‘Committed to Supporting and Listening’ As Executive Committee president for the 2020-21 school year, Chase Calhoun '21 hopes to protect the Honor System and make a positive impact in areas of racial inequality and systemic racism.
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Major: Global Politics
Minor: Middle East and South Asia Studies (MESA) with Arabic Language
“I have always enjoyed engaging in student government and wanted to ensure that every member of the student body would have a voice.”
~ Chase Calhoun ’21
Q: What factors contributed to your decision to attend W&L?
When I began looking at colleges, I knew that I wanted to leave the city for a small town, I wanted to attend a small school, and I wanted to study humanities. The first time I visited and toured W&L during the fall of my senior year of high school, I knew W&L was what I wanted. I was drawn to the close-knit community, the professors’ willingness to develop relationships with students, and the town of Lexington. I was also drawn by the Honor System as honor is one of the values I hold most dear. It immediately became evident to me upon stepping onto W&L’s campus that the student body adhered to the Honor System and conducted discourse in a civil and empathetic way.
Q: Why did you choose your major and minor, and what do you hope to do after graduation?
Upon beginning my studies at W&L, I immediately became interested in studying politics and the Middle East. As I drove deeper into the politics and MESA courses of study, I became passionate about global politics, national security and counter-terrorism studies, and the study of Arabic and Islam. I greatly enjoy studying Arabic as I find the language to be alluring when spoken and written, and I enjoy the study of Islam as the religion has a rich history and important political implications. I study global politics in preparation for my career path. After graduation, I hope to join a federal law enforcement agency. My short-term goal is to serve the American public as a law enforcement officer and medical specialist while my long-term goal is to counter domestic extremism and terrorism, including radical Islamist extremism and far-right/white supremacy extremism.
Q: Why did you decide to get involved in the Executive Committee at W&L, and what have you enjoyed most about it so far?
As the Honor System played a large role in my choosing W&L, I knew that I wanted to serve my peers and our community by protecting the system. Additionally, I have always enjoyed engaging in student government and wanted to ensure that every member of the student body would have a voice. I have always been driven by a strong desire to serve. I have always viewed my involvement with the Executive Committee as a means for serving my peers and our W&L community as a whole. While I have never enjoyed the act of implementing the single sanction, I have enjoyed playing a role in protecting the trust of the W&L community. However, I most enjoy working on student government initiatives including working with student organizations and engaging with other student leaders to accomplish goals.
Q: What do you hope to contribute as president of the EC this year?
My number-one priority as president of the EC this year is to support efforts to effect positive systemic change in the areas of racial inequality and systemic racism at W&L. Additionally, I recognize that I certainly cannot adequately understand or represent the varied experiences of my peers at W&L who are of a different color, race, creed or religion than I. Because of this, I am committed to supporting and listening to every member of our student body, especially those who have experienced the systemic racism that I have never had to endure.
Additionally, I want to support efforts to keep the W&L and Lexington/Rockbridge communities safe while keeping students on campus together in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to increase engagement between the law and undergraduate student bodies. I want to pursue increasingly robust Honor System education for incoming students. Finally, I want to streamline the EC’s budgeting procedures in cooperation with Student Affairs and other university departments.
Q: Tell us about your study abroad experience in Morocco in spring 2019.
Travelling to Morocco in spring 2019 was one of my favorite experiences of my time at W&L. Professor Seth Cantey led the trip and taught our class entitled “The Maghreb: History, Culture, and Politics.” During our two-week stay, we visited the cities of Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fez and Casablanca. We took classes taught by Moroccan professors and heard lectures from politicians and professionals in each city we visited. I was intrigued by the Islamic influence demonstrated in nearly every aspect of Moroccan culture. The experience broadened my understanding of the world and deepened my understanding of Islamic history and culture.
Q: How have your plans for this spring and summer been impacted by COVID?
This summer, I intended to work in Atlanta or Washington, D.C., for either the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or the United States Marshals Service. Both internship opportunities were canceled as a result of COVID-19. However, I had the opportunity to move back to Lexington in early June to live with three of my roommates in our senior-year housing on the Maury River. I spent the summer conducting research with Professor Cantey, studying Al-Qaeda’s training camps and organizational structure. Additionally, I worked at Lexington Coffee Shop and took a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician course in Lander, Wyoming, with the National Outdoor Leadership School in July and August.
Q: How have your involvement in the Outing Club and Reformed University Fellowship contributed to your W&L experience so far?
My involvement with the Outing Club and Reformed University Fellowship has allowed me to build relationships and engage with my peers beyond the classroom setting. I led an Appalachian Adventure pre-orientation trip my sophomore and junior years and hope to lead another trip this upcoming year. The Outing Club has provided me with the experiences in the outdoors that I was hoping to find at W&L. Some of my favorite hobbies include fly fishing and backpacking, and the Outing Club has allowed me to maintain those hobbies during my time at W&L. Reformed University Fellowship has always been one of the best parts of every week I spend at school. I love taking a break from studying on Tuesday nights to see friends and spend time reflecting on the prior week. RUF has provided me with the spiritual community I was also hoping to find at W&L.
Q: Has anyone served as a mentor to you at W&L?
Professors Seth Cantey and Antoine Edwards, RUF Campus Minister Lewis Lovett and Dean Sidney Evans have all served as incredible mentors to me during the three years I’ve spent at W&L. Professor Cantey and Professor Edwards (Estaaz Antoine in Arabic) have guided me throughout my academic journey and have provided vital support in everything I do outside of the classroom. Lewis has been a constant source of encouragement and support, and I have often leaned on him during my time at W&L. Dean Evans, who works closely with the Executive Committee, has always provided advice, guidance and support as I’ve worked to represent my class and the student body in Executive Committee matters.
If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
More About Chase
Q: Personal motto?
Non Sibi Sed Omnibus (Not for self, but for all)
Q: Favorite shop or restaurant in Lexington?
Lexington Coffee Shop
Q: What do you get there?
Double shot of espresso
Q: What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The back campus trails
Q: What book or film do you recommend to everyone?
“Gates of Fire,” Steven Pressfield (It may not be for everyone, but I most enjoy the honor and selflessness displayed by the Spartan characters.)
Q: Favorite W&L event?
Appalachian Adventure Leading Edge Pre-Orientation Program
Q: When you return to campus, who’s the first person you’ll want to see?
Professor Seth Cantey (We have some foreign affairs news to catch up on.)