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Leading Lives of Consequence Joe Framptom '66 and Nate Unger '24 compare their W&L experiences.

Joe_Nate_WordPress-600x400 Leading Lives of ConsequenceJoe Framptom ’66 and Nate Unger ’24

This is the fifth installment in a six-part series where alumni and current students have candid discussions about the similarities and differences of their time at Washington and Lee.

Why did you want to attend W&L?

Framptom: My mother was a Virginia native and a [James] Madison graduate. My father was a W&L ’33L alum. I grew up hearing about and visiting Virginia and W&L, so when the time to consider college choices arrived, W&L was deeply ingrained into my thinking. It was a beautiful school in a beautiful part of Virginia with a fine academic reputation. I never really harbored aspirations to go anywhere other than W&L. I visited a few other schools but ended up applying only to W&L.

Unger: My football career garnered my original interest in W&L. I was blessed to receive opportunities to play in the Ivy League and other places, but there was something about this small school, tucked away in Lexington, that captivated me. The community is what stood out to me on my visits. People treat each other with such a level of respect here. A community built on integrity and respect really aligned with my values. I reached out to a few alumni, and they emphasized the sentiment that W&L is a tight-knit community where lifelong bonds are built that extend beyond graduation. The people really make this place what it is.

What was one of your most memorable experiences during your time at W&L?

Framptom: My memorable experiences were so numerous over the years that even a dozen or more would be too few to single out. One is that I was elected student body secretary my senior year, and thus served on the Executive Committee. That election and that year likely eclipse all other memories and highlights.

Unger: Winning an ODAC Championship with the football team in 2021 was such an incredible experience. We were not able to compete in the 2020 season due to the pandemic, so it made winning the ODAC that much sweeter. I’ll forever cherish the bonds built with my teammates and the shared experiences we had during that season. We were all-in for each other, and we were able to bring a championship back home to Lexington for that very reason.

What professor/coach made a lasting impression and why?

Framptom: Professor L. K. Johnson taught personnel and marketing during my years in the Commerce School. He was tough and demanding but combined textbooks, business expertise, and a host of personal memories into a meaningful and unforgettable classroom experience that serves me well even today. I also must mention Dean Ed Atwood, who taught economics and banking. While at W&L, I never imagined a career in banking, but now after nearly 50 years in the industry, I realize the wisdom and value of his classes. I should have paid much more attention to his teachings! I definitely remember the banking final exam, which was just a single question. That blue book extracted three straight hours of pain!

Unger: Professor Lisa Greer in the earth and environmental geoscience department has made a lasting impression on me. I came into W&L knowing that I wanted to do some form of business and quickly decided on my business administration and management major. She inspired my passion for the environment and my minor in environmental studies. Professor Greer is so invested in what she teaches, and she truly makes an impact with her coral work in Belize. As my advisor, we’ve been able to keep in touch with each other throughout my time at W&L, and I’m very thankful for that.

How has your W&L education helped in your career and/or life?

Framptom: Simply put, seldom a day has gone by since leaving campus that some thought of W&L has not been on my mind. Yes, the academics were vitally important, but even more so were the lessons learned about honor, integrity, fairness, respect and personal relationships. Academic lessons occur on any campus, but the values are pure W&L.

Unger: I’ve come to learn that the skills developed outside of the classroom are some of the most valuable for life after college. W&L has provided many opportunities to build soft skills crucial for professional success. Whether it is opportunities to interact with a keynote speaker or with alums during an alumni weekend, learning how to speak to people and develop relationships is so advantageous for W&L students. Honing these skills so early in college sets us up for success later in life.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about applying to W&L today?

Framptom: Stop thinking about it and apply! It will be a decision that you’ll never regret. My dad told me that I’d never have to apologize to anyone for my education at W&L. He was right.

Unger: Attending W&L is a bet on yourself. W&L will provide you with the people and knowledge necessary to be successful, and what you choose to do with that is up to you. That is the beauty of this liberal arts institution. I feel that I have grown so much during my time in Lexington, and I know I’d make that bet again.

Watch an excerpt from Joe Framptom and Nate Unger’s interview.

If you know any W&L alumni who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.