My W&L: Nicky Peacher ’15
“I have learned that service in one’s community can take on many forms.”
My W&L experience, like many of my classmates, has been a unique, rewarding and slightly unexpected journey. Reflecting back on my time at this wonderful university, I now begin to understand the ways in which W&L allowed me to forge my own path. For me, this path became centered on the Shepherd Program, which allowed me to pursue a variety of invaluable opportunities. My ties with the Shepherd Program began before my first class, when I participated on one of the Volunteer Venture Pre-Orientation trips.
Through this brief introduction to service-learning and the Poverty and Human Capabilities minor, I was able to pursue a Shepherd Internship the summer after my sophomore year in Baltimore, MD. Working at a summer and after-school program for Baltimore city students in grades 4 through 12, I developed a true interest and enthusiasm for education policy. Upon returning to school in the fall, I quickly researched organizations in Washington, D.C. that worked on these issues and ended up interning at a lobbying firm that specialized in education policy.
Now, as I prepare to graduate from W&L (pending a successful spring option), I am getting ready to pursue a new challenge with Army Officer Candidate School. When people ask the inevitable question, “so, Nicky, any plans after graduation?” and I tell them about my decision, they often follow-up with “why?” I realize now that my answer to this question is due in large part to the values that the Shepherd Program instilled within me.
The Shepherd Program enabled me to involve myself within my local community in ways that I had not experienced before. Through this service-based work, I began to discover ways in which I could learn from and positively impact those around me. From teaching in classrooms to drafting educational policy briefs to participant observations, I have learned that service in one’s community can take on many forms. My time at W&L has given me opportunities to immerse myself in my community, and has taught me how to learn and grow from these experiences. As a first-year, I was very unsure about my plans after college. However, W&L and the Shepherd Program provided me with the direction and purpose necessary to pursue service-based work after I graduate.
Although I believe my experience has been unique, a student finding and developing their passions and interests is commonplace throughout W&L. This university has allowed me to truly blend my academic, professional and personal lives into one cohesive unit that I will forever cherish as My W&L.