The Columns

Ulemj “Lenny” Enkhbold: Always a Reason to Smile

— by on February 9th, 2017

“The OC has taught me so much about wilderness survival, how to use gear, what gear to use, how to lead, how to communicate, and all of that good stuff. But most importantly, I’ve learned how to smile.”

 

 

Meet Lenny Enkhbold ’17, a computer scientist with a passion for the outdoors, who isn’t afraid to have a good laugh.

 

When I was a wee little freshman, I walked into the Pavilion on my first day being here. It was lit. It was amazing. It was everything I had ever dreamed of. Not really, but kind of. It was Appalachian Adventure. Watching all of the zany yee-whos who were our trip leaders interact was the most amazing feeling – I had never felt more comfortable before. Finally! People who get it!

Luckily a week or so before this, I had gotten an email alerting me that James Dick was my work study supervisor. Our first conversation went so:

Me: “Uhm.. hello Mr. Di—“
James: “You can call me James.”
Me, coming from a very strict Mongolian background: (Wow, how could I possibly call this man by his first name? That’s so disrespectful.) “Oh, okay, Mr. Jam—“
James: “Just James is fine.”

I was hooked. Whatever this mythical beast called the Outing Club (OC) was, I wanted to do with every part of it. People who get together to go hiking, kayaking, underground, moongazing?? And they would be willing to wake up at 2 a.m. to drive an hour to hike for three hours to catch a sunrise? From the same sun that we would have seen had we just watched it out of our window? Everything about the OC just felt natural. There is no effort involved. Just be yourself – and smile.

I am lucky to have been randomly placed to work under James in the OC barn, this role has led to me understand how the club works from every angle: participants, equipment, food rations, leaders, and coordination between the club and the location of the trip. Having this inside position, I pretty much laughed myself into the Trip Leader and Key Staff roles. Little did the OC know that every move I’ve made was precisely calculated so that I could drive the OC van around. I mean, come on. Have you ever seen that sweet piece of van? It wasn’t so much about taking people outside as it was about driving that van. That I have probably spent weeks of my total life in. (James, if you are reading this, I miss the old dually *cough*).

All joking aside, the opportunities the Outing Club has provided for me are tremendous. Last year, I worked as an ambassador for Merrell and got to promote their brand in exchange for a direct connection into the outdoor industry. This led to a position this year as an ambassador for the National Park Service. Both of these positions are, of course, impossible without Outdoor Nation, which is a non-profit that works to reconnect millennials with nature. My job, quite literally, was to make people enjoy the outdoors. What an amazing gig!

The OC has taught me so much about wilderness survival, how to use gear, what gear to use, how to lead, how to communicate, and all of that good stuff. But most importantly, I’ve learned how to smile. As wise philosopher Anderson .Paak once said, “We all want the best of life, so let’s celebrate – while we still can.” My only hope is that I’ve been able to pass the buck forward and have inspired people the same way the OC has inspired me.

I mean, as long as we can smile, we should smile. And if we are smiling, then it cannot be all that bad. And if it is all that bad, try smiling. It works. I guarantee it.

Do you have a story about how the Outing Club has impacted your experience? There’s a place for that. Contact Lenny about getting your story posted on the Outing Club blog.

Would you like to nominate a student for a My W&L profile? Email your nomination to Gabrielle Tremo in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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Tessa Horan’s Passion for the Environment Meet Tessa Horan ’18, a pre-med, self-proclaimed “tree-hugger” with big plans for making the university – and the world – a little greener.

— by on February 7th, 2017

As I think about my plans and goals for myself, SEAL, CCL, and the world, I am comforted by the knowledge that we can make a difference.”

Meet Tessa Horan ’18, a pre-med, self-proclaimed “tree-hugger,” with big plans for making the University – and the world – a little greener.

Tree-hugger. Nature-lover. Environmentalist. Climate activist. Sustainability advocate. Good steward.

Many labels are used to describe the aspect of my life that I would summarize like this: I care about all of creation, and I want everyone to give love and respect to all life.

This conviction is rooted in the love of nature I learned in childhood, which grew into a passion for environmental protection, then budded a commitment to sustainable living, and finally bloomed activism for global change.

It has led me to my present roles as VP of the W&L Student Environmental Action League (SEAL) and leader of the Lexington chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), and my involvement with these two organizations has deeply shaped my W&L experience.

When I entered college, I was seeking ways for my budding environmentalism to bloom. SEAL gave me a way. Just a couple of weeks after starting my freshmen classes, I traveled to NYC with a group of SEAL members to participate in the People’s Climate March, which is still one of my favorite memories from my time at W&L. Sophomore year, I stepped up as secretary of SEAL and enthusiastically worked alongside my friends to create a university policy proposal for event sustainability, and to petition for the installation of solar panels with the third-year housing project. While the event policy proposal was received well by the administration and is helping to create real change on campus, the solar panel petition was rejected.

For me, these two projects embodied two opposite but equally important lessons that I learned that year: The hard work of a small group of people has the power to change an entire institution, but all the hard work of a group is sometimes not enough to change anything. When the truth of that second lesson tempts me to give up, I remember the equal truth of that first lesson. Failure is always a possibility when you try something – but it’s a certainty when you don’t try anything.

Those same two lessons have recurred in my work with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which has been one of the most formative and gratifying experiences of my life. I learned about CCL at the end of freshman year, and I was sold on it almost immediately. They won over my mind with the economic and environmental logic of their Carbon Fee & Dividend proposal (learn about it at citizensclimatelobby.org), and they won over my heart with the beauty of their nonpartisan, respect-based philosophy and their caring, positive community. I was eager to start a chapter and share the ideas I had discovered – but it proved more challenging than I expected. I experienced a great deal of failure and disappointment during that first year as I realized that CCL was much harder to sell to other people than to myself. Yet, with the undying support of a few close friends and family members (shout-out to Sequoya, Kim, Dylan, and my parents!), I persisted.

I believe my hard work is beginning to pay off – there has been at least one new face at every CCL meeting this year, and we have made real contributions to the national political advocacy for carbon pricing legislation.

As I think about my plans and goals for myself, SEAL, CCL, and the world, I am comforted by the knowledge that we can make a difference – and failure isn’t always the worst thing that can happen. In words more eloquent than my own, “Nobody made a greater mistake than [s]he who did nothing because [s]he could only do a little.” – Edmund Burke

Meet the Johnsons: Harry Lustig ‘17

— by on February 2nd, 2017

“I came to W&L for the education, and I received so much more. W&L fuels the desire for a lifetime of integrity, honor, leadership, and learning.”

Meet Harry Lustig ‘17, a scholar-explorer who’s hiked everywhere from the Blue Ridge to Alaska.

 

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

I first read about the scholarship on the University’s website and later heard more details during my first college visit in high school. I learned as much as I could about the scholarship because I knew that I would not be able to attend W&L without it.

Q: Were you considering other colleges when you applied to W&L?

I wanted to be in Virginia, so I was seriously considering the University of Virginia as well.

Q: Why did you ultimately choose W&L?  

Washington and Lee was always my first choice, so the decision was rather easy once awarded the scholarship. The University’s rich history and its iconic columns were impressive; however, it was the students, faculty, and administrators I met on the very first visit that made me want to return. The “let’s get down to work” attitude solidified my feeling that W&L was right for me. When I further explored the direction of my academic path, it made perfect sense to combine environmental studies with geology and business administration – something that would have been near impossible at a larger university. I knew that the academic and extracurricular diversity at W&L would make for an ideal blend of growth opportunities for me.

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

I came to W&L for the education, and I received so much more. W&L fuels the desire for a lifetime of integrity, honor, leadership, and learning. W&L’s mission is not fulfilled unless it captures this essence within its students and uses all its resources to guide the direction of their lives. There was no one class, no one professor, no one club that told me to lead my life in one way. It was the seemingly effortless combination of viewpoints, experiences, and relationships that created the growth environment that is characteristic of W&L.

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

The summer after my first year, a buddy and I received W&L’s Kendrick Scholarship, which funds outdoor trips involving introspection and exploration. We used the money to fund a cross-country road trip to hike the 210-mile John Muir Trail in the High Sierras of California. I’ll carry that experience with me forever, and we have the Kendrick Fund to thank!

Harry Lustig on the John Muir Trail

Q: Do you have a mentor on campus? Faculty, staff, or another student?

My “all-purpose” mentor would have to be James Dick, W&L’s Director of Outdoor Education. You get to know someone very well after hiking in the wilderness for extended Outing Club trips! James has always been supportive, intuitive, and uplifting. Not every University is blessed with someone as spirited and genuine as James. His “zaniness” is contagious and his impact on the students is unbounded. James is not only my mentor; he is a true friend.

Q: What extra-curricular are you involved in right now that you are extra passionate about? Club, sports, off-campus organizations, service organization, work study?

I have had the unique opportunity to help develop and manage a leadership program for the University called the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program. The program is founded on the idea that there is no cookie cutter leader – different leadership strategies work for different people in different situations. The program is designed to facilitate the development of personal awareness and practical leadership skills through experiential and service-learning initiatives. It was also a natural fit for me to become involved in the Outing Club. Through the club, I have led pre-orientation trips for first-year students, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and explored many western National Parks. As a participant and a Key Staff, I have been able to camp, hike, paddle, and raft all around the Appalachian Mountains.

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

I smile when friends from other schools talk about our traditions here at W&L. Some scoff at Fancy Dress, Mock Convention, and the speaking tradition, calling them lame or overdone. But, these are the things we W&L students have all come to cherish… it is our own not-so-secret society that can take the best from the “old-school” traditions and dovetail them with present sensibilities.  

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

Prioritize friends, family, and experiences. Get out there as much as possible, and do cool things with new people. In James Dick’s words, “Enjoy college. It goes fast!” Above all else, be grateful for it all.

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

Opportunities are everywhere, and if you are conscious of your commitments, they will help you develop into your best self in a place where you will always feel at home.

Matt Lubas: Engineering Community Development Meet Matt Lubas ’18, an engineer who spends his spare time building communities.

— by on January 30th, 2017

“The projects in Fries represent not only my interests, but also the mission of the club: employing engineering solutions to create a positive impact on developing communities.”

Meet Matt Lubas ’18, an engineer who spends his spare time building communities

From the moment I got to W&L, I knew I wanted to get involved with Engineering Community Development (ECD, formerly Engineers Without Borders). I love to travel, and I wanted to incorporate my passions for engineering and Spanish together. During my first year, I participated in as many ECD events as possible, building a bio-sand water filtration unit near campus garden, teaching kids how to make concrete at the Virginia Science Festival in town, and manning the sign-up table for the Chipotle Fundraiser.

From participating, I gained some hard skills, such as the ability to make concrete, woodworking, and skills with tools. However, more powerful has been the development of my soft skills: community engagement, empathy, communication, and an interest in creating sustainable projects. Outside of the club, I enjoyed thinking critically about poverty-related issues, which led to declaring a poverty studies minor, and learning about how companies, nonprofits, and startups are using engineering to improve people’s quality of life.

During my Sophomore Reading Days in 2015, I led a group of students to work in the Community Center in Fries, Virginia. Located two and half hours from Lexington, the small town of about 600 people wanted to promote its sense of community through the town Community Center. Through talking with the Community Center director and volunteers, we learned about the town’s needs and worked inside the theater, removing old siding and tarps on the walls. When we came back a year later, it was heartwarming to see that the theater had continued to develop and was being used for community bluegrass jam sessions.

This year, we returned to Fries for another Reading Days weekend to build up part of the dam for the water treatment center. We mixed and laid mortar and local rocks on the dam, which has helped improve the pressure and water flow to the water treatment center. We also helped out at the concession stand during the kids’ football game and painted the inside of the dining hall for a community center. These trips have allowed me to discover things about myself: my tendency to lead, my grounded enthusiasm, and my passion and joy for engaging with people to help them achieve their goals.

The projects in Fries represent not only my interests, but also the mission of the club: employing engineering solutions to create a positive impact on developing communities. As I came into my junior year as co-president of ECD, I wanted to expand the focus of our club. The club has always been very focused on water and sanitation issues, but I have been trying to expand the projects and impact to Biomedical Engineering through an Engineering World Health partnership and a Solar Sterilization Unit design project. I wanted all students to realize that they could have a tangible impact, no matter their field of interest.

I am looking into international development engineering as a vocation, and it is something I hope my engagement in ECD will prepare me for. I hope to impact W&L students through sharing my passion for community development and engagement, and I want to promote students — especially in engineering — towards futures that improve the lives of those in need locally and internationally.

Shaping Traditions: Alex Meilech ’18

— by on January 17th, 2017

“Just as I bring my traditions into Hillel, I will bring the traditions I learn at Hillel to my next chapter in life and beyond.”

Alex Meilech ’18 has experienced tradition – from Lexington, Virginia to Buenos Aires, Argentina

I walk across campus as the sun is setting, hurrying from physics lab prep to make it to Hillel in time to help set up for dinner. It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday, and I’m always tired after a long week of school – who isn’t? As I open the front door, I can hear people in the kitchen, students working together to prepare our weekly Friday night Shabbat meal. I relax, shrug off my backpack, and head in. After the table is laden with food (Make Your Own Pizza, Burrito Night, Breakfast for Dinner), we all gather round to light candles, drink wine, and eat challah.

My earliest memories are of running around under the table with my cousins during my family’s own weekly Shabbat dinners, and now I am one of the “adults” putting together these celebrations for fellow students and community members, my Hillel family. As we pray together in Hebrew, I am reminded, with a mix of appreciation and awe, that fellow Jews around the world are all doing the same thing.

When I went on Spring Term Abroad to Argentina, I had the privilege of visiting a synagogue in Buenos Aires, the oldest synagogue in the country, for a Friday night service. Just like at Hillel, we spoke Hebrew prayers that I’ve known since childhood. (And thanks to learning Spanish, I also understood the discussion there – mostly!)

What I’ve learned through Hillel is that college is not a bubble, as we sometimes make it out to be. These activities are the same worldwide, whether you are in college or not. Just as I bring my traditions into Hillel, I will bring the traditions I learn at Hillel to my next chapter in life and beyond. And this is a great lesson for me: the same holds true for everything I learn here at W&L.

One of my majors is chemistry-engineering, and as I start to prepare for my post-grad future, I know that I’m not planning on being a chemical engineer. So why am I learning about thermodynamics and physical chemistry? This is a question I often ask myself in the middle of an arduous night of practice problems… But I remember that while I may not be doing this specifically in the future, it makes me a better thinker, a lifelong learner, and a problem solver, shaping who I am.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” I like to think he was talking about Shabbat meals at Hillel.

Careers in Motion: Tara Loughery ’18 STEM in Richmond

— by on January 17th, 2017

“I was thinking about switching from medical practice to medical research instead. The career trip really helped me justify switching my focus to pursue research.”

Meet Tara Loughery, a junior who was considering going pre-med, but decided to pursue a different path.

So you’re obviously in a STEM path already. What made you want to go on this trip?

I saw an ad for the trip in the Science Center. I had already been thinking about changing my plans for the future and wanted to see what options were out there.

Has STEM been “part of the plan” for a while?

When I was little, I wanted to be a doctor. That was a dream that followed me all the way to when I first entered college.

You don’t sound super convinced. Do you still want to be a doctor?

I had started thinking about changing my plans. I was thinking about switching from medical practice to medical research instead. The career trip really helped me justify switching my focus to pursue research.

#wluCarrer Trips all scrubbed up and learning about robotic surgical instruments at Richmond's Retreat Hospital#wluCareer Trips all scrubbed up and learning about robotic surgical instruments at Richmond’s Retreat Hospital

There were a lot of opportunities on this trip. Did you learn anything you didn’t expect?

I really enjoyed hearing about all of the different types of STEM jobs. It’s not just medicine. I really liked going to the psychology center. We were walked through what running a clinical psychology trial was like — what things to look out for, what tools to use, how to combine results. We even learned how clinics apply for funding — the real nitty gritty.

I felt like I learned a lot from everywhere we went. I appreciated how everyone told me the most important piece of advice to them in getting their careers started.

Who has been the most influential person in your studies, especially in your thoughts about the future?

My mom inspires me. She is incredibly kind and hardworking.

#wluCareerTrips in Richmond with Gary Bokinsky MD '67 learning about urology medical practicing and pursuing a career in medical research#wluCareerTrips in Richmond with Gary Bokinsky MD ’67 learning about urology medical practicing and pursuing a career in medical research

Okay, flashback time. If you could go back to First Year Tara and tell her one thing, what would it be?

Being a doctor is not the be-all, end-all peak of success in science. There are lots of things you can do to help people with your knowledge.

Would you tell her to go on the career trip?

Absolutely! It can never hurt to see what kind of opportunities are out there, especially in STEM, where there are more things than you might think.

#wluCareerTrips enjoying an early morning on the farm learning about STEM jobs in agriculture, ecology and enviro.#wluCareerTrips enjoying an early morning on the farm learning about STEM jobs in agriculture, ecology and enviro.

You sound like you’ve got your plate full. Medical research? A Ph.D in clinical neuroscience? Are you excited — or scared?

I’m excited about the future in general. I don’t know exactly what I will end up doing but I feel like there are a million possibilities!

Does this sound interesting? We live-tweeted this entire trip, and you can check out all of the good stuff we learned on the trip here.
Are you interested in finding a career or internship? Are you wondering how to start working towards your dream job? The Career Development Office wants to help! Check out their website and make an appointment today!

Careers in Motion: Olivia Sisson ’17 Humanities in New York

— by on January 17th, 2017

 

“The trip showed me that there are so many talented and interesting alumni who are working in fantastic companies and industries that might have nothing to do with what they studied at W&L.”

Meet Olivia Sisson, a senior who has wanted to be an artist since she was little – but didn’t know how – as she talks about her experience on the Humanities Career Trip to New York.

When you heard the words “humanities career trip,” what did you think?

I heard about the career trip through a Career Services email that had information about the trip. I ultimately decided to go because I knew it would be a great chance to meet some cool alumni and learn about different career paths that I hadn’t considered before. Career Services is incredibly helpful and a fantastic resource so I was very confident that the trip would be well worth my time.

Have you always been interested in art?

When I was little, I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I still want to be an artist, but also to work in the design world or just find a way to use my creativity in a business setting.

So you knew you wanted to pursue an artist’s life when you entered college?

When I started college, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do for a career, but I was fairly certain that things like math and business didn’t fit my skill set very well. I knew I loved art and started taking classes, but wasn’t really sure what careers I could make out of an undergraduate studio art degree.

I would say my goal to keep developing my creative skill set is one I’m still achieving and is something I hope that I will be working on for a very long time.

Now I have a much better idea of how many different industries and jobs utilize the kind of creative thinking and analytical problem solving that I really enjoy using in my academic studies.

Is that because of your professors?

My advisors, Leigh Ann Beavers in the art department and Lisa Greer in the geology department, have both really encouraged me to work hard and challenge myself in both departments. Both professors have encouraged me to be more curious and ask more questions.

#wluCareerTrips’ great view in New York

Did the career trip help with that also? Have you learned new things about careers in arts?

The trip showed me that there are so many talented and interesting alumni who are working in fantastic companies and industries that might have nothing to do with what they studied at W&L.

This really encouraged me to start reaching out to as many alumni as possible in order to just learn more about these different industries. It showed me that I can use my majors in so many more ways than I thought possible.

Now my goal is to learn as much as I can about some of these areas and figure out how I can apply my skill set to them.

Where did you go on this trip? Was it mostly museums and galleries?

We visited nine different companies while on the trip. We visited the Michael J. Fox Foundation, One Kings Lane, American Red Cross, Blackrock, Hearst Publishing, Fusion Media, Marcus and Millichap, Grey Advertising, and AT Kearney. We really got a great sampling of different industries, from publishing to home decor, wealth management to corporate real estate, non-profits to media companies, and advertising as well.

#wluCareerTrips visiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Research

Wow! I didn’t realize there were so many businesses on the trip. Which one was your favorite?

I really enjoyed visiting One Kings Lane. They have a huge creative team that creates 90 percent of their website content — like photography work — in-house. It was really interesting to see their studio space, where all of this content production takes place.

When meeting with these companies, did you receive any advice that you think was particularly helpful for someone pursuing art as a career?

Jeff Hamill, a W&L alumni at Hearst Corporations, highly recommended starting to create our own content now if we are considering getting into the media/publishing world. I think this is a really great piece of advice for anyone in college who is considering getting into any type of media-related industry.

So many companies need social media marketing campaigns and young people with experience to write them. I started my own website this summer and, after getting this advice, I started putting more work into my site and realized continuing to create my own content is really great practice for a lot of entry-level positions.

What about other advice that keeps you going? Do you have any kind of mantra?

I love Napoleon Dynamite. I think he has a great outlook: “Out to prove he’s got nothing to prove.”

You’re a senior now. If you could go back in time and give some advice to little freshman Olivia, what would you tell her?

I was nervous when I declared my art and geology major as most of my friends were declaring business or economics. I appreciate these majors, but just didn’t find that I was very interested in them. I had no idea what kind of jobs (or if I’d be able to get a job) with geology and art but in retrospect I’m very happy that I followed what I was truly interested in. This made all of my coursework engaging and rewarding, and I know now that I can use these skills in a myriad of ways that I didn’t think possible before.

It sounds like you got a lot out of this trip. Would you recommend it to other art students, or students in general?

I would definitely recommend the career trip to other students, especially if they are not sure what they want to do after graduation or even if they are just interested in checking out New York City and getting a better feel for what it’s like to work and live there.

I didn’t realize how valuable it would be to actually visit companies and be able to see what their working environments are like. I feel like I learned so much about industries that I wasn’t very familiar with before and got to meet some incredible alumni. It was an overall fantastic experience.

So here’s the big question: What’s next for you?

I just accepted a fellowship with Venture for America (VFA). I’m really excited to be joining the VFA community. Venture For America is all about helping recent graduates become entrepreneurs and get involved with venture capitalism in emerging American cities. The VFA fellowship allows participants to become immersed in the start-up world and figure out firsthand how to make a difference in their communities through entrepreneurship. I was able to learn a lot about the VFA experience from recent W&L alumni who are a part of VFA. All of them were so helpful in the application process. Training camp starts in June, and I’m excited to start exploring the different VFA partner companies and cities.

Are you interested in finding a career or internship? Are you wondering how to start working towards your dream job? The Career Development Office wants to help! Check out their website and make an appointment today!
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A Passion for Fashion Fashion in New York City

— by on January 17th, 2017

“Everything to which I’ve been exposed at W&L is relevant to the fashion industry, so I will graduate confident that my knowledge and skills will help me throughout my career.”

Meet Carley Sambrook, a senior who has recently discovered her passion for fashion – and now has the know-how to explore it thanks to the Fashion Career Trip to New York.

Okay, so W&L offers a Fashion Trip? How did you hear about this? Have you been involved with fashion in the past?

I am lucky to be a Career Fellow in Career Development, so I was one of the first to hear about this amazing trip! I have spent the last two summers working in fashion in New York City, so I went on this trip to continue to develop my network within the industry and specifically within W&L.

Did you want to be in fashion when you were young or did you have other plans?

I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I am a secret nerd for quantum mechanics.

As a First Year, what took priority — fashion or quantum mechanics?

I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in business administration with a focus on romance languages, which hasn’t changed. I come from the French part of Canada, so speaking multiple languages has always been important to me. Then, I began exploring the fashion industry, which is the perfect area to combine my love of business, creativity and international exposure!

Visiting Neely ’13 and Chloe ’14 Burch at their pop-up accessories store

Has W&L been supportive of your goals for fashion?

The liberal arts education provided by W&L has been extremely important. It has allowed me to hone a variety of skills that I can apply to my chosen field. I have had exposure to all aspects of the business world: entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, technology, law, writing and more. On top of that, I have taken courses in science, politics and art. Everything to which I’ve been exposed at W&L is relevant to the fashion industry, so I will graduate confident that my knowledge and skills will help me throughout my career.

So the career trip must have been special — all about fashion. Did you learn anything special?

Speaking with W&L alums who have been successful in the fashion industry was motivating. This trip furthered my excitement about the year to come. I have a lot of decisions to make with respect to my journey upon graduation, and I am looking forward to the process. I hope to be able to talk about my career one day with the same excitement and passion as the alumni with whom we spoke.

Laura Holman ’08 speaks to students at Valentino

Where did you go on the trip?

We visited with alumni and other contacts from nine different companies: Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Michael Kors, Chanel, Joor, Macy’s, Neely & Chloe, Gap and J.Crew. We were lucky enough to visit many of the actual corporate offices, which was a great opportunity to see the inner workings of the business behind a major fashion house. The men and women with whom we met talked about their career paths, their current jobs, and their aspirations, and also took questions from our group. It was amazing to see how passionate these individuals are about their jobs and the industry as a whole, and how excited they were to share their experiences with us.

Wow! That’s a lot of fashion in a short amount of time. Was there any one place in particular that stuck out to you?

My favorite visit was with our alumna at Valentino. I’d met her previously, so it was really interesting to learn about the changes in her career since I’d seen her. It was great to hear her speak about her journey throughout the industry. I was so inspired! I hope to one day have a career as developed as hers. One thing she said to us that I think applies to any job application is to know your strengths and how they apply to the job at hand. You need to know why you want a job, as well as why the employer should want to hire you in particular.

Students at Ralph Lauren

Do you have a fashion mentor that you turn to for inspiration?

I am inspired by Tory Burch. I worked for her company this past summer, and I am in awe of her. Not only has she created an influential American fashion brand, she also has a wonderful foundation that empowers female entrepreneurs. I admire her tenacity, generosity and eye for beautiful product. Working for her company was a dream; the culture is welcoming, motivating and focused, and I developed valuable skills throughout my time there.

Okay, reflection time. What would you tell your First Year self if you could tell her anything?

It’s never too early to start planning. Whether you think you know for sure what you want to do or not, there is something you can do to prepare for internships and job opportunities in the future. You can perfect your resume and identify holes in your experience, network with alumni and other contacts, and develop cross-functional skills that will help you in whatever direction you follow. In that vein, visit Career Development early to start building that relationship!

Would you tell her to take the Career Trip?

One hundred percent yes! The fashion industry really has something for everyone. It can be analytical and numbers-based or drawing and technical-focused, while simultaneously revolving around creativity and human interaction. This allows for the exploration of so many fields within one industry! I think that W&L students would greatly benefit from learning about another area of business to which they can apply their skills.

‡UPDATE: We just received word that Carley has just accepted a job at Saks Fifth Avenue next year in their Merchant Development Program. Congratulations, Carley!

Are you interested in finding a career or internship? Are you wondering how to start working towards your dream job? The Career Development Office wants to help! Check out their website and make an appointment today!

Careers In Motion #wluCareerTrips hit the road over Reading Days

— by on January 17th, 2017

“It is amazing to see when students have that ah-ha moment hearing about a job path they hadn’t thought of before.”

Over Reading Days, three groups of students traveled out of Lexington and into the “real world.” Their goal was to find alumni and recent graduates who had found success in their fields of interest and learn from them. These trips, organized by the Career Development Office, aimed to give students a glance into what people had done with their education, how they had found their jobs, and what students could do now to follow their passions and prepare themselves.

There were three trips humanities, fashion and STEMand students were able to travel with whichever group they preferred.

Humanities in New York

The humanities trip took students to the Big Apple to discover different avenues of business that can be explored with a humanities degree. The trip highlighted how humanities fields had led students to careers in anything and everything from marketing and design to wealth management and real estate.

#wluCareerTrips' great view in New York#wluCareerTrips’ great view in New York

“The goal of the humanities trip is two-fold: one, to give students a broad understanding of their career options; and two, to have students understand that their major could lead to unbelievable opportunities,” trip organizer and Director of Career Development John Jensen said. “It is amazing to see when students have that ah-ha moment hearing about a job path they hadn’t thought of before.”

During the trip, students were able to visit the Michael J. Fox Foundation, One Kings Lane, American Red Cross, Blackrock, Hearst Publishing, Fusion Media, Marcus and Millichap, Grey Advertising, and AT Kearney.

We interviewed Olivia Sisson, a senior who has wanted to be an artist since she was little — but didn’t know how — about her experience on the trip.

Fashion in New York

Like something straight out of a movie, students boarded a bus bound for New York to discover careers in fashion. “This trip was developed after realizing there was a growing student interest in this field,” said Caroline Schmidt, who organized the trip. “Students would often comment that there isn’t a clear path of how to break into this industry, so we pulled this trip together to learn the stories of fashion alumni in New York City to educate students.”

Laura Holman '08 speaks to students at ValentinoLaura Holman ’08 speaks to students at Valentino

The fashion trip brought together a group of alumni in the New York City area to help students explore not only fashion as a career, but to realize the different areas of industry that exist within fashion. The trip also focused on how to break into the industry through various internships, programs and job opportunities. During the trip, students were able to visit Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Michael Kors, the Gap Headquarters, and the Macy flagship store.

We interviewed Carley Sambrook, a senior who has recently discovered her passion for fashion — and now has the know-how to explore it.

STEM in Richmond

STEM has been a buzzword for years. Students every year enter college seeking degrees in the “Big Four” — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But what do you do with a degree in STEM? This career trip, the first of its kind, sought to answer this question.

The STEM trip traveled to Richmond, and explored both the city and countryside, from operating rooms to high-tech agricultural farms.

“Our trip was meant to be exploratory,” trip coordinator Molly Steele said. “Students were able to see there are so many options to utilize their degrees, including private practice, research and industry.”

While STEM often means “pre-med” for many students, this trip had a little something for everyone. Students spoke to environmental consultants, pharmaceutical sales reps, medical engineering, clinical psychologists and more! Of course, there was also a stop for all the aspiring doctors in the room.

#wluCareer trips down by the river, learning about environmental disasters and what scientists can do to restore damage and prevent accidents in the future#wluCareer trips down by the river, learning about environmental disasters and what scientists can do to restore damage and prevent accidents in the future

“There are opportunities in many fields for all types of science disciplines,” Steele said. “So many jobs today require both scientific knowledge and the skills at the core of liberal arts such as verbal and written communication and problem solving and critical thinking.”

Each stop was multi-faceted so that students who were interested in various aspects of STEM would be able to explore paths, not only in their own disciplines, but in other areas of science they didn’t know where connected.  They received advice on how to break into a specific area of STEM, how to gather experience for a job or grad school, and how to set yourself on a path to “your STEM dream job.”

During the trip, students were able to visit Angler Environmental, the Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies, Virginia Urology, a precision agriculture and drone research farm, the VCU Rice Center for River Habitat Conservation, and the Retreat Hospital.

Does this sound interesting? We live-tweeted this entire trip! You can check out all of the good stuff we learned on the trip here.

We interviewed Tara Loughery, a junior who was considering going pre-med, but decided to pursue a different path.

Are you interested in finding a career or internship? Are you wondering how to start working towards your dream job? The Career Development Office wants to help! Check out their website and make an appointment today!
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Meet the Johnsons: Graham Novak ’19

— by on January 11th, 2017

“Don’t fret about making an exact four-year plan when you arrive on campus; your interests will change, you’ll find new passions, you’ll want to explore various fields, and you want to be open-minded.”

Meet Graham Novak ’19, an aspiring – and already accomplished – entrepreneur

 

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

Graduating debt-free from a highly respected university was a top priority in my college search. With that said, I targeted top universities that had full-ride scholarship programs, and Washington and Lee quickly became a top contender.

Q: Were you considering any other colleges when you applied to W&L?

Vanderbilt, University of Pennsylvania, Emory, Furman, and Washington University, St. Louis

Q: Why did you ultimately choose W&L?

Of all the colleges I visited, W&L’s professors were the most down-to-earth and well-connected to the students. Going to class didn’t seem like a chore, instead it was a time to look forward to. Additionally, I came to the realization that the quality of education between the schools was extremely close; I’d have the opportunities to be successful at any of the institutions, but W&L expressed their genuine interest in me by offering a tremendous scholarship.

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

The Johnson Program represents a convergence of W&L’s traditions and the embodiment of student-driven passion for excellence and innovation. Academically, it reminds me that I have a high standard to uphold. The biggest impact, however, is an internalized sense of commitment to the university’s culture and community. I strive to be an ambassador of our values, role model for others, and contributor to the greater good as a small way of saying thanks to the school for providing me this unparalleled opportunity.

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

Each fall, the university hosts its annual Entrepreneurship Summit; hundreds of students and alumni gather to hear from founders and CEOs, participate in a school-wide pitch competition, and network with the individuals who are creating the businesses and technologies of the future. My freshman year, I managed my way into the final round of the pitch competition, standing on a stage in front of peers, professors, and potential investors. When they announced the winner, I felt the sting of loss but it only lasted a moment; as soon as the session ended, alumni swarmed me with their congratulations, offering their mentorship, asking me to tell them more. They didn’t talk to me like a student. They talked to me like a future partner.

Q: Do you have a mentor on campus? Faculty, staff, or another student?

Dr. Goldsmith is not only one of my favorite professors, but also my economics major advisor. Whether I want to discuss the repercussions of Brexit, pursue research opportunities, or get advice on the best vacation places in Australia, the man has advice on everything.

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

Without a doubt, my favorite organization is the Venture Club. We consult for start-ups, provide resources to student entrepreneurs, have case competitions, sponsor student pitches, and meet with alumni and business owners.  While it can be time-consuming and intensive, it is amazingly rewarding. Right now, we’re consulting for five different businesses, including a food producer and distributor in Shanghai, a digital publishing/marketing company, and a non-profit that wants to reimagine the way people donate money. Every semester is full of new projects that continue to challenge me in different ways.

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

The Honor System creates an amazing sense of trust, mutual respect, and understanding between students and professors. I can leave my door wide open without the fear of someone taking my things. I can schedule my final exams to the times when they’re most convenient because the professors know that I will not cheat. I can trust that the students around me are honest and act with genuine integrity. It’s comforting, supportive, and held with the highest respect.

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

Don’t fret about making an exact four-year plan of all your classes when you arrive on campus; your interests will change, you’ll find new passions, you’ll want to explore various fields, and you want to be open-minded. There are many amazing classes that you just don’t know about yet.

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

Students are happy, amazingly accomplished, and have a track record of unprecedented success after graduation. I feel genuine connections to my peers and professors, I’m given the tools and skills to accomplish my loftiest goals, and every day I’m thankful for making the best choice of my life; I don’t think there’s anything else I could ask for.

Thinking about W&L for college? Why not apply for the Johnson Scholarship?