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Leading Lives of Consequence Caroline Boone Mitchell ’89 and Peyton Tysinger ’23 compare their W&L experiences

Caroline_Peyton_WordPress-1-600x400 Leading Lives of ConsequenceCaroline Boone Mitchell ’89 and Peyton Tysinger ’23

This is the fourth 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?

Mitchell: I wanted to be in Virginia, a small/smallish school, and I liked that I could do business and liberal arts. My dad attended W&L and my mom attended Sweet Briar, which is how they met. I knew a number of guys (back then it wasn’t co-ed) who loved the school and encouraged me to attend.

Tysinger: Several factors drew me to W&L, including the location, the Honor System, the sense of community, the size and the opportunity to play field hockey.

When visiting W&L, I was so impressed by the commitment to the Honor System and knew that it was something I would want to be a part of. Now, as vice president of the executive committee, I’m so glad I’ve interacted with the Honor System so much.

I also was so excited that the sense of community seemed to be reinforced by the Speaking Tradition. While visiting campus, it felt like everyone was consistently very friendly and welcoming.

W&L’s small size also appealed to me. I appreciated the smaller class sizes and the intentionality of professors and students getting to know one another.

Finally, I had the opportunity to join the field hockey team. Although field hockey was not the driver of my college search process, I am so thankful that I was able to play and be a part of the team.

Most memorable experiences at W&L?

Mitchell: That’s a really tough one to answer because there were so many. I remember after Christmas break my freshman year — when I’d been home for a couple of weeks and connected with all of my high school friends and family — it was Sunday night, and I was back in the dorms with all my W&L buddies, catching up. I sat there thinking, “I am here in this tiny town, at this tiny school, in an old dorm that is not set up for women, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be. I have the best friends, best classes, best social scene. My friends from home can have their big cities and fancy apartments and lecture classes for 400; I love where I am.”

Tysinger: Field hockey and, specifically, winning the ODAC championship, has been a major highlight. My team has always felt like a family, and everyone is so close. Being a senior on the team offered me a chance to lead and have a strong impact on and off the field. This season, we lost to Lynchburg early on, but we were able to fight back to host and win the championship game in overtime! Scoring in that game and watching all my teammates storming onto the field was such an amazing and happy moment. I will forever be thankful for the chance to compete and to form incredible relationships with my teammates who are now some of my best friends.

What professor made a lasting impression?

Mitchell: Again, there was more than one, but Professor Phillip Cline really stands out. I had him for several classes. I really struggled in his upper-level statistics class, so I spent a lot of time outside of class seeking his help and advice. He gave me so many pearls of wisdom that had nothing to do with statistics and were more about life in general. He invited students to his home for dinners with his family; he helped us get summer internships, and he talked through our often-unrealistic career plans. He was truly all about the students and his family, and I have only fond memories of my time with him (except for those statistics classes).

Tysinger: Professor Jeff Schatten has made a lasting impact on my college experience. I’ve taken two of the most interesting business classes with him, and he is continually engaging and interesting. He was also our faculty advisor for the Entrepreneurship Society, where I was a leader. His deep knowledge of emerging technologies and his encouragement for students to take risks, pursue their passions and be lifelong learners has fueled my interest in and love of entrepreneurship.

How did W&L prepare you for your career and/or life?

Mitchell: W&L has prepared me in more ways than I could put on paper. The Speaking Tradition is embedded in me; I greet everyone in elevators, in passing, etc. After the initial surprise that someone is speaking to them, I often get a big smile and a greeting in return.

The writing that I did at W&L has helped me immeasurably in my career. While I am in a finance job, I still need to write and am often asked to help my colleagues craft emails, as they find writing so challenging. A love of liberal arts has also continued since my W&L days. When I get away from work, I can enjoy a sociology book, a history documentary or a French film. My non-major classes exposed me to so many enriching areas that I still enjoy.

Tysinger: After college, I am moving to Atlanta for a job in management consulting with Bain & Company. I don’t think I would have been able to start my career this way if it wasn’t for our dedicated alumni and resources from career services. I am so grateful for all the help I received during the application process, and I am looking forward to joining the company full-time!

More broadly, I think my W&L education has helped me become a creative thinker and compassionate leader. I have gained so much confidence from having to challenge myself academically and present in front of classmates and professors. I have also made invaluable friendships that will last a lifetime.

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

Mitchell: Don’t be scared off by the size or the location. The smaller size gives you so much more than smaller classes. You get to meet many more diverse people than in a larger setting, and you are nestled in a beautiful area of the country that you may never have the opportunity to experience in the same way again. Where else could you walk the Chessie Trail or flyfish the Maury between classes?

Embrace the freedom to choose. Take a class in a new area; explore and challenge yourself. Life gets busy, and it will be a very long time before you will have the opportunity to take one class a term that is different.

You will gain invaluable skills that will help you get ahead in the “real world” — the ability to speak to a group, excellent writing techniques, and connections around the country through the alumni and career networks. You will learn to be comfortable outside your comfort zone. You will make friends and memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

Tysinger: Attending this school is the best decision I ever made for so many reasons that I hadn’t even considered when I was applying. I had no idea how important the alumni network would be, and I didn’t realize how much I would love my role on the hockey team. Though I considered the strength of the Honor System and the small size of the school, I didn’t realize how much those things would impact me until I got here. Overall, W&L is such an amazing, challenging and fun school with the best opportunities and even better people.

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Watch an excerpt from Caroline Mitchell and Peyton Tysinger’s interview.

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