Students Hit the Road for Reading Days During Reading Days, some students went on short trips that complemented the service and learning they experience on campus.
“Trips like this bring people within our school together, while connecting us to outside communities as well.”
— Nancy Coleman ’18
During Reading Days at Washington and Lee University, students are invited to pack up and head out of town for short trips that complement the service and learning they experience on campus.
This year, Career Development organized a career exploration trip to New York, as well as a sojourn in Washington, D.C., to focus specifically on energy and the environment. The Williams School organized an accounting trip to Northern Virginia and a visit to D.C. to focus on economics. Meanwhile, the Shepherd Program’s Nabors Service League sent a group to Charleston, West Virginia, to volunteer at elementary schools.
“Sometimes it’s really helpful to get out of Lexington,” said Nancy Coleman ’18, who went on the Shepherd trip. “I don’t have a car, so it’s hard for me to get out of town. I was starting to feel cooped up when Reading Days rolled around, so I’m really glad trips like these exist. Not only was I able to take a break from Lexington, but I was able to do important work at the same time. Moreover, I spent the trip with a fun group of people who share my interest in service. Trips like this bring people within our school together, while connecting us to outside communities as well. As cliched as the phrase has become, these trips are so important for getting students out of the Washington and Lee ‘Bubble.'”
What follows are quick snapshots from each outing.
Energy and the Environment
Students covered a lot of ground on this trip to D.C., where they networked with alumni at NOAA, the EPA, the Department of Energy, and Conservation International. They also enjoyed a site visit and lean building discussion at HOAR construction, and learned about opportunities in energy consulting at Advanced Resources International. All told, the group got a taste of research, engineering, environment/conservation, government, finance and much more. One of the greatest takeaways from the experience was that the energy and environment fields attract extremely passionate people who use their skills to support the cause of environmentalism in a number of ways, including private industry, government and non-profit organizations.
“Each government agency, private consulting firm and nonprofit that we visited helped me see what my future could be like working for each one,” said E.C. Myers ’20. “Before the trip, I was uncertain as to what type of work I wanted to go into after graduation. While my future still isn’t 100 percent clear (not that I expected it to be), I can now see myself pursuing a fascinating and meaningful career in the environment sect thanks to the trip over Reading Days.”
Exploring Careers in NYC
This two-day trip to the Big Apple allowed students to network with alumni, learn about internships and jobs, and visit a number of firms that specialize in a variety of industries, including publications, advertising, consulting, real estate development and fashion. Those firms included Hearst Corporation, Grey Advertising, Neely & Chloe, Symphony.com, Bain Consulting, Johnson Development Associates, LinkedIn and Major League Soccer.
“The Exploring Careers in NYC trip truly opened my eyes to what life is like after graduation,” said Brennan Black ’21. “Being an undecided major, it was great to learn about what it was like to work in different industries. I now have a better sense of what career path I want to follow. The alumni were very excited to meet with us and they encouraged us to reach out to them if we ever needed anything. It truly was a fun and informative experience that I would highly recommend to anyone who is unsure or curious about careers.”
Nabors Service League
Charleston, West Virginia
A group of six students wound their way to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia to spend three days working with local youth in elementary schools. The first day, they assisted with a garden and nutritional education program at Edgewood Elementary School. “We were also able to help with an event for Seafood Week, a nutrition program started at the school through a grand to promote the accessibility and health benefits of seafood,” wrote Fon Teawdatwan ’19, who co-led the trip with Kiki Spiezio ’18. The next day, the students worked at Alban Elementary School, where they helped second-grade students with art projects and assisted with preparation for the next day’s Wellness Walk. “Saturday we helped execute the event and made such a great impression that the school has asked W&L to send students again next year,” Teawdatwan said.
“During every reading days trips, I always feel like I learn more about the complexities of issues associated with poverty,” said Elizabeth Mugo ’19. “During the Reading Days trip to West Virginia, I came in with no knowledge of the issues of nutrition and nutrition education for children. However, I noticed in the interactions with Jessica, our site supervisor, and her relationship with the students we worked with, the need for this kind of programming and the want of the elementary and middle school students to learn about things like the benefits of eating fish. Although I don’t plan on doing work in children’s nutrition in the future, I think this trip, like many experiences in the Shepherd Program, allowed me to understand social concepts as they are in the world.”
“Before this trip, I had been to Charleston once before,” added Nancy Coleman ’18. “I was leading for Volunteer Venture at the time, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed my first experience in the city. My greatest takeaway was realizing how much I enjoy working in Charleston, West Virginia. If Nabors hosts another service trip there any time soon, I will do my best to return.”
Nineteen students and five faculty members boarded a bus to D.C., where they visited several firms and heard from a number of alumni who majored in economics. Over the course of two extremely busy days, the students stopped at Economists Incorporated, Berkeley Research Group, The Brookings Institution, No Kid Hungry/ Share Our Strength, The Heritage Foundation and Uber. In addition, they heard from Federal Reserve Board Governor Jay Powell and spent some time at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where Andrew Olmem ’96 ’01L is special assistant to the President for Financial Policy and serves on the National Economic Council.
“The economics trip to Washington, D.C., was an awesome opportunity for me to make connections through the W&L alumni who spoke with us as well as other alumni living in the city who I was able to reach out to,” said Tanner Williams ’19. “Everyone I spoke with was more than willing to help in any way they could and I learned a lot about opportunities I otherwise would not have known about.”
To read more about the economics trip, click here.
A pack of aspiring accountants descended on Washington, D.C., for a whirlwind, day-long deep dive into the world of professional money counting. Ernst & Young hosted the students for panel and information sessions, lunch, a quick course on interviewing, and practice interviews. The panel discussion, “Day in the Life of a New Accountant,” featured panelists from the firms of Baker Tilly, Pricewaterhouse Cooper, CohnReznick and Ernst & Young. It was moderated by Pete Minutolo of Deloitte. After lunch, the group got a tour of Ernst & Young, followed by an information session on why accounting is important, consulting, auditing, tax and life as a CFO. In addition to the aforementioned firms, General Dynamics was represented in the info session. Interview strategies and practice interviews with professional accountants wrapped up the day, which was made possible by a number of W&L alumni.
“This trip provided the unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of public accounting,” said Julia Carullo ’20. “It was beneficial to meet with W&L alumni at a variety of firms because they both relate to our undergraduate experience and know exactly what to expect with interviews and internships going forward. I enjoyed listening to the individual stories and recognized the shared passion for W&L and their current careers. Overall, it was reassuring to meet successful people that started where we all are now and has made me more excited for what is to come.”
Contributors: Molly Steele, Linda Hooks, Lauren Jensen, Fon Teawdatwan ’19, Kiki Spiezio ’18