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The Class of 2041: Why I Give Reid Calhoun ‘17 shares how his vision for the future inspires his annual giving

“I know that W&L will graduate leaders throughout the rest of my lifetime and that these future graduates will carry fresh new perspectives that I will learn from.”

~ Reid Calhoun ’17

In the spring of 2019, a future member of the class of 2041 will be born. What will their years in Lexington look like and what opportunities will they have in the professional world? A graduate of Liberty Hall in the 1780s might have studied the classics and gone on to practice law in a relatively unchanging world by today’s standards. They might easily have encouraged their children and grandchildren to follow the exact same path.

Today, we cannot recommend with complete confidence what a successful career might look like for a member of the Class of 2041. The only true constant today is change, and the law of accelerating returns suggests that however much today’s young graduates must adapt, this ’41 grad will have to adapt at least twice over. If the past few years are indicative of what is to come, we can assume that this General’s mind will be flooded with information and distractions. How might they be best equipped for this growing lifelong challenge?

Washington and Lee’s approach to education already prepares students to analyze vast amounts of information, to challenge the status quo and to engage in lifelong learning. This is the ideal background to begin a career in today’s changing society. A liberal arts education also attracts a certain type of world citizen with a passion for many different subjects and hobbies. Students entering W&L confront the world with a passion and intellectual curiosity not readily found in everyone, yet increasingly necessary for a successful career in such a rapidly changing world.

While I sometimes pine to stand in the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, I most often miss the awesome range of experiences alongside passionate people that only W&L can deliver. Every day as a student, I would try to hit all aspects of science, society and the arts. On the hill, I might start a day in a medieval Spanish literature course with Professor Bailey, then head to an organic chemistry class with Professor Alty and finish with an assignment in the fluids lab from Professor Kuehner of the engineering and physics department. That same day, I would always find time to rock out with some friends covering classic funky tunes, and then I would head to a rugby practice. Dinner would be spent arguing with my closest friends about sports or current events. After getting some work done in the IQ Center, I’d finish the day with roommates watching a night storm come over House Mountain.

No two W&L experiences are the same, but I know that all former Gennies share memories of a hectic schedule, trying to balance many different interests. Each day is an endeavor into new intellectual horizons, giving passage to new perspectives and influencing a shifting worldview. At the whim of a particularly intriguing lecture, one imagines taking an entirely different path than the day before. At W&L, we have both the ability and fortune to make that happen.

I give to W&L annually to continue feeling involved and because I had such a great experience in Lexington. I am confident that Washington and Lee will never rest on its laurels and will attract brighter and brighter students in the years to come. I know that W&L will graduate leaders throughout the rest of my lifetime and that these future graduates will carry fresh new perspectives that I will learn from. I give in hopes that all future graduates have at least as great of an experience as I have had. I encourage my brothers and sisters from W&L to give with me and to continue our great tradition of having the best alumni in the country.

I also encourage my fellow alumni to seek out opportunities to further their impact. As a young alumnus, I wanted to give as much as I could within reason. I noticed that my employer offers gift matching, which allowed me to make an even greater impact. I encourage all to look into opportunities to do the same with your company. Not only was I able to get a matching gift to W&L from my employer, but my employer also offered a 2:1 deal to a special list of non-profits. This meant I could double my gift W&L and give the same amount to my favorite environmental NGO.

Although I graduated from W&L in 2017, and one might say that I should move on, I do not believe it is possible to ever truly move on from such an experience. The relationships created in Lexington, the newfound interests and passions and the embrace of lifelong learning will always stick with me. I am always eager for my next trip to Lexington and look forward to all the coming experiences with my fellow Generals. Finally, I would like to thank all of the alumni who came before me for helping make my years at Washington and Lee so excellent.