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‘A Stronger Sense of Self’ At this small-town university, Nora Devlin '19 has been exposed to viewpoints from all over the globe.

“Attending W&L has made me more conscious of societal issues and more confident in my own opinions and beliefs.”

Nora Devlin ’19

Hometown: Nevada City, California
Major: Computer Science

I grew up in a small, free-spirited town in the mountains of Northern California, so attending W&L has been somewhat of a culture shock for me. Adjusting to such a different way of life and personal interaction has been challenging at times, but I am so thankful for the personal growth I’ve experienced as a result of leaving my comfort zone.

While W&L is generally not known for its diversity, I have experienced more diversity than ever before, from meeting international students to talking with students from the Deep South to simply discussing ideas with those who hold very different political beliefs than most people I grew up with. Although I am a computer science major, I have been able to take many classes outside of my major, and I have used this opportunity to take courses that expose me to even more diverse ideas, such as “Gender and Politics” and “Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity.” It has been incredibly interesting for me to learn about the backgrounds of my classmates and understand how differences in upbringing can influence one’s outlook.

I would like to think that attending W&L has made me more conscious of societal issues and more confident in my own opinions and beliefs. Growing up, I was constantly bombarded with ideas that I accepted into my political philosophy and outlook on society. At W&L, however, I have had to defend my beliefs for the first time. This has resulted in changing ideas and strengthened opinions; I am more able to explain why I believe certain things. I am especially thankful for professors such as Melina Bell and Lynn Chin for pushing me to question theories and ideas in order to develop more precise ideas and deeper understandings.

I have had opportunities outside the classroom which have strengthened my sense of self and exposed me to new ideas as well. For example, working with the executive team for Washington and Lee College Democrats has allowed me to learn more about the political process and to collaborate with other politically active individuals. Through this group, I have found many students who are always willing to have a political conversation and help me develop a better understanding of the world around me.

I didn’t expect that coming to a traditionally Southern, conservative school would make me more liberal. But through stepping so far out of my comfort zone, I have been able to develop a stronger sense of self and a passion for working to address societal problems. It has not been easy to transition from bluegrass festivals to cocktail parties or from barefooted, didgeridoo-playing hippies to a more traditional, conservative student body, but I am very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to experience different cultures and ideas and to strengthen my own while at W&L.

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A little more about Nora

Extracurricular involvement:
– College Democrats
– Information Technology Services (ITS) Help Desk Student Worker
– Computer Science Lab Assistant
Why did you choose your major?
In high school, my physics teacher spent one week teaching some basic coding, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked! I love solving problems and working logically, so programming combines my interests perfectly.
Has anyone on campus inspired you?
Professor Lambert has been the biggest support for me through my academics at W&L. He has always pushed me to work hard and made sure I believe in myself.
Post-graduation plans:
Last summer I interned as a software engineer in my hometown working on the user interaction side of software. This upcoming summer I’ll be working at J.P. Morgan doing the same thing, so I plan to continue pursuing this career after graduation.
Favorite W&L memory:
My pre-orientation Volunteer Venture trip to Washington, D.C, where we learned about homelessness and volunteered at a food kitchen.
Favorite class:
Aerial Dance, which I took last Spring Term. We spent three weeks practicing inside, where we were attached to the wall with rope and harness in Johnson Theatre, and in the final week we performed outside on Wilson!
Why did you choose W&L?
I learned about W&L through the Johnson Scholarship, and after attending Johnson Weekend and ultimately being awarded the full-ride scholarship, I chose to attend W&L.