The Columns

My W&L: Chauncey Baker ’15

— by on September 5th, 2016

Chauncey Baker '15

“At W&L you’ll find the support to pursue anything.”

When I applied to Washington and Lee my senior year of high school, I wanted nothing more than to go to this beautiful college with its amazing campus and even more amazing English department. The school website was on my bookmarks and I would read over course offerings and the details of the institution. I am not joking. I was dead set on attending this school. I told all of my teachers and friends that this was exactly where I wanted to be.

I was lucky enough to be invited to compete in the Johnson Weekend, as well as another highly competitive full-ride scholarship at a school in Seattle. The interview at Seattle was about two weeks earlier, and when I drove off of I-5 into the bustling districts of Seattle, I fell in love. All of my best laid plans were thrown very much awry. I decided that if I got the scholarship, I would go to Seattle. It was just such a perfect place. Unfortunately (or as you’re about to find out, fortunately), I didn’t get it. I got the rejection letter the day before I was supposed to leave to interview for the Johnson Scholarship. And when I got to Lexington, I was in a bad mood. Still reeling from rejection, my luggage had been lost in Chicago, and I was exhausted from traveling since four a.m. I had very little energy left to fall in love with a college — or anything, really.

Two weeks later I got a letter congratulating me on my achievements and offering me a scholarship. My whole family was ecstatic. My high school teachers told me that I’d finally come in to my own, and that I deserved it. I felt very little except the heavy knowledge that no matter what other schools accepted me, I was going to Washington and Lee. I couldn’t turn down such an amazing offer from a top twenty university, no matter how much I liked another school.

Then, when I finally packed up and moved to Virginia, everything settled in. I was going to classes, meeting people, and slowly falling in love. The amazing things about Washington and Lee were still there and I found myself drawn to them inexorably. I involved myself in the theater department, worked hard in my English classes, and began taking Japanese. My four years here fell into place exactly as my 16-year-old self had planned. I ended up writing a creative honors thesis, one of the offerings that drew me to Washington and Lee’s English department. I majored in Japanese and even visited Japan for a month. I’ve starred in, stage managed, and directed shows on the W&L stage, and I couldn’t be happier with the person I’ve become. It’s weird how we get distracted from our dreams and yet manage to scramble our way back onto the path we planned on all along. And that’s the truly great thing about W&L, it allows its students to personalize their education. The faculty here is so supportive and the environment so rich with inspiration that it was easy to make this place my own.