Carter Prize for the Essay and the Shenandoah Prize for Fiction are, respectively, Philip Belcher of Asheville, N.C., for his critical essay “Beyond Autobiography: Claudia Emerson through Three Poems on Race” (Fall, 2017) and Allie Glass-Katz’s story “My Boyfriend Is Moving to Mongolia” (Spring, 2017). Each prize winner will receive an honorarium of $1000, and honorable mention works will receive each a $100 honorarium.

Allie Glass-Katz is a fiction fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. A native of Austin, Texas, she is now writing a novel. Her short story traces the road to acceptance of loss and the narrator’s rising above it. The honorable mention in fiction is Nashvillian Emily Choate’s “Eufaula,” which records the self-destructive path of a former country western song writer.

Belcher’s essay on the late Claudia Emerson, who served as Virginia’s Poet Laureate and was a Pulitzer Prize-winner, explores the nuances of three poems in which Emerson delicately approaches a topic which is not prominent in her work but is poignant and insightful. Belcher has published criticism in Southern Humanities Review, The Asheville Poetry Review and Southern Quarterly. The honorable mention in non-fiction is Lexingtonian and Washington and Lee faculty member Gordon Ball for “Nobel Dylan,” about his involvement in the campaign to garner a Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan.

Shenandoah’s prizes are not the result of a traditional contest with a submission deadline but have for several decades been chosen from among the work selected for publication in the journal across a volume year. All works published in Shenandoah are eligible for the prizes in their appropriate genres, but special submissions are not considered.

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Kitanna Hiromasa ’19 to Serve as Delegate to Japan-America Student Conference

“I’m excited to attend JASC. I know it will expand my knowledge and broaden my awareness both culturally and intellectually.”

headshot_Hiromasa-400x600 Kitanna Hiromasa ’19 to Serve as Delegate to Japan-America Student ConferenceKitanna Hiromasa ’19

Kitanna Hiromasa ’19, from Northglenn, Colorado, will serve as a delegate to the 69th Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) to be held in Japan Aug. 3-28. The Johnson Opportunity Grant will provide funding to help Hiromasa to attend.

JASC is a student-exchange program, initiated in 1934 by university students concerned by the breakdown of bilateral relations prior to World War II. An equal number of students from the U.S. and Japan, this year the total is 72, are competitively selected to spend one summer month together, studying and analyzing Japan-U.S. relations while visiting four diverse areas in the host country. JASC alternates its host country every year.

“I’m excited to attend JASC. I know it will expand my knowledge and broaden my awareness both culturally and intellectually,” said Hiromasa. “JASC isn’t the conventional summer activity; it’s a hands-on and engaging program that will affect me in a more impactful way.”

Hiromasa is double majoring in economics and East Asian studies with a concentration in Japanese. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma, the LEAD team, Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, the American Legion Auxiliary and Dean’s List and Honor Roll. She is an officer in the Japanese Club, a member of Klazics Hip-Hop Club, won the Third Generation Student Achievement Award and the Andrew H. Hemm Award for Excellence in Japanese. She is the philanthropy chair for Chi Omega Sorority and has also taught an introductory level of Japanese to a child.

“Having completed two years of Japanese language and the Spring Term Abroad in Kanazawa, Japan, Kitanna is prepared for the cultural challenge of JASC and traveling to four regions in Japan with fellow delegates,” said Janet Ikeda, associate professor of East Asian languages and literature. “She has diverse interests outside the classroom, which include dance and hip-hop. A participant of the W&L’s Women’s Leadership Summit, Kitanna is a campus leader who will contribute much to the discussion of this year’s panels.

“W&L has a fine record with sending delegates to JASC,” continued Ikeda. “In recent years, Elizabeth McDonald ’18, Christina Cheadle ’16 and Jordan LaPointe ’17 were selected in consecutive years as JASC delegates. W&L had two delegates, Jaime Muscar ’04 and Ken Hsiang ’07, who were elected to become members of the JASC Executive Committee.”

By exploring the Japan-U.S. relationship on multiple levels (e.g., politics, trade, culture, news media, etc.) students who attend JASC as a delegate gain knowledge and confidence to discuss and debate bilateral and international relations.

Writer in Residence R.T. Smith’s Poem to be Featured on Poetry Daily

A poem by R.T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review and writer in residence at W&L, will be displayed nationally on May 20.

“Duet” is about mountain dulcimer players Jean and Bayliss Ritchie, of Viper, Kentucky, and will be on the website Poetry Daily on May 20. Poetry Daily has featured a new poem every day for two decades.

Smith’s poem is being reprinted from the current issue of The Carolina Quarterly in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Poetry Daily has used at least one of Smith’s poems each year since it started.

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Creating Balance: Isabella Sparhawk ’17 Isabella Sparhawk used her Johnson Opportunity Grant to spend five weeks in India, studying vinyasa yoga and photojournalism.

As the sun rose over the Himalayan Mountains, I rose from the thin mattress of my bed in Hostel Plaza Gangotri. A typical day in Rishikesh, Uttarkhand, India, began at 5:15 a.m. I dressed conservatively, with my knees and shoulders covered and my hair pulled back. I walked down the four flights of stairs of my hostel, past the sleeping security staff boys, and made my way down the narrow dirt path sandwiched between two buildings. Sleepy cows decorated the street, dozing against the walls, sometimes accompanied by wild monkeys and wild dogs. I joined the 11 other students in my small group at 5:30 a.m. for tea and fruit (bananas, mangoes or lychees) before we made our way down the one main road to our yoga hall. This was my favorite time of the day. The usually loud and bustling main street was quiet, with shop owners dusting off their carts and children running barefoot down the street, selling us pictures they had drawn on notebook paper.

Our first class began at 6 a.m. with Helen, our Vinyasa Theory teacher from the Philippines. Vinyasa is a style of yoga that has a constant flow connecting the postures. In this class we learned about the proper positioning, adjustments and assists for different asanas (postures), how to structure a class, and how to modify poses to fit all skill levels. At 7 a.m. we had what we affectionately called “Death by Vikas,” our strenuous Vinyasa class led by our instructor Vikas, who we were convinced was also a male model. He took us through rigorous exercises and poses — many of which I had never encountered after three years of yoga practice. He pushed our flexibility, strength, confidence and resolve, and taught us many difficult poses while laughing at our pain, telling us we had it easy compared to his teachers, who would whip him with sticks if he did something incorrectly.

Our next class was Pranayama (breath therapy) with Mahesh, one of my favorite teachers, who was youthfully hilarious and grandfatherly wise. He also taught Yoga Therapy, during which we learned about acupressure, oil applications, stress-relief massages and emotional-release therapy. Some of the practices we did brought me and the entire class to tears — either from releasing emotional pain or from uncontrollable laughter.

Who knew so much could be accomplished before breakfast? At 9:30 a.m., my group and I sat down to our usual meal of porridge and toast, provided to us by the kind staff members who worked in the hostel. Sometimes we were surprised with potato sandwiches (think grilled cheese but with mashed potatoes instead of cheese) or lo mien noodles.

After breakfast, we had Philosophy class, where we learned about Yogic principles such as chakras, the origin of Sanskrit language, the yogic diet, reincarnation, prana, gunas, the eight limbs of yoga and much more. Next was Anatomy and Physiology with Kushal, an instructor from the Indian National Army. We learned about the skeletal, endocrine, digestive, muscular and nervous systems, and how all of these relate to and affect the yogic practice.

“There were so many colors, people, landscapes and animals it was a photographer’s dream. My camera acted as a tool to understand and bridge the newness around me.”

When morning classes were completed, we had lunch, which was always rice with a curry of some sort, chapatti (a whole wheat flat bread) and vegetables. We then had a two-hour break. I would typically spend my breaks walking around the city, going into crystal or fabric shops, getting Reiki, writing in my journal, reading from our textbook, studying, sitting by the river with friends, and taking photographs wherever I went. There were so many colors, people, landscapes and animals, it was a photographer’s dream. My camera acted as a tool to understand and bridge the newness around me. As a blonde, I stood out, and countless people stared at me and approached me to take pictures with them, whipping out selfie sticks and pressing their faces against mine. At first it was overwhelming and strange: Once someone handed me their baby, speaking in a different language, smiling and pointing at their camera phone. However, these interactions became a great way to start a conversation and ask if in return I could take a photograph of them or their children.

After exploring during break, we had our third yoga class of the day, Hatha, a slower form of yoga that focuses heavily on the breath and returning to a base pose, with Sarita. Sarita was our “Rishikesh mom” and is a fabulous woman who told us many stories about growing up in Delhi. She survived tuberculosis, sexist bosses, a bad marriage and having a child at 17, and now works and lives on her own — rare for women in India. She also taught us Shatkarma, cleansing techniques. During Shatkarma we used a neti pot to cleanse our nose, threaded a rubber tube from our nose to our throat, and had to drink and vomit salt water to cleanse our stomachs.

Our next class was Meditation with Sanjeev, a gentle old man who rode a motorcycle and was always dressed in pristine, head-to-toe white. We could never figure out how he kept his white shoes spotless after walking on the dirt paths that stained our own sandals. We did different forms of meditation: prayer, group, chant, laughing and movement. Our final class was a dancing meditation. I learned to waltz from my Austrian friend, and Sanjeev stood from his usual quiet seated position and broke into our dance circle, wildly swaying his arms and shaking his hips. Sanjeev also taught creative meditation. He said that when we express ourselves creatively through something we love, we are freeing our mind and living in the present moment, such as in dance, painting, singing or photography. Each Saturday class, we had a creative circle where every person had to share one of their gifts with the class. Students shared detailed drawings, told stories about legends from their home country, sang songs in their native tongue, and gave classmates origami. It was fabulous to illuminate how every person has so many talents. I also appreciated our simple meditations, when we quietly sat on the rooftop of our building where we could see the sun set over the Ganges River, and be enveloped by the calming brush of the breeze.

Following meditation, we had dinner, a meal similar to lunch. I loved sitting around at dinner and listening to everyone tell stories about where they came from and where they had traveled. We were an interesting group: John the Aussie with two cute kids, who grew avocado and apricot trees; Gudi from Vienna, who spent the past year living in France; Bri, who sold her life in Wisconsin to travel the world solo; Daniella from Puerto Rico, who spent the past six months traveling Southeast Asia; and Topaz, the professional ballerina, who had the kindest smile. It was inspiring to see how people lived their lives and made me realize the potential that life offers if you go outside and reach it.

This was a typical day in my life for the five weeks I was in India. I was able to learn and experience so much, and meet and love so many beautiful people. I am exceedingly grateful for the Johnson Opportunity Grant, and can confidently say this experience will benefit me in many aspects of my life. I am excited to share what I have learned through teaching yoga classes at Center of Gravity Studio in Lexington, and by sharing the photography book I created.

More about Bella:

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

Major: Business Administration

Minor: Studio Art (Photography)

Extracurricular Involvement: 

  • Development Intern
  • WLUR
  • SEAL
  • Mock Trial
  • LAUNCH
  • Campus Activities
  • Alpha Delta Pi

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Study Abroad Spring 2015 – Photography in Paris
  • Semester Abroad in Madrid Fall 2015

Why did you apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant?

The ability to create my own project was amazing. I was able to combine three of my favorite things: yoga, photography and travel.

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

My experience has applied to my studies in a multitude of unexpected ways. Academically, it most closely related to my photography minor. I took photographs and have created a self-published book with 140 images. The knowledge I gained at Vinyasa Yoga School also contributed to creating balance in my work, study and social lives, increased my mental flexibility and ability to look at things from new perspectives, and to deal with stress management more effectively. I have been given a new perspective on life, which has changed my goals and direction of my work, studies and post-graduation plans.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your grant experience?

I pictured a relaxing, Zen, trouble-free month for myself, but it was anything but. It vacillated between extremely high highs and low lows. My friends joked about how lucky I was (and I am!) to have received a grant to “go do yoga in India.” That is what I did, but it was in the context of three grueling physical classes a day, along with philosophy, anatomy and physiology, six days a week, beginning at 6 a.m. It was in conjunction with having a hostel room infested with termites that grew dimensionally out of the wall, and one night having hundreds and hundreds of swarming bugs in my room, horror-movie style. I was the absolute sickest I have ever been for 10 days without access to a doctor, and pulled my hamstring. I learned a lot about problem-solving and remaining positive.

Post-Graduation Plans: I’ll be working as a wildlife photographer at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Kangaroo Island, teaching yoga in Melbourne, scuba diving in Malaysia, and volunteering in Thailand and Indonesia.  After traveling, I will come back and get a real job (I promise, Mom)!

Favorite W&L Memory: I loved studying abroad during Spring Team with Professor Christa Bowden for our Photography in Paris class. We went to markets, museums and river tours on the Siene, re-created Atget photos, and explored. My group of two photo students and two history students did a project on Parisian street art, and it was amazing to learn about the modern artists and how the street art movement developed.

Favorite Class: Professor Bill Oliver’s short-story fiction class. We study examples of short stories and then write our own. The class meets at LexCo to critique each other’s work. I absolutely loved it, and recommend everyone take it. It provided me with a foundation to write a novel with Professor Oliver’s guidance, which has been an awesome experience.

Favorite Campus or Lexington Landmark: Rockbridge Regional Library — no one goes there, and it is my secret gem for studying. It’s a great way to feel integrated with the town.

What’s your personal motto? Everything happens for a reason. Be nice. Love everyone. Work hard. Live your truth (be yourself).

What’s your favorite song right now? I really struggle with the concept of a favorite, I can’t pick just one thing. I’m currently listening to a lot of ZHU, Russ, Alex Aioni and Glass Animals.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order? Napa Thai. Panang Curry or Drunken Noodles with tofu. James Dick has never been there, so everyone should peer-pressure him into experiencing their amazing food.

What’s your passion?
Life.


Public Art Projects by W&L Students to be Unveiled The projects are part of a Spring Term class that allowed students to work with community nonprofits.

DSCF2944-copy-800x533 Public Art Projects by W&L Students to be UnveiledMcKenna Quatro and Sara Dotterer install their public art project at Hopkins Green while professor Meg Griffiths looks on.

Two separate public art projects completed by Washington and Lee University students in collaboration with community nonprofits will open this week. Both works are part of a Spring Term art course taught by visiting professor Meg Griffiths.

The first project was installed in Hopkins Green in downtown Lexington on Tuesday and will be introduced in an opening celebration at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17. The work, by W&L juniors Sara Dotterer and McKenna Quatro, was made in collaboration with the Rockbridge Area Community Services Prevention Coalition. The art will remain up for about a week.

For the second project, Archer Biggs ’19 and Patrick Robertson ’17 are working with Saturday’s Child, a nonprofit organization in Buena Vista dedicated to youth enrichment. Their project, a permanent artistic garden, is being set up at the Buena Vista Public Library. It will be dedicated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 20.

Both events are open to the public.


Unpacking the Resiliency of the Human Spirit The spring term class asks: What possibilities does law offer after massive political violence has occurred, and what are the limits of law after massive political violence?

MarkDrumblcl-800x533 Unpacking the Resiliency of the Human SpiritCounterclockwise from far right: Professor Mark Drumbl, Emily Webb ’17, Luke Teague ’18, Matthew Marshall ’19, Harry McBride ’19, Yolanda Yang ’18 and Kathryn McEvoy ’19.

Mass Atrocity, Human Rights and International Law
Mark Drumbl, Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and Director, Transnational Law Institute

What’s the focus of your class?
The class examines two basic questions: What possibilities does law offer after massive political violence has occurred, and what are the limits of law after massive political violence? This class constitutes an opportunity for students to think diversely and honestly about what political transition from terrible violence requires, and to take a second look at a lot of our orthodoxies of how we think the world works. We grapple with tough questions about imperfect victims, tragic perpetrators and the ordinary person. Individuals commit the acts that cumulatively lead to mass atrocity, but the connived nature of the violence implicates questions of collective responsibility. While our instinct may be to prosecute guilty individuals, are other responses more appropriate? What do victims and their families want? What is a suitable punishment? One of the shortcomings of criminal law is that it scapegoats a small number of people and sentences them, and everyone else gets a free pass. But on the other hand, if you punish everyone, then you take away everyone’s humanity, and you end up with a Treaty of Versailles situation.

The material is emotionally heavy, but also luminous because it unpacks the resiliency of the human condition and human capacity for mercy and growth in the face of terrible violence. Those are themes I try to emphasize. Another core theme is gender and identity. It is impossible to disentangle mass violence (and transitional justice) from gender, women’s social inequalities, constructs of masculinity and femininity (and of child and adult), nationalism, race and sexual identity.

Among the societies we study that have endured or inflicted systemic human rights violations are Germany, the former Yugoslavia, Japan, Czech Republic, Poland, Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, Uganda, Cambodia, Syria, South Africa, Congo, ISIS, Sierra Leone and the U.S.

What are you enjoying most about teaching the class?
I’ve taught this class at the W&L Law School, as well as at law schools throughout Europe, Canada and Australia. I’m really enjoying the ability to talk about issues of justice without the architecture of law always cabining us, as you would have with law students. I do set out the definitions of international law and the definitions of international crimes for context, but we’re having very vivid discussions exploring the limits to law and the saliency of other methods of justice. We’re also thinking about the limits to human rights and the power of storytelling. Just because one might know a lot about abstract human rights doesn’t mean one necessarily appreciates the real life of human beings.

What’s on the reading list?
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
“Evil Men,” by James Dawes
“Girls with Guns: Narrating the Experience of War of Frelimo’s ‘Female Detachment,’ ” by Harry West
“Open Letters,” by Vaclav Havel


Taking Care of (Music) Business: Austin Frank ’17 What can you do in four years at W&L? How about manage a radio show, start a service organization, found a club, or publish an EP? Austin Frank ’17 has done them all.

“I hope that my own gratitude for W&L shines through – for all the opportunities and support it has given me and all of my dreams that the university has helped me achieve.”

Austin_Frank-1024x683 Taking Care of (Music) Business: Austin Frank ’17What can you do in 4 years at W&L? How about manage a radio show, start a service organization, found a club, or publish an EP? Austin Frank 17 has done them all.

What has surprised me most about Washington and Lee has been the frankly staggering number of resources available to students. By resources, I don’t just mean financial – this place has everything you could need. Need a studio-quality microphone for a recording project? The music department will happily lend you one for as long as you need! Need help with complicated statistical analysis or a niche research project? You can swing by the library almost any time and get help. Need thoughtful, intelligent, and passionate people to help you achieve amazing things? W&L is bursting at the seams with an enthusiastic and driven staff and student body to accomplish them.

Being able to have access to this wealth of knowledge and passion has been my favorite part of my W&L experience. I’ve been lucky enough to channel these resources into projects that I’m passionate about. My four years can be characterized by whatever big project I have taken on as I grew both personally and academically.

My first year was all about getting my feet wet. I sought organizations that seemed interesting to me, like WLUR, our campus radio station (now I’m nearing the 100th episode of my radio show, Generally Eclectic), and have climbed through the ranks from DJ to Assistant Music Director and, finally, Music Director and podcast host. I also met Graham Spice, who got me excited about the music scene on campus and honing my sound-tech abilities through performing with the Electronic Music Ensemble and then heading the Production Club.

By sophomore year, I started branching out to create new organizations. Perhaps most significant that year was working to recharter the seven-year dormant chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity on campus. With the help of some amazing friends and teammates, we were able to conduct a multitude of on-campus and community service projects, and to submit all of the rechartering paperwork by the end of the year. We were proudly rechartered as a national chapter the next fall.

Junior year was dominated by the birth of Friday Underground. I had the privilege of working on the team that founded the weekly event space, working to coordinate the venue’s technology and performers. Getting to combine my love of leadership and music to play a part in offering a new and unique entertainment and visual art space for our campus social scene has been such a wonderful thing for so many people, and it has been a dream come true for me.

Now, I’m in my senior year. It’s amazing to look back at all of these things that I’ve had a hand in creating and watching them grow beyond just me. I’m excited to come back in a few years to see students filing into the ARC House on a Friday night to hang out, and I’m so anxious to hear what the Alpha Beta Tau chapter of APO is working on and how they’re giving back to our community.

When I think of what will define this year for me, though, I think it will be Friday Underground Records. While a few friends and I started the FUDG Records label last winter, we’ve really hit our stride this year. In many ways, I see our current project, Purser’s (Dana Gary) EP, as a sort of extracurricular capstone. This project is a culmination of so many of the things that I’ve worked on over the last four years – music technology, music performance, leading and organizing a large roster of musicians, organizational management, filing and running a registered business, managing a Kickstarter campaign and, most rewarding, helping other people make their goals and dreams a reality. On this third record, we’ve included the most musicians we’ve ever worked with, crowd-funded more than $3,000, and expanded into exciting new areas (such as pressing the EP on vinyl – a nearly lifelong dream of mine).

Dana has said that the music on the album is a sort of love letter to her time at W&L, and I couldn’t agree more. While the words and music aren’t my own, I hope that my own gratitude for this place shines through – for all the opportunities and support it has given me and all of my dreams that the university has helped me achieve.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Austin

Hometown:
Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Majors:
Sociology, Politics (American Emphasis), Latin American and Caribbean Studies Minor

Extracurricular involvement:
– Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity
WLUR 91.5
Friday Underground
– Friday Underground Records
– Production Club
– General Admission

Why did you choose your major?
I love the way that sociology and politics work together. Sociology provides a way to look at why problems arise and proposes ways in which society can try to address them. Politics is sort of the practical side of things. It’s taught me how to take the solutions proposed in sociology and try to implement them.

What professor has inspired you?
I absolutely can’t pick just one. It’s a mix of Professor Jonathan Eastwood, Professor Lynn Chin, Professor Jeffrey Barnett, and Professor Graham Spice. They’ve guided me both academically and personally and have made my experiences both inside and out of the classroom here so much more rewarding.

What’s your personal motto?
“Be a Leader, Be a Friend, Be of Service” the motto of my service fraternity as well as three tenets that I always try to hold myself to.

What’s your favorite song right now?
Fleet Foxes – “Third of May / Ōdaigahara”. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, and this is their first single since their last album six years ago!

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
That there is someplace for everyone. My biggest fear in going to college was being nervous about making friends and finding people with similar interests. At the end of four years, I can say definitively that I have met some of the kindest, most amazing people here, and I didn’t have any reason to worry.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Haywood’s. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you get. The food is amazing and the ambiance just throws it over the top. It was also where I had my first date with my girlfriend.

Post-graduation plans:
I’m going to pursue my masters in public administration at the University of Southern California Price School.

Favorite W&L memory:
On the second day of orientation week, I was talking with a few people at an ice cream social. While walking back to the dorm, we got shuffled onto a Traveller daytime tour (coerced by the promise of a free t-shirt). I ended up really hitting it off with the girl sitting next to me and we became fast friends. That was our first and last time on Traveller. We started dating at the end of freshman year and after three years, we’re still together.

Favorite class:
Latin American Literature with Professor Barnett. The class only had about six students who all became very close. We got to hang out a few times a week and discuss some of the best books ever written doesn’t get much better!

Favorite W&L event:
Friday Underground. It is always the perfect way to end a week. Being a part of bringing it to life was such a rewarding experience, and I’m amazed by the impact it has had on the school.

Favorite campus landmark:
It’s a toss-up. The huge weeping cherry tree right outside of Evans Dining Hall is a contender – it tends to bloom right around the end of winter term/beginning of spring term. It smells amazing and is unbelievably beautiful. The other would be Wilson Hall, especially at night. There are so many nooks and crannies to discover, and some of my favorite memories have been making music with my friends there over the last few years.

What’s your passion?
People and music.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I absolutely love to crochet! I learned sophomore year. One of my all-time favorite things to do is sit and watch cheesy superhero shows while working on crocheting it’s incredibly relaxing.

Why did you choose W&L?
Honestly, it chose me as a Johnson Scholar, so it was a bit of a leap of faith. I’m happy to say that it was unequivocally the best decision I’ve ever made.

Licensed to Hack Cory Walker ’15, who graduated from James Madison University with her master’s in computer science and digital forensics, works in cyber security with the government.

“Cyber security is a surprisingly vast field. There is much more to computers than I had even realized as an undergraduate computer science major, and so much that can be learned about the people that use them.”

CoryWalker-800x533 Licensed to HackCory Walker ’15

Cory Walker ’15 cannot actually tell us what her job is — except that it is with the government — which is exactly what makes it so interesting. Walker graduated from James Madison University in May with her master’s in computer science and digital forensics. Through the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program, Walker’s tuition was fully covered, and she received a salary each year she was in school.

What’s the catch?

Well for Walker, it is a very exciting catch. During the summers between school years and for the two years after her graduation, Walker is committed to working in cyber security with the government.

Where exactly? She can’t say because it involves handling very sensitive information, but she did say it is a “prominent government agency.”

“Cyber security is a surprisingly vast field. There is much more to computers than I had even realized as an undergraduate computer science major, and so much that can be learned about the people that use them.”

While at W&L, Walker majored in computer science and minored in music. She said this combination let her have fun and occasionally take a break from looking at a computer screen.

“My music minor was a totally different world. Most days I would be running from the science center to Lenfest to get to class.”

Walker says she learned several skills while at W&L.

“Because it’s a liberal arts school I didn’t just learn things in my field, I assimilated a breadth of information, which has been a huge help.”

Time management is an important skill that Walker acquired at W&L.

“I wasn’t just taking classes. I was working two jobs, playing in the wind ensemble and jazz band,” Walker said. “It’s not even unique to me. Everyone there is busy. Once you get through that, nothing is impossible.”

In addition to wind ensemble and jazz band, Walker took saxophone lessons and performed in the pit for W&L musicals. She worked at the ITS help desk and backstage with the music department during W&L performances.

Walker offers this advice for students: “If you’re as busy as I was, don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself. If you feel like you’re going crazy because you’re doing too much, then you probably are. It’s great to be involved in all your passions, but you also have to make sure you don’t get burned out.”

She also said that W&L is an accepting place.

“In the first year or two I was an independent, I was worried that I didn’t fit in. But I never should have worried. W&L is a great community. You’re going to make friends, and it’s going to be okay.”

Some of Walker’s favorite memories of W&L are performing in the pit orchestra for the musicals “Cabaret” and “Spamalot” her freshman and senior years, respectively. She said, “The first is an exciting and impactful musical with a very serious message. It is set in Nazi Germany, right before the Holocaust. The pit was dressed in Holocaust uniforms, and the play ended with me and the rest of the pit being marched off to the gas chambers. The second is a fun, silly, and over-the-top musical that is the well-known play adaptation of Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail.” Both had lasting impact on her life.

“W&L offers consistently world-class musical productions. And helping bring these stories to life really makes their messages stick. ‘Cabaret’ was one of the first things to really, truly make me care about current events. Now that I am in cyber security, I especially appreciate that I have not been turning a blind eye to what is happening in the world. And then, I like to think that ‘Spamalot’ taught me not to take myself too seriously, and to remember to keep dramatically looking up.”

These are things I may never have experienced in other universities, sitting in a computer lab,” she added. “To me, this is what makes a science degree at a liberal arts university so fantastic. It really taught me that you can have fun anywhere if you have the right attitude. You don’t have to be partying all the time.”

Walker says there are more jobs in cyber security than there are people to take those jobs. It’s a changing and important field, and she encourages interested students to take computer science courses at W&L.

Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder ’16

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A Painting with a Storied Past "The Battle of Minden" will be on display at W&L through the end of Fall Term 2017, when it will return on loan to Mount Vernon.

Battle-of-Minden-FINAL_FullView_NormalLight_RCSphoto-800x533 A Painting with a Storied Past“The Battle of Minden” is a large oil painting owned by W&L and often displayed on loan at Mount Vernon.

Washington and Lee University has been reunited with “The Battle of Minden,” a large oil painting that passed through the ownership of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee  and survived an invasion, an explosion and a dunking.

The painting by Johann Gerhard Huck is part of Washington and Lee University’s legacy art collection gifted by the Lee family in the early 20th century. It depicts a notable British victory over the French in 1759 during the Seven Years War. It will be on display at W&L through the end of Fall Term 2017, when it will return on loan to Mount Vernon.

The painting was a gift to George Washington in 1787 from Samuel Vaughan, an English merchant and political activist who met Washington in Philadelphia in 1783. It is part of an ensemble that Vaughan gave Washington for his New Room at Mount Vernon, along with a large marble mantel and a three-piece Worcester garniture (a set of decorative vases). Washington later moved the painting to the downstairs bedchamber at Mount Vernon.

Following Washington’s death, the painting remained at his home with his widow, Martha, who later bequeathed “all the family pictures of every sort” to her grandson, George Washington Parke Custis. His daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis (Mrs. Robert E. Lee), inherited them in 1859 with Arlington plantation.

In 1861, as Federal troops were approaching Arlington, Mrs. Lee packed her valuables, sent her paintings to Ravensworth plantation in Fairfax County, and left Arlington. The plantation was seized and occupied, and Mrs. Lee never returned. A decade later, the family paintings were shipped by packet boat from Ravensworth to Lexington  but an explosion caused the boat to sink, submerging the paintings in water. They were rescued and reunited with Mrs. Lee; however, several paintings were sent to Baltimore for restoration.

George Washington Custis Lee, the eldest son of Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis Lee, inherited the family paintings after his mother’s death in 1873. When he died in 1911, he bequeathed a third of the family paintings to his sister, Mary Custis Lee, and a third to his brother, Robert E. Lee Jr. A final third was divided equally between his nephews, Robert E. Lee III and George Bolling Lee. In 1922, Robert E. Lee III died, and several of his Lee family paintings came to the university, including “The Battle of Minden.”

As part of the national bicentennial celebration, W&L loaned “The Battle of Minden” to Mount Vernon, where it remained for years. In 2015, during renovation of the New Room, the university and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association agreed to jointly fund conservation of the painting. During initial examination, conservators at the Richmond Conservation Studio found evidence to support the painting’s physical history: vertical losses from being rolled while off its stretcher (probably when it was sent to Ravensworth for protection), water damage that supports the assumption that the painting was on the boat that sank on its way to Lexington, and a 19th-century replacement stretcher that is evidence of early restoration of the painting.

“The Battle of Minden” returned to campus in March. It is on view in the Watson Galleries until mid-June. It will then be on display in Washington Hall through Fall Term 2017 before returning on temporary loan to Mount Vernon.

Law Faculty Scholarship Update – May 11, 2017

parellakish-150x150 Law Faculty Scholarship Update – May 11, 2017Prof. Kish Parella

Prof. Kish Parella placed her article “Reputational Regulation” in the Duke Law Journal. It will be published next year. The paper was selected through a blind selection process for presentation at the 2017 Stanford/Harvard/Yale Junior Faculty Forum.  The Forum’s objective is to encourage the work of scholars recently appointed to a tenure-track position by providing experience in the pursuit of scholarship and the nature of the scholarly exchange.

Prof. Parella teaches courses at the intersection of law and business, including contracts, international business transactions, and corporate social responsibility. Her research is in international economic law, with a focus on the cross-border regulation of corporations and other non-state actors.

russ_miller-150x150 Law Faculty Scholarship Update – May 11, 2017Prof. Russ Miller

Four years on, the cultural differences between Europe and the United States exposed by Edward Snowden’s disclosures of NSA surveillance programs still loom large in transatlantic relations. Last month, the Hoover Institution’s National Security, Technology and Law Working Group, along with Hoover’s Washington, DC office discussed “Privacy and Power:  A Transatlantic Dialogue in the Shadow of the NSA-Affair,” a new book by W&L Law professor Russ Miller.

Benjamin Wittes (Hoover working group member and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Miller and Prof. Ralf Poscher (professor of law at  University of Freiberg) discussed fundamental differences in the way that Americans and Europeans approach the issues of privacy and intelligence-gathering.

A podcast of the event is available at LawFare, a blog devoted to discussions of national security concerns and interactions with the nation’s laws and legal institutions.

humargaret-150x150 Law Faculty Scholarship Update – May 11, 2017Prof. Margaret Hu

Prof. Margaret Hu placed three articles during this spring submission cycle, including “Orwell’s 1984 and the Fourth Amendment Nonintrusion Test” in the Washington Law Review, “Algorithmic Jim Crow and Extreme Vetting” on the Travel Ban-Refugee Ban Executive Order in the Fordham Law Review, and “Crimmigration-Counterterrorism” in the Wisconsin Law Review.

Prof. Hu’s research interests include the intersection of immigration policy, national security, cybersurveillance, and civil rights. Most recently, she has focused her work on the government use of big data collected by the private sector.

seamanchris-150x150 Law Faculty Scholarship Update – May 11, 2017Prof. Chris Seaman

Prof. Chris Seaman has published a new article in the Washington Law Review.  The article, “Patent Injunctions on Appeal:  An Empirical Study of the Federal Circuit’s Application of eBay” (with co-author Prof. Ryan T. Holte), appears in volume 92 of the journal. This article represents the first comprehensive empirical study of permanent injunction decisions by the Federal Circuit following the eBay decision.

Prof. Seaman specializes in Intellectual Property and Patent Law and also has a strong interest in Election Law.

Visit wlulawfaculty.wordpress.com for more updates about W&L Law faculty.

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James Dickey, Masked and Unmasked The life mask is perhaps the single most valuable item in a collection of more than 1,000 Dickey items in W&L Special Collections.

KRR2317-400x600 James Dickey, Masked and UnmaskedThis live mask of poet and novelist James Dickey is part of a larger Dickey collection housed at W&L Special Collections. The collection was donated by Ward Briggs Jr. ’67.

One of the most unusual items to grace the shelves of the Special Collections vault is a metal cast of a life mask of the late poet James Dickey. The mask was made by a distinguished American artist and educator, William Dunlap.

The mask is perhaps the single most valuable item in a collection of more than 1,000 items donated in 2014 by Dr. Ward W. Briggs Jr. ’67. Briggs is Carolina Distinguished Professor of Classics at the University of South Carolina and the editor of the book “The Complete Poems of James Dickey” published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2013.  The Ward Briggs Collection of James Dickey consists of the research material generated or collected by Briggs in the compilation of that 2013 edition.

At the time the mask was created, Dunlap was artist-in-residence at Appalachian State University. The mask was requested by Dickey, who apparently had a lifetime fascination with masks and who wore the mask for the February 1976 cover of Esquire magazine. W&L’s mask is one of three made from the original impression. The other two reside in the James Dickey Collection at Emory University.

It was in sitting for the composition of this aluminum life mask that Dickey was temporarily blinded.  According to Esquire, while the sculptor was forming the plaster cast, calcium seeped through to Dickey’s eyes and produced an alkaline burn that scalded his corneas. The poet was raced from Boone, North Carolina, to Johnson City, Tennessee, for medical treatment that saved his vision.

Dickey claimed in the magazine that chemicals used in the making of the mask had blinded him for about a month (other accounts say that he was sightless only for several hours) and that the experience was the starting point for a story, “Cahill is Blind.” This story, which was featured in the February 1976 Esquire, ultimately led to his second novel, “Alnilam.”

“Alnilam” (1987) was a massive, ambitious and ultimately flawed story, set in the early days of World War II, about a blind man who sets off in search of the son he never knew. Unfortunately, the book never attained the critical success of Dickey’s famous first novel, “Deliverance,” which had been published 17 years before.

Ward Briggs will be the speaker at the annual meeting of Washington and Lee University’s Friends of the Library on May 13 at 1:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. His talk, “James Dickey and ‘Life’: How Poems Are Made,” is free and open to the public.

To read more about the Dickey collection at W&L, click here.

W&L’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Film Studies presents Aerial Dance

“While four weeks is quite a short period of time to create a performance, the students embraced the challenge and exhibited a work ethic and depth of understanding that is commendable.”

The Washington and Lee University Department of Theatre, Dance and Film Studies presents “Aerial Dance,” a free performance for the community, on May 18 at 3:30 p.m. and May 19 at 11 a.m. The concert will be held outside on the wall of Wilson Hall at W&L. A Livestream of Thursday’s performance can be viewed at https://livestream.com/wlu/aerial-dance-2017

Aerial, an offshoot of modern dance, challenges dancers by harnessing their bodies 60 feet up in the air, tethered to airline cable. In this way, the wall of the building becomes the dancers’ floor and they perform perpendicular to the ground. The height, the dancers’ new relationship to gravity and the freedom to fly through the air are part of the beauty of the form.

This concert of 11 student works is the culmination of the four-week spring term aerial dance class. Choreographers Elliot Emadian ’17, Kitty Lambrechts ’19, Nora Devlin ’19, Bria Kelly ’20, Cloy Onyango ’20, Zach Dubit ’17, Katelyn Degnan ’17, Sarah Wagner ’17, Parker Kellam ’17, Lauren Kim ’17, Arthur Love ’18, Ashley Ooms ’17, Cayleigh Wells ’17 and other students spent four weeks learning aerial dance vocabulary, elements of composition, performance techniques and technical, production and artistic components of performance. They created new pieces of aerial dance choreography for themselves and their classmates.

Unknown-1-600x400 W&L's Department of Theatre, Dance and Film Studies presents Aerial DanceWashington and Lee’s Aerial Dance

Directed by Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance/theater, the aerial dance program at Washington and Lee is one of the first academic programs in aerial dance in the country. Consisting of aerial rope and harness, silks and bungees, W&L offers traditional 12-week courses, as well as the intensive spring term course in aerial rope and harness. In addition to formal courses, W&L students have traveled to England to study with a professional aerial company and professional aerialists have given master classes at the university.

“The four-week intensive term has given the students the opportunity to explore aerial dance deeply as performers and choreographers,” said Davies. “While four weeks is quite a short period of time to create a performance, the students embraced the challenge and exhibited a work ethic and depth of understanding that is commendable.”

ZFX, a professional company that rigs for national theatres, Broadway, opera companies and music festivals, will be on campus for the final week of spring term. In this performance, W&L students will be tethered to the roof of Wilson Hall and will perform against the building’s outside wall. ZFX will bring and set up the fly system on the roof of Wilson, rig the dancers and operate the electronic winches during the rehearsals and performance.

Tom Hackman, theater technical director at W&L, is the technical director for the show and Jessica Miller, costumer in the theater, dance and film studies department at W&L, and her work-study students designed the costumes.

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Anthropology Students’ Work Comes to Life with The Many Stories of Main Street

“Keeping in touch with the historic uses of our buildings helps people connect emotionally with our beautiful downtown. This program will set the stage for further exploration and sharing of Lexington’s past.”

Families and people of all ages are encouraged to take part in “The Many Stories of Main Street,” an interpretive downtown Lexington walking tour where one can learn about past generations who lived and worked in Lexington’s historic buildings.

The tour is based on research comprised of both archival and oral history, completed over the past few years by anthropology students at Washington and Lee University. “Students taking a variety of courses, including the Anthropology of American History and Qualitative Methods, researched the original owners and proprietors of downtown Lexington’s historic buildings and developed interesting and engaging ways to tell their stories,” said Alison Bell, associate professor of anthropology at W&L.

“The students’ work also highlights the importance of historic preservation. Many of these buildings were saved by Historic Lexington Foundation, and without their work to preserve them we would not be able to learn from and enjoy them today.”

There are six stops on the free, family-friendly tour of North Main Street, which begins at the old Courthouse Square, at the intersection of Main and Washington Streets, and ends at First Baptist Church, on Saturday, May 13 from 2 pm – 4 pm.

MSMS-Complete-Working-Draft-600x400 Anthropology Students’ Work Comes to Life with The Many Stories of Main StreetCentral Hotel, Brower Post Card Collection, W&L Special Collections

At each of the sites, hosts from the Historic Lexington Foundation will welcome visitors and share photos and information on how historic preservation allows us to remember and learn about the people who lived, worked and shopped along North Main Street. The hosts will also discuss the history and architecture of the buildings, while Washington and Lee students will serve as interpreters, representing historic characters and narrating their stories.

Several stops will include interactive displays and activities, and children who visit each stop and have a designated card stamped can receive a free donut from Pure Eats at the end of the tour.

“Main Street Lexington is very excited by ‘The Many Stories of Main Street’,” said Stephanie Wilkinson, Main Street Lexington’s executive director. “As an organization founded on the concept of ‘economic revitalization in the context of historic preservation,’ we know that keeping in touch with the historic uses of our buildings helps people connect emotionally with our beautiful downtown. This program will set the stage for further exploration and sharing of Lexington’s past.”

The tour is sponsored by First Baptist Church, the Historic Lexington Foundation, Main Street Lexington and Washington and Lee University’s department of sociology and anthropology.

Career Paths: Lizzy Williams ’17L

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

Lizzy Williams ‘17L comes from Austin, Texas, and holds a B.A. in history and a certificate in International Relations from Smith College. Before pursuing a legal career, Lizzy held a fellowship teaching English in rural Austria. At W&L Law, Lizzy has served as Co-President of the Women Law Student’s Organization, a Burks Scholar, an editor on the German Law Journal, and as a member of the student advisory group to the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board.

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?

I will be a Litigation Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell’s New York City Office. S&C does not divide their litigation group into smaller practice areas. As a Summer Associate, I worked on antitrust, litigation, contracts, and white collar crime.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a law firm?

I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I came to law school. Each class helped me to determine things I was and was not interested in learning more about. I think that working at a law firm will give me incredibly valuable training in the skills necessary to be a successful attorney, and I found my work last summer so stimulating.

What role did the size and location of the firm play in the search and decision process?

Originally, I wasn’t expecting to work at such a big firm, or to move to New York City. I did know that I wanted to be in a larger east-coast city, and I applied in New York, D.C. and Boston. When I went for my interview at Sullivan & Cromwell, New York and S&C just felt so right.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?

I knew that I wanted work that was intellectually stimulating, dealing with new, exciting and complicated issues. Everyone I met during my callback interview and during my summer experience worked on complex issues. The work was always interesting and difficult. I knew that it was the kind of work that would be challenging – which is what I want. It was also wonderful to work with people equally interested in complicated legal issues.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for your law firm job?

So many classes have been valuable. My skill based courses have been particularly valuable this year: the Criminal Justice Clinic, Appellate Advocacy, and Civil Litigation. I think the most valuable substantive courses were Federal Jurisdiction, Close Business Arrangements, Publicly Held Business. Some of the basic core 1L courses were also incredibly important.

Can you describe your job search process?

Get to know everyone who works in the Office of Career Strategy. I wouldn’t have this job without them!

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Heart and Soil Dashiell Dericks ’18 and Jesse Evans ’20 are selling saplings grown from Colonnade oak trees in a new business that marries Dericks' love of silviculture and his fondness for W&L.

“By cultivating a noble oak from those rooted along the grounds of the Colonnade, I share the ability for people to watch a true form of W&L’s life and soul thrive on the property of their own home.”

— Dash Dericks ’18

oak_tree_boys-800x533 Heart and SoilDashiell “Dash” Dericks ’18 (left) poses with business partner Jesse Evans ’20 beside the oak tree saplings Dericks grew from acorns gathered on the Colonnade.

Washington and Lee’s front lawn, bookended as it is by the iconic Colonnade and historic Lee Chapel, is frequently lauded as the most breathtaking view on campus, and one that alumni miss seeing on a daily basis. Now, two enterprising W&L students are making it possible for people to take home little pieces of this favorite spot — and even plant them on their own front lawns.

Dashiell Dericks ’18, who counts silviculture as a longtime hobby, has grown about 30 white oak tree saplings from acorns he collected on the Colonnade in autumn 2016. He and his business partner, Jesse Evans ’20, are selling their “Colonnade Oaks” through the University Store, complete with a certificate of authenticity.

“Dash came to me last fall to discuss his Colonnade saplings idea and I absolutely loved it,” said Jeff Shay, the Rupert A. Johnson Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at W&L. Shay is also co-advisor for the university’s Venture Club, which helps students with business start-ups. “It is a great business idea that is 100 percent executable by a college student like Dash who is passionate about both silviculture and entrepreneurship.”

Dericks, a native of Indiana who also happens to hold the W&L record in discus, grew up on a farm that was 90 percent forest. “I spent a lot of time wandering in the woods,” he said. As a kid, he read books about plant identification and developed a particular fondness for trees. On the farm, he perfected the task of growing seedlings.

In fall 2016, while walking back and forth to classes on campus, Dericks noted the abundance of acorns on the front lawn. He gathered them, a handful at a time, and carried them back to his room in the FIJI house, where he placed them in the refrigerator to simulate winter conditions. Next, he planted the acorns in cones, using some Indiana farm dirt and some from the FIJI house yard. He placed the containers in his closet, which he had lined with aluminum foil and outfitted with a fluorescent light.

oak_tree_boys2-400x600 Heart and SoilDashiell Dericks ’18 holds a Colonnade Oak.

Dericks babied the trees throughout the academic year, even taking them home with him during breaks. His parents were “not at all surprised” when he turned up with a bunch of seedlings, he said.

Dericks’ business partner, Evans, is not new to entrepreneurship. When he was an eighth-grade student in Jacksonville, Florida, he and his best friend started a dog-walking and pet-sitting business called Happy Hounds. He is still involved in the management of that company, which has four employees and 40 clients. This summer, he intends to start a web consulting business to assist customers with website design and social media.

While Dericks grew the trees, Evans handled the marketing aspect of Colonnade Oaks. His first priority was to gather information about the trees from which the acorns fell. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Special Collections looking at books,” he said.

Seth McCormick-Goodhart, senior assistant in Special Collections, put Evans in touch with Arthur Bartenstein of ABL Landscape Architecture in Lexington. Together, they determined that the two oak trees in question were planted sometime between 1855 and 1923. “One is certainly over 100 years old and the other is at least 80,” Evans said. “One of them is from about the time Robert E. Lee was here.”

Dericks and Evans also credit biology professor and department chair Bill Hamilton with supporting their idea. Hamilton allowed them to move the trees from Dericks’ closet to the university greenhouse, and he talked up the project at several alumni events. “He’s been pretty important to the whole process,” Evans said.

Evans also worked with Meg Beebe, marketing and business manager in the University Store, to determine a price point ($55 per tree) and a sales and marketing plan. The store helped them put together informational pamphlets and certificates of authenticity to go with the trees. The University Store will take a cut from the sale of each tree, but the rest will go back into the student-run business.

“They’ve been great to work with,” Beebe said. “They had everything that I needed. I just helped polish things up a bit.”

The trees are currently on sale in the University Store, and Dericks will set up a table on Cannan Green during Alumni Weekend. If purchased on campus, the trees will come in a pot. The students have also designed a way to package the trees so they can be safely shipped — they even test-shipped one to Dericks’ parents in Indiana.

colonnade_oaks1-350x263 Heart and SoilA Colonnade Oak is displayed in the University Bookstore.

Chances are good that the first crop of trees will not last long, so Dericks and Evans are busy mapping out the next phase of the business plan, which will likely include taking orders for next year. They also hope to cultivate saplings from other tree varieties, including ancient maple and ash trees in front of Lee House.

“By cultivating a noble oak from those rooted along the grounds of the Colonnade,” Dericks wrote, “I share the ability for people to watch a true form of W&L’s life and soul thrive on the property of their own home.”

Shay agreed: “I look forward to seeing alumni jump at the opportunity to bring home a certified piece of W&L’s rich history to plant in their backyard, and I already have a place picked out in my backyard to plant a few Colonnade Oaks myself.”

If you are interested in ordering a Colonnade oak, please contact the University Store at 540-458-8633 or email store@wlu.edu.

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School of Law Honors Graduates at 2017 Commencement Ceremony

The Washington and Lee University School of Law celebrated its 162nd commencement on Saturday, May 6, awarding 99 juris doctor degrees.

The deluge on Thursday that caused the Maury River to overflow its banks was gone, but showers lingered Saturday morning to pester the beginning of the ceremony, which began with an official welcome and remarks from President Will Dudley. He enouraged the graduating law students to savor their final moments on campus.

“Take Washington and Lee with you into the world and you and the world will be better for it,”  said Dudley.

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Prof. Brant Hellwig, Dean of the Law School, followed President Dudley to the podium. He congratulated the students on their achievement and also thanked them for their many contributions to the life of the school, both inside and outside the classroom. He also encourged them to hold their heads high.

“Have high expectations of yourself. In the level of expertise you bring to the table. In the manner in which you interact with your client, whom you have the privilege to serve. In the manner in which you communicate with opposing counsel, who at times will undoubtedly test your limits.”

“Endeavor to provide expert advocacy and counsel to your client. But don’t stop there. Treat others whom you encounter in the course of your work with decency and respect,” said Hellwig. “Doing so will not only help you establish and burnish your reputation, it will dramatically increase your own level of satisfaction with your work.

The graduates were then awarded their degrees.

After the degrees were presented, William Hill ’74, ’77L, an alumnus of Washington and Lee and a partner with the law firm Polsinelli in Atlanta, delivered this year’s commencement address. In his remarks, Hill told the graduates that there only four major decisions in life, the first being the education they chose.

“The trajectory of your lives changed about 20 minutes ago. You have been entrusted with the ability to accomplish feats that the average citizen cannot,” said Hill. “When you step off this lawn, you will step off as W&L lawyers, well-trained to intelligently and thoughtfully exercise power and, without flinching, shoulder the accompanying responsibility.”

Hill graduated from the College in 1974 and the Law School in 1977, going on to lead a distinguised legal career that included stints in Georgia as deputy attorney general, as a judge and in private practice. He spoke to the graduates with clarity and authority about what their law degree from W&L will mean in the years ahead.

“Washington and Lee is now part of your DNA, and that will make you different from all other lawyers you enounter…. Clients will want you working on their matters. Judges will trust you. Opponents will respect you and will even refer business to you. All will know that your word is your bond.”

Finally, Hill offered the graduates several pieces of advice on legal practice, much of it inspired from guidance handed down to him by his father.

“Things are never as simple as they seem and there are always moving parts that you cannot see,” said Hill. “The practice of law is chess on three boards at the same time. It is not checkers.”

Following Hill’s remarks, third-year class officers Carl Krausnick and Ray Escobar presented him with his very own walking stick, traditionally given to students at the awards ceremony preceding graduation. The walking stick, or cane, originated in the 1920’s as a way to distinguish third-year law students on campus. At that time, only two years of law school were required, and the walking stick served as a way to reward and honor those students who stayed for a third year.

Graduation festivities began Friday afternoon in Evans Hall with the annual awards ceremony and presentation of walking sticks. The John W. Davis Prize for Law, awarded to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average, was awarded to Alexandra Klein.

Three students graduated summa cum laude, 11 graduated magna cum laude, and 18 graduated cum laude. Ten students were named to Order of the Coif, an honorary scholastic society that encourages excellence in legal education. A list of honors and awards appears below.

The Student Bar Association Teacher of the Year and Staff Member of the Year award were also presented at the awards ceremony. Prof. Al Carr ’71L was named Teacher of the Year, and Cliff Jarrett ’91L, head of the Career Stategy office, won the staff award.

Special honors at Friday’s awards ceremony went to the following students:

Alexandra Klein was awarded the John W. Davis Prize for Law, given to the student with the highest cumulative grade point average.

Stacey LaRiviere was awarded the Academic Progress Award for the most satisfactory scholastic progress in the final year.

Anne Anderson and James Simon shared in the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Award for effective trial advocacy.

Tyler Cragg won the Roy L. Steinheimer, Jr. Commercial Law Award for excellence in commercial law.

Jess Winn won the Calhoun Bond University Service Award for significant contributions to the University community.

Andrea Marshall won the Frederic L. Kirgis, Jr., International Law Award for excellence in international law.

Lizzy Williams won the National Association of Women Lawyers Award given to an outstanding woman law student.

Jenna Lorence won the Charles V. Laughlin Award for outstanding contributions to the moot court program.

Rossana Baeza won the Randall P. Bezanson Award for outstanding contributions to diversity in the life of the Law School community.

Ray Hingson and Leanna Minix shared in the Virginia Bar Family Law Section Award for excellence in the area of family law.

Lucas Barta and Arthur Vorbrodt shared in the American Bankruptcy Institute Medal for excellence in the study of bankruptcy law.

Alexandra Klein won the Barry Sullivan Constitutional Law Award for excellence in constitutional law.

Zachary Imboden won the James W. H. Stewart Tax Law Award for excellence in tax law.

Ray Hingson won the Thomas Carl Damewood Evidence Award for excellence in the area of evidence.

Maressa Cuenca won the A. H. McLeod-Ross Malone Advocacy Award for distinction in oral advocacy.

Olivia Broderick won the Student Bar Association President Award for services as the President of the Student Bar Association.

Kimberly Neel won the Clinical Legal Education Association Award for excellence in clinical work.

Summa Cum Laude

Max Carter Gottlieb
Alexandra Lian Klein
Ann Cox Tripp

Magna Cum Laude

Anne M. Anderson
Lucas Michael Fleissner Barta
Ray Edwin Hingson II
Andrea Ilana Marshall
Daniel Jacob Martin
Leanna Catherine Minix
Dean McNair Nichols Jr.
Kevin Philip Rickert
James E. Simon
Elizabeth Randle Williams
Jessica Ann Winn

Cum Laude

Ross E. Blau
Jacob B. Bolinger
Brett Anthony Castellat
Caley A. DeGroote
Kiersty M. DeGroote
Chi Harvey Ewusi
Catherine Clelia Freeman
Valerie Elizabeth Fulton
Charli J. Gibbs-Tabler
Deborah F. Howe
Hengyi Jiang
Jenna Marie Lorence
Abigya Mulugeta
Ashley C. Slisz
Peter Martin Szeremeta
Jeffrey M. Valentine
Arthur Ross Vorbrodt
Clinton Todd Williams

Order of the Coif

Anne M. Anderson
Lucas Michael Fleissner Barta
Max Carter Gottlieb
Ray Edwin Hingson II
Alexandra Lian Klein
Kevin Philip Rickert
James E. Simon
Ann Cox Tripp
Elizabeth Randle Williams
Jessica Ann Winn

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W&L Students Austin Frank and Dana Gary Featured on WDBJ-7

IMG_7454-600x400 W&L Students Austin Frank and Dana Gary Featured on WDBJ-7FUDG Records Recording Session

This WDBJ-7 story about Friday Underground Records, a new student-run label that has already released three albums, features interviews with Dana Gary ’18 and Austin Frank ’17.

Watch the story on WDBJ.

Two W&L Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarships Sierra Noland and Tara Cooper received Critical Language Scholarships sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Two Washington and Lee University students have received Critical Language Scholarships for Summer 2017, Sierra Noland for Hindi and Tara Cooper for Japanese.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students. The goals of the highly selective program are to broaden the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and to build relationships between citizens of the U.S. and other countries.

Sierra-Noland-600x400 Two W&L Students Awarded Critical Language ScholarshipsSierra Noland

Sierra Noland ’17, from Shoreline, Washington, is majoring in sociology and anthropology and minoring in poverty studies. Noland worked with an interpreter while living in India and doing fieldwork for her honors thesis a written ethnography paired with video footage exploring how migration can provide low-caste Indians opportunities to overcome inhibiting social structures.

“I missed out on tearful moments, outbursts of laughter and even mundane explanations because I could not understand Hindi,” said Noland. “It is important that I connect on a personal level with my study participants and deepen my cultural understanding, and the CLS will allow me to make huge strides in advancing my research without having to be dependent on an interpreter,” said Noland.

After graduating from W&L this spring, then completing the CLS program in India over the summer, Noland plans to pursue a master’s in visual anthropology at the University of Southern California.

Tara-Cooper-600x400 Two W&L Students Awarded Critical Language ScholarshipsTara Cooper

Tara Cooper ’19, from Johns Creek, Georgia, is a double major in neuroscience and East Asian languages and literatures, and is similarly excited about diving deeper into the culture and language through the CLS.

Cooper visited Japan during Spring Term in 2016 and felt an immediate connection with the people and culture there. She faced a challenge, though, when it came to communication since she had only taken one year of Japanese.

“I felt so incredibly lucky to be exposed to a culture so different from my own,” said Cooper. “The CLS provides the perfect opportunity to return to the country and further my cultural education, and I was ecstatic to find that I was chosen to go.”

In some ways, Cooper likens the Japanese culture to that of the W&L community, where there is a focus on hospitality and civility. For example, she felt at home with the Japanese practice of recognizing one another in public spaces, thanks to W&L’s speaking tradition. And she believes her STEM background provides an opportunity to share a broader academic perspective with other students in the program. “While some may evaluate experiences from a historical or linguistic perspective,” said Cooper, “I take a more psychological and neurological approach.”

After her experience in Japan this summer, Cooper plans to return to W&L and continue with Japanese language classes in her junior and senior years. She also plans to connect with other Japanese language or cultural societies nearby using her connections from studying abroad.

“It is a great honor to be accepted into the CLS program,” said Mark Rush, Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of the Center for International Education. “It is highly competitive and focuses on broadening participants’ exposure to the world’s diverse cultures and deepening their linguistic abilities. Sierra’s and Tara’s success in applying is a wonderful occasion and reason for the campus community to celebrate.”

Pulitzer-Winning Team Includes Two W&L Alumni Michael Hudson '85 and Scott Bronstein '93 both worked on the Pulitzer-winning Panama Papers investigation, which relied on the collaboration of some 400 journalists around the world.

Mike-Hudson-headshot-800x533 Pulitzer-Winning Team Includes Two W&L AlumniMichael Hudson ’85 served as a senior editor on the Pulitzer-winning Panama Papers project.

In 2015, an anonymous source leaked more than 11 million financial and legal records pertaining to secret offshore companies. This leak of what would eventually be known as the “Panama Papers” launched a massive reporting project that involved some 400 journalists from around the world, including two Washington and Lee University alumni. Michael Hudson ’85 is a senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; he reported on the project and was one of the main editors. Scott Bronstein ’93 is editor of the English language section of La Prensa newspaper in Panama; he and his wife, Rita Vasquez, an attorney who also works for La Prensa, did reporting on the project, helped other reporters understand offshore companies and assisted with contacts in Panama.

In April 2017, the Panama Papers investigation received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. The award is shared by ICIJ, McClatchy, the Miami Herald, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media partners.

Hudson and Bronstein took time to fill us in on their involvement in the project and their memories of being journalism students at W&L.

“Journalists aren’t necessarily known for teamwork and patience. This project showed what can happen when we treat each other as allies instead of competitors – and are willing to work for a year or more to dig into stories that are hard to unravel.”

— Mike Hudson ’85

What is ICIJ and how did it become involved in this story?

ICIJ is a nonprofit news organization. Its funding comes from many of the same kinds of foundations, such as Ford and the Pew Charitable Trusts, that support National Public Radio. We’re headquartered in Washington, D.C., but much of our staff of 15 is spread out around the globe – we have team members in Australia, Costa Rica, Spain, Paris and New York (that’s me, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, a few blocks from where the Dodgers used to play).

We operate on the principle that many stories are too big, too complex and too global for a lone-wolf reporter or single news organization to tackle. Over the past five years we’ve partnered with dozens of news organizations and hundreds of journalists around the world to investigate offshore-fueled money laundering and tax evasion. Each project was sparked by a leaked trove of files documenting who’s behind shell companies and secret bank accounts. The Panama Papers investigation began after one of our longtime media partners, German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, received a new leak of unprecedented size – 11.5 million digital files from a Panama law firm that specializes in setting up offshore companies for clients who want to remain in the shadows. Instead of hoarding the documents for themselves, our German partners shared them with ICIJ, allowing us to pull together a cross-border partnership and join forces with SZ, McClatchy, the Miami Herald and more than 100 other news organizations to investigate the explosive documents.

In all, more than 400 journalists worked on the project.

Working with just one other journalist on a project can be a challenge. What was it like having hundreds of journalists working on the same project?

Difficult and invigorating. Working with so many smart, relentless reporters from around the world was wonderful. They knew lots of stuff I didn’t know and, occasionally, I knew stuff that they didn’t know. All of us were able to pool information and resources and come up with stories that were stronger and deeper than if we’d worked alone.

Journalists aren’t necessarily known for teamwork and patience. This project showed what can happen when we treat each other as allies instead of competitors – and are willing to work for a year or more to dig into stories that are hard to unravel.

To be part of the collaboration, you had to agree to (1) share your research and reporting with everyone else, and (2) wait to publish or broadcast at a common go-date. No. 2 made No. 1 easier to live with – knowing you weren’t going to get scooped made it easier to think about sharing information with journalists from other news outfits. We used password-secured, online platforms to swap documents, questions and interview notes.

PHSoC031617_0004_031617_-350x233 Pulitzer-Winning Team Includes Two W&L AlumniHudson joined a panel discussing “Journalism in the Age of Trump” on the W&L campus in March 2017.

What was the most exciting moment for you in the process of reporting this story?

The biggest waves of excitement came in early April 2016, after ICIJ and all of our partners began releasing our first stories. The response around the world was amazing. There was a firestorm of media, political and grassroots reaction. #PanamaPapers quickly became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter. Citizens hit the streets in protest. They threw rocks in Pakistan and cultured yogurt in Iceland. Iceland’s prime minister and other high-profile figures were forced to resign. American network news, comedy shows – and even the daily newspaper cartoon Doonesbury – were compelled to weigh in on the Panama Papers. Dozens of countries have passed new laws toughening anti-money-laundering standards. More than 150 inquiries, audits and investigations have been launched in roughly 80 countries. The reverberations are still being felt in places like Pakistan and Uruguay, more than a year later.

Can you describe the vibe in the room when you and your colleagues learned that you had won a Pulitzer? How did you all celebrate?

We had about 15 people in our cramped headquarters in D.C., along with team members from around the world on video chat. We watched the Pulitzer board’s livestream of the announcement. When we heard that the Panama Papers investigations had been selected as the winner of the Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting, there was some cheering, hugging and high-fiving. We popped a couple of bottles of champagne. Maybe because we work so hard, we don’t really remember how to party, in the old Front Page newsroom/”Mad Men”-style. We ended up taking lots of phone calls, answering emails, putting out a story about the honor, etc. We went out to dinner together and then the next day, we were talking about what we needed to do on our next investigation.

Let’s look back to your time as a journalism student at W&L:

I wasn’t a serious student in high school. I was mostly interested in playing basketball and drinking beer. While I was at Ferrum College and University of Richmond, I was a bit more serious, and I did reporting internships at the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Roanoke Times. All that helped prepare me for the challenges I faced when I transferred for my junior year at W&L.

I had some great teachers in sociology and economics, but I spent most of my time either in Reid Hall or over on Main Street at The Roanoke Times’ now-defunct Shenandoah Bureau. Throw in basketball practices and games, and I was busy most waking moments. I never worked for the Ring-tum Phi, but I stuck my nose in its business by writing letters to the editor questioning the paper’s editorial decisions and calling out behind-the-scene intrigues regarding control of its top management positions.

All in all, I learned a lot about journalism, in a lot of different ways.

Which professors made a lasting impact on you, and why?

Professor John Jennings taught me the intricacies of media law – always vital knowledge if you’re trying to do investigative reporting. Professor Ham Smith helped me get over my timidity about asking tough questions and my nonchalance about meeting deadlines; I feared his wrath and valued his words about the responsibilities and burdens of being a reporter.

WP_20170421_002copy-230x350 Pulitzer-Winning Team Includes Two W&L AlumniMike Hudson’s well-used copy of Professor Clark Mollenhoff’s book.

The late Professor Clark Mollenhoff, who won a Pulitzer in the 1950s for his investigations of Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters, introduced me to the work of the muckrakers of the early 20th century, showing how their techniques could be adapted for modern times. He taught me that good journalism wasn’t about hierarchies and connections, it was about hard work. You don’t have to be part of the media in-crowd to do good work. You just have to be meticulous and dogged. A reporter with a “controlled sense of outrage at injustice, unfairness or corruption,” he said, could succeed as an investigative reporter through hard work and the application of “systematic and logical research techniques.”

I still crack open his book, “Investigative Reporting: From Courthouse to White House,” whenever I feel stuck on an investigation and need inspiration. Its pages are crisscrossed with underlines and notes, and the paperback cover has begun to flake away from overuse.

Can you recall any particular lessons that you have carried with you in your career to this day?

Never be satisfied. Always ask five more questions in an interview than you think you need to ask. Always make 10 more phone calls than you think you need to make. Never hold back accurate, relevant facts from a story because you’re worried about angering your sources. If they’re principled and reliable sources – rather than spin doctors – they’ll live with it, even if they don’t like it.

Despite major concerns about fake news and decreased trust and respect in mainstream media, journalists seem busier than ever since the new administration took the White House. Is it possible that today’s political climate is actually helping journalism?

I think Trump and his aides have given the news media a huge gift.

By making it clear that it considers anything other than deferential coverage to be fake news, the Trump administration has freed many journalists from the usual tendency to suck up to powerful figures in the hope that they can cultivate high-level officials as sources of inside color. Instead, reporters can just do their jobs – tracking down sources at all levels of government, squinting over court records and other documents, and generally digging deeper than the standard-operating methods of access-driven journalism typically allow.

While print newspapers continue to downsize and struggle, ICIJ shows that there is a way to keep digging deep on big, investigative pieces. What can current journalism students take away from this? What about everyday news consumers?

The media world has been fraught with struggle and hope for as long as the news business has been a business. I worry about the loss of local reporters around the country, but I’m mostly optimistic, especially about national and international coverage. There are plenty of good things going on in journalism and hundreds of new jobs with interesting new angles of vision – thanks to nonprofit funding models, the rise of Big Data and technologies that allow stories to be told in new ways and spread farther than ever before.

Scott Bronstein '93 Reports from Panama

scott-and-rita2 Pulitzer-Winning Team Includes Two W&L AlumniScott Bronstein (right) with his wife, Rita Vasquez.

How did a Pennsylvania native end up living and working in Panama?

In 2002, I took a job for the BVI Beacon in the British Virgin Islands. I had been working for a daily newspaper, and I saw it as an opportunity to try something different.

While there, I started writing stories about the offshore financial industry, as the BVI is one of the largest jurisdictions in the world. I also met my wife, Rita Vasquez, who was working for a Panama law firm that had an office in the BVI. We got along fairly well, and in 2007, we decided to move to Panama where she would further her law career.

The move was somewhat risky as I didn’t have any good job prospects. But at that time, Panama’s economy was growing, and it was becoming a top location for ex-pats, so I figured there would be opportunities for me to find something to do.

As it happened, a few months after we moved, a local newspaper decided to start an English language section, and I was hired to run it. At the same time, Rita was offered a management job at the newspaper, so she decided to give up her legal career to become a journalist. Personally, though, I think she couldn’t resist the opportunity to boss me around at both the house and the office.

As a W&L student, were there particular classes or professors that made a lasting impact on you?

In all honesty, I was a terrible student. I didn’t work very hard and pretty much spent four years reluctantly dragging myself to classes. Looking back on it, I probably wasn’t ready to go to college right after high school.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention. Professor Brian Richardson was a brand-new professor when I was there, and I worked with him on a paper my senior year that involved combining elements of philosophy with journalism. It was somewhat ambitious, and working with someone who was battle-tested in the industry helped me out a lot.

I also took a course with Professor Ham Smith during the spring semester of my senior year in which we spent six weeks working on one article. I did a long-form feature story on a local NASCAR driver that turned out pretty well. At my first job a few months later, I spent a few weeks working on a story about a high school basketball player whose chances at a scholarship were ruined when he was shot while walking near a playground where a drug deal was taking place.

I don’t think that story would have turned out as well as it did without my experience of working closely with my professors at Washington and Lee.

Do you recall your initial reaction/impressions when you first heard about the Panama Papers leak?

My wife was invited to go to Germany for a meeting about the project, which was top secret. She couldn’t even tell me why she was going. So the first time I heard about the project was when we were driving home from the airport. When she told me about it, I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. This was because, while I didn’t know that much about the firm involved, I knew the kinds of things she had done while working as a lawyer. And it was pretty boring stuff. Her clients were mainly people setting up trusts for their kids and companies that needed help with issues like currency conversions.

But that all changed when I started looking at the files, and I realized that Mossack Fonseca was nothing like her firm. In all honesty, if Rita’s files were made public from her days as a lawyer, you couldn’t pay newspapers to run stories about them. But when I saw the names of the people in the Mossack Finseca files, I knew right away that it was going to have a worldwide impact.

Describe you and your wife’s involvement in the reporting of this project.

There were a number of prominent politicians from Panama in the files, including a former president, so I wrote those stories. I also wrote a major story about a native of Guatemala who was living in the United States and who appeared to be using a venture capital firm to launder money and evade taxes. That story wasn’t picked up by any of the U.S. partners, but the New York Times covered it extensively in one of its stories.

In addition to the reporting, my wife was getting several questions a day from partners in the project about information in the files that they didn’t understand. She had a hard time keeping up with all these queries, so I started helping her answer them. We also helped provide information about the firm, the history of the offshore industry and Panama and the BVI.

We also hosted the partners who came to Panama, including seven television stations. We set them up with interviews with people who worked in the industry and helped them with the stories that they were working on.

What we weren’t allowed to do was to appear on camera ourselves, as there was a concern about our safety. I didn’t agree with this decision, but it was probably the right choice. It’s one of the reasons that our involvement in the project was somewhat a secret.

What were the best and worst aspects of working on this project?

The best aspect was working with so many incredibly talented journalists from around the world. It’s hard to put into words, but for me, this was basically like getting to tag along with Woodward and Bernstein while they were investigating Watergate. As a journalist, you dream about being involved in something like this.

The worst part was losing a lot of close friends. Rita and I knew a lot of people who worked at the firm. For example, its compliance officer, who will never get another job and who could end up in prison, graduated from high school with Rita. So she has been blamed by a lot of people for ruining that person’s life, even if it wasn’t really her fault.

How’d it feel when you heard about the Pulitzer?

When the award was announced, I wasn’t that excited initially because I figured that only the U.S. media partners would get to take credit for it. Then I started getting text messages from people congratulating me, and I realized that I had to figure out what was going on, because I didn’t want to take credit for something I didn’t win. A short time later the ICIJ sent out a message making it clear that everyone who worked on the project got to share in the award, so that was my answer.

What has this experience, and the experience of being a career journalist, taught you about the profession that you would like to pass along to current journalism students?

I think the biggest lesson that I have learned is that the future of journalism may not be one that is competitive, but one that is collaborative. As globalization becomes a greater reality, the media has to ask itself if it is capable of adequately covering stories that have aspects to them that impact several different parts of the world.

During the Panama Papers, I worked on stories with reporters from Brazil, Costa Rica, the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. For one story, I had to track a $500 million gold transaction made by a Colombian citizen working for a German company that was processed by a brokerage house in Panama through a trust in a British Overseas Territory. Individually, I don’t think any newspaper or media house would have the resources to have properly investigated that story on its own. But through a collaborative effort, it was reported thoroughly in several different countries, expanding its impact.

I think that the media in general can learn something from the Panama Papers, which is that to adequately cover global stories in times of shrinking resources, it may be necessary to create partnerships and to work together. And if you look at an organization like the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, that is exactly the kind of model they are promoting.

Donors’ Vision for Global Learning Comes to Life Recently faculty members shared about how the Center is helping students engage with the world beyond Lexington in a real and immediate way.

The Ruscio Center for Global Learning has brought to life the vision of the many donors and advocates who wanted to see global learning elevated at W&L. Recently faculty members who are working and teaching in W&L’s new Ruscio Center for Global Learning shared about how the facility is helping students to engage with the world beyond Lexington in a real and immediate way.

It takes a village to build a Center for Global Learning

The Ruscio Center for Global Learning was made possible by generous donors as part of W&L’s Honor Our Past, Build Our Future campaign, which concluded in 2015. The Center was dedicated on May 13, 2016, and in October 2016 was named by the Board of Trustees in honor of Kenneth P. Ruscio, the university’s 26th president. Leadership donors to the Center for Global Learning are recognized on a wall in the lobby of the Center.

Total project cost: $13.5 million

Contributed by donors: $11.5 million

Groundbreaking: Summer 2014

Dedication: May 13, 2016

Number of leadership donors recognized in the building: 53

Class reunion gifts for the Center’s construction: Class of 1989’s 25th reunion gift, Class of 1964’s 50th reunion gift


Generating Retirement Income through the Charitable Remainder Unitrust Robert Swinarton ’50 recalls his years at W&L and shares about giving back with a charitable remainder unitrust.

Robert_Swinarton50_300dpiPS-600x400 Generating Retirement Income through the Charitable Remainder UnitrustRobert Swinarton ’50 and his late wife, Roddy

Robert Swinarton ’50 served in the Army Air Force during World War II and attended W&L on the G.I. Bill. He and his wife, Roddy, were married during the summer before his senior year at W&L. They made it a priority to give back to W&L in gratitude for all that the university has meant to them over the course of their lives.

The environment at W&L was transformative in the sense that everything you did was governed by the Honor System. You were your own disciplinarian. I had never experienced anything like this, and it made an impact that stayed with me throughout my business and personal life. I attribute my success in business to this.

In addition to the Honor System, we had a dress code and a speaking tradition. The latter required you to acknowledge everyone you crossed paths with while on campus. The dress code meant you had to wear a coat and tie whenever you went out, except if you were dressed for sports. This was our environment, but equally as impressive were our relationships in classes and with faculty. In the business school, classes were small, seldom over 10 students, and your professor was not only your teacher but your friend. The academic life was most inspiring because of the faculty.

W&L was not only my platform for entering business life but also became the start of our married life. Because it was after the war and many students were older, W&L had plenty of housing for married students. My wife, Roddy, and I were married before I commenced my senior year, living in an army prefab along with 32 other veterans. It could not have provided a better start to married life. Graduation was in 1950, the same year I started at Dean Witter & Co, where I worked until my retirement in 1980, starting as a sales trainee and ending as vice chairman of the board of the second largest securities firm.

Obviously all of the above made a tremendous impression on me and made me feel indebted to the school for what it had provided to me. In 1992, I decided I wanted to give back something for what I had been given. Roddy and I created two 6 percent charitable remainder unitrusts, one to benefit Roddy for her lifetime and the other to benefit me for my lifetime. We delivered appreciated securities to the trusts and received an immediate charitable deduction which was a write off against our income. These securities would have represented a large capital gain, but we had no capital gains tax to pay because the money was going to a charity.

Each trust pays 6 percent of its Dec. 31 market value each year for as long as we live, and the school receives no money until both of us are deceased. As Roddy passed away in November 2016, her charitable remainder unitrust provided a $165,421 unrestricted gift to Washington and Lee University; mine is still ongoing, providing me retirement income.

It was a good feeling to be able to give back. The only reason I was even able to go to college was because of the G.I. Bill, right after World War II, so I am indebted all around.

To learn more about the charitable remainder unitrust or to talk with W&L about your estate plans, contact W&L’s office of gift planning at 540-458-8902.


Design, Build, Fly: Alexander Rurka ’17 Alexander Rurka '17 knows the ups-and-downs (and loop-de-loops) of flying and competing in an international plane building competition

“Creating and leading the team for the DBF competition has not only been the highlight of my college career, but one which has taught me how hard it is to teach engineering, manufacturing, and entrepreneurial skills only in the classroom.”

0-Hair-Tie-holding-plane-together-e1495554190604-400x600 Design, Build, Fly: Alexander Rurka '17Alexander Rurka ’17 knows the ups-and-downs (and loop-de-loops) of flying and competing in an international plane building competition

One of the reasons I chose W&L was the small class sizes and intimate relationships students have with their professors. Because W&L is not a large institution, professors are able to dedicate a lot of attention to furthering the education of their students both in and out of the classroom. Having professors as an accessible resource has been instrumental to my education at W&L, and most notably my founding and leading of our team for the Design Build Fly – “DBF” – Competition.

DBF is an international engineering competition hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in which universities build remote-controlled aircraft to accomplish a set of missions. At the end of April, the teams meet up and fly their aircraft for the missions, and are scored based on their performance.

The first year we competed was a roller coaster. We had great faculty support, but our lack of experience hurt our competitive edge. Although we finished the construction of our airplane, I was unsatisfied with our performance and, going into my senior year, knew I had one last chance to get it right. With the lessons learned from the 2015-2016 competition, we created a better management structure and established internal schedules. Although we still faced setbacks, the changes we made allowed us to meet all deadlines.

Going into the competition we knew we had to differentiate ourselves in order to effectively compete; with 140 teams, a conservative design could never win. We designed our airplane solely to win and this meant taking calculated risks. We used a flying wing, like the B-2 stealth-bomber, and Carbon Fiber and 3D printed parts. By leveraging the properties of these innovative designs and materials, we were able to achieve considerable weight savings and increased performance.

On Wednesday April 20th, Sarah Troise ’19 and I flew to Tucson and met up with Alex Meilech ’18. When we got to the competition we had a mixture of excitement and intimidation; here, the three of us were surrounded by teams of 20-30 seasoned veterans. Outnumbered as we were, people loved our airplane.

2-Posing-with-Plane-800x533 Design, Build, Fly: Alexander Rurka '17Alexander and Sarah posing with plane

This was the biggest compliment we could have received, yet our burgeoning confidence turned out to be short-lived. Our first launch attempt was a failure and witnessed by everyone who had been praising our design. Nevertheless, we fixed our airplane and readied it for the second launch. Again, failure. Fortunately, our pilot was an “eternal optimist” and recommended we fix our plane, which we did. (Our pilot was incredibly experienced and I would only launch again if he felt it would be safe to do so).

At this point, we were out of spare parts and could only make one more flight attempt. As our pilot throttled up the motor, I threw it as I had always done before and miraculously it took to the skies. Seeing the plane successfully take off and fly was the most incredible and satisfying feeling; it validated our design and meant hundreds of hours of work were not wasted.

1-Test-Flight-Launch-647x533 Design, Build, Fly: Alexander Rurka '17Starting the test flight launch

Thanks to the additional design and construction work from Joe Perrella ’17, Eleni Timas ’17, Ryder Babik ’19, and Gianluca Malta ’19 and as a result of the continued faculty support by Dr. Joel Kuehner as well as Dave Pfaff, who runs the IQ Center, our team was a success.

Creating and leading the team for the DBF competition has not only been the highlight of my college career, but one which has taught me how hard it is to teach engineering, manufacturing, and entrepreneurial skills only in the classroom.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Alexander

Hometown:
Washington, DC

Major:
Physics-Engineering

Extracurricular involvement:
Design Build Fly Competition President

Off-campus activities/involvement:
Appendiceal Cancer Advocacy Board Member
– Fishing, Sailing, and Mountain Biking

Why did you choose your major?
I was really fortunate that my father taught my brothers and I woodworking from a young age. Although none of us ever wanted to be carpenters when we grew up, it inspired us with a love of building. My second interest has always been science. When you combine science and building you get an engineer.

What professor has inspired you?
Dr. Kuehner

What’s your personal motto?
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George S. Patton

What’s your favorite song right now?
“Tin Cup Chalice” by Jimmy Buffett

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Kenny’s. Snack Pack with curly fries and a Dr. Pepper.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
How quickly these 4 years would go by.

Post-graduation plans:
I will be a project manager for a construction company in DC.

Favorite W&L memory:
It’s very recent, but going to Tucson, AZ for the Design/Build/Fly competition.

Favorite class:
Bio-Inspired Engineering with Dr. Jon Erickson. For this class, my group and I designed and built a robotic stingray. It was incredibly challenging and we spent many late nights together. It was fun to be able to take our engineering skills and put them together to build a robot, something none of us had any experience doing. There are no instruction manuals for how to build a stingray, but together with our professor and building off of the work of students who had previously taken this class, we were able to complete it.

Favorite W&L event:
Mock Con. It’s a shame that students only get to experience it once in their college careers. The parade was so much fun and going to all of the speakers was really great too. It’s always fascinating to be able to hear from such brilliant public speakers, especially in such an intimate setting.

Favorite campus landmark:
The Colonnade

What’s your passion?
Working with people to complete a project. I love designing and building things combined with the challenge of organizing people to do this. For these reasons, I see myself starting a manufacturing business.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I like to bake.

Why did you choose W&L?
I chose W&L because it is a liberal arts school. Although I knew I wanted to be an engineer, I was also interested in history, politics, and business and would only be able to take all of those classes at a school like W&L. I also wanted to surround myself with students having diverse academic interests and majors so in the future I could leverage connections with a broad group of people.

Sydney Internship and Study Abroad Program: Josh Malm ’18

Living in Sydney for the past couple months has been an awesome experience that just keeps getting better and better. With so much to do in so little time, there never seems to be a dull moment. Classes, internships, and sightseeing take up the majority of my time here, but so far it’s been a semester to remember.

During a long weekend a few weeks back, I flew to Bali to meet fellow W&L student Ram Raval who was studying abroad in Singapore at the time. The first night there we summited the tallest peak in Bali, Mt. Agung, in time for sunrise the following morning. After taking in the stunning view from the top of the volcano, we went white water rafting on the Telaga Waja River before riding ATVs through the jungle where we saw countless rice fields. Surfing on the western beach of Canggu was mainly for experienced surfers, but it isn’t so bad getting thrashed by giant waves when you’re at a black sand beach on a paradise island. Next on the itinerary was the Sacred Monkey Forest in the central town of Ubud, where scores of monkeys surrounded anyone who pulled a banana out of their bag.

After braving the Balinese long-tailed monkeys, I headed to Tanah Lot Temple where I held a much tamer four meter python. Leaving Bali took a day longer than expected due to a missed flight, but it almost turned into a stickier situation as our taxi started floating down the road in monsoon floods on the way to the airport. Back in Sydney, there was little time to rest before midterms and more traveling.

During our mid-semester break, many of us took the opportunity to travel outside of Sydney for a while. We had a couple Generals in Melbourne, New Zealand, and I headed up to Darwin in the Northern Territory where I was able to experience the beauty of Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks. The Adelaide River, home to thousands of saltwater crocodiles, was a spectacle in itself. While on a river cruise, a park ranger fed many crocs averaging about 4.5 meters in length. These massive animals launched themselves up out of the water right in front of us to to snatch the raw chicken bait before plummeting down beneath the murky river water. After leaving Darwin, I drove with a small group of tourists 1500 kilometers south through the bush to Alice Springs in the heart of the outback. Along the way we stopped at beautiful waterfalls and natural hot springs. Once in Alice Springs, we headed west to explore the unique rock forms of Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta before venturing to the ever famous monolith of Uluru. These sights were a true Australian experience. But back in Sydney, the fun doesn’t stop.

We have attended many different sporting events in and around Sydney. To name a few, we have attended Rugby Union, Rugby League, Soccer, a Greyhound Race, and Australian Football League games. A few of us are enrolled in an Australian sporting class at the University of Sydney, so we are able to get credit for a class while getting rowdy with our professor at these games. Unfortunately, Sydney FC is the only local team that consistently stays on the winning side of their games.

Just this past weekend, we rented a van and made our way a few hours down the coast to Jervis Bay, a small coastal town that boasts beaches with the whitest sand in the world. This small little beach town was a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of college life in a major Australian city. The trip was complete with dolphins swimming just off the shoreline, countless Rainbow Lorikeets darting through the trees, and two attempts at watching the sunrise over the water that resulted in a beautiful view over the bay on our final morning. Renting a van out to eight college kids with minimal driving experience on the left side of the road may not have been East Coast Rentals’ best move, but we returned the van in one piece at the end of a relaxing weekend.

Although we’re studying here in Sydney, there is definitely enough time to get out and see what the city and this whole side of the world has to offer. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that we’re more than 9,000 miles from home, but a quick train ride down to Circular Quay to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge serves as a striking reminder that we’re living the dream in a far away country.

-Josh Malm ’18

Ten Students Awarded Endeavor Foundation Grants Several student teams are chosen each year to pursue summer research outside the United States in locations such as Hanoi, Vietnam.

CC_hanoi-800x533 Ten Students Awarded Endeavor Foundation GrantsHanoi, Vietnam (pictured here) is one of five locations where W&L student pairs will spend the summer doing research. The students won grants to fund their travel through the Endeavor Foundation.

Ten Washington and Lee University students have been awarded Endeavor Foundation grants that will allow them to pair up and pursue 2017 summer research projects overseas. Student pairs for Endeavor projects are traditionally made up of one American student and one international student; the pairs then spend time doing research and sightseeing in the international student’s home country.

These are the grant winners and the projects they plan to do this summer:

Hannah Denham ’20 and Trang Duong ’20 will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, to examine Vietnamese culture and the causes, effects and rationale for their project, “An Examination of Generational Differences in Perceptions of Family, Marriage, and Gender Roles in Vietnam.” Using initial background research into the issue, they will study how the Vietnamese and Asian media portray women in comparison from how they are portrayed in the West, with an emphasis on “leftover women.”

Jiwon Kim ’20 and Tiffany Ko ’20 will travel to South Korea, Kim’s home country, to study the influences of Buddhism and Christianity on modern Korean culture. They will work with a Christian counseling center and visit various types of churches to explore the history of Christianity in South Korea. They will also visit Buddhist temples around the country, delving into the history of Buddhism and participating in the recently popular temple stays. They hope to experience how South Koreans use religion to manage their mental well-being.

Alfred Rwagaju ’18 will take Kennedy Gibson ’18 home to Kigali, Rwanda, where they will work as interns at Ngali Energy, a non-government organization (NGO) that works to improve Rwanda’s energy resources and assist entrepreneurs with finding favorable locations for their businesses. Rwanda is currently working to boost energy production after the 1994 genocide left many people, especially in rural areas, without electricity. Rwagaju and Gibson will work with resident engineers to collect data on energy consumption and production in different regions of the country.

Maren Lundgren ’18 will go home with Yoko Koyama ’19 to Cameroon. There, they will work with a community to develop a business plan for a small grocery store. The store will be run by the local parents’ council, and all proceeds will go to the local primary and middle schools. In addition, Lundgren and Koyama will host a summer camp for older children who are interested in engineering, and a music camp for younger kids.

Xiaoxia Yin ’19 will play host to Sesha Carrier ’19 in China, where they will develop a short documentary centered on the Chinese culture of traditional folk singing and opera, and its overall historical impact on Chinese culture. Their research will examine methodology, common instruments, music theory, and other relevant topics through a partnership with professional schools and local musicians and artists. The culminating thesis will tie back to American bluegrass to emphasize the significance that folk traditions, specifically musical tradition, have on society and culture.

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Global Scholar, Global Perspectives: Alora Martin ’18 Alora Martin, who is participating in an intensive language program for Arabic in Amman, Jordan, sees studying abroad as a necessary part of a modern education.

“There is only so much you can learn while sitting in the classroom. Not even considering the gains you make with foreign language skills, the life skills and expanded perspective you develop are enormously important.”

IMG_5525-e1493136906986-800x533 Global Scholar, Global Perspectives: Alora Martin '18Alora Martin ‘18 sees studying abroad as a necessary part of a modern education.

Q. Where are you right now and what are you doing there?

I am participating in an Intensive Language program for Arabic in Amman, Jordan.

Q. How many students are you with?

About 40, from various schools and programs.

Q. Where are you living?

We all live in the same apartment building and, in each apartment, there are two to three American students paired with a native, Jordanian roommate.

Q. How did you discover this program?

Assistant Director of Career Development Kip Brooks suggested it to me after she visited last fall. She was thoroughly impressed by their dedication to language development. Knowing I was looking to expand my Arabic skills, she recommended that I check it out.

IMG_5463-e1493136889318-800x533 Global Scholar, Global Perspectives: Alora Martin '18“This is Jerash amphitheater. A Bedouin man comes to Jerash every day to play traditional and modern songs on his bagpipe. He even knew the Star-Spangled Banner!”

Q. Does your study abroad tie into your studies or major?

Absolutely! I have focused my classes on Middle Eastern studies and international politics since my freshman year. This has been a great opportunity to see many of the concepts I’ve studied play out in real life.

Q. Have you had any other study abroad or international experiences at W&L?

Yes, I had the pleasure of studying the Chemistry of Cooking with Dean Marcia France in Italy during spring term my freshman year.

Q. What has been your favorite thing you ate abroad?

There’s is a family-style, Yemeni restaurant down the street with the most amazing food! You order a couple of different dishes for everyone in the group to share and then you eat it all with pieces torn from this massive flat bread they bring to your table.

IMG_6121-e1493136936938-800x533 Global Scholar, Global Perspectives: Alora Martin '18“This is me pouring out some pancakes with a gentlemen who has worked in this same stall for over 40 years! These pancakes are a little bit different from American pancakes though in that they are a lot less sweet and mostly eaten only during the month of Ramadan.”

Q. What is your favorite memory from the trip so far?

My favorite memory would be the first weekend I spent with the family of my language partner, Aareen. I was so absolutely overwhelmed by the love and generosity they showed me! It felt as if the second I stepped into the door I become one of the family. At this point in the program I had been feeling terribly homesick, so being in a family environment again really helped me to get through the rest of my time abroad.  

Q. What will you miss most?

Undoubtedly, my language partner and her family.

Q. What advice would you give to students who might want to study abroad but are unsure?

Do your research and talk to other students who have studied abroad in the region you are looking into. Also, it’s important to be very realistic about your expectations. When I went into this I had very idealistic expectations based on students’ experiences in other regions. The experience you are going to have in a European country is so, so different from the experience you are going to have in a Middle Eastern country or really anywhere else. There are certain luxuries that you need to prepare yourself to live without. Studying abroad can be a wonderful, fun adventure, but it can also be one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your life. So, in summary, have an honest conversation with yourself about whether you are open to growing in ways you didn’t know you needed.

Q. Why is study abroad important to the W&L experience?

First off, W&L is an amazing learning environment with an incredibly skilled and accomplished faculty. However, there is only so much you can learn while sitting in the classroom. Not even considering the gains you make with foreign language skills, the life skills and expanded perspective you develop are enormously important to being a competitive candidate in today’s increasingly globalized job market.

If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.

A little more about Alora

Hometown:
Alamogordo, New Mexico

Major:
International Politics

Extracurricular involvement:
– Association of Middle East Interests
– QuestScholars
– Cheerleading

Off-campus activities/involvement:
During university breaks, I work as a sales associate at Victoria’s Secret in Roanoke, and during the summers you can find me in the District of Columbia! Last summer I interned on the Hill for Senator Martin Heinrich, and I hope to be working in the district again soon. In my free time during the school year, I like to attend Outing Club paddle-boarding trips (my all-time favorite water activity), go for hikes in the Rockbridge County area, and spend time with my sorority sisters.

Why did you choose your major?
When I first started to design my class schedule for Fall Term freshman year, I had my heart set on being a biomedical engineer. But as soon as I found out I would need to take a calculus class, I had a quick change of heart. As I sat there contemplating my near-approaching future, I thought back to how much I enjoyed my AP Government class, as well as my roles in student council throughout high school. I have always been interested in cultures with their varied perspectives, so this combined with my natural inclination towards politics led me straight to the International Politics major.

What professor has inspired you?
That would have to be a tie between Professor Seth Cantey and Professor Anthony Edwards. Together, they have inspired me to pursue my interests in Middle Eastern studies even when the going gets rough. If it were not for their constant encouragement and support, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago!

What’s your personal motto?
Everything happens for a reason.

What’s your favorite song right now?
My favorite song always has and always will be “Hotel California” by the Eagles.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Bistro on Main, where I order the duck breast dinner entree. It is cooked and seasoned to perfection every time! If you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely have to try it the next time you’re downtown.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
That I would need a coat. And gloves. And thick socks. And warm boots. And maybe just a full body parka.

Post-graduation plans:
Perhaps working on the Hill? Perhaps working with a policy consulting firm? Who knows!

Favorite W&L memory:
So, freshman year I bought these giant body pillows from Walmart, and during midterms a couple of us “skied” up and down the hallway on them! It was hilariously ridiculous but a great way to relieve stress.

Favorite class:
Washington and the Art of Leadership

Favorite W&L event:
Fancy Dress! I am never one to turn down the opportunity to wear an evening gown!

Favorite campus landmark:
Woods Creek Trail

What’s your passion?
This may sound simple, but people are my passion. I love ’em! I love getting to know people, hearing their stories, coming to understand them, developing interpersonal connections, etc. A lot of times people get so wrapped up in social infrastructure that they forget that people are just people at the end of the day. Regardless if you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a fruit seller in a rural village, we are all human and we all share many of the same basic hopes, fears and insecurities.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
You know when it rains really hard and all the earthworms get stranded on the sidewalks after escaping the flooded grass? Well, I always feel bad for the little guys, so if they are still alive I put them back in the grass (once it has dried up a bit, of course).

Why did you choose W&L?
I was immediately attracted to the Honor System. It is so important for me to feel like part of a community and especially one in which I don’t feel the need to doubt the intentions of my peers.

“Our Aim Was Man”: Civil War Sharpshooters An inheritance of Civil War letters led to Professor Roberta Senechal's book about Civil War sharpshooters.

Roberta-800x533 "Our Aim Was Man": Civil War SharpshootersProfessor Roberta Senechal

Q: Where did the idea for this project originate?
I’m not a Civil War historian, but my great-great-grandfather was a member of the First Company Massachusetts Sharpshooters, also known as Andrew’s Sharpshooters (in honor of Gov. John Albion Andrew). I inherited about 65 of his letters written to his wife and his children during the Civil War. He was really good at describing all of the troop movements, what camp life was like, the weaponry and the training — everything military. Initially I thought I’d transcribe the letters and publish them, but then I realized how unusual his unit was. And then I thought it would be great if I could find other members of his company to include. The unit had only about 100 men, so I wasn’t optimistic that I’d find anything. A long of period of research —the miracle of the internet! — turned up three others.

The first was bound for Harvard and was very literate. He wrote wartime letters to his fiancée and then wrote a 100-page memoir of his service with the company. Another was a shoe factory worker who kept a brief diary, and the fourth was a farmer who wrote letters home to his wife. So I had pretty good coverage of the war through these documents. I made a chronological account from the beginning of their service and was able to use at least two voices at any point in time. It’s an interesting way to construct a narrative because usually, whether it’s history or anything else, you’re following one individual. Or you have a faceless unit. But here you have a factory worker, a member of the middle class, a skilled craftsman and an average farmer. The book has a nice cross-class perspective.

Records written by sharpshooters are very, very rare. But these sharpshooters, men who are skilled with a rifle over long distances, were also among the first true snipers in the American military. They had long-distance telescopes on their rifles, although their telescopes don’t look like the ones used today. These ran the entire length of the barrel, and they were able to sometime hit targets as far off as 1/4 to a 1/2 mile away.

The average foot soldier didn’t get that much training in how to shoot. Musket bullets didn’t go straight, they followed a parabolic course, and it took a long time to learn how to put the bullet where you wanted to, whether you had a telescope or not. One of the interesting things is the rarity of any descriptions of actual Civil War snipers in action. How were they trained? How were they developed? And how did they feel about being able to see the target they were shooting? I think there is an ongoing fascination with this aspect of sniping. It does seem — at least from the sniper’s point of view — to be such a personal process.

SENECHAL-DE-LA-ROCHE-bk-cv "Our Aim Was Man": Civil War SharpshootersA new book by Professor Roberta Senechal

Q: How did other soldiers or the public view their line of work?
Occasionally, among the snipers, the question of morality of this kind of behavior does come up. It was interesting to me to see how they responded to the queasiness of civilians who claimed that they were shooting at men for pay or for sport — trying to run up a score. One sharpshooter wrote that he only shot people when it was good for the country. He made it very clear that their role was to protect the troops — especially from enemy artillery. His concept of what they were doing was not picking people off for the fun of it. Rather, he felt bad about the men he wasn’t able to protect.

The other question that comes up is what kind of person would do such a thing. They must be a little weird, a little abnormal, socially isolated, mentally ill or not like other people, somehow. One of the things I noticed from the beginning with these men is how completely ordinary they were. They were professional and workmanlike. Like any soldier, they didn’t want to be fighting and shedding blood, but it was a job to be done, and they went about it in a very disciplined fashion. There were some younger men who bragged about how many they killed. But my four sharpshooters seemed perfectly normal. They had lots of friends back home, and they were very sociable as they moved through the war.

Q: Did this line of work leave lasting scars?
As far as I can tell, not much. I watched for that, and that’s not to say that Civil War soldiers didn’t have any psychological disruption after the war. But all but one of the sharpshooters died before the war was over. Here and there was an individual who would shoot to wound, rather than kill, but most of them were quite willing to kill. I don’t get a sense that they were traumatized by it. For them, it was a job. They said, “We are accurate, and we are good at what we do.”

What seems to have been more traumatizing was coming upon the aftermath of one of the battles. Because they were separate from the main troops, sharpshooters didn’t serve on the front lines. All of them expressed profound shock at the carnage they witnessed after the Battle of Seven Pines-Fair Oaks, near Richmond. It was a slaughter pen. They didn’t describe it to their families. Their line of work, in contrast, was very focused and didn’t seem, from their perspective, to be senseless.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of your research?
The most pleasant part was visiting three of the communities where the sharpshooters were from. I was very fortunate, because in two of them, I was able to get a tour of the houses where they lived. My biggest thrill was meeting the great-granddaughter of the man who was going to attend Harvard. It seemed as though time suddenly collapsed, especially when I saw the homes. Between seeing the homes and getting those intimate tours, these men (and their families) became flesh and blood to me. I also now correspond with the great-great-grandaughter of the shoe factory worker. My great-great-grandfather mentioned him a several times — they were actually tentmates – an almost unbelievable coincidence.

Q: You were considering a career in law, when did you change your mind?
I thought I might go to law school because I had friends in law school, and I had practicing attorneys as friends. I spent time at a law library looking at what I’d be doing and eventually said to myself, “I don’t want my brain to turn to stone, I need some kind of constant intellectual stimulation.” I attended the University of Southern Maine, and while I was there I had mostly very young history faculty, many of them with Ivy League degrees and fresh out of graduate school. They were in love with what they were doing. I remember in many of my classes sitting there thinking what a wonderful life it would be if you could read and write and lecture and be paid for it. It looked like paradise to me.

I became a faculty member partly because I get to talk all the time, about my work or somebody else’s. Just put me in front of a class — I feed off it. When I arrived in 1989, the teaching here was good already, but it’s gotten better and better over time, because the overall ability of the students has improved. I can ask my students to work hard, and they respond. They like a challenge and they appreciate getting a good education. They are very competitive, conscientious, serious, professionally minded people. It’s a great place to be.

Q: As well as scholarly writing, you’ve also tried your hand at creative writing.
Yes, I have a chapbook of about two-dozen poems coming out with Arcadia Press in the fall of 2017. I also won their annual award. I’ve been fortunate to have published quite a bit. I hope it keeps coming. It’s not like history, where you have control of everything. For me, poetry just comes, often unbidden. The chapbook was an emotional project. It’s kind of dark. When people ask me what my poetry is about I sometimes say it’s a rage against transience. The editor at Arcadia Press said, “There’s not one voice here, there’s a community of voices.” I didn’t realize that. I’m quite indebted to him, because I didn’t have a sense that that was what I was creating.

Q: What classes do you teach?
I’m both a historian and a sociologist of violence. I publish in both fields. My first book was on the Springfield race riots of 1908 — an anti-black riot — and I have been interested in collective violence ever since. I offer a course on the History of Violence in the U.S. and a course called 9/11 and Modern Terrorism.

Also I enjoy teaching my course on the Gilded Age in the U.S. because my favorite historical period is the Victorian era. I cover it heavily in my women’s history course as well.

Q: What are you thinking of working on next?
One of my back-burner projects is to develop a new theory of religion. It would address such questions as: when does it occur, when do people interact with supernatural beings — such as ancestors or ghosts or gods — when do people pray to God, and when does the supernatural inflict vengeance and punishment on people?

I’ve got a paper called the “Behavior of the Dead,” which looks at when the dead —whether they are ancestors or ghosts, however they are defined in a particular culture —take vengeance on the living. There are some settings across all of human history where the dead come back and haunt you, while in other settings the dead simply dissipate into the mist. I’m curious about the variation the behavior of the dead and of other supernatural entities that are said to punish humans.