Teed Up for Success Laurie Jones '21 is grateful for the opportunities she's had at W&L, especially her place on the golf team and the chance to study through the Peace and Conflict Program in Ireland and Jordan.
“It pushed me to ask hard questions I didn’t know needed to be asked, and to adapt in ways I did not know I could.”
~ Laurie Jones ’21 on the Peace & Conflict Program
Q: What factors led you to choose W&L?
I first looked here because of the golf team and the small school atmosphere. I loved that I would be able to study physics and be on a sports team. There are not many places that would have offered that opportunity, especially at the level W&L does. Then, the more I visited, the more I fell in love with the people, the culture and the mountains. W&L is a special place and the longer I am here the more I realize that.
Q: You are pursuing two majors and a minor. What made you decide on those areas of study?
I started out with physics kind of by accident. I had to take it as a requirement in high school and then just ended up reading my textbook in my free time, so I knew that there was something there I had to look into. Computer science always interested me. My mom taught computer classes while I was growing up, and some of my earliest memories involve me playing computer games in my mom’s classroom. Arabic was also an accident. I knew I wanted a new language to study once I go to college and the Arabic program here is so amazing and fun. After I went to Jordan, there was no going back. I absolutely fell in love with the language.
Q: How do you balance those academic pursuits with your place on the W&L women’s golf team?
Communication, lists and a lot of help. Traveling with the golf team requires me to miss quite a bit of class, but my teachers really help me. They are always willing to work with me so that I can put forth my best work with all the things I am doing. My golf team helps me, too. They are a great support system that always has my back, especially with my studies. They are really great about helping me meet my deadlines, even if it is in a van in a different state.
Q: How has your sorority membership in Chi Omega benefited you while at W&L?
I have loved being in a sorority. Between my class schedule and golf, I did not have a lot of time to meet new people outside of those groups. Chi Omega allowed me to become close with people I never would have met otherwise. It sounds kind of corny, but I have truly met some of my best friends through my sorority.
Q: Tell us about your experiences in Jordan and Ireland this past summer. What took you there, and what did you do there?
I did the Peace and Conflict Program through Amideast and FIE with the Arabic language extension. I spent two weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland studying the Troubles, or the Northern Ireland Conflict, three weeks in Jordan studying the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and another four weeks in Jordan studying Arabic intensely.
I knew I wanted to go abroad and study Arabic, but I didn’t want to just sit in a classroom all summer. I wanted to see many different places, and this program did that and more. Studying physics and computer science requires me to spend a lot of time looking at numbers, so when I got the opportunity to go on this trip, I could not refuse.
I went first to the places of conflict, where I met with people that were affected and talked to legislators navigating those problems. I studied the history of these conflicts, and we discussed the possible future with ambassadors, refugees and specialists. It changed the way I look at international relationships and global interactions. While studying Arabic in Amman, I was able to experience the rich history and culture of the Middle East. In many ways it is the opposite of everything we have here in America, and I am so glad that I could be there. I made so many friends and would love to go back. I actually just texted my host mom the other day! There were so many individual experiences that made up these trips, and I could talk about them for hours. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Q: How did that opportunity impact you and your career goals?
It pushed me to ask hard questions I didn’t know needed to be asked, and to adapt in ways I did not know I could. This program was hard. I was put in many difficult and intense situations but in the end it was so worth it. If I had not gone, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the lovely land of Ireland or the beautiful culture of Jordan. I don’t know yet how this trip will impact my future. However, I really hope I get to use my Arabic.
Q: Has anyone at W&L been a mentor to you?
There are quite a few people that have really mentored me during my time here, but if I had to narrow it down I would choose three. Dr. Irina Mazilu of the Physics and Engineering Department honestly has changed my life. She is one of the kindest, most intelligent, funniest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her encouragement and confidence in me has pushed me to do things I never knew I could. She taught me to think in different ways and to believe in myself. I wouldn’t be half the person I am now if it wasn’t for her. My golf coaches, Pete Gyscek and Kelsie Carralero, have also made a large impact in my life. They have taught me many skills, whether on the golf course or in between my ears. They have pushed me to never give up, especially to never give up on myself. They also remind me constantly to trust myself. Life is simple if you let it be.
Q: What would you say to a student who is thinking about attending W&L?
Come to Lex and grab a coffee with me!
More About Laurie
Where are you from?
Sandy Springs, Georgia
What’s your favorite place to eat in Lexington?
What do you order?
The Red Eye Burger, no bun, with Brussels sprouts and fries on the side
If you could recommend one film and/or book to everyone, what would it be?
Film: “Dark Knight” or “Dead Poets Society” (both for different reasons)
Book: “Mr. Blue” by Myles Connolly
Favorite W&L event?
Sports events where my friends play. I like to cheer them on.
Favorite class so far?
Perspectives on Death and Dying
Favorite W&L memory?
Any golf tournament with my team. They’re all fun.
What are your post-grad plans?
To sit behind a computer and hopefully make a difference