My W&L: Nathan Kelly '14
It is an impossible task to summarize what W&L has given me. I have learned and been stretched by a vast array of experiences, from Mock Convention, to working in Brazil, to hunting with some of my professors. The breadth and depth of my experiences have been staggering. But, perhaps most importantly, a group of devoted alumni have been the underpinning of my education and serve as a quintessential example of the community that W&L creates. These alumni are the donors to the Master G. Maxwell McGrew Scholarship.
Since their graduation, several members of the class of 1987 and 1988 have met annually for a hunting and golf trip they named "The Ham Jam". But in 2001, Mac McGrew—one of the regulars—was missing. A few weeks before, his son "Little Mac" had died unexpectedly. As the son of Mac McGrew '87, grandson of Dan McGrew ‘52, and nephew of Boice McGrew ‘78, it's safe to say that the Washington and Lee class of 2022 lost a member when he passed.
In true W&L fashion, the members of The Ham Jam, led by Joe Luter '88, Reese Lanier '88, Jimmy Sloan '87 and Mike McGarry '87, decided to start a scholarship in honor of Little Mac. They called their friends and quickly generated an outpouring of support for Mac and his family. The scholarship soon reached $400,000 and continued to grow. As is common among W&L alumni, the connections had remained strong for well over a decade after graduation.
But the scholarship wasn't just a monetary endowment. By becoming a recipient of the McGrew Scholarship, I have been welcomed into a group of friends. I'll never forget the first time I met Mac. He told me if there was ever anything he or any of the donors could do to help me, to let him know. And he meant it. When I was looking for an internship in finance, calling Mac was all I needed to land an analyst position at Morgan Stanley. When a donor is in Lexington, it's not uncommon for me to meet them at a social event. Countless times, the donors to the scholarship have taken an active interest in my time here. It is an incredible aspect of the W&L community that alumni—over two decades out of school—would take such an interest in a current student.
At the end of my junior year, I was elected President of the Student Body—the greatest honor of my W&L career. In that position, I quickly learned that the bonds between the McGrew donors weren't outliers. Rather, they are perfect examples of the devotion we have to one another at W&L. This devotion is the reason alumni do anything they can to help students as they transition out of college; it is the reason faculty and administration take keen interest in the lives of students; and it is the reason students carry an unparalleled pride for this institution.
While I am the recipient of the McGrew Scholarship, every student who walks the Colonnade is a beneficiary of this tight-knit community. For this reason, as members of the W&L community, we govern our lives by an honor system that demands we commit no act that violates the community's trust. There is no room in our community for those who do not recognize this call.
The sense of community created by the honor system drew me to W&L, and through the community of the McGrew Scholarship, it was possible for me to come. During my time here, it has been the community that has supported me and pushed me to new and greater things. Therefore, while the title suggests that this is a story about me, it is really a story about the incredible people that make up our entire community.