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Meet Walker McKnight ’24 McKnight is proud to be graduating 101 years after her great-grandfather, who started their family’s legacy at W&L.

Walker-McKnight-scaled-600x400 Meet Walker McKnight ’24

Walker McKnight ’24
Major: Cognitive and behavioral science; studio art minor
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee

Why did you choose to come to W&L?
I chose to come to W&L for a few different reasons. First, my great-grandfather and my dad both went here. My great-grandfather, French Rayburn McKnight Sr., graduated from W&L in 1923 and was the manager of the football team. My dad, Jay McKnight, graduated in 1992 and was an All-American on the golf team. It is exciting to me that I will be graduating 101 years after my great-grandfather who started our family legacy at W&L. It is also special to me that we were each involved in different athletic teams during our time spent in Lexington.

Another reason I decided to come to W&L was because of the people I met during my visit. The minute I stepped onto campus for the first time, every person I interacted with seemed genuinely excited to get to know me and tell me why they loved this school so much. That positivity was infectious and left a lasting impression on me unlike any other school. I was excited for the incredible opportunity to grow as a student, athlete and person in this wonderful community.

Have you discovered a course or topic that you didn’t expect to study when you first came to W&L?
A topic I never expected to study was the importance of sleep! I took Dr. Ryan Brindle’s Sleep, Health, and Society Spring Term class my sophomore more and loved every second of it. I had no idea that W&L was one of the only universities to have a sleep lab for undergraduate students to do research in. During the class we tracked our own sleep habits, learned about circadian rhythms and sleep disorders, and dove into all of the ways that sleep affects our everyday life. My favorite part was going into the sleep lab and tracking a classmate’s sleep cycle as they took a nap. This class opened up my eyes to a topic I did not even realize I would feel so passionate about. My biggest takeaway was that there is still so much more research to be done on sleep and how it can affect us differently across our lifespan.

What was your favorite class and why?
One of my favorites classes was a sculpture class with Professor Sandy de Lissovoy that I took for my studio art minor. In the class I learned how to weld in the metal shop. This was still one of the coolest and craziest experiences I have had. I learned how to use the welding machine all by myself and made a succulent for my final project. I always tell people this class was my favorite because of how unique it was since I never expected to learn how to operate the different tools and machines you would find in a metal shop.

Have you studied abroad during your time at W&L?
I studied abroad during the fall of my junior year in Copenhagen, Denmark. I had the most incredible experience. I fell in love with the city of Copenhagen, was able to travel to 10 different countries and dive deeper into psychology coursework through a Scandinavian perspective. My core class was Positive Psychology, which was unique to study in Copenhagen since it has been rated the happiest city to live in for many years. We were able to do a deeper dive into why this was the case and how Danish culture was similar and different from American culture. I loved getting to try lots of new foods, commute to school every day on the metro and learn a new language — Danish!

How have your experiences at W&L prepared you for post-graduate success?
The liberal arts framework of W&L makes me feel prepared for post-graduate success in so many ways. I once heard an alum say that W&L students graduate with the ability to read, write and listen. I feel like I have gained all three of these skills because of being challenged academically in classes across a broad range of disciplines, from my geology lab to a religion class. I also have learned from my amazing professors the importance of surrounding yourself with smart and encouraging mentors who want you to succeed. My entire W&L experience has made me a more well-rounded individual, and I find comfort in knowing that the W&L community will continue to provide a strong support network outside of Lexington.

What do you like about being a DIII athlete?
I love being a DIII athlete because of the balance, support of my team and getting to compete for an NCAA championship against the top teams within the division. I did not want to choose between having impactful college experiences, such as studying abroad, and playing lacrosse. I have thrived from having the balance between my classes, other extracurriculars, a social life and my commitment to my team. I also love getting to create lifelong friendships with my teammates across grade levels who I maybe would not have crossed paths with if we were not on the same team. Finally, I have grown more as a lacrosse player than I would have ever expected because of my talented teammates and coaches who have played integral roles in the success of our program over the years. It is surreal to follow in the footsteps of my teammates who were my role models during their time here. If I make a fraction of the impact they had on me I will be proud.