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My W&L: Luke Quigley ’16

“My W&L experience is defined by a multitude of activities, academics, and opportunities.”

When asked to identify a single defining experience from my time here at W&L, I find the task impossible. This is not because such experiences do not exist; rather, my W&L experience is defined by a multitude of activities, academics and opportunities.

I came to Washington and Lee overwhelmed by the paths that lay before me, knowing that every decision opened some doors, while closing others. Not wanting to miss any opportunities, I decided to embrace this liberal arts education and diversify every aspect of my college life. Always loving mathematics, I naturally pursued a math major. But after taking my first philosophy class as an FDR, I realized philosophy’s powerful quality to challenge me on every belief that I held. I knew that it would be a wonderful complement as a second major. Alas, that was not enough. I wanted the option to pursue a career in medicine, so I took on a pre-med coursework—almost a major in itself—as a separate pursuit.

Pursuing experiences outside the classroom, I became heavily involved in a wide array of extracurriculars, performing leadership roles in many. One of my most personally defining, however, has been with the University Singers. With them I have toured the state of Texas and the north eastern coast, and will be singing in Ireland, the country of my birth, for all my extended family during spring break. But while the tours are certainly a wonderful aspect of choir, they are only an added bonus to the magnificent moments that occur every day in rehearsal. While our rehearsals certainly require acute attention and dedication, they are extremely rewarding. I come to connect with our music not through the inner technicality of the music itself (as I lack the academic knowledge), but through a connection of heart and mind to voice, a talent that our conductor, Dr. Lynch, encourages us to apply. My favorite parts of rehearsal are those moments when we stop and reflect on the essence of our music, and in many cases, on ourselves and our own humanity, and then hear the clear difference that occurs with our voices right after.

Another equally defining experience has been through my role as a resident advisor for the last two years, serving this year on the leadership staff. Being an RA has given me the opportunity to help others have as wonderful an experience of this university as I have had. As an RA for upper division students, I love getting to know a group that represents a diverse spectrum of personalities, interests and commitments, and helping to provide that sense of unity that brings us together as a house. I have learned so much about myself and my capabilities in this role, and about how to apply them in a beneficial and effective manor. Additionally, working closely with the Student Affair’s deans and staff, as well as many other campus administrators and departments, I have come to know and love W&L not only from the view of a student, but as an assistant to the dedicated campus officials who work tirelessly to make W&L the best campus for every student.

Reflecting on my time here at W&L, I truly believe that the opportunity for me to have such a diverse college experience is unique to Washington and Lee. When I walk through this beautiful campus and greet everyone I meet, I cannot make it from one building to another without encountering someone I know though one of my activities, jobs or classes. The wonderful aspect of this university is that I am not alone in my embracing of the liberal arts or in my diversification of interests and passions. Everyone here has a unique story, and I have made timeless friends with persons who all have one completely different from, and just as unique as, my own. While W&L has of course been extremely academically enlightening, I have learned and gained much more about an array of subjects, as well as my own talents and weaknesses, from the unique and vast opportunities I have been provided.

Luke is the 2015-16 recipient of the Class of 1980 C. William Pacy, Jr. Memorial Honor Scholarship, which was established by members of the class as part of their 25th reunion gift.

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Hometown: Abingdon, VA

Majors: Mathematics and Philosophy

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Residential Life (Head RA-UD)
  • University Singers
  • Sigma Nu Fraternity (Treasurer),
  • Catholic Campus Ministries,
  • Mock Con (Iowa Treasurer),
  • Student Affairs Committee

Off-Campus Experiences: Semester abroad in St. Andrews

Post-Graduation Plans: Medical School or Health Related Field

Favorite Class: Biochemistry II with Dr. LaRiviere and Abstract Algebra with Dr. Dresden

Favorite W&L Event: University Singers’ annual week-long tour

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? I was born in Monaghan, Ireland and possess both Irish and US citizenship. I have eighteen biological aunts and uncles and forty-two first cousins, mostly in Ireland, but also in England, Spain and the U.S.

Why did you choose W&L? W&L was recommended to me by my pastor, Msgr. Tim Keeney, who graduated from the school of law in 1990. I visited the school my senior year, not knowing much about it, and while I was impressed by its competitive academics, I loved its homey feeling and the close-knit community that obviously existed not just between the students, but between students and professors, as well. These facts, along with W&L’s ability to make my time here affordable, made my choice for college easy.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Almost every night of my first semester at W&L, I would stay up with my friends until 4 a.m. in the meeting rooms on the 2nd floor of Elrod Commons unnecessarily stressing about homework and being unproductive and very inefficient. I would stress to incoming first-years to plan out your work hours and make a calendar which you can sync with all your devices (and stick to it). Time management is essential, especially when you begin upper level coursework, so master it early.